Through his life and leadership, the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. demonstrated a deep commitment to helping others, an appreciation of diversity and active community participation. DMU President Angela L. Walker Franklin, Ph.D., has worked to follow his example throughout her career. On Jan. 18, she will be honored with the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Achievement Award of the Iowa Commission on the Status of African Americans.
President Franklin has devoted her career to enhancing education and opening doors for all students. Before she became DMU’s 15th president in March 2011, her work at Morehouse School of Medicine involved nearly all aspects of higher education. To prepare for the next step in her career, she became a fellow in the prestigious American Council on Education Fellowship Program, in which she shadowed a university president and affirmed her goal of achieving that role.
In 2007, Dr. Franklin joined Meharry Medical College, the nation’s largest private, independent historically black academic health center, as executive vice president and provost. Among her accomplishments, she led efforts to land an $18 million Robert Wood Johnson Foundation grant for a new program to develop leaders from African American and other under-represented communities interested in pursuing careers in health policy.
Under her leadership, DMU adopted a mission “to improve lives in our global community by educating diverse groups of highly competent and compassionate health professionals.” In 2012, the University established the Office of Multicultural Affairs (OMA), which has greatly expanded opportunities for the entire University community to learn and share frank dialogue on cultural competency. DMU also joined the National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education (NADOHE) in 2012.
President Franklin and the University have been recognized by external entities for efforts to promote civil rights and diversity. DMU was among the recipients of the 2015 Friends of Iowa Civil Rights Award and the 2014 Inclusion Award of the Greater Des Moines Partnership. The National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education selected DMU for its 2015 Institutional Excellence Award for promoting and sustaining innovative diversity efforts.
In 2015, President Franklin received the Mary McLeod Bethune Award from the Iowa Juneteenth Observance organization, an honor that recognizes Iowa pioneers who serve educational institutions. In 2013, she was named an Iowa History Maker by the African American Museum of Iowa.
Active in the community, President Franklin chaired the 2013 and 2014 American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women Movement and was corporate chairperson for the 2015 One Walk of JDRF, an event that raises funds for the organization’s research on type 1 diabetes.
In 2015, President Franklin was named to the board of United Way of Central Iowa; in July 2015, she began a two-year term leading the organization’s Health Cabinet, a group of 15 community leaders charged to design and implement effective strategies to achieve progress in areas including health care access, healthy environment and healthy lifestyle.
On a national level, in 2015 President Franklin was elected to serve a three-year term on the board of the Association of Academic Health Centers, a nonprofit organization that seeks to advance the nation’s health and well-being through vigorous leadership of the nation’s more than 100 academic health centers.