DMU President Franklin named Iowa History Maker

September 27, 2013 —

President Franklin accepts an honor from Michael Kates, executive director of the African American Museum of Iowa.

President Franklin accepts an honor from Michael Kates, executive director of the African American Museum of Iowa.

Angela Walker Franklin, Ph.D., is the first African American woman to serve as a president of a medical/health sciences university. She has devoted her career to enhancing education and opening doors for all students. She led DMU in affirming its commitment to preparing diverse groups of highly competent and compassionate health professionals and to serving the community.

For her leadership and achievements, in August the African American Museum of Iowa (AAMI), located in Cedar Rapids, selected her as an Iowa History Maker. The AAMI honored her and other chosen African American men and women in Iowa who have made history at its annual History Makers Gala on Sept. 26 in Cedar Rapids.

“In her career, civic and volunteer service and personal integrity, she has been a trailblazer and an outstanding role model whose life and legacy will long benefit others,” stated Larry Baker, D.O.’77, in his nomination of President Franklin. Chair of the DMU Board of Trustees, Baker is medical director of the emergency medical department of UnityPoint Health in central Iowa.

Before she joined DMU, President Franklin was executive vice president and provost at Meharry Medical College, the nation’s largest private, independent historically black academic health center. Her earlier career at Morehouse School of Medicine, Atlanta, involved nearly all aspects of higher education, from recruiting and counseling students to strategic planning, accreditation, budgeting, human resources and faculty promotion and tenure. She also was a fellow in the prestigious American Council on Education Fellowship Program.

At DMU, President Franklin led efforts to bring La Clinica de la Esperanza to the DMU Clinic. A partnership with UnityPoint Health, La Clinica serves thousands of Hispanic and Latino patients. She has been particularly supportive of programming and curricula that enhance the cultural competency of DMU students and employees and global health opportunities that allow students to hone their skills as they serve people in need around the world.

She collaborated with leaders of several regional health care organi-zations to form the DMU Clinical Collaborative, to increase and enhance training opportunities for students and serve the area’s health care needs. She has been a leader in enabling DMU’s wellness program to become the only program in the nation to earn, for the second time, the platinum-level Well Workplace Award, the highest distinction of the Wellness Councils of America.

Beyond campus, President Franklin is chair of Des Moines’ 2013 “Go Red for Women,” a campaign of the American Heart Association to reduce heart disease among women.

“In all these ways, she will have a positive and powerful impact on individuals and health care for years to come,” Baker stated.

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Des Moines University (DMU) is the only private medical school in Iowa, offering graduate-level, professional degree programs in osteopathic medicine, podiatric medicine, physical therapy, physician assistant studies, biomedical sciences, anatomy, health care administration and public health. Founded in 1898, the institution offers superior academics in a collaborative environment. DMU students' pass rate on national examinations and board certifications is consistently higher than the national average and the rates at similar institutions.


Endlessly curious and easily entertained, Barb Dietrich Boose loves being a member of the friendly, fascinating DMU community and its creative communications team. The University's publications director and DMU Magazine editor, Barb is always on the hunt for story ideas, good books and new recipes to try out on her family, such as her surprisingly tasty pork-and-bean bars.