Q&A with Dr. Juan N. Franco

Friday, June 2, 2017
Q&A with Dr. Juan N. Franco

Portrait of Juan N. Franco, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Before Juan N. Franco, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs returns to faculty in the Counseling Psychology Department, he shared a few thoughts on his career and the higher education environment. 

Q: What initially attracted you to Nebraska?

A: It’s an interesting story. At the time I was in my third year at Utah State and loved it –as I did at New Mexico State, too. I got a call asking me if I would be interested. I said, “I’m quite happy here…” and we left it at that. To make a long story short, I got five calls. After the fifth call, I said it wouldn’t hurt to go look. So, I came and looked, and I really liked it. I liked the environment, the students, the people; and frankly, I’d always wanted to work at an AAU school because New Mexico and Utah State had always had that as a goal.

Q: What is your favorite SA memory or most prideful moment at Nebraska?

A: I think my most prideful moments are related to the Character Council and what the students have done in terms of allowing others to really shine when it comes to helping other people. They really push the idea of character and integrity.

Q: What part of your job did you enjoy the least?

A: Notifying parents when things happen to their sons or daughters. When bad things happen and someone is injured in an accident or worse, delivering bad news to parents is difficult.

Q: Who has been your greatest mentor in your career?

A: Probably my department head, Dr. Richard DeBlassie, at New Mexico State University. He hired me right out of college; when most universities don’t hire their own graduates. He must have seen something in me and pushed for me to be hired. He really mentored me in terms of the role of a faculty member in all aspects – teaching, research and service. He probably had the biggest impact on my career.

Q: Throughout your career, you’ve been adamant that students come first. When did you become so invested in college students?

A: I think I’ve always enjoyed young people, starting with coaching t-ball. I’ve always wanted to be around young people and to watch them succeed. And it appears that they have always been comfortable around me.

I remember going to high school athletic activities and sitting with my kids. Not only would they sit with me in the stands, which you know teenagers normally don’t like to do with their parents, but I would also be surrounded by their friends. You’d see twenty young people and me in the stands.

I’ve always had such a special relationship with young people and I’ve wanted to make sure they get treated fairly and are given every opportunity to succeed. The good thing is that if you treat them with respect, they will respond, so that’s what I’ve always tried to do.

Q: What is one piece of advice for the interim vice chancellor and next Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs?

A: To become as involved as he or she can with the students. Understand that they do need some guidance, but that if you give them enough room they will surprise you.

Q: What issues do you think will remain most important in Student Affairs and in the university environment?

A: Budget and access issues will continue to drive the agenda in higher education. Other issues such as mental health and apparent lack of resiliency among this generation of students will need additional attention.

Q: With teaching on the horizon, what should students know about you?

A: I have high standards, but I’m very fair. Some would say that I’m a toughy, but they know that I will be fair. When I’m in the classroom, I expect them to do well, and at the same time I provide them the support they need.

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