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President Judy L. Genshaft, Dr. Gregory Teague (Faculty Senate President), Dr. Joseph S. Francisco, Dr. Ralph Wilcox (Provost and Executive Vice President). Photograph courtesy of Ms. Entela Balliu. (December 15, 2012)

Honorary Doctorates Awarded to Chemists


Dr. Joseph Francisco

December 2012


Honorary Doctor of Science Citation

The University of South Florida today presents an Honorary Doctorate of Science to internationally known scientist, scholar and leader Dr. Joseph S. Francisco.

Dr. Francisco is the William F. Moore Distinguished Professor of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences and Chemistry at Purdue University. He also serves as the Associate Dean of Research and Graduate Education. Over the course of his distinguished career he has contributes over 400 research papers and nine review chapters in the premier peer-reviewed scientific journals in the world including Science, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and Journal of the American Chemical Society.

A highly regarded atmospheric scientist, his experimental and theoretical contributions have made a major and broad impact upon the field. His work laid the foundation for understanding atmospheric chemistry of proposed alternative, less harmful halocarbons critical for the conservation of the ozone layer in the upper atmosphere. In his election to the American Academy of the Arts and Sciences, the Academy recognized his work as having "revolutionized our understanding of the chemical processes in the atmosphere".

Dr. Francisco’s scientific contributions have won him recognition as a member of the prestigious American Academy of the Arts and Sciences, a fellow of the Alfred P. Sloan Research Foundation, a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science as well as the American Physical Society. He has received the Edward W. Morley medal, the Herbert Newby McCoy Award, the Humboldt Senior U,S. Scientist Award and the Percy L. Julian Award.

He has served as the President of the American Chemical Society and the President of the National Organization for the Professional Advancement of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers. He was also appointed to President Obama’s selection committee for the National Medal of Science.

Dr. Francisco has supported the education of chemists at USF by serving as the Martin Lecturer in the Department of Chemistry sharing his scientific experiences with students, faculty and postdoctoral research fellows. He has also been a speaker at the Tampa Bay section of the American Chemical Society.

After earning a B.S. in Chemistry with honors from the University of Texas at Austin and a Ph.D. in Chemical Physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dr. Francisco carried out post-doctoral research at Cambridge University, England and at M.I.T.



Commencement Remarks

President Genshaft, Provost Wilcox, Board of Trustees, Faculty and Graduates. I have had, or shall I say, we all have had good fortunes to have had great teachers that pointed us in the right direction and that have always been there for us to fall back on when we needed them. It is their vision of the future for us whose “shoulder we stand on”. Graduates, as you walk across this stage to accept your diploma, you will now have your opportunity to be that shoulder: A shoulder for all those younger than you. I came across a little story at the George Washington Carver Museum at Tuskegee University that summarizes this, and it goes as follows:

An old man, going on a lone highway,
Came, at the evening, cold and gray,
To a vast, and deep, and wide river,
Through which was flowing a sullen stream.

The old man crossed in the twilight dim;
The sullen stream had no fears for him;
But he turned, when safe on the other side,
And started to build a bridge to span the river.

"Old man," said a fellow traveler,
"You are wasting strength with building here;
Your journey will end with the ending day;
You never again must pass this way;
You should retire, watch TV/movies, or go to the casino
Why build you this bridge ?"

The builder lifted his old gray head:
"Good friend, in the path I have come,"
"There follow after me today
A young person, whose feet must pass this way.

This river, has been naught to me,
To this young person this river may a pitfall.
This young one, too, must cross in the twilight dim;
Good friend, I am building the bridge for him

This honor, you bestow on me today, has given me a moment to reflect on all that I have accomplished; and I realized that a significant part of my life has been devoted, not only to doing research and research that I hope adds to improving and making life on our planet Earth better for all, but part of my life’s work has been to service; and service to building bridges for our young people to enjoy successful careers in our profession of chemistry. My choice of service to others has not been easy, but it has been a wonderful and meaningful adventure. I have been lucky to have a wonderful wife to share this adventure with me. Now sometimes you cannot always be a shoulder for others to stand on, but at those moments, remember, you can be there to give people a “box” to stand on that helps enrich their lives when given the opportunity. Congratulations and good luck.