WWL>Topics>>11-4 3:10pm Angela speaks with Norman Francis

11-4 3:10pm Angela speaks with Norman Francis

Nov 4, 2013|

Open Book—our one-on-one with the longest serving university president in America…president of Xavier University, Dr. Norman Francis

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Automatically Generated Transcript (may not be 100% accurate)

Literally from the first day I got this job I have waited for this day I have waited to interview this man. I've often said that the greatest leader in New Orleans was never elected. Norman Francis president of Xavier University of Louisiana. Has led to an extraordinary life. At 36 he became president of Xavier and now is the longest running university president in the nation. You only have to drive on the I tend to see a complex of beautiful buildings to understand the vision and leadership of one man. He has been given every -- from the time speaking in loving cup to the national medal of freedom but for those who know him it'll never be enough. Norman Francis is that rare person who has influenced the lives of generations of people. And impacted the city in a lasting way all while being the proud but humble son of -- barber. And I truly am thrilled that you are here we have tried for five weeks. But of course you ask a busy person cook and you never stopped and I think that's that's part of it. Hopefully your writing a book one hope. Not really have been asked that so many times and I'm not too sure. How when I get time to do Latin. And I know what it's important. Not for me but for so many of the experiences have handset somebody else might. Appreciated. Find out. Life is such a beautiful thing and that it doesn't matter where you come from what -- you live -- and how -- had a great great life. Great opportunity. And I have to correct something I didn't do all that it's a -- I had a lot of good people. And as a as a slogan I use Angela he was able how to do survive. Those 45 years and I -- the secret is for anybody who thinks he or she wants to be a leader. Is to hire people smarter than you and get out of their way. And that's about done. Not a must explain. I have the opportunity and responsibility. That I can delegate the authority for them to make decisions but I can't delegate away. The responsibility. That I have for the decisions they make him when you do that it's amazing how people rise. To their fullest potential in their roles yes absolutely -- behind them for a specific reason. And any president of -- -- -- Thinks he she knows all the chances to do. What the out their mission calls for switching -- that have a Little League. -- tragedy to micromanage. Something like this and again I don't drive down the I ten more I don't look at the roofs of those buildings and just have literally watched as we all have. The if they expansions of growth the beauty really what you created their stunning looks and it. Even though our beloved Katharine Drexel who I have nothing but respect for started savior it was truly -- who who. Let it fly in and breathe life into it. And I know that in today all universities are -- struggling but fining many challenges. And I wonder what you're facing today. Problem that everybody is facing and particularly the clientele of students simply serve. Very bright students you know we get -- from all of the United States but I think you cloak. For Louisiana we get -- 2% to about students from Louisiana. We get a great group of students from the river road and end. They they performed so well. But what we've faced with now -- number one problem is finding financial assistance for them. 21 and college. Any what we call led decent dot tuition now -- is now 181000 a year out with tuition. And we were enlisted in the fiscal. New York report. An -- report as a goodbye. In the same that you get -- a great deal from four -- money but even that 181000 isn't enough and they are off course. Pell grants to dole seventy plus 70% of my students so they'll grant eligible. And that Paris -- and it's a credit to them as soon as I knew it. Growing up and a small town like Lafayette although I'll call that God's country now. They they want to be somebody they wanna make a contribution. And they want that opportunity did do it in a small school nothing wrong what law school. What some people excel depending on what the environment is and small schools do that. And ma Mike Mike Mike greatest. Banks give you will. Is this C students who have to leave because they can't afford to continue to pay and that's after a ride along must leave. -- Monies that court will bridge the gap but we can just do so much and it's a real tragedy. And that is a tragedy and I know that to the phenomenal figures have what you're school has produced for the medical community the pharmaceutical community. But the best in the United States I understand Chris percentage wise. It's it's that we're number one producing the African Americans who graduate from medical school and in the top three -- pharmacy school. -- we we unknown. Nationally known in what's called the stem field essentially everybody struck much the stem field 65%. Of the students is maybe a major. In the stem fields science education that technology math. Physics we we on the number one producer of how African Americans who get PH d.s Ph.D.s. In the life sciences. An end -- end. It's a credit. One to the factually and the people who world. None of the big wages but we we don't know better than -- but the dedication. And -- and. And the young -- the then there's still a newspaper you knew about to a nuclear coney island college and all that. And and there was a time when they could only produce some months a month. I was has produced but once a week now with the technology. But last week's -- and I got it. Congress I'm sending it in an envelope to my chairman a -- war. It was the best that I have seed. The they ought to goes well written test all they have been but few what they chose to write about. You know one was a total -- feature on if you -- interview for a job you know he ought to be prepared and how you. Dress and ally. But they have not had a twist to what they said. There are some companies now. That I have what what's called different -- And that down you'll find a more casual but -- shouldn't go in blue jeans that you should have. -- enough good sense to be well dressed and then you move into that it interest. It for those freshmen who -- going to be reading at a senior staff to good story can visit historic it's an important story and and it all the other stories the highlighted the volleyball team you know this one the champ -- three years in a row. Is it something about young people being credited for what they do and held to high expectations. And then. Get honored for what they do and we need more on that. You know you were talking about stem I have read an article that said that in 2007. And that's fees. Xavier graduated 165. Math and science majors. Ohio State with 50000. Students graduated 27. The focus view yeah it's not that you found a -- because you're obviously graduating many other -- graduates but. To have the reputation had to go into the science is yes and then for them to go on to medical schools and other kinds of school. Absolutely incredible -- let's talk a little bit about the money situation because there's been a lot of discussion in the last year I guess and probably longer. On on the price of an education and is it worth it to value now for somebody who wants to be a doctor somebody who launched via Ph.D. something. -- you have to -- but an awful lot will say I'm going to I'm going to graduate I'm going to have 50000 dollars or 200000 dollars in loans. And I'm gonna get a job that's going to be paying 35040000. Is it worth it well. Let let me and I that's a good question it is worth it it's unfortunate of course and I gave this in a speech. Let's -- night a week is going to little Louisiana. And I talked by the value of education and I'm predicting something I said unfortunately for years. We have paid our athletes to musicians just so a lot of money and we paid out teachers so little money you know -- He paid a teacher to home do you view on the heart and soul of your children. And we've got to change that. But this time it's a coming. The teaching profession because who were not paying. Did not cruel cold -- them people that you -- talking about and the numbers are going to collapse. And the students are gonna grow. We gonna start paying teachers small money. And fortunately. Fortunately. Will be around to prepare these teachers and I say that you because. They. All future the hell are they are they have always venue are so right we just not appreciated financially. What we shakes. -- -- there's only one legend in this room and that is doctor Norman Francis I'm so thrilled to have him as our guest today. We were talking in the commercial about you're you're early days I first saw you -- and segregation you were the first graduate of Loyola law school. You just have had incredible life experiences. And yet from very humble beginnings but your your father and mother really believed that education was ticket. I see this all the time -- -- I guess the more I appreciate as I hope everybody who's listening to us how parents our grandparents uncles and on. If they were Smart people. I'm on the -- didn't graduate high school. And with no disrespect of my fact of the -- they -- a smile there's some of the Ph.D.s on my campus in terms of life. Qualities. Principles. And what value to what are you gonna do to prepare yourself. And and Monday and Zimbabwe and he just was delighted when I got admitted to law school. He had great respectful of lawyers there was not an African American lawyer in Lafayette and how did not have one. Being with ten years after I graduate colonial Loyola but he gets knew I was gonna come back to Lafayette and -- -- million elderly. All of my classmates would geologists and they would have great respect for me will last stood before the bench. And here I choose to go to the most. Accomplished nonprofit. Small black college at. To help other students. And I know he must have gone to his grave never forgiving me for not coming back to Lafayette but the but say that god is good and got as good always. My brother was -- full of black Catholic bishop named in the United States. And this happened only twice in the history this country where two. African American. Presidents. -- all -- promised to. An African American bishop. Georgetown was the first one in the -- twenties with today's I think it was at in 1976 from my brother was -- we became the second. But I say god is good because. My father went to his grave may be not forgive the not for giving me. When I'm being a lawyer in Lafayette but he went to his grave not with a lawyer but with the bishop. As so I guess god one had that choice that was. Dedicated to all of his work in there is Obama and his civic responsibilities so. He was happy. And maybe it would give the why not there's no -- -- live long enough to see what you were creating at Xavier yes yes he didn't know he had to have been nothing but thrilled. Did when you got to Xavier did you say OK I'm president. I'm here I'm gonna work on a master plan. Or was it just we need to survive. No it well. To tell the story it's completely many people think Catherine Drexel who. Had the money of a father as a last Dona. And use every penny of it became a non. And she built schools in the Indian reservations. In almost every major city and only you know race it was a -- And she. I mean. The people who come to me and say how much BP to come to Xavier was little or nothing because she believes in founding CB. That's the opportunity. Was there. And had to be there for youngsters who wanted to excel and we had our curriculum -- C -- and curriculum -- that's how she grew up but when she died in 1955. Every penny. Was stopped. So we were on loan from 1955. And killed today and that that crosses that people think we have the money we don't. So we -- it every day every day we open our doors is a miracle. And having. Had the opportunity. To stand on the shoulders of two females. Two nuns. Who. Made its debut what it was and I have a Nile case -- who found this again. Is it is what it's a blessing. That I can't totally describe because. It will faith community. We could we wouldn't be if we did have faith that can tell you. Do you ever talk to her insane mother Drexel. Is get a little tough fast -- You know are -- good money to help our students isn't what it was. I do intimidate him and do it every day. And I can tell you. I believe in miracles I believe in faith. And -- most shining example that times and I'm not sure. How anything is going to -- that it is important goal. And I I still pray every night. Critic Katherine Drexel like an answer about. Anybody who don't have faith. Is missing a lifetime. Faith. In Alex is it's is believing so strongly. That things are gonna be better. And that the hope for the future is going to be good that you will you as swath through the kinks in his take the first step. On a staircase. And not knowing whether the second step is there about it but that fate says go ahead and it works. We're talking with doctor Norman Francis who of course is the head of Xavier University has been for 45 years. And I think has probably seen a real evolution of education in our country and certainly one -- right now in our society. With technology -- senator and he just casually just mentioned to make well by the way we have. An inch -- two we started two years ago and Xavier called the confucius institute. And already doing exchanges with China. Unbelievable. It's the future and it's it's. It's a part of an education that any youngster today. Should understand. They have to prepare for we want them to be educated. Globally Saturday nationally regionally but. The world is. Striking so fast. We took Kawika learn some things in these kids skated in thirty seconds on the and computers and arrests and just just think about it a youngster no matter what color race creed witnesses who studies Mandarin and college. -- so maybe a similar stage in just -- take China can take that -- and then graduates and applies for a job. It was American country. A company that's doing business in China. That's a step ahead of somebody. Who didn't have that opportunity but that's -- is prepared. And they excited about it and there are other countries talk and we have Brazilian students on campus now about twelve. And Brazil is sending those students some coming from different. Career as many -- comical pharmacy in the like but the China wind is so interesting because it. We will -- will coordinate -- -- the largest 45000. Students and how -- university. And that experience. I've connected to counsel generals. To the United States who are based in Houston. This so excited about this the president of that 45000 had lunch with me last week is excited about this experience in the life. And it couldn't help but draw us all together more on -- Shooting all -- maybe get a different in the number of various. But we gonna have to live together on this climate. And country and we need to know more about each other. Know you set it right to the world is shrinking and dubbed the demands on. Is changing as well. You receive the medal of freedom and I'll never forget that because. It was after