Long-time LSUS professor helms diversity efforts

Dr. Keena Franklin (center, with scissors), prepares to cut the ribbon and officially open the Office of Diversity, Inclusion and Community Engagement in LSUS University Center in September. Dr. Franklin is the assistant provost for diversity, inclusion and community engagement.

LSUS students can find a listening ear and an open mind at a growing organization dedicated to diversity and inclusion.

“We want to create a road map to equality and social justice,” says Dr. Kenna Franklin, who heads up the LSUS Office of Diversity, Inclusion and Community Engagement (DICE). This fall, DICE celebrated a milestone when it moved into a more visible, easily accessible location in the LSUS University Center.

Dr. Franklin says the new space offers a place for students to gather as well as a resource center for the community.

“Every month, DICE has a focal activity, and we embellish with things that pop up,” she says. “I’d like us to stay current.”

Dr. Franklin joined the LSUS faculty in 1990 and is an associate professor in the Department of History and Social Sciences. She was the founding director of the LSUS Office of Multicultural Affairs and was named the assistant provost for Diversity, Inclusion, and Community Engagement in 2020, just as the Covid pandemic forced people into isolation.

“What I’m most proud of is that we were active through Covid. I’m really proud of what we did with meeting the Black Lives Matter movement head-on and meeting the pivotal needs of both faculty and students, keeping a sense of belonging and safety,” Dr. Franklin says. “We had the town hall meetings. We opened the conversation (locally).”

She earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology and criminal justice from Grambling State University, a master’s in social welfare administration from the University of Michigan and a doctorate in educational administration from the University of Texas.

Dr. Franklin’s research interests align with her new role, as she has done extensive work in the areas of underserved student populations, transfer students, African-American, Latino-American and LGBTQ student issues, educational disparities, retention strategies, student success, and university/business/community partnerships.

She has received numerous honors, including the 2021 Willie Burton Historian Award at the 9th Annual State of Black Shreveport Symposium & Economic Summit. Dr. Franklin worked with Dr. Burton, a professor at Southern University-Shreveport, on several community initiatives before Dr. Burton passed away.

“It has been my pleasure to work on various community projects that have allowed underrepresented minorities to enroll and thrive in higher education,” Dr. Franklin says.

DICE works to make a college education more affordable, the experience more enlightening and the trajectories of students more promising.

With Dr. Franklin’s guidance, the DICE office organizes and promotes multicultural events each month to spotlight different cultures on campus and in the community. She collaborates with colleagues in several academic disciplines on course materials that share varied perspectives. She also consults with a student advisory board on programs and projects.

“I let my student advisory group select the social justice projects we do each year,” Dr. Franklin says. “Last year we did one project. This year we’re going to try to do one focused on an issue at home and one on an issue abroad. Even in the selection process for projects we learn and we grow. I tell students, ‘Don’t marry your ideas at this age, just date them and be careful to expand your horizons by becoming a well-rounded human being.”