Br. Francis Bowers, FSC

Br. Francis Bowers, F.S.C

Associate Professor Emeritus of English

Deceased: December 6, 2013

Br. Francis was born in Manhattan in 1920. He has lived and taught in each of the five boroughs and considers himself a New Yorker. Br. Francis attended Cathedral Boys High School, where he played baseball and basketball. He came to Manhattan College as a full-time faculty member in 1959 and has served as professor of English and world literature, dean of the school of arts and sciences, provost and academic advisor for intercollegiate athletes. For his involvement with Manhattan Colleges athletes, he was elected to the Jasper Hall of Fame. Br. Francis currently serves as a special academic advisor for the school of arts. He enjoys reading and continues to be interested in athletics.

Educational Background:

  • B.A., The Catholic University of America, 1946
  • M.A., Fordham University, 1952
  • Ph.D., The Catholic University of America, 1959
  • Thomas R. Finn grant recipient for study at Oxford University, summer 1962 
  • Manhattan College summer grant recipient for research at Cambridge University, 1966

Areas of Expertise:
Administration, Teaching: English, World Literature, Guidance

On becoming a Christian Brother:
I met Brothers who were extraordinary teachers in high school. They presented information in a thrilling way and had such a presence. Though I was interested in the Brothers when I graduated from Cathedral Boys High School, I could not consider such a move at that time because my father was ill. I began working on Wall Street and attended C.C.N.Y. several nights a week. During this time, I kept in touch with the Brothers. After five years, my family situation improved and I was able to join the Brothers.

On other Brothers:
Br. Alexander Joseph Brennan (deceased), Br. Matthew Kerins (deceased), and Br. Bernard Ryan (deceased) motivated my decision to become a Brother. Br. Eugene Law (deceased) was a dynamic English teacher. It was his example that inspired me as an English professor. Br. Cyprian James Walton (deceased) was also influential in my life.

What do you see as your greatest contributions to the College?
My tenure as dean of the school of arts and sciences, my teaching, being chairman of the graduate and undergraduate English and World Literature departments, my tenure as chairman of the Faculty Committee on Athletics and serving as the Academic Advisor for Intercollegiate Athletics

Meaningful teaching experience:
I had a very enjoyable experience teaching a small class of fourth-year English majors. Instead of meeting in a classroom, I held class at my residence in the West Hill dorm, where I was prefecting at the time. (This building has since been sold to Riverdale Country Day School.) They were wonderful students who really wanted to learn. They all ended up getting Ph.D.s in English!

On becoming Provost: 
I had applied for the presidency job in 1975, even though it was known that Br. Stephen Sullivan was probably going to be selected for the job. I applied because there had been resistance by some to Br. Stephen being president and I thought that they could use a backup man. My main interest at that time was in returning to teaching. However, the year that Br. Stephen took over as president, the provost died in May. Because I had demonstrated an interest in administration, Br. Stephen asked me to fill in for a semester. I ended up filling in as provost for five years.

More about Br. Francis:
In high school, I played baseball against Manhattan Prep (Manhattans now-defunct preparatory school closed its doors in 1971). I lost my first game pitching against the Prep. The game was called in the 5th inning because it was too late in the evening. It was only 5:00 p.m., but I think the coach of the Prep wanted to go home. I was happy to beat them later on in my senior year.

Career at Manhattan:

  • Instructor, Summer Session, 1953-54
  • Instructor, Graduate Summer Session, 1956
  • Associate Professor of English and World literature, 1959-70, 1985-89
  • Chairman, Graduate English Department, 1961-70
  • Chairman, Undergraduate English Department, 1967-70
  • Chairman, Faculty Committee on Athletics, 1965-69
  • Chairman, Planning Committee for Athletic Facilities, 1969-71
  • Dean, School of Arts and Sciences, 1970-80
  • Provost and Academic Vice President, 1980-85
  • Academic Advisor for Intercollegiate Athletes, 1988-2004
  • Special Academic Advisor, School of Arts, 2004

Prior to coming to Manhattan College, Br. Francis taught in the New York area at Ascension School (1946-48), St. Augustines High School (1948-51), and St. Peters High School (1951-53). He also served as an instructor at De La Salle College in Washington, D.C. (1953-59). In 1960, he taught in the summer graduate program at St. Marys University in Winona, MN. During his time as a professor at Manhattan College, he was a member of the Council of Vice President for Student Services (1967-69) and served as a member of the Board of Trustees at De La Salle College in Washington, D.C. (1969-71). Br. Francis has been a member of Phi Beta Kappa since 1946.

Read the citation from Br. Francis' election to the Athletic Hall of Fame

Read Br. Francis' death announcement 

Read the homily from Br. Francis' funeral Mass