Chief Human Resources Officer Tawanda Johnson sent the following message to the campus community on June 6, 2024. – Ed.

Dear Colleagues,  

It’s with a heavy heart that I write to share the news that Rodney Lee Franks, manager of Client Services, Front Line in William & Mary Information Technology, passed away on June 1, 2024.  

Rodney began his 13-year career at W&M as an area director for Residence Life in 2011 and moved to Information Technology in 2016. During his time in IT, Rodney served as a technology support specialist, technology support lead, and was promoted to his management role in 2019. Rodney’s colleagues describe him as a kind, supportive, and funny man whose presence will be sorely missed in Jones Hall. 

As a campus leader and passionate member of the Staff Assembly, Rodney’s commitment to the university was strong. Former Staff Assembly President Candice Vinson noted, “Rodney served not only as senator, but as social media coordinator, vice president, and newly elected president. He had a deep compassion for the university’s staff, which was shown through his dedication to listening to the concerns of others and working to support actionable changes to improve the staff experience at W&M. Rodney did a significant amount of behind-the-scenes work that many wouldn’t know about because he didn’t care about credit, he just cared about making sure things were better for staff. He was a great leader, supportive friend, deeply caring individual, and loving father and husband. Rodney was one of the kindest people I’ve ever had the honor of meeting. Working with Rodney was something I always looked forward to, and he will be deeply missed by all who had the pleasure of meeting him.”  

Rodney’s impact was felt by people from various corners of campus. Carlane Pittman-Hampton, chief of staff to President Rowe recalled, “Rodney was a friend. He was one of the kindest, warm-hearted people that I have met. Rodney did not know a stranger and was always willing to help and think out of the box to find the best solution.” This sentiment is echoed by many of his colleagues, including his supervisor and friend, Brian Persinger, director of Client Services & Customer Success. “Rodney was kind, smart, funny and an overall wonderful human being. He is someone you try to emulate and hope your kids grow up to be like. IT will forever be different without him.” 

Rodney was above all else a proud family man to his wife, Melissa (also known as Cookie), senior assistant director for W&M financial aid, and son, Grayson. Rodney was known for enjoying a good cigar, a great glass of bourbon, Mustang cars, and good conversations with friends. Cookie wants it to be known that Rodney loved his Tribe! 

A celebration of life ceremony will be held at the Wren Chapel at 3pm on Tuesday, June 11, 2024. The service will be led by Reverend Max Blalock. All are welcome to attend. Additional information can be found on a Celebration of Life website and on the online obituary.  

My deepest sympathies go to Rodney’s family, friends, and co-workers.    


Tawanda Johnson 

Chief Human Resources Officer