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Chief Inclusion Officer Bernard Franklin announces retirement

The executive vice president and chief inclusion officer has spent his career in higher education, including 14 years with the NCAA

Bernard Franklin, NCAA executive vice president of education and community engagement and chief inclusion officer, has announced he will retire Nov. 1.

Franklin has held executive-level positions at the NCAA since joining the national office in 2003. Before the NCAA, Franklin was president of Virginia Union in Petersburg, Virginia. Throughout his 35-year career in higher education, he held leadership and academic positions at Livingstone, Hood Theological Seminary and Saint Augustine’s. During that time, he served the Association as a member of the NCAA Division II Presidents Council and the NCAA Executive Committee.

“Over the past 14 years, I have witnessed a lot of changes. But like any dynamic organization, these changes have enhanced the overall operations and effectiveness of the Association,” Franklin said. “I have been honored to serve as a member of the national office and hope I have contributed to the legacy of professionalism and passion.”

“Bernard has had an enormous positive impact on the Association and the student-athletes we serve,” NCAA President Mark Emmert said. “His tireless efforts in NCAA governance and the development of student support programs and diversity and inclusion initiatives set the course for a more effective and impactful NCAA that will benefit participants for decades to come.”

A native of Montclair, New Jersey, Franklin holds a doctorate in education from Teachers College, Columbia University, where he specialized in higher education administration with an emphasis on student personnel administration. He earned his master’s in education from Western Maryland College — now McDaniel College — where he specialized in educational administration, and he received his bachelor’s degree from Simpson.

With Franklin’s retirement and the previously announced retirement of the NCAA human resources managing director, Bob Fiala, Emmert will combine the two groups previously under their individual leadership into one group. This change presents a unique opportunity to bring together the strengths of both groups and build programming better equipped to meet the needs of the national office and our schools.

A nationwide search, assisted by the global search firm Heidrick & Struggles, will be conducted immediately for this new role of executive vice president of inclusion and human resources. A member-led search committee also is being formed.

“I strongly believe that consolidating all functions that focus on the recruitment, development, retention and inclusion of our most valuable asset — our people — will better position us for success in the years to come,” Emmert said. “Our membership expects the NCAA to lead in the inclusion and development of talent, and this new structure supports that effort.”

I am excited about the new structure and the synergy it will create between human resources and the inclusion functions,” Franklin said.

“The NCAA’s decision to align the inclusion and human resources functions under one group represents a leading practice in the industry,” said Billy Dexter, Managing Partner – Diversity Advisory Practice at Heidrick & Struggles. “It will enhance talent acquisition, talent management and inclusion initiatives as the Association remains competitive in the future.