Chautauqua names new Department of Religion director

CHAUTAUQUA – Chautauqua Institution announces the appointment of the Rev. Dr. Robert M. Franklin Jr. as the new director of its Department of Religion, following the retirement of the Rev. Dr. Joan Brown Campbell at the end of the year.

Franklin is president emeritus and Distinguished Professor of Social Ethics at Morehouse College, where he served as the 10th president of the nation’s largest private, four-year liberal arts college for men from 2007 through 2012. He has been an active participant in Chautauqua’s religious programming since 2001, serving as lecturer, chaplain, theologian-in-residence, adviser to the Institution’s Abrahamic program, and as a member of the Institution’s board of trustees.

“I am excited and truly grateful for the opportunity to work with Robert Franklin as Chautauqua’s new director of the Department of Religion,” said Chautauqua President Thomas Becker. “Robert is a genuine scholar and a man of deep and committed faith. That combination is particularly powerful in the context of Chautauqua’s work and its ambitions.”

“I am honored to become an official part of the life of Chautauqua and excited about working with Tom Becker, the board and staff to ensure a vibrant future for the Religion Department,” Franklin said. “There’s no place in the world quite like Chautauqua, and working with the entire community I pledge to do everything I can to project Chautauqua’s values, practices and moral vision throughout the country and the global community.”

At Chautauqua, Franklin has served as a member of the Religion Department’s Abrahamic Advisory Committee; speaker on the Institution’s morning and afternoon lecture platforms; chaplain-in-residence; and, in 2005, theologian-in-residence for the nine-week season, as he prepared his book “Crisis in the Village: Restoring Hope in African American Communities.” Franklin’s Chautauqua lectures have examined “America’s Unfinished Agenda” – the ongoing work of embracing diversity in the United States and learning from the nation’s history – and Martin Luther King Jr.’s expectation that morally serious people work actively to promote economic opportunity with justice to eradicate racism and to practice nonviolence, all working toward the creation of what King called “a beloved community.”

Franklin served as a member of Chautauqua Institution’s board of trustees from 2008 to 2009.