Old map of Southeastern Ohio
Women Promoting Education in Southeast Ohio

Francine Childs (1940-2023)

Francine Childs, Ohio University Department of African American Studies professor, speaks to group, 1988
Francine Childs, Ohio University Department of African American Studies professor, speaks to group, 1988. Courtesy of Ohio University Libraries

Francine Childs

First tenured Black professor: In 1977 Dr. Francine Cheryl Childs became the first tenured Black professor at Ohio University. Childs joined the faculty in 1974 and was instrumental in establishing the African American Studies Department in the College of Arts & Sciences just five years later.

An advocate for change: Childs had a straightforward goal: to empower students to create a sense of community and inspire change. She wanted students to be involved in bringing about changes in their own communities as well as impact the world. The Ohio University Francine Childs Diversity Leadership Award is named in her honor.


Francine Childs in academic regalia
Dr. Francine Childs, HON ’97, EMERT ’05 in 2013

National recognition: She was named Peace Corps Black Educator of the Year in 1989 and received the Presidential Award for outstanding scholarship and service to the African global community and contributions to the promotion and development of Black Studies in 1992.


Her Time

Francine Childs was born in Wellington, Texas, a small town with segregated schools, and watched her grandmother organize the local NAACP. She was also inspired by Martin Luther King, Jr. For decades, she became the inspiration for her students.

Dr. Francine Childs

Her Legacy at OHIO

Over the course of nearly 40 years, Dr. Francine Childs, HON ’97, EMERT ’05, educated and inspired students at Ohio University, galvanizing them to stand up for their beliefs and bring positive change to their communities.

The Rev. Dr. Francine C. Childs Social Justice Scholarship Endowment is paving the way for future generations of students to continue her legacy while paying tribute to her place in OHIO history, her distinguished career and her passion for social justice and activism.