David J. Francis
FRANCIS NAMED 2008 FARFEL RECIPIENT
The campus community also has valued Francis’ many contributions to the university. This year, he has been awarded the 2008 Esther Farfel Award, UH’s highest accolade recognizing faculty excellence.
The award includes a trophy and $10,000 cash prize that is provided through an endowment established by the late Aaron Farfel, former UH System Board of Regents Chair, in honor of his wife Esther.
“It is such a significant honor for a UH faculty member to win the Farfel Award that I had to pause for a minute to take in the magnitude of what this honor means,” said Francis, a Hugh Roy and Lillie Cranz Cullen Distinguished Professor. “As a UH alum and someone who has spent my entire professional career on the faculty in the department of psychology, it may even mean a little more to me. To receive such recognition from one’s peers, colleagues and students is, at once, humbling and gratifying.”
Even more rewarding is that Francis remains true to his nature as a quantitative researcher. His gift for statistics and measurement factors into his success as a researcher and has been instrumental in the development of the Texas Institute for Measurement Evaluation and Statistics (TIMES), a collaborative research center based on campus. These talents also helped pave new ground in the areas of neuropsychology and adolescent learning.
“There’s still a lot that we don’t know about how to make academic success likely for all students,” Francis said. “Meeting that challenge presents opportunities for basic and applied research in psychology, as well as in measurement and statistics. I feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to work on such interesting problems with such great colleagues and students. It’s really tough to beat this job.”
Francis was key in founding the National Research and Development Center for English Language Learners. Funded by an
$10 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education, the project focuses on literacy and English language development of Spanish-speaking elementary and middle school students.
He also was among the researchers who founded the Texas Center for Learning Disabilities. The center’s development was assisted by an $8.5 million grant from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and combines efforts from TIMES and other institutions.
Francis arrived at UH as a graduate student in 1979. He earned a master of arts and a doctorate in clinical neuropsychology, and in 1985, he was hired as a visiting professor. One year later, he became a permanent member of the UH psychology faculty. Since then, he’s been proud to be a Cougar and is pleased to call UH his home.
“UH has been a great place for someone like me,” Francis said. “My work has been valued, and I have been treated well. To be encouraged to pursue the work that I find interesting, to be treated well and to have great colleagues, collaborators and students is all one can ask for in academia.”