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Franklin Shands

Lifespan:  1920  –  2005


  • B.F.A., Art, 1946, Miami University


Franklin Shands came to Miami University with a goal - to receive an education. Through a football scholarship Franklin attended Miami and graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in 1946. Not only did he accomplish his main goal, he made impactful changes that altered Miami University and the lives of students going forward. In a 2004 interview, Franklin credited his success as a student to the African American community in Oxford that cared and supported him. He shared that, “it was in those days I’ll tell you there wasn’t any family I couldn’t go to stay at their house, they would feed me come see me and play ball everybody knew everybody.” Franklin’s career and life after graduation was dedicated to helping and inspiring others.

In addition to his football career Franklin was deeply invested in Miami’s clubs, organizations, and sports teams. He co-founded and was president of Miami’s Campus Interracial Club. The Campus Interracial Club was created to address racial tensions on campus through the call for reform and actions by African American students on campus. He was a dedicated member of Delta Sigma Theta, a fraternity whose purpose was to create a more intimate Christian fellowship among men of Methodist preference. He was a member of Tribe Miami, the university’s organization of varsity lettermen, all of whom received the varsity letter award for accomplishments in varsity sports. Franklin was deeply involved in sports including football, boxing, and track. While Franklin was an impressive football player an injury led him to end his career and focus on other sports. Franklin was in the heavyweight division in boxing as a six foot two inch tall man weighing in at two hundred and thirty pounds. The track team was especially important to Franklin, his coach Geoge had a heavy influence on Franklin’s life.

When he was asked in 2004 what his impressions of Coach George Rider were, Franklin said, “He was my second father.” Franklin shared that he and Coach Rider kept in touch regularly after graduation. Franklin’s admiration for Rider was evident in his portrait of the coach. He spent over forty years of his life teaching art, and coaching football. Franklin coached football, basketball, and track at DePores, Purcell, Princeton and Winton Woods High Schools.

Franklin grew up in Lincoln Heights in northern Cincinnati. After graduating from Miami he returned to the West End where Franklin taught students for the nineteen years the school was open. In 1971 Franklin Shands was honored by Miami University with the Bishop Medal, a recognition of his extraordinary career as an educator and coach. The Bishop Medal, established in 1936, is given to individuals who have distinguished themselves in service to humanity. The Bishop Medal is named after Robert Hamilton Bishop, Miami’s first president. Franklin received this medal for his endless service to help others have a better life. Franklin married Christine Johnson Shands, together they had six children. On February 2, 2005, at the age of 84, Franklin Shands passed away. He left behind generations of students whose lives were changed for the better by his hard work and dedication into their future success.


Written by Laura Janosik, (4, History, 2023)


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Published: August 01, 2022

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