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Francille Firebaugh did her undergraduate studies in dietetics and home economics education at the University of Arkansas. She completed an M.S. degree in home management and family relations at the University of Tennessee and received a Ph.D. degree in household economics and management from Cornell University. She served for 26 years in various positions at the Ohio State University and was vice provost for international affairs at the time of her Cornell appointment as Dean of the College of Human Ecology in 1988. Dean Firebaugh continued to have strong international interests at Cornell, as evidenced by her membership on the Board of Trustees of Zamorano, a Pan-American college in Honduras, and the development of ties between the College of Human Ecology and Kyoritsu Women's University in Japan.

After retiring as Dean of the College of Human Ecology (1988-1999), Francille Firebaugh served as vice provost for land grant affairs and special assistant to the president from 2000 to 2005.