Magazine article Diversity Employers

Xavier University President Receives the Presidential Medal of Freedom: Bush Calls Dr. Norman Francis a Man of Great Intellect, Compassion and Character

Magazine article Diversity Employers

Xavier University President Receives the Presidential Medal of Freedom: Bush Calls Dr. Norman Francis a Man of Great Intellect, Compassion and Character

Article excerpt

On December 15th of last year, Xavier University President, Dr. Norman Francis was honored by President Bush with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. First established in 1945 by President Harry S. Truman to recognize people who helped American interests overseas, the award evolved, by executive order of President John F. Kennedy in 1963, into an honor recognizing civilian contributions by Americans in the fields of the arts, sports, politics, business and other arenas. In his class to receive the award, Dr. Francis was joined by blues legend, B.B. King, literacy crusader Ruth Johnson Colvin, historian and journalist Paul Johnson and Nobel Prize-winning scientist Joshua Lederberg.

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While some may have wondered why it's taken so long for Dr. Francis to receive this honor, it is perhaps providence that it happened at this point in his life and in the history of the city he calls home. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, a man whose legacy was already established, Dr. Francis would be asked to take his game to an even higher level. While trying to rebuild his home and his university, Dr. Francis was asked to serve as chairman of the newly formed Louisiana Recovery Authority by Governor Kathleen Blanco. He didn't hesitate. In this capacity, Dr. Francis figures prominently in the planning and rebuilding efforts for the Gulf Coast, a process that experts say will take years and cost over $100 billion. Not bad for a kid from Lafayette, La. …

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