Franklin University Holds 137th Commencement Ceremony
For Immediate Release: May 2, 2011
Contact Sherry Mercurio, Director of Public Relations
Columbus, OH —
Franklin University, one of the leading educators of working adults, will hold its 137th Commencement Ceremony on Sunday, May 8, 2011, during which more than 750 degree candidates will receive their diplomas at Veterans Memorial Auditorium.
Observing the ceremony from the stage will be a special group of guests. Representatives from seven of the University’s international partner institutions, here for an Outbound Coordinators Exchange Program, will join the University’s academic and administrative leadership, to celebrate this momentous occasion. Exchange Scholars participating are Franklin’s Outbound Program Coordinators from Macedonia, Oman, Poland, Serbia, Slovakia, Ukraine, and Vietnam.
Gene T. Harris will address the graduates. Dr. Harris currently serves as the Superintendent and Chief Executive Officer of Columbus City Schools (CCS), the largest school district in Ohio. Upon becoming superintendent in 2001, Dr. Harris promised to move the district from the state’s category of “academic emergency” to “academic watch.” Accomplishing this goal in spite of changing state requirements, she attained continuous improvement in 2007.
Under Dr. Harris’ leadership, the Higher Education Partnership was created, providing a single point of contact between CCS and eight Central Ohio colleges/universities to develop programs that boost student achievement and college readiness. Dr. Harris also established the no-cost Saturday Winter Institutes to help students pass the Ohio Graduation Test and the Virtual High School program, which lets students earn credits online. In addition, Dr. Harris established the Credit Recovery Program, which enables students to retake classes and earn credits by computer.
A 1971 graduate of Linden-McKinley High School in Columbus, Dr. Harris earned her B.A. from the University of Notre Dame, her master’s degree from The Ohio State University, and doctorate from Ohio University. She launched her career as a teacher in the Columbus City Schools district, then moved on to become principal, supervisor of principals, and deputy superintendent, during which she implemented full-day kindergarten, aligned curriculum to new state standards, and helped to secure a $15 million National Science Foundation grant. After developing new teacher education and licensure standards as assistant superintendent for the Ohio Department of Education, she returned to CCS, becoming deputy superintendent in 2000 and superintendent in 2001.
Dr. Harris has earned numerous accolades throughout her career. She has been awarded twice with the Ingram Award for outstanding leadership as a principal, and in 1991 was named a YWCA Woman of Achievement. In 2002, she received the Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity African American Role Model Award and the Who’s Who in Black Columbus Master Achiever in Education Award. In 2003, she received the Columbus Metropolitan Area Community Action Organization (CMACAO) Community Impact Award, the Cavaliers Club Award for Outstanding Accomplishments, the National Council of 100 Black Women-Columbus Chapter Personal Achievement and Devoted Service Award, and the University Council for Educational Administration Excellence in Educational Leadership Award. Dr. Harris received the Martin Luther King, Jr., Dreamer Award in 2004; the Champion of Children, the Children’s Hunger Alliance Educator of the Year, and the Buckingham, Doolittle & Burroughs Stellar Performer awards in 2005; and the Donald and Gail Anderson Award from the OSU College of Education and Ecology in 2007.
A Columbus Rotary member, Dr. Harris serves on Ohio University’s Board of Trustees, as well as the United Way of Central Ohio, and the Central Ohio Workforce Investment boards. Currently a Sunday School teacher and Trustee at the Mt. Olivet Baptist Church, she is married to Stanley E. Harris, vice president of National City Bank. Their adult son, Wade Thomas Harris, resides in New Jersey.
In addition to giving the keynote speech, Dr. Harris will also receive an Honorary Doctorate of Community Leadership from Franklin University during the Ceremony.
Graduating MBA student Juan Diego Martinez will also address the graduates. Currently working at JPMorgan Chase, he previously served two years in the architectural field before moving to the United States, where he worked for five years with two Central Ohio design firms.
Originally from Columbia, Juan earned his B.A. in Architecture from St. Thomas University in 1999.
Founded in 1902, Franklin University is one of the leading and most experienced educators of adult students. Annually, nearly 10,000 students attend Franklin, through its Main Campus in downtown Columbus, Ohio, three Central Ohio locations and in Beavercreek, as well as at co-locations across Ohio, Indiana, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, in addition to online. Franklin offers more than 40 undergraduate and graduate programs (including the new Certificate in Criminal Justice and Logistics Management major) and graduates more than 1,500 students annually. The University’s MBA program is offered internationally through agreements with institutions in Europe and the Middle East. Further information regarding Franklin University can be found at www.franklin.edu.
Franklin University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission (HLC), the International Assembly for Collegiate Business Education (IACBE), and the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).