URI president names director of affirmative action, equal opportunity and diversity

KINGSTON, R.I.– January 11, 1999 — University of Rhode Island President Robert L. Carothers has appointed a URI graduate and executive director of a minority investment and development corporation to be the University’s director of affirmative action, equal opportunity and diversity. Louis S. Francis Jr. , of Warwick, will leave his post as the top executive at the Minority Investment Development Corp. in Providence to begin his duties at URI on Jan. 24. Francis has directed the for-profit investment and development organization for five years in its mission to increase access to capital for urban, minority and disadvantaged small businesses throughout the state. As executive director, Francis has established close working relationships with community groups, financing and private sector initiatives and chambers of commerce throughout the state. “As a businessman, lawyer, minority business development authority and community servant, Lou Francis brings a unique set of experiences and skills to the University,” said URI President Robert L. Carothers. “He has a long history with URI and in the broader Rhode Island community, working to help people get fair treatment and equal opportunity. As a URI student, he was active in campus justice issues, and he retains a passion for moving issues forward. Mr. Francis wants to be deeply involved in finding solutions and common ground.” Francis was one of the original students to take over the URI administration building to press for greater support for minorities in the early 1970s, and sees much of himself in the current students. But he also brings 25 years of experience to bear on his perspective. “I believe this is an exciting and necessary position at the University,” Francis said. “It’s an opportunity for me to give back. I am happy that there is a fit between my real world experiences and the issues that are ongoing at the University. I like working with people who are growing and to be in a dynamic environment. I would also like to measure the difference between my time as a student and what is currently happening on campus. I feel as though this is a reward for my experiences and commitment, and I look forward to playing a productive role in the University community.” Francis, who will hold the position for 18 months, succeeds Sylvia Peters, who will leave the Affirmative Action office to begin teaching duties at the University. Francis will report to the president and serve as an educator and spokesperson on the campus and in the community regarding issues of affirmative action, equal opportunity and diversity. The position also calls for Francis to develop and oversee affirmative action/equal opportunity employment programs in compliance with government regulations, Board of Governors’ policy and the University’s goals to enhance diversity. Much of Francis’ career has been dedicated to minority business development. The East Providence native is also executive director of the Rhode Island Coalition for Minority Investment, the corporation’s non-profit arm. Before heading the two agencies, he was assistant director of housing and economic development for the City of Providence for approximately three years. Past business experience includes a partnership in B&L Construction over Co., in Providence. He was also a managing partner of Georgetown Bagel Bakery in Washington, D.C., a firm with more than 40 employees and $2 million in annual sales. Francis, who earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology in 1973 while a student at URI, matriculated through URI’s Special Programs for Talent Development. He holds a law degree from The George Washington University School of Law and is a graduate of East Providence High School. While a student at URI, he served on the Student Senate and was the first vice president of Uhuru Sa Sa, an African-American student organization. Uhuru Sa Sa’s founding supported the development of the URI Multicultural Center, which opened on the Kingston Campus last fall. Francis has also been active in many community organizations, including the URI Minority Alumni Chapter and the URI President’s Advisory Council on Minority Affairs. He is a past vice president of the Rhode Island NAACP. He and his wife Vicki have two children, Etta and Zachary. His mother, Alice is a lifelong resident of East Providence. For Further Information: Linda A. Acciardo 401-874-2116; Dave Lavallee 401-874-2116