Black History Month

Loyola University New Orleans will be spotlighting some of our prominent faculty, staff, students and alumni in our monthly Heritage and Awareness Month web series.

Norman C. Francis

Norman C. Francis, J.D. '55, H '82


Dr. Norman C. Francis is the first African-American to graduate from the Loyola University New Orleans College of Law. On the day Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in 1968, he agreed to become the first lay president of Xavier University of Louisiana. Dr. Francis served as chairman of the Louisiana Recovery Authority, the state agency in charge of planning the recovery and rebuilding of Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita. In 2006, he received the nation’s highest civilian award—The Presidential Medal of Freedom—from President George W. Bush.

Dr. Francis was born in Lafayette, Louisiana. His father was a barber who rode to work each day on a bicycle because the family did not own a car. His parents insisted that he, his three sisters, and his brother receive an education and sent them to Catholic schools, seeing to it that they rarely missed a day.

A 1952 graduate of Xavier, Francis returned to his alma mater in 1957 to begin his administrative career as dean of men. By that time, he had completed his law degree at Loyola, served two years in the United States Army, and demonstrated his deep commitment to the cause of equal rights. As dean at Xavier, Francis played a key role in the decision to provide dormitory housing to “Freedom Riders,” who had been attacked on an anti-segregation bus ride through the south. Francis, along with Loyola College of Law alumnus Jack Nelson, J.D. ’50, served as counsel to Rudolph Lombard, president of the Xavier student body, when Lombard was arrested for attempting to integrate the lunch counter at McCrory’s on Canal Street.

During Dr. Francis’ tenure as president, Xavier more than tripled its enrollment, broadened its curriculum, expanded its campus, and received national attention for its award-winning academic initiatives. In 2012, the National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education (NAFEO) in conjunction with AT&T created a scholarship in his name. The AT&T-NAFEO Francis Fellow Awards were granted to students at Xavier University, Dillard University, Grambling State University, Southern University, and Southern University-New Orleans.

Dr. Francis served as an adviser to five U.S. presidents and is the recipient of 41 honorary degrees from institutions that include Harvard University, the University of Notre Dame, Johns Hopkins University, and Loyola University New Orleans.

He was the recipient of both Loyola’s Integritas Vitae Award in 1986 and the Adjutor Hominum Award in 1991 and is a former member of the Law Visiting Committee. In 2012, the Black Law Students Association at Loyola presented him with the A.P. Tureaud Achievement Award. In 2015 he received the St. Ives Award, the highest honor awarded by the College of Law Alumni Association.

Dr. Francis has served as chairman or board member for numerous councils and foundations, including chair of the President’s Council for the United Negro College Fund, American Association of Higher Education, The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, The College Board, Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Educational Testing Service and the Southern Education Foundation.

He was also named to the 2014 Ebony Power 100 List, was the recipient of the Pope John Paul II Award from the Catholic Foundation of the Archdiocese of New Orleans in 2003, and was awarded the 1991 Times-Picayune Loving Cup, presented for his unselfish work in the community without expectation of recognition.

Diane Dooley

Diane Dooley


Diane W. Dooley, Specialist for Faculty Employment Processes, is both a staff member and alumna of Loyola. She is an Ignatian Staff Fellow, a member of the Inaugural Cohort of 2013-2014.

Ms. Dooley, a native of New Orleans, earned a Bachelor of Business Administration degree with a concentration in Management and Accounting in 1997. She was both a non-traditional and a first-generation student. She was inspired by her late grandfather, John A. Jackson, Jr., to attend Loyola. Mr. Jackson, a civil rights activist and education advocate, took young Diane and her siblings on outings in the city, pointing out historical places along the way. On a street car ride, he pointed out Loyola as a school that he would not have been able to attend during the segregation era. Hearing his painstaking story inspired Ms. Dooley to make a promise to him that she would one day attend Loyola in homage to him and so many others that were not able to. She received a lot of help from her family along the way. Her father, Arthur C. Westrey, Jr. provided transportation home from class every night for six years. Her mother, Doris provided child care to her adolescent son. It was truly a family affair. Ms. Dooley never takes for granted that she is here today because of the support and encouragement she received from her family.

