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Morehouse Launching Search for New Leader

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By Bekitembe Eric Taylor, Special to the NNPA from the Atlanta Daily Voice –

Morehouse College officials launched a national search for a new chief executive Tuesday, a day after school president Robert M. Franklin announced that he is stepping down from his leadership post when his contract ends June 30.

Board of Trustees president Robert Davidson said Tuesday that no names have yet surfaced to succeed Franklin, who has headed the all-male institution for the last five years.

“We are in the process of forming a search committee to perform a rigorous search for someone who embodies the core values of Morehouse,” said Davidson, a 1967 graduate of the college.

“In the evolution of Morehouse, we want to remain one of the premier institutions in the country,” he added.

Davidson and other college officials praised Franklin for helping to renew the college’s commitment to academic vigor, for doubling alumni donations and for generating more than $90 million in support of the college.

“Robert has led by example, dedicating a substantial portion of his time to community service, which is one of the core values that Morehouse seeks to instill in each and every one of its students,” Davidson said. “We will miss him as the board endeavors to find a replacement who will help to usher the college into a new era.”

While officials were publicly praising Franklin for his leadership, however, college insiders say Franklin was coming under increased scrutiny from board members and influential alumni for poor management decisions that led to a series of fiscal challenges – some say fiascos – at the school.

In an interview with The Atlanta Voice this week, Franklin and Davidson declined to comment about speculation that board members – weary of poor leadership decisions – forced Franklin to step down.

“We have a strict policy that we cannot talk about the financial matters of our staff or the college,” Franklin said. “But I can assure you that Morehouse is operating strongly at this time.”

Franklin, who turns 58 this month, circulated a Jan. 30 letter to college alumni on Monday, announcing that he would not seek another term as the school’s 10th president.

“After much thought and prayer reflection, I have decided to step down as president,” Franklin wrote. “Although I have enjoyed the privilege of serving this great college, and we have witnessed many great successes, I am looking forward to the next chapter of my professional life.”

A 1975 Morehouse graduate, Franklin said he will “pursue my passion for teaching” in various posts around the nation, including as a scholar-in-residence at Stanford University’s Martin Luther King Jr. Institute and as president emeritus and distinguished professor of social ethics at Morehouse.

“I look forward to a sabbatical during which I intend to travel, write, speak and interview leaders about the condition of boys and men in the U.S. and around the globe.”

Morehouse’s board of trustees named him President Emeritus and Distinguished Professor, the college’s highest honor.

“Dr. Franklin has served an integral role leading the renaissance of Morehouse, and his dedication is greatly appreciated,” Davidson said in a statement released by the college.

Franklin said wants his tenure to be remembered as one of scholarship and direct outreach to the student body.

“What I will miss about being president are the students,” he said. “I’ve had the opportunity to mentor to them, and know them to be the best and brightest of America’s treasures.”

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