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Home Page of Donald E. Francisco

  Francisco's Ethical Truism:

I have no inalienable right to harm my environment because my environment is your environment and that of every other living organism on Earth!

Francisco's Hypothesis:

It is only possible to respect and nurture the environment (our only planet) when we also respect and nurture each other.

This is a link to a perplexing question i.e. click here.



 I am originally from St. Louis, MO and Houston, TX where I graduated in 1960 from Bellaire High School.  I received my BA and MA degrees in Aquatic Biology from North Texas State University under the direction of J.K.G. Silvey, and my Ph.D. in Applied Aquatic Microbial Ecology from University of North Carolina (1971).   I have been on the faculty of the Department of Environmental Sciences and Engineering at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for over 30 years.  However, I began a phased retirement on October 1, 2003 which meant that my only responsibilty was to teach a single course each semester.  I just finished teaching my last course in May, 2006.  I am now fully retired.

I have been married for 42 years to Betty who, in addition to being a red-headed Texan, a lot of fun and a good cook, is the manager of Boyd Income Tax Service at the Europa Center in Chapel Hill. We have a daughter, Vivian, a son-in-law, Chuck, and two lovely granddaughters, Angela (17) and Kimberly (15), who live in Walkertown, NC. They are very special people. I wish you could know them.  We take vacations with each of our granddaughters each summer.  In summer of 2004, Angela, Betty, and I went to Boston.  Kimberly, Betty and I went to British Columbia.  During the summer of 2005. we all went to the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone.   Betty and I went to Amsterdam for the first time in 2005 as well.  It is a lovely city.  In 2006 we took Kimberly to New York City while we went to Italy and Madrid.  Our big 2007 trip was to Peru, but we also traveled to Texas several times, San Diego, Kentucky, Asheville, and Charlotte.   Our 2008 trips included New York City (twice), Texas several times, the Canadian Rockies, Switzerland, and Kenya.  Of course the big trip was to Kenya.  This is a link to my Kenya picture album.  This is a link to a video of a lion eating a wildebeest.

Betty and I  have made a really big leap into the future. We've always wanted a vacation/retirement home in the North Carolina mountains. About 9 years ago, we decided that the best location was in the southeastern part of Alleghany County because it is only a little over 2 hours from Chapel Hill.  We engaged a real estate agent, Shawn Poole, to help us find a place. In May, 1997 we bought a beautiful home in the High Meadows Golf and Country Club. We call our place "Blue Haven" because it is a place for Tar Heels to gather. We have enjoyed the visits of many friends as well as family.  After ridiculing golfers for the 25 years that my office and lab were at the UNC Wastewater Research Center by the 9th tee of Finley Golf Course, I have become a golfer!  I am hooked, really hooked!  Alas, I am still a "high handicapper" though.  Now that I am partially retired I have spent a great deal of time at Blue Haven.  However, Betty still runs her business and is becoming restlessly lonely.

I strongly believe that we all owe dues to our society. I have and am paying my dues by service to my profession, community, and church. I am most proud of the fact that I was a member of the North Carolina Water Pollution Control Systems Operators Certification Commission for over 30 years. I have been Chairman and served on several committees of the NC Section of the American Water Works Association and NC Water Environment Association . I am one of three academics who have led this organization during its 85-year history.  Watch for my shovel tie clip. It signifies my election to the "5S" (Select Society of Sanitary Sludge Shovelers). Last year NC AWWA-WEA honored me at the annual awards banquet by naming me the first recipient of the "Educator of the Year Award".  Then I was totally stunned when the Chairman told me and the rest of the audience that the award was named for me, the "Donald E. Francisco Educator of the Year Award"!  Most of us dream of the honors we wish to receive as we enter a profession and reflect on the honors we did not receive when we retire.  This honor is too great to either dream of receiving or regret not having received.  Words simply cannot express my wonder at having received this honor.  Most recently, the North Carolina Professional Wastwater Operators Association named me an "Honorary Wastewater Treatment Plant Operator".  I operated the Mason Farm Wastewater Treatment Plant in Chapel Hill about 30 years ago.  It was the most challenging thing I did during my career.  I am greatly honored to be even an "honorary" wastewater treatment plant operator.