Ms. Dooley joined Loyola’s staff in 2009. As Specialist for Faculty Employment Processes, she coordinates all faculty employment-related matters on behalf of the Office of the Provost, ensuring adherence to faculty employment policies and procedures. She also establishes and maintains effective working relationships and communication with deans, directors, and administrative staff in the Division of Academic Affairs. She approaches her work as a service to the university at large and embodies the Ignatian principle that we are to be with and for others.

Ms. Dooley is also a veteran of the United States Naval Reserve, having served during the Persian Gulf War. Her service in the military took her to places as far away as the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.

Ms. Dooley is devoted to helping others grow spiritually and considers that her life’s calling. She has served as the Parish Catechetical Leader at Our Lady Star of the Sea Catholic Church in New Orleans for nearly twenty years. Ms. Dooley believes that every relationship we have with others is born out of our spiritual existence and connection to God. Her favorite pastime is to share the Good News of Christ with anyone that will listen. Her hope for everyone she meets is that they will come to know just how much God loves them and that in Him they will find their true worth.

Sierra Ambrose

Sierra Ambrose


Sierra Ambrose, a senior majoring in political science, is the first African-American female president of Loyola’s Student Government Association. She is a proud member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., First in the Pack, the Black Student Union, and Pi Sigma Alpha, the political science honor society. Ms. Ambrose has attended law school preparatory programs such as Kean Millers Connections, and professional development programs such as the Association of Professional Schools of International Affairs’ (APSIA) Diversity and Inclusion Forum.

As a proud Lafayette native, Ms. Ambrose embraced a plethora of cultures through education, service, and social activities founded in the heart of Cajun country. Her upbringing familiarized her with languages and cultural practices that are reflective of the “gumbo pot” that is Southwest Louisiana—and that prepared her to personify a Jesuit value that resonates with her strongly: cura personalis.

Moving to New Orleans was Ms. Ambrose’s opportunity to write her own chapter on what it means to be unapologetically Black. She has taught many members of the Loyola community how to be comfortable in their own skin and accepting of other cultures. She has spearheaded programs and initiatives that address diversity and inclusion, health and wellness, and community engagement, meeting and exceeding expectations of leadership that many women dream of achieving.

Ms. Ambrose aspires to impact her community through civil law. She intends to pursue a juris doctorate degree in civil litigation and a certificate in common law. Her plans also include earning a master’s degree in public policy. Her passion for people and hunger for justice drives her to be a catalyst for change. Mr. Ambrose hopes to represent the individuals who do not have the means to represent themselves.

Toussaint Battley III

Toussaint Battley III, DNP, FNP-BC, APRN


Dr. Toussaint Battley, an assistant professor in the College of Nursing and Health, joined the faculty of the School of Nursing in the summer of 2015. He has taught on the undergraduate level, both in the classroom and online, since 2010 and currently teaches in the Doctor of Nursing Practice and Health Care Systems Management programs.

'I have a love for teaching and have embraced my role as faculty on the graduate level,' Dr. Battley, said. 'My personal teaching philosophy is rooted in the Betty Neuman System Model nursing theory, viewing students through a holistic lens while understanding the many lines of defense and variables that can impact their learning experience.' He added, 'I understand my role as faculty to function as an educator, facilitator, administrator, and mentor to students by implementing interventions to best enhance students’ learning experiences, as well as prevention measures to diminish the risk of negative influences that can impede the learning process.'

As a family nurse practitioner, Dr. Battley has worked in neurosurgery, both as a first assistant in surgery and a clinician, and in primary care, free community clinics, and emergency/urgent care settings. He currently practices in local emergency rooms across the greater New Orleans area. He also made history in December of 2013 when he became the first African-American to receive the Doctor of Nursing Practice degree from Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center in New Orleans.

Dr. Battley also has a love for Informatics and is certified as an EPIC superuser, providing training to healthcare providers at various healthcare facilities to better enable them to navigate the electronic health record environment.