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An influential social justice and Black student advocate in the Fresno community dies unexpectedly

By ONME Newswire

FRESNO, Calif.--Former CSU, Fresno professor, Dr. Francine Oputa, who was the director of the Cross Cultural and Gender Center before retiring in in 2020, died unexpectedly on Sept. 14 at the age of 70, (May 31, 1953 – September 14, 2023.)


Dr. Oputa started working at Fresno State in 1991 as the founding director of the Women's Resource Center. She also worked in the Division of Student Affairs and Enrollment Management and as director of the Cross Cultural and Gender Center. In 2011, Dr. Oputa received a doctorate of education (Ed.D.) from the University of California, Davis/Fresno State in educational leadership. She lectured in Africana studies and women's studies.

With her husband Rev. Henry Oputa, she founded The Way Ministries...John 14:6 and Saturday School. They are known for their programs in downtown Fresno that "taught children ages 3 to 12 about African and African American culture and about self-image".


Dr. Oputa also served on Fresno city's Parks, Recreation and Arts Commission.

However,, Dr. Oputa was best known for her advocacy and outreach with African-American and Black children in Fresno and her work to increase diversity and inclusion at Fresno State. Over the course of her career she "led campus efforts in the areas of human relations, equity, conflict resolution and diversity."

In 2020, Dr. Oputa was recognized and honored as a Trailblazer by the African-American & Historical Cultural Museum of the San Joaquin Valley.

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