The Herald Asks “How Did Dr. Francis Influence You”?

Tracie L. Thomas

2004, Biology
Director, Office of Graduate
Placement and University
Summer Programs
New Orleans, La.

As a student at Xavier, I learned so much about its unique
history, mission and leadership. For the past 15 years, I’ve observed
Dr. Norman C. Francis in action as a dedicated, humble, and
influential leader of our institution. In my opinion, one of his most
memorable accomplishments will always be his determined efforts
to successfully reopen Xavier University after the devastation of
Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. This brand of transformative
leadership, which includes the intersection of faith, passion,
commitment and tenacity, also influenced my decision to pursue a
doctorate in Educational Leadership at University of New Orleans.
Dr. Francis is truly a stellar example of success, and it’s an honor
to serve my alma mater under his leadership to develop the next.

Father Maurice J. Nutt

1989, Master of Theology
Director, Institute for Black
Catholic Studies – XULA
New Orleans, La.

Dr. Francis epitomizes the meaning of dedication. I witnessed
his dedication as the leader of Xavier University while as a student in
the Institute for Black Catholics over twenty-five years ago. Among
his many attributes I highly esteem and respect him for his vision,
integrity and tenacity. “Giving up” is not in his vocabulary. I believe
that he knew well that God was guiding him and that St. Katharine
Drexel was supporting him as he made wise decisions on Xavier’s
behalf. His steadfast dedication impressed me then as a student and
continues to influence my life and ministry today! Thank you, Dr.

Kaye Rolland

1983, Art
XU Institutional Advancement
New Orleans, La.

Dr. Francis has influenced me as a student and as a working
employee/Alumnae in so many ways and on so many
levels. As a student I remember not being sure if I wanted
to pursue Art as a major much less a career, but I remember
a statement Dr. Francis made during orientation. He said
something like, “If you pursue something that you love and
your heart is in it and you truly enjoy what you do, then
by all means go for it.” I took his advice and and I’ve been
going ever since. Returning to Xavier as an employee has
been a great pleasure, even greater to still have Dr. Francis
as our beloved president.

Dr. Rosalind Pijeaux Hale

1969, Mathematics
Professor, Xavier’s
Division of Education and
New Orleans, La.

Dr. Francis was already known on campus when he was
appointed president in 1968. He always spoke with students
prior to and after his appointment, which made me realize
as an educator that same focus should never be forgotten.
I continue to be impressed by how Dr. Francis is willing to
practice his faith openly, which has deepened my own faith
and made me more willing to practice my beliefs openly.

Devinn Rolland

College of Pharmacy
New Orleans, La.

During my 4 years here at Xavier Dr. Francis has gotten to
know me not only as a student, but also on an individual basis.
Whenever I see him, whether it’s walking on campus or at a student
gathering he always knows me by name and stops to chat a bit. He
continually encourages me to continue to excel in my studies as
well as athletics. He truly cares about us as students. I really admire
that about him. He has definitely impacted my life in so many ways.

Dr. Keith Stanley Brooks

2000, English
Professor of
Education &
Cultural Liaison
St. Paul, Minn.

I am still blown away at Dr. Francis’ consistency,
longevity, effectiveness and intellect. I don’t know if many
people are aware of his leadership in the banking industry
as well, and leveraging resources to keep Xavier as a stellar
institution. As I continue to move into leadership roles in
education, I strive to have a portion of the production that Dr.
Francis achieved in his life.

Maya Jones

2012, Mass Communication
Senior Researcher for
ESPN-The Magazine
Bristol, Conn.

As a managing editor for the Xavier Herald, I, along
with then editor-in-chief Stacey Window (‘11) was
tasked with interviewing Dr. Francis about the Gert Town
community. I didn’t know what to expect. We were sternly
warned that we would only have 30 minutes, but Dr.
Francis canceled meetings in order to accommodate us.
The 30-minute interview turned into two hours. He asked
about our lives, laughed about his grandkids that Stacey and
I had attended elementary school with, and gave us advice
about life beyond Xavier. His demeanor was so warm and
welcoming, and that remains my favorite memory.

Jaime D. Morgan

2011, Psychology
Southern Law
Center, Class of
Baton Rouge, La.

Dr. Francis’ leadership helped me make the best decision
of my life to attend Xavier University, where I was able to
improve my life and education. He paved the way for me and
so many others. I continue to hold the values he and Xavier
instilled in me for the remainder of my life.

Dr. Myiesha Taylor

1996, Chemistry
Emergency Medicine
Physician Specialist
Southlake, Texas

“I chose to attend Xavier University of Louisiana because the vision implemented by Dr. Francis created an environment where I could thrive academically
in preparation for medical school. I carry with me the mission of Xavier
as I assume my role as a leader in service of a global society. I am
proud to be part of this historic legacy that Dr. Francis and Xavier
has created.”

Joan Ulmer

1985, Marketing
Administrative Assistant,
Art/Division of Fine Arts &
Xavier University
New Orleans, La.

Thank you Dr. Norman C. Francis for living a life worthy of
imitation…your love, kindness, commitment, compassion, hope,
courage, wisdom, and friendship are evident in Xavierites and the
lives you have changed across the globe, especially my own. And a
special thank you to your lovely wife Mrs. Blanche Francis and to your
beautiful family for sharing their hearts and lives with us.

Trevonne M. Thompson, MD
BS, Biology (Premed), ‘97
Emergency Physician &
Medical Toxicologist
University of Illinois at
Nicole C. P. Thompson, MD
BS, Biology (Premed), ‘97
Pediatric Anesthesiologist
University of Illinois at Chicago
Chicago, Ill.

Nicole and I both chose to attend Xavier University because of its
reputation in placing students into medical school. We obtained a superior
foundation to be successful in medical school and developed skills that have
allowed us to excel in our careers as physicians. Not only that, we forged
a relationship that has led to a longstanding marriage and cohesive family.
We are a living testament to the legacy of Dr. Norman C. Francis and Xavier

Political Science, 1975
Attorney, Admin. Law Judge
Baton Rouge, La

Dr. Francis received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President
George W. Bush because EDUCATION IS FREEDOM. From the time he
shook my brother’s hand at the 1965 commencement until he shook niece
Alexandra Broussard’s hand in 2009, 14 members of my family had gone
through Xavier. Freshman Kelsey Gardiner is number 15. My family has
gone from farmers to blue collar workers to professionals. The mission
of social justice that Norman Francis continued allowed my family to be
transformed. His influence upon me, my family, along with so many others,
is no less than transformational.

2013, Mass
Witchita Falls, Texas

Sir Issac Newton once said, “If I have seen further than others, it
is by standing upon the shoulders of giants.” For the past 47 years,
Dr. Norman C. Francis has carried this university to new heights.
When Xavierites like myself saw a door closed, Dr. Francis saw the
light on the other side. During my time at Xavier, he showed me
the importance of faith, family, leadership, commitment, poise, and
service to others—a life lesson this Xavier man will cherish forever.

2010, Mass
Legal clerk
Waldorf, Md.

It is undeniable that anyone can spend any significant amount of time at Xavier and not grow to love and admire Dr. Francis. Dr. Francis has always offered warmth and kindness in his interactions no matter how insignificant the interaction seems. The strength with which Dr. Francis carries himself and
the university is palpable.


Next: Francis: ‘I Feel at Peace’