Senior Interactive Developer for the Information Technology department David Francis likes to explore other worlds—the cyber and supernatural, that is.
Francis, who hails from rural Indiana, has become a Maine history buff since his arrival to Bowdoin in 2001, where he discovered a passion for the haunted history of Bowdoin’s campus.
“I thought to myself ‘I’m sitting in this New England campus that’s 200-plus years old—all these buildings—it just seems like there must be stories’,” he said.
This interest—along with his passion for Halloween—inspired Francis to become a tour leader for the Halloween-inspired haunted tours of Bowdoin’s campus.
His tours, which he leads around the holiday time and during reunions, visit Thorne Dining Hall, Hawthorne-Longfellow Library, Hubbard Hall, Searles Hall, Adams Hall, Appleton Hall, and Coleman Hall. During the tours, Francis tells stories about buildings like Adams—the most haunted building on campus—and its dilapidated basement.
He scares the group by talking of cadavers from the Maine Medical School that are supposedly buried under Coleman Hall.
“Adams Hall used to be, before they redid it, even creepier than it is now…it was awesome for the haunted tour. It’s still pretty awesome. The basement was really just dingy and musty. Strangely they used to have a study room down there and it used to be the props room for the theatre and dance department,” he said.
Some of his material comes from students’ supernatural experiences.
In one of his favorite recycled stories, a woman was walking down the hall in the basement in the dark when she saw a figure hunched over in the hallway.
“She kept getting closer,” he said, “and the closer she got to it, the less form it took… when it turned to look at her is when she turned around and bolted and ran.”
Earlier this year, he created a mobile app for the tour, though Francis has no plans to outsource his tours to the iPhone.
“I’m a programmer so I spend a lot time hunched over a computer by myself,” Francis said, noting his enjoyment of the tours.
Francis is responsible for the online creation of the dining menus, the housing lottery and the interactive maps about student activity during the summer, and helping faculty with class websites. Currently, he is working on a mobile version of the Bowdoin website and is collaborating with students to redo RideBoard, which he originally built around 2002.
“I really enjoy programming and building applications that people can use right away,” Francis said.
Another one of his biggest hobbies is cooking. Francis lives with his wife, who he met in college at the University of Indiana, and their dog and six cats. About nine years ago, Francis and his wife became vegans, once inviting people over from Bowdoin to enjoy these meals.
“I actually had a thing called ‘David’s Diner’, in which I invited four to six people—Bowdoin employees and such, sometimes students—who were just interested in vegan cuisine. I’d have them over for lunch,” he said.
His signature dish is shepherd’s pie, and his favorite desserts to make are carrot cake and whoopee pies.
In his spare time Francis also enjoys cycling, playing basketball and running. In fact, he ran a marathon several years ago and continues to run half marathons.
Francis enthusiastically mentioned that he has no problem eating a vegan lunch every day at Thorne and he’s happy to talk to anyone interested in a vegan lifestyle.