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Next week, the UCLA School of Public Affairs will hold a private reception to welcome Dr. Franklin Gilliam, Jr. as its third dean. "I've been involved with the school since its conception about twelve years ago and when the former Dean stepped down, I decided to throw my hat into the mix," said Dr. Gilliam, jokingly.
Born in 1955 to Mr. Frank and Mrs. Velma Gilliam in Ohio, this visionary has a rich history in working in the community. He received his B.A. from Drake University and his Ph.D. from the University of Iowa in 1983 in political science. He journeyed to UCLA 22 years ago as a political science faculty member, and has previously served as the first associate vice chancellor of UCLA's Center for Community Partnerships. He is the director and founder of the UCLA Center for Communications and Community.
"[The Center] was founded in the late 1990s as a way to connect research within mass communications and social change to community action," said Gilliam. "We did a lot of research on the media and its impact on community empowerment. We collected the data and created community based organizations in cities across the country." Sadly, his new deanship will mark the ending of the Center's operation.
Gilliam's work focuses on racial and ethnic politics, strategic communications and social change, and electoral politics. Recently, Gilliam has taught with former Vice President Al Gore at Columbia University, Fisk University, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Middle Tennessee State University, Grinnell College, and the University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Curently, Gilliam serves on the Community Advisory Board of Sempra Energy; the Community Investment Cabinet for the United Way of Greater Los Angeles; and the National Advisory Board for the Institute for Community Peace.
He is also a member of the Center for American Politics and Public Policy and has been consulted on projects for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the National Funding Collaborative for Violence Prevention, the Youth Law Center, Children Now, and the National Governor's Association, just to name a few. Dr. Gilliam has also appeared on ABC Nightly News, CNN, KNBC, KABC and has been quoted in some of the nation's top publications such as the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, and The Washington Post.
As the second African American male dean in UCLA's history, Dr. Gilliam feels that it is both beneficial for African American students and students of other ethnicities to witness the appointment of an African American to a position of leadership. "Its symbolic and it speaks to pride and group consciousness. Both Black students and non-Black students need to become accustomed to an environment of black leadership," states Gilliam.
"I hope to accomplish three main things during my tenure at Dean-a commitment to academic excellence, social justice, and innovation," commented Gilliam. "I hope we do all three in speaking to the most vexing issues in our city, region, state, nation, and world."
When asked about our nation's current political climate, Dr. Gilliam responded, "Its historic. I worry a little that there are some anti Democractic tendencies in which candidates are not being subjected to the full scrutiny of the American public, but its important for young people. They very much have to get involved."
Dr. Gilliam, his wife, Janet, Director of the UCLA Parent fund, daughter Ariel and son Frank III, make their home in Ladera Heights.