Robert Michael Franklin

Robert Michael Franklin, Jr. Named Alumnus of the Year 2010


The Board of Trustees of the Baptist Theological Union has named Robert Michael Franklin, Jr., Ph.D., the Divinity School’s Alumnus of the Year for 2010. Franklin is the tenth President of Morehouse College, the nation’s largest private, four-year liberal arts college for men. Franklin earned his M. Div. from Harvard Divinity School in 1978, and his Ph.D. from The University of Chicago Divinity School in 1985 for work on Ethics and Society, and Religion and the Social Sciences.




Prior to his appointment at Morehouse, Franklin was a Presidential Distinguished Professor of Social Ethics at Emory University, where he provided leadership for a university-wide initiative titled “Confronting the Human Condition and the Human Experience” and was a senior fellow at the Center for the Study of Law and Religion at the law school.

Franklin graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Morehouse in 1975 with a degree in political science and religion. He continued his education at Harvard Divinity School, earning a master of divinity degree in Christian social ethics and pastoral care in 1978, and the University of Chicago, earning a doctorate in ethics and society, and religion and the social sciences in 1985. He also undertook international study at the University of Durham, UK, as a 1973 English Speaking Union Scholar. His major fields of study include social ethics, psychology and African American religion.

An insightful educator, Franklin has served on the faculties of the University of Chicago, Harvard Divinity School, Colgate-Rochester Divinity School and at Emory University's Candler School of Theology, where he gained a national reputation as director of Black Church Studies.

He provides commentary for the National Public Radio (NPR) program, “All Things Considered,” and weekly commentary for Atlanta Interfaith Broadcasting Television.

He also has served as program officer in Human Rights and Social Justice at the Ford Foundation, and as an adviser to the foundation’s president on future funding for religion and public life initiatives. Franklin also was invited by American film producer Jeffrey Katzenberg to prepare an online study guide for the congregational use of The Prince of Egypt, a DreamWorks film (1999).

In 1997, Franklin assumed the presidency of the Interdenominational Theological Center (ITC), the graduate theological seminary of the Atlanta University Center consortium. He served as the Chautauqua Institution's Theologian in Residence for the 2005 season.

Franklin is the author of three books: Crisis in the Village: Restoring Hope in African American Communities (2007); Another Day’s Journey: Black Churches Confronting the American Crisis (1997); and Liberating Visions: Human Fulfillment and Social Justice in African American Thought (1990). He has coauthored (with Don S. Browning, et al.) a volume titled From Culture Wars to Common Ground: Religion and the American Family Debate (2001). He is the coeditor of the forthcoming The Cambridge Companion to Martin Luther King Jr., published by Cambridge University Press.

A seasoned traveler, Franklin has studied seven languages and visited Africa, Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and the Caribbean. He is the recipient of a Ford Foundation grant to examine religion in public life in Asia and produced NPR commentaries based on this research. Since 2003, he has served as a consultant for the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

Franklin will deliver his Alumnus of the Year address on Thursday, April 29th, 2010 in Swift Lecture Hall. A reception will follow. Please watch our website for details.