I have also been a Director for the Water Environment Federation and a member of its Executive Committee. Diane Crilley, the WEF committee liason, and I reinvigorated the WEF Students and Young Professionals Committee.  This was great way to end a service career because I presided over a wonderful group of young people who have made enormous improvements in the services provided for students and young professionals by WEF.  I was honored at the 2002 Water Environment Technical Exposition and Conference with an Honorary Membership.  Very few people are so honored.  It is very gratifying to be recognized for almost 40 years service to the water environment profession.

    For 33 years, I coordinated the presentation of the North Carolina Annual School for Wastewater Treatment Plant Operators.  Virtually every wastewater treatment plant operator in North Carolina (over 6000) has attended this school.  It has earned over 700 Full Time Equivalents of Continuing Education Credit.  This is the same as having more than 700 students enrolled for a semester.  The curriculum and instructors are approved and selected by a committee of the NC WEA.  I chaired that committee for 32 years.

        Additionally, I have served my community as a member of the Chapel Hill Planning Board and the Orange Water and Sewer Authority Board of Directors. A member of the University United Methodist Church, I have served on numerous committees.  I along with 4 other dear persons constitute the Church's Intercessory Prayer Group. Betty and I are also affiliate members of the Sparta United Methodist Church in Sparta, North Carolina.  This is near our home, Blue Haven.  I've just completed a term the Stewardship Committee for the church.  This is not my forte.  Betty is Vice President and Chairwoman of the Finance Committee for High Meadows Golf and Country Club.  My Club service is to keep her sane.

        In retirement, I am continuing to try to get my golf handicap below 28.  I've read quite a number of non-technical books.  The best has been Christian Appy's Patriots and Jim Hightower's Thieves in High Places as well as several John Jakes, John Grisham, Scott Turow, David Baldacci, and Greg Iles novels.  Now I am reading the love stories of Nicholas Sparks.  I have gotten another political fix reading  Jimmy Carter's Our Endangered Values:  America's Moral Crisis, Bill Clinton's My Life, and Kevin Phillips' American Theocracy (wonderful writing).  The best I have read recently is Charles Mann's 1491.  It is a must read.  I never seemed to have time for reading books like these when I was working full time.  We also tried the Metropolitan Opera for the first time just after I retired.  Since then, we have been to the Royal Opera in London and the Metorpolitan three more times.  Also, I have discovered that I have another "sister", Betty's cousin Ruth, who supplies me with all sorts of inspiration.  The latest are some sayings and questions that are worthy of contemplation.

I am also exploring other opportunities to serve my community.  I hoped to become a Hospice Patient Care Volunteer in Alleghany County, but it is proving difficult to reside in both Chapel Hill and Alleghany and serve either.  Of course, it is rather exciting to be making a change without knowing exactly what will result.

At the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, I have taught the following courses:


Click on the course number to see a course syllabus and other important course information.

*ENVR 51 -- ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION (3): A human-centered study of the health, economic, ecological, and aesthetic effects of our use of water, air, and land. The physical, biological, and chemical processes that occur in nature are studied, particularly as they relate to human activities and generation of waste residues, heat, noise, and radiation. Methods of control and abatement for environmental degradation are presented. Fall.

ENVR 101 On Campus-- ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH (2): An introduction to environmental health emphasizing the source, transport, and effects of environmental agents on human health.  In addition, environmental control techniques are addressed. Spring.

ENVR 101 Off Campus-- ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH (2): An introduction to environmental health emphasizing the source, transport, and effects of environmental agents on human health.  In addition, environmental control techniques are addressed. This course is offered as a teleconference and web-based course for the  MPH in Public Health Leadership degree. The course materials are only available to registered students. It is offered when required by that degree. I'm not sure when I will teach it in this format again.

