Mary Lou Frank

Professors continue work in mediation at home and overseas

Dec 19, 2019
Kathryne Davis

Mary Lou and Ken FrankMary Lou Frank, Brenau adjunct psychology professor, had a busy 2019.

Frank published a book earlier this year titled, The Mind of a Peacemaker: The Psychology of Mediation. Her book is the first on conflict resolution published by a psychologist. In addition, Frank and her husband, Ken, director of Brenau’s Conflict Resolution & Legal Studies program, recently returned from a week and a half in Bialystok, Poland — their third international venture of the year. They also took their mediation expertise to the Ukraine, Greece and Toronto, Canada.

“To be honest, it’s Dr. Julie Battle’s idea that I wrote this book,” Mary Lou Frank said.

Battle, department chair of psychology, asked her to teach a class and Mary Lou Frank found there wasn’t a conflict resolution book written by a psychologist.

“Dr. Battle said, ‘well why don’t you write a book?’” Mary Lou Frank said. “She said it kind of off-hand. It took awhile to put it together only because nobody had pulled the research together. The book is a compilation of all the research that psychologists have done that would be useful in the mediation process.”

In a field dominated by attorneys, Mary Lou Frank thought it was important to show how psychology benefits the mediation field. Studies have found that people in mediation want to work on the relationships and their problems and less on the settlement.

“We offer training that really helps people learn how to deal with feelings and relationships,” Mary Lou Frank said.

While in Poland, the Franks presented on transformative mediation for the Polish Bar. A Polish mediator and lawyer remembered the Franks from a presentation they did in Poland three years ago and contacted them about doing a panel and four-hour workshop. The Franks do their best to make their presentations fun and engaging so the audience is able to learn a lot.

“I think it was because they liked it so much three years ago, they said, ‘I know if we bring somebody in to deal with transformative mediation, these are the people to bring in,’” Ken Frank said.

Mary Lou Frank speaking with a class.Transformative mediation deals with how people interact with each other and focuses on making the relationship between the two clients better because there is a high chance the clients will have to interact once mediation is over.

Unfortunately, the Franks aren’t able to do much sightseeing on their overseas trips. For the trip to Poland, their schedule was packed with presentations, training and checking on classes back at Brenau, though they did get to spend part of a day walking around.

“We’re fortunate for both of us work with Brenau because we’re able to schedule these trips around weekends,” Mary Lou Frank said. “When we’re gone there is a guest lecturer or we schedule a midterm online. Ken does the same thing and has had lots of support.”

Mary Lou and Ken Frank meet different people from all over the world and are able to share their experiences with the students at Brenau to help them become successful in their careers.

“We’ve had students who have gone on to do wonderful things, both from the Brenau program and from these trainings. From Brenau, Tessy Rusera has worked with the First Lady of Rwanda,” Ken Frank said. “We’ve got a lot of lawyers around the country that have come from this program.”

In the future, the Franks will continue all of their hard work in mediation. Mary Lou Frank has been working on a second edition of her book and will be finished in early 2020. She is also the current president of the International Academy of Dispute Resolution and will continue to serve on the executive board once her term is up in mid-2020. Ken Frank has worked with INADR since its beginning and has been the United States vice president for education for many years. There are potential mediation tournaments in Moscow, Russia, Chicago and Italy, and an Eastern European tournament.

“We had students from five countries come to Poland,” Mary Lou Frank said. “Just like they do at the tournament at Brenau, they received mediation training and then practice these skills in a tournament. Our goal is to also help these students connect with other students from other countries because they are all going to be future leaders. They are the future peacemakers.”