Dallas, Texas — Dallas International University (DIU) is proud to announce that during the 25th Commencement Ceremony on May 3rd, 2024, Dr. Karl Franklin will be presented with an honorary doctorate. Dr. Franklin’s life journey and his contributions to the field of linguistics, particularly his work with SIL International, make him a unique and distinguished honoree.

Humble Beginnings

Born in a cabin at a Methodist Camp in northeastern Pennsylvania during the Great Depression, Dr. Franklin’s early years were marked by the modesty and resilience of a bygone era. Despite the challenging times, his parents managed to raise a close-knit family. His mother was a schoolteacher, while his father was an electrician, amateur magician, and musician. His childhood was spent on a small farm, and he attended a one-room country school where a single teacher taught all eight grades.

Dedicated Service

Dr. Franklin’s academic journey began at a small Christian college in Delaware, where he met his wife of 65 years, Joice. Together, they attended the Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL) at the University of Oklahoma and subsequently joined SIL and Wycliffe Bible Translators in 1956. This marked the beginning of a lifetime dedicated to the study and preservation of languages in remote regions.

In 1957, Dr. Franklin and Joice attended Jungle Camp in southern Mexico, preparing them for their mission to Papua New Guinea (PNG) in early 1958. Their work in PNG was both groundbreaking and impactful. The couple focused on studying two closely related languages, East and West Kewa, spoken in remote areas of the Southern Highlands of Papua New Guinea. Their commitment to this work culminated in the dedication of the West Kewa New Testament in 1973, with revisions and re-dedications in 2004, and the dedication of the East Kewa New Testament in 2005.

Dr. Franklin’s influence extended beyond his work in linguistics. He played a crucial role in mentoring and guiding others within SIL International and the larger linguistic community. He also played a large part in the idea for Texas SIL to seek accreditation, which led to the Graduate Institute of Applied Linguistics, the former name for Dallas International University. His passion for education and community development has inspired many who have followed in his footsteps.

Lasting Legacy

Today, Dr. Franklin resides in Waco, Texas, not far from his family, which includes his daughter Karol, who holds a PhD in Hispanic Linguistics and is a professor at Baylor University, and his son Kirk, who has a PhD from the University of Pretoria and works with the Wycliffe Global Alliance, among other roles. Despite being retired, Dr. Franklin remains active in his church, men’s Bible studies, and small groups. He also journals, writes a weekly column for his church’s e-newsletter, and shares legacy notes on Facebook. Currently, he’s working on a book titled “A Devotional for the Aged,” drawing from his wealth of experiences.

As DIU prepares to honor Dr. Franklin with an honorary doctorate, his legacy serves as a reminder of the dedication and commitment it takes to make a lasting impact in the world. We invite all students, faculty, and the wider community to join us at the 2024 Commencement Ceremony to celebrate Dr. Franklin’s remarkable achievements and the values he represents.


About Dallas International University

Dallas International University (DIU) is a private institution dedicated to providing education and training in the areas of linguistics, cultural studies, and world arts. DIU is committed to equipping students with the knowledge and skills to make a difference in the global community. Learn more about Dallas International University and our programs.

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