Introduction of Robert Michael Franklin
Robert Franklin, you are the gifted college president of your alma mater Morehouse College with a strong commitment to the role higher education must play in creating a more just and humane society and world. Formerly Distinguished Professor of Social Ethics at the Candler School of Theology at Emory University, you are a leading scholar and teacher in the fields of social ethics, psychology, and African American religion.
You grew up in Chicago, attended Morehouse College, from which you graduated with a B.A. in political science and religion in 1975. You then attended Harvard Divinity School, where you earned a Master of Divinity in Christian social ethics and pastoral care in 1978. In 1985, you received a Ph.D. in ethics and society, religion, and the social sciences from the University of Chicago Divinity School. You have served on the faculties of the University of Chicago, the Harvard Divinity School, the Colgate-Rochester Divinity School, and at Emory University, where you gained a national reputation as director of black church studies. From 1997 to 2002, you served as president of the Interdenominational Theological Center at the Atlanta University Center, and, in 2007, you became the 10th president of Morehouse College.
Since 1995, you have served as program officer in human rights and social justice at the Ford Foundation and as adviser to the president of the foundation on issues related to religion and public life. You have also served on the boards of numerous organizations including the Congress of National Black Churches. You are a noted author and frequent commentator on National Public Radio's All Things Considered. Fellow scholar Cornel West calls you "one of the most prophetic leaders and visionary thinkers" of your generation.
Your scholarly works speak to academics, church leaders, and lay people. In 1990, you published Liberating Visions, in which you explore the ethical tradition of African American thought by studying four prominent black public moralists: Booker T. Washington, W.E.B. Du Bois, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King, Jr. You followed this in 1997 with Another Day's Journey. In 2007, you published Crisis in the Village, in which you call upon three pillars of the African American community - families, churches, and colleges - to address key social, economical, and political issues that threaten the future of America.
Robert Franklin, you are a gifted professor, preacher, college president, and visionary thinker. You have moved concern for social justice, economic opportunity, and human equality into the center of academic and public discourse. Your scholarship and leadership have moved us to rethink the role of education in the larger world and to renew our sense of responsibility for reshaping that world.
Upon the recommendation of the faculty and by the power vested in me by the Board of Managers of Swarthmore College and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, I have the honor to bestow upon you the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters.