Shirley Franklin

Former mayor of Atlanta Shirley Franklin gives a speech over Barbara Jordan’s legacy as a leader of ethics. The luncheon was held in honor of Jordan and emphasized her policy interests. 

Photo Credit: Jonathan Garza | Daily Texan Staff

Members of the Texas Legislature, faculty, students and alumni gathered to honor the life and work of Barbara Jordan at a luncheon Tuesday.

As part of the 17th annual Barbara Jordan Forum, Shirley Franklin, a visiting professor in the LBJ School and former two-term mayor of Atlanta, delivered the keynote address at the luncheon. The event was one of many organized to honor Barbara Jordan, a former congresswoman and LBJ School professor.

The weeklong forum was organized by the Graduate Public Affairs Council to honor Jordan and her policy interests in immigration, gender and orientation equality. 

Garry Davis, public affairs graduate student and president of the council, said he and his co-chairs reached out to other campus organizations to create events for the week.

“The three of us organized the student organizations to get together to collaborate on different brown bags and different events to honor Barbara Jordan,” Davis said. “It’s essentially honoring Barbara Jordan and her legacy because she played such a huge role as a professor at LBJ when she was here.” 

At the luncheon, Franklin spoke about Jordan’s legacy as a leader of ethics and asked the question, “Who are the next Barbara Jordans?” 

“Something within Barbara Jordan propelled her to be the person we celebrate today,” Franklin said in her address.   

Franklin also spoke about Jordan’s work as a professor at the LBJ School and the lasting impression she left. 

“People 20 years from now will look back and say not only did Barbara Jordan teach at the LBJ School … ” Franklin said, “Her spirit, her soul, her commitment is in the fiber of everything that happens.”

Public affairs graduate student Raul Sanchez said when he first came to the LBJ School, he was not familiar with Jordan and her work, but he became curious about her legacy.

“I’m really into social justice, so anybody that’s involved in the social justice arena, I’m going to gravitate toward,” Sanchez said. 

Sanchez said the luncheon was great for learning more about Jordan and gaining inspiration from her work. 

“This is an educational activity for me, and it’s something that I want to draw from,” Sanchez said. “What is going to motivate me to keep doing the work I do based on other people’s motivations, and in this instance, it’s going to be Barbara Jordan.”

Published on February 20, 2013 as "Luncheon honors former congresswoman, mayor". 

Former two-term mayor of Atlanta, Shirley Franklin, will be serving as a visiting professor at the LBJ School of Public Affairs this spring.

Franklin, who served as mayor of the city from 2002 to 2010, will be the college’s first Barbara Jordan Visiting Professor in Ethics and Political Values.

Robert Hutchings, dean of the LBJ School, announced Franklin’s position Tuesday. Hutchings said discussions about filling the professorship began last year.

“I had talked to some alumni, faculty, friends of the school and her name came early,” Hutchings said. “It was not a hard decision; Shirley Franklin is an inspirational figure. I see her playing a crucial national role later on.” 

Franklin was the first female mayor of Atlanta and the first African-American woman to be elected mayor of a Southern city. She was also president of the National Conference of Democratic Mayors and was selected by Time magazine as one of the five best big-city mayors in 2005.

The Barbara Jordan Chair in Ethics and Political Values was created almost 15 years ago but remained vacant until Franklin’s appointment. Jordan was the first black woman elected to the Texas Senate and the first black woman from the South to be elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. She also served as a professor at the LBJ School from 1979 to 1996.

“Barbara Jordan’s legacy was so extraordinary that it was hard to find someone to fill it,” Hutchings said, “which is why the position was vacant for so long.”

Franklin said she is humbled to have her name associated with Jordan.

“When I think of Barbara Jordan I think of integrity, intelligence, courage, persuasion and compassion for the poor,” Franklin said. “I am so thankful.”

Franklin visited UT for the first time in the fall of 2012, when she met with community leaders, students, faculty and representatives of the LBJ Foundation, a nonprofit that supports the college and the LBJ Presidential Library. Franklin said she is looking forward to her new role.

“Austin is a city that for a very long time mayors looked for best practices and innovation,” Hutchings said. “I am looking forward to see what the students have to tell me.”

Hutchings said that he is very proud to have Franklin among the faculty, although her role and the classes she will teach have not yet been determined. 

“More than a specific set of responsibilities, she adds an ethical and moral dimension to the school and the University that we didn’t have before,” Hutchings said. “We are still to talk which classes in specific she might even be giving.”

Franklin is interested in studying trends in megaregions, shaping environmental policy and fighting poverty. Franklin will also play a crucial role in the development of a new urban management program.

“I don’t have the typical credentials of an academic, but I have a lot of practical experience,” Franklin said. “You will find that I have a long history in the issues of fighting poverty and homelessness. There is a lot of expertise in government, and I would like to help build bridges.”

Junior economics major Eric Alanis, who is also an aide at the Texas Capitol, said Franklin’s appointment is a great opportunity for students.

“We have the opportunity to study with and meet with one of the best public administrators there is,” Alanis said. “She is committed to reform and isn’t afraid of big challenges: deficit, inefficiency, structural investment, you name it.”

Printed on Thursday, January 17, 2013 as: Prominent mayor to join LBJ faculty