M. Fräncille Bergquist, ‘Heart’ of Arts and Science

Photo by John Russell
Photo by John Russell

M. Fräncille Bergquist, a beloved professor of Spanish, emerita, and retired College of Arts and Science administrator who devoted much of her life to advising and mentoring thousands of undergraduate students, died Nov. 17 in Nashville. She was 74.

“Fräncille had a wonderful talent for believing in our students and motivating them to do their very best,” said Roger Moore, associate dean in the College of Arts and Science and principal senior lecturer in English. “She also strengthened faculty–student relations and was always willing to advise faculty on how to handle challenging and sensitive issues with their students. Fräncille lived a full life in service to Vanderbilt, leaving a meaningful and lasting influence on students, faculty, staff, alumni and community members.”

Bergquist was born Nov. 24, 1944, in Shreveport, Louisiana. Her freshman year of college was spent at Louisiana State University, where she developed a passion for the study of languages.

When her family moved to Italy, Bergquist attended the University of Barcelona in Spain. Upon returning to the states, she enrolled at Texas Tech University, graduating cum laude with a degree in Spanish in 1968. She earned a doctorate in Spanish linguistics from Texas Tech in 1977. That year Bergquist joined the Vanderbilt faculty as an assistant professor in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese.

In 1983, Bergquist was appointed associate dean for academics in the college. She played a significant role in freshman orientation for many years and organized the faculty pre-major advising program for first-year Arts and Science students.

Bergquist helped establish the McTyeire International House and was an adviser on the Spanish Hall for many years. She was an early proponent of creating a residential college system on campus.

Bergquist’s numerous faculty honors began in 1983, when she received the Madison Sarratt Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching. During the early 2000s she received the Alumni Education Award and the Chancellor’s Cup, the latter for her contributions to student–faculty relationships outside the classroom. She was active in many professional organizations, including the Tennessee Foreign Language Teaching Association, for which she served as treasurer from 1995 to 2018.

Bergquist became professor of Spanish, emerita, in 2013. She recently endowed the Fräncille Bergquist Scholarship as part of Opportunity Vanderbilt and met the first Bergquist Scholar, Sam Cho, who expressed deep gratitude for her generosity. “Her support for me transcends that of merely paving a way for opportunities and touches even the academic and personal aspects of my Vanderbilt experience,” Cho said.

Bergquist is survived by her sister-in-law, GaeNell Bergquist Trommald, and several cousins.

Ann Marie Deer Owens