Norman Francis Celebrates 40 Years as President of Xavier University

On the day Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in 1968, Norman Francis accepted an offer to become president of Xavier University, the historically black educational institution in New Orleans. He still holds that office and is the longest-tenured university president in the United States.

Recently President Francis was honored at a star-studded gala in New Orleans featuring Gladys Knight and Bill Cosby.

Francis, now 77 years old, is a native of Lafayette, Louisiana. His father was a barber. He graduated from Xavier University and earned his law degree at Loyola University. He served for 11 years as Xavier’s dean of men, before becoming university president.

In 2006 Francis was awarded the Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor.