In Gratitude to Dr. Edwin L. Francis, Generous Benefactor of the Department of World Languages and Cultures
In the Fall 2013 issue of this newsletter, we reported the passing of two professors emeriti from the Department of World Languages and Cultures, Dr. Edwin Lopes Francis and Dr. Henri Urbain.
What we did not report at the time, because we didn’t know it, is that Dr. Francis had made a major gift to our department in his last will and testament. Dr. Francis left the department the very generous sum of $400,000! This money has been invested by the University so that the yearly profits can be used by the department to make a significant difference it the quality of its programs.
As we mentioned in the obituary, Dr. Francis was born in Boa Vista, Cape Verde in 1918, and he grew up in East Boston. He started teaching at Salem State College in the mid-1950s and developed the French B.A. program. The French major program was discontinued in the 1970s due to low enrollments but, as you know, it made a comeback just last year. Dr. Francis would have liked that.
Dr. Francis would have also liked to know that now it is possible to major in Italian in the old department that he loved and tended to, for in addition to teaching French, he also taught elementary and intermediate Italian courses, as well as courses in the English Department. This is something revealed to us by Dr. William Clark, also a retired French professor and a colleague of 22 years until his retirement in 2000. Dr. Francis may have picked up Italian while serving in the US Army during World War II in Italy. Although he also knew Portuguese well, it does not seem that he ever taught that language while at Salem State.
Dr. Clark also revealed that Dr. Francis was an accomplished pianist, performing at times for student audiences at the College. Dr. Francis had pursued piano studies at the New England Conservatory of Music.
Dr. Francis retired from Salem State in 1992, 24 years ago, before most of our current students were born and before any of the current faculty in the department were even here. Dr. Francis passed away on July 20, 2013 at the age of 95.
The WL&C department will start receiving dividends from the Ed Francis Endowment starting next year, in the fall of 2017. The WLC department is still trying to figure out the best way to spend the moneys. The only thing that Dr. Francis stipulated was that he wanted the department to gift a book for a graduating senior majoring in World Languages and Cultures Department which will be called the “Frederick A. Meier Book Award.”
Among the other things that the money may be spent on are excellence or service awards for students, alumni, or faculty; faculty support for scholarship; study abroad support for students’ travel expenses; cost of professional, assessment and proficiency exams for students and faculty; marketing and promotion; departmental events; and honoraria for special events and retreats.
Thank you, Dr. Francis!