Facility and program to honor Franken

Northwestern College has announced that its Center for Spiritual Formation and Vocation will be renamed the James L. Franken Center for Faith, Learning and Living in memory of James Franken, a 1975 alumnus who served as a trustee of the college for eight years.

In addition, a fund in excess of $500,000 has been contributed by family, friends and colleagues to establish the James L. Franken Servant Leadership Program. The fund will provide for programs, projects and positions that apply faith to servant leadership through entrepreneurial initiatives, academic innovations and experiential learning. It is anticipated the fund will grow in the future.

“Jim Franken was known for his creative, inclusive and entrepreneurial leadership style,” says Dr. Bruce Murphy, Northwestern’s president. “He exhibited a keen wisdom and a passion for building the next generation of leaders in his work on our board and his direction of the Interstates Companies in Sioux Center. This new servant leadership program is in keeping with the college’s strategic vision to encourage integrative studies, and it is quite appropriate for both that program and the building that houses our campus ministry program and career development office to bear his name.”

Franken was president and CEO of Interstates Companies and Harbor Group at the time of his death in 2001 at the age of 48. He had overseen the companies’ growth from 110 to 400 employees in his six years at the helm. He also established the Interstates Foundation to provide ongoing support for nonprofit organizations.

Franken served as president of Northwestern’s Alumni Association and as a Board of Trustees member from 1989 to 1991. He was reappointed to the board in 1995, joining the executive committee in 1998 and serving as chair of the finance committee from 1999 until his death. In 2005, he was posthumously honored with the Distinguished Service to Northwestern Award.

Dr. Jasper Lesage, vice president for academic affairs, and Dr. John Brogan, vice president for student development, will oversee the selection of personnel for the servant leadership program. They will work with the Franken family and Northwestern’s faculty and staff to establish the program’s priorities.