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Norman C. Francis named 2015 St. Ives Award recipient

Loyola press release - January 13, 2015

Norman C. Francis, J.D. ’55, H’82, the first African-American to graduate from the Loyola University New Orleans College of Law and the longest-sitting university president in the U.S., is the recipient of the 2015 St. Ives Award, the highest honor awarded by the College of Law Alumni Association.

The St. Ives Award, named for the patron saint of lawyers, is presented annually to alumni who have volunteered services to the College of Law or the university, maintained the highest standards of the profession and furthered the mission of the alumni association. Francis will be honored at the College of Law Alumni Luncheon Friday, Feb. 6 at the Ritz-Carlton New Orleans. For more information on attending the luncheon, contact Allison Hotard at 504-861-5741.

“I am most grateful to be a recipient of the St. Ives Award and humbled to be listed with the distinguished past honorees. Loyola University contributed to my growth and development at an important time of my life. I will never forget the privilege to be educated with my remarkable colleagues and the courageous mentors and supporters, all of whom are part of this recognition,” Francis said.

A 1952 graduate of Xavier University, Francis returned to his alma mater in 1957 — after attending Loyola’s College of Law and serving two years in the U.S. Army — to begin his administrative career as dean of men.

As one of Loyola’s most influential graduates, Francis’ early passion for equal rights preceded his distinguished and long career at Xavier.

As the dean of men at Xavier in the late 1950s, Francis played a key role in the decision to provide housing in a Xavier dormitory 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.

Since Francis’ appointment as the university’s first lay president in 1968, Xavier has more than tripled its enrollment, broadened its curriculum, expanded its campus and received national attention for its award-winning academic initiatives. Francis announced last year that he will retire this June.

In December 2006, he received the nation’s highest civilian award – The Presidential Medal of Freedom – from President George W. Bush. 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.

He served as an adviser to five U.S. presidents and is the recipient of 41 honorary degrees, including Harvard University, the University of Notre Dame, Johns Hopkins University and Loyola University New Orleans.

He 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.

Additionally, he was 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.