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Kreml, Franklin M. (Franklin Martin), 1907-1998



  • Existence: 1907-1998

Franklin Martin Kreml, national expert on traffic safety, accident prevention and law enforcement, was the founding Director of the Northwestern University Traffic Institute and a University administrator for over 35 years.

Kreml was born January 11, 1907 in Chicago, Illinois. His father was a politician and self-employed meat packer. Kreml grew up on the near West Side of Chicago, graduating from Carter Harrison High School. He attended the University of Wisconsin from 1923 to1924 majoring in geology. He then transferred to Northwestern and majored in English from 1924 to1929. To support himself he entered the Evanston Police Department as a rookie patrolman in 1926, having achieved the highest score to that date on the entrance exam. Kreml went on to attend John Marshall Law School at night, where he earned his LLB in 1932. That same year he was appointed Division Commander of the newly created Evanston Police Department Accident Prevention Bureau, where he pioneered practices of accident investigation and reporting. His prevention program based on a police and public partnership was so successful that Evanston reduced its automobile death rate per 100,000 from 27 in 1928 to 7 in 1933. Evanston won the National Safety Council's safety award for four of those five years, and the grand prize in 1933.

To improve the training of Evanston police officers in traffic safety and investigation, Kreml enlisted the help of Northwestern University's Sociology and Political Science departments. Evanston Police Department then began holding annual two-week Police Officer's Traffic Safety training. Soon, national insurance companies and the National Bureau of Underwriters became interested in Evanston's safety program, sending Kreml to various U. S. cities to set up similar ones. This work coalesced into the Northwestern University Traffic Institute (NUTI), which opened in 1936 with Kreml as head. (Kreml had served the year before as Public Safety specialist at Purdue University). The NUTI ran training and research programs for individuals with highway traffic and safety responsibilities. That same year Kreml also became Head of the Traffic Division of the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP). He served as the president of both organizations until 1955.

Kreml's leadership of the Traffic Institute was interrupted when he volunteered for service in World War II. In 1942 he entered as a captain in the Army serving as Chief of Roads Branch of the Office of Chief of Transportation. He held vital transportation posts in North Africa, Sicily, Italy and during the Normandy Invasion, applying concepts of traffic and movement control to Army logistics operations. He retired from the Army Reserve in 1967 with the rank of Brigadier General. His military decorations include the Bronze Star, Legion of Merit, and honors from Britain and Italy.

In 1955 Kreml left the Traffic Institute to become head of the new Transportation Center of Northwestern University. The Center offers structured graduate level educational programs and conducts research on transportation problems. In 1962 Kreml was appointed to the newly created post of Vice President for Planning and Development for Northwestern. During his term, Kreml oversaw the Lake Michigan landfill (“lakefill”) project, which had a fundraising goal of $185 million and doubled the size of the Evanston campus.

Kreml was notable for his responsible and diplomatic handling of the student protests of the late 1960s, particularly the occupation of the Northwestern business offices by African American students May 3-4, 1968. Kreml worked around the clock, choosing to negotiate with the protesters rather than foment a potentially explosive situation. No violence erupted at Northwestern, in contrast to strikes on other campuses, such as Columbia, where the school shut down as a result of a heavy-handed response from administration. Kreml also handled the aftermath of the protests, responding to a flood of letters from faculty, alumni and the general population regarding the incident.

In 1969 Kreml was appointed chairman of President Nixon's Task Force on Highway Safety, which produced the landmark report Mobility without Mayhem.

Kreml left Northwestern in 1971 to become President of the Automobile Manufacturers Association and the Motor Vehicle Manufacturing Association. When his four-year term was up, he returned to Northwestern as Associate Director of the Transportation Center and consultant to the Traffic Institute.

Kreml retired from Northwestern in 1981 when he was designated President of the Consortium of Government Consultants, Inc., an organization of individuals gathered from government, business, and academia to provide public officers with problem solving services.

Author of numerous manuals and textbooks, among them Evidence Handbook for Police Officers and Investigators, Kreml served with distinction on many committees and boards and received numerous awards and certificates.

Kreml married Margaret Charlotte Parker in 1927 (d. 1995), and they were divorced in 1979. He then married Barbara Irene Bloom in 1980. Kreml died January 28, 1998.

Found in 1 Collection or Record:

Franklin M. Kreml (1907-1998) Papers

Identifier: 6/4/04
Abstract Franklin Martin Kreml, national expert on traffic safety, accident prevention and law enforcement, was the founding Director of the Northwestern University Traffic Institute and a University administrator for over 35 years. The Franklin M. Kreml papers consist of 13 boxes spanning the years 1906-1998. The bulk of the papers consist of correspondence and records from Kreml's tenure as Northwestern University Vice President of Planning and Development.
Dates: 1928-1998