Honoring the Consummate Educator

At the College of Charleston, the name Conseula Francis brings a smile to the faces of faculty, staff and alumni. She was one of those rare individuals who could make a person’s day brighter just by her presence. She had an innate ability to connect with people that made her a beloved professor and colleague.  

Sadly, Francis passed away in 2016 after a struggle with leukemia. She touched the lives of many, and her impact can still be felt today.  

Francis joined the College’s English Department in 2002 and quickly became known on campus. In 2011, she was honored with the College’s Distinguished Teaching Award. She played a key role in the development and launch of the College’s African American Studies major in 2014. She shared the importance of this major in a 2012 College of Charleston Magazine interview   

“Charleston is too important in the history and culture of the African diaspora for us to ignore. We should be educating our students about that history and training them to document, preserve and tell that history themselves,” she said. “A major in African American studies will also help prepare students to live and work in diverse communities, whether it is the community right around us here at the College, or other communities anywhere in the world.” 

Francis went on to be associate provost for curriculum and institutional resources and director of the African American Studies Program as well as professor of English and African American studies. At every step, she shared her love of knowledge and made efforts to improve opportunities for students.  

“The first time I met our beloved colleague, teacher and friend Conseula Francis, we were at employee orientation, and she jumped over a row of seats to introduce herself, flashing that incandescent smile of hers,” recalls Valerie Frazer, associate professor of English and director of the 1967 Legacy Program. “She was like that, an aisle-crosser, a bridge builder who broke down barriers, improving the lives of all who met her. We at the College have been forever transformed and are ever so grateful.” 

“Conseula was a force of nature, and her presence was mesmerizing,” adds Myra Seaman, professor and chair of the Department of English. “When teaching, she brought texts to life for students in ways they just couldn’t access on their own. In her research, she broke new ground on previously devalued works and authors. And for the campus and community, her service produced new programs and opportunities for students, faculty and staff. She left the College a richer, more welcoming, and more just place than it had been when she arrived.” 

Words cannot fully describe the positive impact Francis had on the lives of the many who met her. Fortunately, her remarkable legacy continues at the College through the Conseula Francis Reading Circle, Conseula Francis Emerging Scholar Lecture series and through the newly established Conseula Francis Annual Scholarship, which awards $2,500 annually to an African American student at the College of Charleston. 

To all those impacted by her fierce dedication as an educator, please support the Conseula Francis Annual Scholarship so more students can benefit from her influence.