Photo: Luke Nankivell
Downtown Farmers’ Market, yoga at Gray’s Lake Park, Iowa State Fair — Megan Franklin’s Des Moines to-do list is already teeming with Iowa traditions.
For Franklin, Drake University’s associate director of athletics and senior woman administrator, one Des Moines must-do tops produce, poses and pork chops on a stick. For Franklin, supporting Drake’s student-athletes is top priority.
“Mostly, I’m getting excited to cheer on all of the sports teams as they get going in their seasons this fall,” Franklin said.
Franklin joined the Drake athletics department in June, and she’s already transforming her position. For Athletic Director Sandy Hatfield Clubb, one word describes Franklin’s early Drake contributions.
“Tremendous,” Hatfield Clubb said. “She has already made a difference in her role. She was quick to get in and start meeting people and learn the lay of the land. She’s a well-groomed leader.”
Franklin’s favorite high school activity sparked her passion for leadership and athletics administration.
“I was an athletic trainer in high school and in college, so I’ve always enjoyed the athletics community as part of campus and the higher education environment,” Franklin said.
Franklin earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Nebraska in 1998. Three years later, she earned her master’s degree in educational administration from Nebraska.
Franklin’s college career wasn’t finished, though.
After serving Nebraska for two years as an assistant academic counselor, she joined Virginia Tech University’s faculty in 2003. Franklin comes to Drake from Virginia Tech, where she worked as assistant director of the school’s Office of Recovery and Support.
Franklin’s background, disposition and intellect wowed Hatfield Clubb immediately.
“One, she has a very diverse background of experiences that fit very nicely with where Drake is today and where we see ourselves going in the future,” Hatfield Clubb said. “She has a very interesting mix of experiences that uniquely position her to be at Drake now. Secondly, she has a really infectious, positive personality, somebody that myself and others want to work with. Thirdly, she’s extremely bright.”
Associate Athletic Director Mike Cigelman also praised Franklin’s upbeat attitude.
“Her exuberance is contagious, and I think she’s motivated everyone to be even better,” Cigelman said. “She is positive. She’s focused. She’s a very intentional person, and I think she’s helping to change our culture in a very positive and intentional way.”
Franklin’s approach as associate athletic director reflects her outgoing, outreach-driven personality.
“I believe that athletics brings a valuable asset to a campus community, and I really enjoy the opportunity to introduce higher education to people who would not otherwise come to a college campus except through the athletic arena,” Franklin said.
Welcoming prospective student-athletes isn’t her only duty as associate athletic director, though. Franklin also oversees the academic services departments, the athletic training room, the strength and conditioning room and most sports programs.
As senior woman administrator, Franklin advocates for equality on and beyond Drake’s campus.
“That aspect of my job is to make sure that we, as an athletic department, are meeting the Title IX requirements and also working on equity and inclusion initiatives in the department and on campus,” Franklin said.
Beyond campus, Franklin collaborates with NCAA and Missouri Valley Conference officials.
“From an experiential standpoint, she’s prepared to serve in that role,” Hatfield Clubb said. “She has a great, collaborative nature to her. The senior woman administrator position is one that involves a lot of different people.”
From NCAA and MVC officials to Drake faculty, alumni, fans and student-athletes, people are Franklin’s forte.
“I’m excited to work with the faculty to support our student athletes’ academic experience,” Franklin said. “And as far as the Drake athletics community, it has been exciting to start to meet the greater Bulldog family and some of the former alumni and Drake fan base.”
Franklin’s own fan base joins her in Des Moines.
“My husband will be joining me this fall, and I have a stepdaughter who will be going into middle school,” Franklin said. “My stepdaughter is going to be playing soccer this fall, and we’re looking forward to getting involved in her school.”
Don’t expect any soccer advice from Franklin, though.
“I would tell teams that they don’t want me to play,” Franklin said. “I’m not very athletically inclined. I always say that I am the athletic trainer of the group, as I was in high school and college.”
Franklin’s limited athleticism doesn’t limit her participation, however.
“You won’t see me on the field, but I do enjoy being able to be there and be supportive,” Franklin said.
Whether it be game day or graduation day, Franklin supports Drake’s student-athletes.
“Support student athletes — that’s the number one reason why I enjoy coming to work,” Franklin said. “Always to be thinking about how to support the student-athletes, whether that’s through talking to them about their academic experience, hearing about their dreams both during and post-college, making sure that the support is there for them athletically and in the department to make sure that they can perform (at) their peak.”