By Nia Warfield
On Sunday Hampton University welcomes the president emeritus of Xavier University of Louisiana, Norman C. Francis, as he presents the keynote address for this year’s 73rd Annual Opening Convocation.
Francis began his collegiate education as the first African-American student at Loyola University New Orleans. He went on to attend Loyola University Law School where he received his J.D. in 1955 and was the school’s first black graduate. Francis also received his B.A. from Xavier University, where he served as class president every year of his enrollment.
At Xavier, Francis’ role as the nation’s longest-serving university president, 47 years, have earned him numerous national accolades and recognition in the HBCU community. Among these awards is the Presidential Medal of Freedom that he received in 2006. Both Hampton and Xavier have a long-standing history of camaraderie. During Hurricane Katrina in 2005 multiple students were accepted at Hampton while Xavier recovered from the storm.
Under Francis’ leadership, Xavier has grown to triple its enrollment numbers, supersede annual endowments, and receive national attention for its focus on the sciences, scholarly athletes, and rigorous graduation requirements. Francis will also be receiving an honorary doctorate degree from Hampton for his exemplary work and personal dedication to excellence.
Because of Francis’ June retirement, Hampton’s William R. Harvey ascends to the rank of America’s longest-serving active university president at 37 years, since 1978.
Convocation will take place in Ogden Hall at 10:45 a.m.
The writer is a student in the Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications