Chautauqua Institution today announced that the Rev. Robert M. Franklin Jr., director of religion, will step down from his post following the 2017 season.
Franklin has served Chautauqua in his current capacity since 2014. He has been an active participant in the Institution’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. His decision coincides with continued expansion of his responsibilities at Emory University, where he serves as a senior advisor to the president and James T. and Berta R. Laney Chair in Moral Leadership at the Candler School of Theology.
“We are so thankful to Robert for his thoughtful, graceful leadership of religious life at Chautauqua,” said Michael E. Hill, president of Chautauqua Institution. “In the short time I’ve been at Chautauqua, Robert has already become a trusted adviser and voice on important issues to me. While I accept his resignation with great reluctance, I also know that his gifts are being called upon more heavily in his home town of Atlanta, and I celebrate that his ever-expanding role at Candler will serve our nation well as we all seek out moderating voices of inclusion and justice. Robert has assured me I can continue to call upon him for advice and guidance as we work to advance our work in these areas so central to the Institution’s mission, and I plan to take him up on that offer.”
During his tenure, Franklin led or helped coordinate several initiatives key to Chautauqua’s role as a leader in facilitating religious dialogue in the United States and around the world. Notably, he helped to secure major grants to support the Institution’s work in new clergy leadership development, and has worked to shepherd the establishment of an African American Denominational House on the Institution grounds.
“I’m so proud of what we’ve accomplished in the time I’ve had the great privilege of leading Chautauqua’s Department of Religion,” Franklin said. “This decision is the best one for me and my family, and we will continue to be enthusiastic members of this community. While in a different capacity, I look forward to supporting Michael’s vision and Chautauqua’s bright future.”
Hill noted that Franklin’s announcement is part of a series of communications about previously planned transitions in Chautauqua’s leadership. He said a nationwide search will commence immediately to find Franklin’s successor.