From Moving Mountains to Moving to Harvard
Former Vice President for Student Life and Affairs, Dr. Bernard Franklin, departed from his role at Mount St. Mary's University in the fall of 2021, and is continuing his career at Harvard University's Advanced Leadership Initiative. In this transition from the Mount to Harvard, Franklin shares his hopes of creating a pathway for students to receive an education through a compelling and diverse learning experience.
In the Advanced Leadership Initiative, Franklin will serve as a fellowship leader at Harvard to research underprivileged youth in urban cities. He hopes that he "can develop multiple accessible pathways for youth to go from high school, community colleges, universities, skills training programs and on living-wage jobs.” Harvard has inducted over 50 fellowship leaders to serve in the Advanced Leadership Initiative. Many of the leaders come from all over the world, from significant positions that are close to retiring, but are not ready to retire. This is one of the reasons that Franklin applied to this position; not only was retirement not in his vocabulary, but Franklin also had more to offer and was sensing that it was time for a change.
As Franklin shares his beliefs on retirement, he believes that the culture within our society has a way of throwing away individuals "at the prime of their lives.” Older individuals can be more knowledgeable and have more experience. "We shouldn't be put to pasture because we have reached a certain age," said Franklin. In hopes of fulfilling a position that could serve his passion of sharing his knowledge with others, colleagues of Franklin recommended that he apply for this position as it was precisely what he was looking to achieve.
There was much preparation for this endeavor, as Franklin mentions how he made this position work with no source of income. The position as a fellowship leader at Harvard is unpaid, which was an adjustment for Franklin, as the job requires fellows to pay for resources on learning how to conduct research. As a fellow, Franklin is learning how to take all of his experience and knowledge and apply it to a new realm of education. Franklin is most concerned with the wealth gap "where the wealthy are becoming richer, and the poorer are becoming poorer". Among Franklin’s concerns is the lack of inclusion of the poor into the mainstream American economy, where there is a possibility that an underclass of people will form who lack skills that are necessary to have in this economy.
Fellows in the program and Harvard hope the Advanced Leadership Initiative will successfully start in Boston, Mass., and share this experience in other major cities. "I hope that we can create disruptive processes and systems to get more underserved, undereducated youth into the jobs of the future," stated Frankin. Youth will continue to fail if a significant amount of progress has not been made; the failure may be irreversible.