Morehouse Scholars Challenged To Be Tech Leaders In “Brave New World”

Date Released: September 15, 2017


When cars aren’t driven by people and instead drive people around, when IBM Watson gives more legal or medical advice than humans, and when apps use facial recognition to tell when someone is lying, Morehouse Men must be there to decipher this “brave new world,” said Robert M. Franklin Jr. ’75, Morehouse College’s 10th president.

“Our challenge, Morehouse, is to live amidst that change and volatility and help guide it to human betterment,” Franklin said during the College’s Opening Convocation on Thursday, Sept. 14.  “This is the simple art of living together, of building community and treating every person with dignity and respect.”

Franklin’s speech about preparing to teach and learn in a technologically-changing world set the tone for the 2017-2018 academic year.  

After thanking faculty, staff and students for their work, Interim President Harold Martin ’02 called it a special day for the College.

“Convocation is always a special day because it’s the first day that our faculty, staff and students and our alums who like to come back are all in the same room,” he said.

Franklin then talked about all the ways that 20th century innovations pale in comparison to where technology is going in the near future and how Morehouse must be nimble in teaching and learning in this new world.

“[Benjamin] Mays, Martin [Luther King Jr.] and Maynard [Jackson Jr.] remind us that we must continue to revise, and continue to improve, even while maintaining the genius of Morehouse, the soul of Morehouse, the mystique of Morehouse,” he said. “We need that quality of negative capability – the ability to withstand ambiguity – to live amidst unpredictability and volatility.”

That new world will need Morehouse Men able to make hard ethical decisions that make for a better world, he said. 

“There are no easy answers for life’s tragic circumstances,” Franklin said. “You have to make a choice and then face the ambiguity, the uncertainty, the volatility, but face them with faith, with hope, with love…

“John Lewis said if you see a good fight, join it,” he said.  “That’s why the world needs Morehouse Men – men who are moral heavyweight champions.  Mays and Martin and Maynard are calling us to join the fight of the 21st century. 

Before Franklin’s speech, Interim Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Michael Hodge announced that the Simons Foundation has funded a new STEM program in the name of James King Jr. ’53, the first African American Ph.D. hired at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. 

Starting this semester, assistant biology professor Jeffrey Handy will be the James King Jr. Fellow due to his commitment to engaging Morehouse students in STEM training. And Nathan Alexander of the University of San Francisco is the James King Jr. Visiting Professor. Alexander will be initiating “Communicating By Thinking Effectively in and About Mathematics,” a new STEM development opportunity for Morehouse students to use mathematics to build proficiencies in communication. 

Last Modified: September 19, 2017, 12:09 PM, by: Synera Shelton

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