Title: President, Des Moines University
Hobby: pianist

At first, Angela Franklin’s parents just thought it would be a good idea if their 5-year-old daughter learned to play piano. They drove her from her hometown of McCormick, S.C., to Greenwood.

“My parents thought it was important. They had to travel 25 miles away,” where a local woman was teaching lessons in her basement.

The lessons paid off quickly. The daughter of a funeral director, Franklin played many services. She was the pianist at her church in McCormick. “I can’t remember a time when I didn’t play,” she says.

She learned to play flute, too, and marched in the band. “I’m very musical.”

By the time she was in high school, she was teaching young children how to play.

While she was attending Furman University in Greenville, S.C., Franklin learned to play pipe organ just because she wanted to. Years after she graduated Phi Beta Kappa and magna cum laude, she became a member of the school’s board of trustees. A clinical psychologist, Franklin received her doctorate at Emory University. 

Franklin, who became Des Moines University’s 15th president in spring 2011 and finds time only for occasional recreational piano playing, made sure all three of her sons had the opportunity to learn how to play piano — and they still do. “Now I’m working on my granddaughter,” she says.