By ADD SEYMOUR JR.
Over the next six years, President Robert M. Franklin ’75 wants to see two-thirds of graduates get advanced degrees, raise the overall graduation rate to 80 percent, explore starting a master’s degree program and, most importantly, raise $125 million. “It’s time for Morehouse to step up,” Franklin said during his State of the College Address on April 27 in the Bank of America Auditorium. “It’s time for greatness once again. We’ve already proven what we can do.” Franklin outlined the Colleges challenges and plans during his speech, which was sponsored by the Morehouse College National Alumni Association and its Atlanta chapter. “We believe in Atlanta that an informed alumni body is an engaged alumni body,” said Brandon Banks ’06, Atlanta chapter president.
Members of the president’s leadership team – vice presidents Andre Bertrand ’76 (Campus Operations) and Phillip Howard ’87 (Institutional Advancement), chief financial officer Gwen Sykes and provost Weldon Jackson ’72 – were on hand to answer questions from the audience. But the president’s vision of the future dominated the evening. Franklin said international financial research firms have downgraded Morehouse’s financial outlook from “stable” to “negative” because of the tough fundraising climate and drops in endowment and enrollment. The College’s six-year, $125-million capital campaign will address fundraising and endowment concerns, though Morehouse’s endowment (which is $120 million) is one of only five HBCUs with more than $100 million. Franklin also said the campaign, along with increased alumni giving, will allow the College to increase the number of faculty-endowed chairs and raise the compensation level for faculty and staff.
The President said within the campaign period he wanted to build a new student center, see the Morehouse Male Initiative achieve national stature and perhaps start a new master’s degree program in leadership studies. In the immediate future, Franklin told alumni that the College’s size and character would be the subject of conversations among members of the Board of Trustees. They will talk about whether the College should remain a liberal arts institution or focus on pre-professional programs. They also will consider whether the student body should remain around 2,400 or be increased to as many as 3,500. Franklin challenged alumni to be part of the “futuring” of Morehouse.