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Lewis University Remembers Brother Paul French, FSC


From: Lewis University

Published: December 11, 2015.

Brother Paul French, FSC, President Emeritus of Lewis University, passed away on December 10, 2015. Brother Paul was President of Lewis from 1967-1971 and an outstanding faculty member at Lewis for more than 40 years. The first person ever to receive the title President Emeritus at Lewis, Brother Paul was recognized by the Board of Trustees for his leadership during the challenging years of the late 1960s and early ‘70s. While other colleges and universities faltered during these times, Brother Paul promoted the development of a high quality Catholic education at Lewis and laid a firm foundation for Lewis to add graduate programs and become a university in 1973. He also led the University through negotiations for a possible merger with the College of St. Francis (now University of St. Francis), a proposal that resulted in many positive changes for both institutions even though the merger did not occur.

Brother Paul, a member of the De La Salle Christian Brothers, began teaching at Lewis College in 1963, just three years after the Brothers were invited by the Diocese of Joliet to assume sponsorship of Lewis. He taught English and served as the prefect of Fitzpatrick Hall before leaving to pursue his doctorate from Loyola University Chicago. Brother Paul returned to Lewis in 1966 where he taught briefly before accepting the presidency at the age of 33. During his tenure as President, Brother Paul oversaw continued renovation and improvement of the Lewis campus, including the construction of the Learning Resource Center (LRC), which includes the Lewis University Library, administrative and faculty offices and numerous classrooms. The LRC was renamed the Brother Paul French, FSC, Learning Resource Center in appreciation of his steadfast leadership and highly effective instruction to several generations of Lewis students.

“Brother Paul was exemplary in his commitment to Lasallian education, his leadership as President, and his extraordinary dedication to teaching as a highly accomplished faculty member,” said Brother James Gaffney, FSC, President. “He provided several generations of students with impassioned teaching and a relevant, career-related education in the context of a liberal arts core. He also served as President during a time when many other colleges and universities were struggling, as he provided a steady direction, an energizing vision, and numerous very positive academic initiatives. He will forever be a vital part of the history of Lewis University.”

After his term as president, Brother Paul took a sabbatical, and returned to teaching at Lewis in 1972, a position he would hold for three more decades. He also served for several years on the faculty of the Christian Brothers’ Bethlehem University in the Holy Land. As a full-time faculty member, he developed and nurtured the University’s Culture and Civilization Program, which became a part of the University’s core curriculum. In 1990, Brother Paul received the Sears-Roebuck Foundation Teaching Excellence Award for “his campus leadership and service, model classroom teaching, teaching methods and creative course development.”
In 1984, Brother Paul and Chet Kondratowicz, former chair of Lewis’ Theatre department and now Professor Emeritus, collaborated to create the Arts & Ideas Series, which today presents nearly 100 cultural and educational programs annually free of charge or at a minimal charge to the Lewis community and the public. For his academic achievements and excellence in teaching, Brother Paul was named Distinguished Senior Professor in 2000, marking the first and only time a Lewis professor had ever received this honor.

The Visitation will be on Monday, December 21 at 4:00 pm in the St. Charles Borromeo Chapel (Convocation Hall) and a Mass of Christian Burial will occur at 5:00 pm, followed by a reception in The Flight Deck dining room. Interment will be at 9:00 am on Tuesday, December 22 at Resurrection Cemetery in Romeoville.
Lewis University is a Catholic university in the Lasallian tradition offering distinctive undergraduate and graduate programs to nearly 7,000 traditional and adult students. Lewis offers multiple campus locations, online degree programs, and a variety of formats that provide accessibility and convenience to a growing student population. Sponsored by the De La Salle Christian Brothers, Lewis prepares intellectually engaged, ethically grounded, globally connected, and socially responsible graduates. The seventh largest private not-for-profit university in Illinois, Lewis has been nationally recognized by The Princeton Review and U.S. News & World Report. Visit for further information.

Bethlehem University Foundation
Phone: +1-240-241-4381
Fax: +1-240-553-7691
Beltsville, MD USA
Bethlehem University in the Holy Land
Phone: +972-2-274-1241
Fax: +972-2-274-4440
Bethlehem, Palestine