William Franklin ’87, ’90 (B.A. Psychology, M.A. Educational Psychology & Counseling) is the interim vice president of enrollment management and student affairs at California State University, Dominguez Hills. He’s also in the DNA of the CSU system. Just as the strands of DNA are the building blocks of life, Franklin’s story is part of the growth of the CSU itself. For his dedication to the system and the students of Dominguez Hills, The Wang Family Excellence Award committee awarded Franklin the CSU’s 2015 Outstanding Administrator Award.
To understand what put Franklin on course to excel, you have to look at his history. He grew up in an area that didn’t send many kids to college. When the few did get there, they weren’t often given the tools to succeed. But that wasn’t the case when Franklin got to California State University, Northridge. At CSUN, he found a place where he could shine — and the freedom to do so.
“The CSU system offers access and success,” Franklin said. “They did it for me, as a young, African-American male from South Central who had a lot of strikes against him. The CSU and, most notably, CSUN did not focus on my risk — they saw and nurtured my promise.”
That promise led to his bachelor’s and master’s degrees. He says it wasn’t easy, but he had the help of CSUN and administrators like him who truly cared about their students.
“The one in particular that I give a huge amount of credit to is Leroy Geter,” Franklin said. “He worked for EOP [Educational Opportunity Program], and along with that program, he was instrumental in my success. Leroy has retired from CSUN. It was not just a vocation to him — working with students was his avocation! He cared deeply and encouraged us to use every campus and community resource to be successful.
“William Watkins and Jose Luis Vargas are still working at CSUN and no doubt still changing lives daily,” he added. “I owe them a huge debt of gratitude for my current success. They are phenomenal.”
After CSUN, Franklin headed north to Stanford University, where he received his Ph.D. with an emphasis in psychological studies in education and a minor in social policy for children and youth. CSUN more than prepared Franklin for the “rigors” of the program, he said. After receiving his Ph.D., he found himself drawn back to the CSU system, becoming one of the founding faculty members of California State University, Monterey Bay and then associate professor at California State University, Los Angeles.
After being lured away from the CSULA faculty ranks to complete post-doctoral work at the University of Pennsylvania, Franklin decided to return to the system where he began his educational run, this time at Dominguez Hills as the director of EOP and TRIO (the name of a group of three federally-funded programs encouraged access to higher education for low-income students). He serves as the university president’s chief adviser on student affairs and enrollment management issues. As interim vice president of enrollment management and student affairs, he works with academic and administrative groups to develop a comprehensive, strategic enrollment management plan to make sure the university recruits, retains and graduates an academically prepared, diverse student body. He engages all of the college’s constituencies to ensure students are successful — something he picked up during his time at CSUN, Franklin said.
“I simply tried to bring the same excellence to my EOP students that I received from EOP during my time at CSUN,” he said. “I tried to emulate Leroy Geter and Dr. Jacqueline Jacobs, the EOP director during my time at CSUN.”
It’s this example of excellence that earned him The Wang Family Excellence Award’s 2015 Outstanding Administrator Award.
“I was overwhelmed when [CSUDH] President Hagan nominated me,” Franklin said. “I was floored and humbled. It has always been important for me to give back to the CSU system that provided so much for me during my undergraduate trek at CSUN. This honor and recognition means a lot, and I will continue to pay it forward.”
The paying-it-forward part should not be hard for Franklin. He’s spent his life learning and giving back. The Outstanding Administrator Award is only a small part of the legacy he wants to leave behind. He built the Male Success Alliance at Dominguez Hills, an internal program which aims to find and help the future William Franklins of the world.
“Your ZIP code and income status should not determine your outcome,” he said. “That is why I am most proud of having a hand in creating the Male Success Alliance at CSUDH. As a poor and first-generation African-American male growing up in South Los Angeles, I needed someone to believe that I was more at-promise for success than at-risk for failure. MSA is one of those programs that speaks to the promise of young men of color in this region.”