Inside and outside of diversity

These days Robert Franklin is experiencing some déjà vu. His recent appointment as senior adviser for community and diversity to the provost and senior administrators at Emory recalls previous faculty appointments at the university, where he distinguished himself in social ethics, black church studies, and law and religion.

In the interim, Franklin has worked as an adviser at the Ford Foundation, president of Morehouse College, and -- most recently -- scholar-in-residence at Stanford's Martin Luther King Jr. Institute.

Known for insightful commentaries on NPR and books on crises in African American communities, Franklin brings a broad portfolio of academic and theological knowledge to his new position. He has held faculty positions at Harvard and the University of Chicago, consulted for universities nationwide, and is an ordained minister. Those experiences -- combined with an insider's knowledge of Emory -- give him an advantage in recharging and building momentum for diversity on campus.

Franklin will lead Emory in assessing the current state of diversity and benchmarking with peer institutions. He wants to close what some perceive as gaps between Emory's vision for diversity and its reality. Ultimately, he hopes to build a community and climate that allows faculty of color to feel supported and rewarded, "to feel that Emory is a place where they can flourish and grow," he says.

He is entering what he calls "this big tent" by listening. These days, stop by his table at Cox Hall where he's probably enjoying a bowl of Thai noodles and gathering the perspectives of all comers. He's all ears.