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Only months after stepping down from his leadership position at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Juan Franco died Tuesday in Houston.

Franco was 68.

Chancellor Ronnie Green confirmed Franco's death in an email to faculty, staff and students Wednesday. Green described Franco as "our dear friend, student champion, and valued colleague."

Franco served for more than a decade as UNL's vice chancellor for student affairs. One of his many initiatives was Franco's List, which regularly recognizes students who demonstrate integrity, citizenship, open-mindedness and respect.

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With Franco in a leadership role, the university established the Jackie Gaughan Multicultural Center, opened several new residence halls, upgraded campus recreation facilities and remodeled the Nebraska Union.

Green said Franco was a mentor to many members of student government at UNL during his tenure.

Franco, who came to UNL in 2006 from Utah State University, returned to a faculty position within the College of Education and Human Sciences on July 1.

"Thanks to Juan’s vision, collaborative spirit and optimism, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln is becoming distinctively known as a student-centered institution," Green said in his email. "He truly earned and is well-deserving of the respect, admiration and deep, genuine affection felt by all of us who had the privilege of knowing Juan."

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