The Rev. Dr. Robert M. Franklin Jr., the inaugural James T. and Berta R. Laney Chair in Moral Leadership at the Candler School of Theology at Emory University, will deliver the 2018 Commencement address at Centre College on Sunday, May 20.
In addition to his faculty appointment, Franklin serves as a senior advisor to Emory President Claire E. Sterk, supporting community and diversity efforts.
Franklin was a high school senior in 1968 in Chicago when the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, and he chose to attend King’s alma mater, Morehouse College, for his undergraduate education.
After graduating from Morehouse, with a major in political science, Franklin earned a master of divinity degree from Harvard and his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago.
He later returned to Morehouse to lead the institution, serving as the tenth president from 2007 to 2012.
The author of three books, Franklin was also director of the Chautauqua Institution religion program until last year, and he served as a program officer in human rights and social justice at the Ford Foundation, advising the foundation president on issues of religion and public life.
Among the many national boards on which he has served, Franklin is currently focused on expanding LGBTQ equality and inclusion efforts at Historically Black Colleges and Universities as a member of a Human Rights Campaign’s project council.
For his four decades of advocacy for moral leadership, the Harvard Divinity School recently recognized Franklin with the 2018 Peter J. Gomes STB ’68 Memorial Honor.
As part of Centre’s Commencement ceremony, the College will award Franklin an honorary degree.
In addition, Kentucky native Stephen Bright will also receive an honorary degree in recognition of his many accomplishments, notably as president of the Southern Center for Human Rights.
Richard D. (Rick) Axtell, H. W. Stodghill Jr. and Adele H. Stodghill Professor of Religion and College chaplain, will deliver the baccalaureate sermon prior to Centre’s 195th Commencement.
by Michael Strysick
April 23, 2018