Professor Mary Anne Franks Appointed to the Michael R. Klein Distinguished Scholar Chair


Mary Anne Franks with Michael Klein

Michael Klein, J.D. '66, with Professor Mary Anne Franks

At the investiture of University of Miami School of Law Professor Mary Anne Franks to the Michael R. Klein Distinguished Scholar Chair recently, University of Miami President Julio Frenk said, “these are the most joyous occasions, which is when we recognize one of our peers through the highest distinction that we have available in academia, which is to the occupant of a named chair.

“It is great to acknowledge the talents and many achievements of Mary Anne Franks and the legacy of Michael Klein,” he said.

Franks was recognized for her substantial contributions and ongoing accomplishments in scholarship and advocacy at the confluence of civil rights and technology.

Faculty chairs acknowledge the distinction of the law school's outstanding professors and are made possible by the incredible generosity of Miami Law's alumni and friends.

“I am truly honored by this appointment,” said Franks. “Michael R. Klein’s extraordinary contributions and leadership in the areas of civil rights, the arts, and education are inspiring. I am grateful to the School of Law for this demonstration of support of my scholarship and advocacy.”

Franks at the forefront of making law

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation recently named Franks a 2021 Knight Visiting Scholar, charged with curating a research series and convening thought leaders from industry, policy, and academia on the internet, democracy, and society.

The Dean's Distinguished Scholar is widely regarded for her writing on First and Second Amendment law and the intersections of law and technology. She serves as president and legislative and tech policy director of the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative, a nonprofit organization dedicated to combating online harassment and discrimination. Franks regularly provides expert analysis on free speech and the internet for nationally acclaimed media outlets and advises legislators and tech industry leaders on online privacy, harassment, criminal law, and threats. She was recently invited to deliver the prestigious 41st Tresolini Lecture on Constitution Day in October 2021.

“’Fearless Speech’ is not just the title of an article Mary Anne wrote; it captures I think the essence of her work as a scholar, an advocate, and a public intellectual,” said Interim Dean Nell Jessup Newton. “In writing that article, she describes fearless speech as speech that elevates frankness over persuasion, that risks death over security and comfort, and reflects moral duty instead of moral apathy.”

The Taiwanese American is the author of the award-winning 2019 book The Cult of the Constitution. Her second book, Fearless Speech, which argues that free speech doctrine and practice should be centered around courageous, other-oriented speech of vulnerable communities rather than reckless, self-centered speech of powerful groups, is expected in 2022.

A former Rhodes Scholar, Franks holds a Harvard J.D., and D.Phil. and M.Phil. degrees from Oxford.

Klein building a legacy

Klein, B.B.A. '63, J.D. '66, has a longstanding tradition of commitment to his alma mater. In 2004, the former UM Alumni Trustee endowed the Michael Klein Distinguished Scholar Chair. He also received the Law Alumni Association's Alumni Achievement Award in 2007. In 2003, he was a UM Alumni Association Alumnus in Residence, and, in 1995, he was the inaugural Distinguished Alumni Lecturer. While a student at UM, he was editor-in-chief of the University of Miami Law Review and later was tapped to join the prestigious Iron Arrow Honor Society.

In his early career, Klein taught at the law schools of Louisiana State University, George Washington University, and the University of Virginia. In 1969 he joined the Washington D.C. based law firm, Wilmer Cutler & Pickering (now Wilmer Hale) from which he retired as a managing partner in 2005.

In 1987 he cofounded Costar Group Inc. a NASDAQ listed fin-tech company where he continues to serve as chairman of the board. He currently also serves as vice chairman of the board of directors of Tutor Perini Corporation, a NYSE publicly held construction company.

Among cultural activities, Klein is the chairman of the board of The Shakespeare Theatre Company in Washington, D.C. and of the Aspen Music Festival and School in Aspen, Colorado. He has founded several non-profit public interest organizations on whose boards he has also served as chair, including The Sunlight Foundation, a non-profit public education organization which merged into the Berkman Klein Center on Internet and Society at Harvard University, The Gun Violence Archive, and the Global Warming Mitigation Project.

Miami Law has 90 full-time faculty members and seven endowed chairs.

Watch Professor Mary Anne Frank's investiture ceremony