As a doctoral student in clinical psychology at Emory University, Angela Walker Franklin was selected for the Minority Fellowship Program of the American Psychological Association (APA), a comprehensive training, mentoring and career development program that helps promising students achieve lasting success in the field of psychology.
“The program was an extraordinary opportunity that provided me the resources and support to complete my training as a clinical psychologist,” says Dr. Franklin, now president of Des Moines University. “That support gave me the focus and resolve to complete my doctoral training within four years and helped me advance to my internship year at Grady Memorial Hospital.”
Dr. Franklin has since built a distinguished career in higher education. She served in several leadership roles at the Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta and then at Meharry Medical College in Nashville, TN, before being named DMU’s 15th president in spring 2011. For her efforts to advance diversity through important leadership roles, the APA honored her with its 2017 Training Advisory Committee Special Award on Aug. 4 during its annual convention in Washington, DC.
Dr. Franklin notes her training as a psychologist and experience in higher education helped shape her preparation for a university presidency.
“The basic principles of that training, such as active listening skills, approaches to conflict resolution and demonstrating unconditional, positive regard, prepared me to assume top leadership roles,” she says. “It also helped me establish the tenets of my leadership philosophy that apply in all my interactions. I ascribe to the principles of servant leadership with a focus on building relationships and operating in a collaborative environment.”
At Morehouse School of Medicine, Dr. Franklin’s positions included vice dean, associate vice president for academic and student affairs, associate dean for student affairs, director of counseling services and assistant professor of psychiatry. She then served at Meharry Medical College as executive vice president and provost, oversaw academic and administrative departments and held a professorship in the department of psychiatry and behavioral sciences.
During her tenure as DMU’s president, the University has implemented programs and curriculum changes to develop students’ cultural competency, a critical set of skills for future health care professionals in an increasingly diverse society. In the Des Moines community, Dr. Franklin serves on several boards, including those of the Science Center of Iowa, Bankers Trust, the Greater Des Moines Partnership and United Way of Central Iowa. She also is a board member of the Association of Academic Health Centers, chair of the health cabinet of United Way of Central Iowa and chair of the Greater Des Moines Partnership Talent Development Board.
Dr. Franklin is past chair of the American Heart Association Go Red for Women movement in Des Moines, the JDRF Walk to Cure Diabetes and the Greater Des Moines Partnership’s community health needs assessment mental health workgroup.
Dr. Franklin’s many awards include the 2016 Martin Luther King Jr. Achievement Award from the Iowa Department of Human Rights, the Mary McLeod Bethune Award (Educator of the Year) from the Iowa Juneteenth Observance Committee, the Women of Influence Award from the Des Moines Business Record, the Inspire Award from Dress for Success and the African American History Maker Award from the African American Museum of Iowa.
A 2001-2002 Fellow of American Council on Education, Dr. Franklin also is a 2004 protégé of the Millennium Leadership Institute, which is sponsored by the Association of State Colleges and Universities to prepare the next generation of leaders in higher education. In 2014 she authored a memoir, An Unconventional Journey…An Unlikely Choice, about her career journey and lessons in leadership.