Katrina people were still very down and depressed and sort of starting the fight back and I look up. And there you are on the CBS evening news receiving that. And it just. Sort of said to me everything's gonna be all right. That you were acknowledged as you should be for for all you have contributed to education nationally not just. -- CI tenant here but nationally. I'm just curious what you are thinking now. When we see more universities. But going into Internet. Teaching this is that a positive. Good questions. I think you have to be cautious. About how you do it. Should we do it yes but. Cycle folks that say I like to have somebody who can speak back to you. When you are learning this quote through that technology. And and the ones who have done it successfully. Have combined in the personal. -- Teaching of the teacher who is handling that course. And the student gets an opportunity. To. Had everything the need for study. They'll take that may not have been they have this they have the teaches her syllables in all of that it'll make for a -- animal quote knowledge will youngster but it has to be balanced. And I don't think you run into this. Like some may have done and have second thoughts about. We waited a while and we now starting to do it but when will we doing it cautiously. Because the first thing he is the quality of what you're TT. The ability for students to get the knowledge they need and would never gonna compromise that. And our history of having done that not all kinds of circumstances sales for us. Don't just jump. But -- at some point you will have to and prepare for it and I think I think that technology is gonna move us. Much faster without question but I think that we must never forget. That the students learn in different ways yes. You've got to hold the high expectations. He got to get them to feel. That they are somebody and that's the on that and you believe -- Well and that's what they teacher face to face face can do motivate and encourage and well the wisdom doctor Norman Francis I don't wanna run out of time I've summing things I would like to talk to this man about. But I want to divert a little bit because you have six exceptional children and I am lucky enough to know a couple of them. And they all are outstanding in their doers and I just say. You and -- Francis and clearly had a commitment to raising wonderful children that were very highly motivated and I think perhaps that is what. Carries over to what you have created at Xavier. Is getting kids and wanting them to believe in themselves. Not everybody can do that. Well it's it's it's it's there more than we realize. Unfortunately see so many kids who lost their way. But there's so many others who law. Finding their way anyone encouragement. If people ask -- many times. What is the greatest thing you. Might get out of being in the university while a lot of things but I'll tell you one that's so simple. It's my standing on that stage. With a diploma in my hand -- looking after the next. Graduate on the steps. And to see the expression on that faces. It's all the world for me because our remember them when they came as a freshman and here they are mature young men and women. And -- had this happen to me now twice. Had that the the way you do it is you know you handed diploma you shake hands and say congratulations. Well on too -- different occasions in two different years a young lady when I extended my hand she says no I wanna -- car. Yeah not handshaking. And I understood what's she was saying in a sense how would talk for this I appreciate what you've done but I -- -- -- you know. And that means all the world that you put the time man and here's another human being who is going to go out. And touched more people than I could've ever touched. That's that's the satisfaction that's what keeps me going up he was always got to be more than that that's it. That's it -- that's. That's helping God's creation. You know and it's. To inspire another human being to be the best that human being can be has to be the essence of everything. Got to have that opportunity. That's for me and. And you've taken one step through that I go to -- alumni fans all over the country all. Are we got on the elevator when the young man coming here and you look for me he cinema Xavier graduate on exit great -- -- thought to look like they've got a taxi with cliff but. But he he wanted -- know who he was. And what I normally -- as you know I'm so glad you didn't let me do what I wanted to do when I was eighteen years of age. -- because we thought maybe you needed experts that we had you know we still believe in me with some of old age and the impatience of youth. He put that together you've got a good song. And and we start that in freshman year and we go through out the year if you need help that somebody they had Ethiopia and remember freedom is not free. You've got responsibilities. And you -- going to be held. Reliable and accountable for legal responsibility. And -- You just don't realize how much they remember. Graduates tell me O line I don't what I said in orientation. -- They're hanging on every word as well we are.