ENVR 101 (On line) -- About 6 years ago,  I developed, with the assistance of a TA, Rachel Kron, and Ansje Burdick, Karl Umble, Amy Trestor, and Ben Davis of the Information and Instructional Technology Office, an exclusively web-based version of ENVR 101.  This was taught for the first time in the Spring, 2000 semester.  I had 27 students from Rio Rancho, NM to Upsalla, Sweden and everywhere in between. I taught the course 8 times since 2000 with students all over the world.  I have been rather surprised at how well the course has been received by the students.  I believe that this is in large part because these students are more mature and dedicated than residential students.  Therefore, they are more adaptable and resourceful when glitches occur.

*ENVR 135 -- BIOLOGY FOR ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES (4): An introduction to biology, including principles of biochemistry, cell structure, classification, and ecology. Laboratory emphasizes techniques utilized in measurement and control of environmental pollution. This course is designed for environmental engineers and chemists who have had little preparation in biology. Three lecture and two laboratory hours per week. Fall. This course was discontinued as part of the curriculum revision process in DESE. I was disappointed in this because the course had filled an important gap in the education of environmental engineers and chemists for over 20 years, and I thought it was a good course.

*I have also taught Limnology, Limnological Methods and Analysis, and Water and Wastewater Treatment Processes.


My research interests have been in the area of applied aquatic microbiology and limnology including eutrophication, biological wastewater treatment, biological phosphorus removal, and whole effluent toxicity.  My laboratory is now closed.  I have no current students and will not be taking new students.

I just completed an investigation of the causes of low dissolved oxygen concentrations below the lock and dams on the Middle Cape Fear River. In addition, I just completed an investigation of the factors that encourage re-growth of bacteria in drinking water distribution systems with Francis A. DiGiano.


A selection of representative publications authored or co-authored by Donald E. Francisco.

Hannon, P.A., Umble, K.E., Alexander, A., Francisco, D., Steckler, A., Tudor, G., & Upshaw, V.  “Gagne’s and Laurillard’s Models of Instruction Applied to Distance Education: A Theoretically-Driven Evaluation of an On-Line Core Curriculum in Public Health”.  In press, International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 2002.

Zhang, W., F.A. DiGiano, D.E. Francisco, and L. Fow.  A Statistical Study on the Relationship between Bacterial Growth and Water Quality Parameters. Proceedings of the NC AWWA and WEA Annual Meeting, 1999.

Francisco, D., DiGiano, F. A., Zhang, W., Todd, L. and Wu, J. 1998. Case Study: Regrowth in Two Distribution Systems (chlorine vs. chloramine disinfection) and High AOC, Proceedings of AWWA Annual Conference, Dallas, TX, pp. 597-618

LaRocca, C.A., Francisco, D.E., and DiGiano, F.A. Effects of Diet on Survival, Reproduction, and Sensitivity of Ceriodaphnia dubia. Water Environment Research. 66(7): 905-911. 1994.

Shahady, T.D., Mozley, S.C., and Francisco, D.E. Grazing Impact of Daphnia parvula on Phytoplankton in a Southeastern, Eutrophic Reservoir. Lake and Reservoir Management. 8(2): 189-203. 1994.

Francisco, D.E., DiGiano, F.A., Elias, M.C., and LaRocca, C.A. An Evaluation of an Approach for Determining the Cause of Chronic Toxicity in the Effluent From Municipal Wastewater Treatment Plants. A report to the Water Resources Research Institute of the University of North Carolina. 105 pp. 1992.

Francisco, D.E., Shoaf, S.R., and Lamb, J.C., III. Reduction in Nutrient Discharges Into Designated Nutrient-Sensitive Waters -- Phase III (East Burlington Studies). A report to the North Carolina Urban Water Consortium. 116 pp. January, 1988.


*Directory of Environmental Organizations

*Ecological Society of America

*Rocky Mountain Institute

*U.S. House of Representatives

*U.S. Senate


*Vote Smart - What are your representatives' positions?

*World Lecture Hall


UNC Contact

Don Francisco

Personal Web Page:


Don Francisco
333 Bayberry Drive
Chapel Hill, NC 27517-9116

Home phone: 919 933-0541 (Do not call during a Carolina basketball game!)
Personal E-mail:
Personal Web Page:

This site originally was created by the inimitable Tyme in 1996.

Last updated: December 22, 2007 by DEF