Our Mission

Franklin & Marshall College is a residential college dedicated to excellence in undergraduate liberal education. Its aims are to inspire in young people of high promise and diverse backgrounds a genuine and enduring love for learning, to teach them to read, write, and think critically, to instill in them the capacity for both independent and collaborative action, and to educate them to explore and understand the natural, social and cultural worlds in which they live. In so doing, the College seeks to foster in its students qualities of intellect, creativity, and character, that they may live fulfilling lives and contribute meaningfully to their occupations, their communities, and their world. 

  • Hackman Scholars Marvin Nicoleau '16 (red shirt) and Hanyu (Peter) Sun '15 work on a summer research project in the chemistry department of the Hackman Science Building with Professor Rick Moog.
  • English Department professor Nicholas Montemarano teaches a class in the Writer's House.
  • Rory and Mike digging at Poggio Colla
  • Photo taken on April 25, 2013 during Professor Clara Moore's biology class in Stager Hall.
  • For the past 35 years Stuart Pimsler (F&M Alum ’71) has embraced such issues as love, loss, and social conflict creating performance works for his company, Stuart Pimsler Dance & Theater. 

Pictured here his company leads activities in a dance class in Roschel.

His company spent a weeklong residency at F&M and will culminate in a performance by his troupe in the Schnader Theatre of Roschel Performing Arts Centre on Saturday evening, November 9th.
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  • Students attend an English class in a seminar room in Brooks College House with professor Justin Hopkins
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  • Dorothy Merritts and student
  • In 2007, Mary Ann Levine and a team of F&M student researchers began excavating the area that is now known as Montoursville, Pa., about 2½ hours north of Lancaster. To date, more than 50 F&M students have participated in the several-weeks-long excavation, which has taken place every summer for the past five years.
  • Students attend an English class in a seminar room in Brooks College House with professor Justin Hopkins
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	F&M students conduct research in the Lititz Run. (Photo by Lynn Wohlsen Myers)
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	Franklin & Marshall College sophomore Carolina Giraldo and seniors Jeff Smith and Maggie Provencher work with Associate Professor of Biology Robert Jinks, trying to discover how a mutated protein, never before studied, causes kidney failure, intellectual disability, blindness, small heads and other severe symptoms of a genetic disorder called Yoder Dystonia. (Photo by Melissa Hess) 


  • Archives & Special Collections Archives & Special Collections

Franklin & Marshall College is one of the oldest institutions of higher learning in the United States. Our roots go back to Franklin College, founded in 1787 with a generous financial contribution from Benjamin Franklin.

The product of a pioneering collaboration between English- and German-speaking communities in the most ethnically diverse region of the new nation, the College was launched by leaders of the Lutheran and Reformed Churches with support from trustees that included four signers of the Declaration of Independence, three future governors of Pennsylvania, two members of the Constitutional Convention, and seven officers of the Revolutionary Army. Their goal was "to preserve our present republican system of government," and "to promote those improvements in the arts and sciences which alone render nations respectable, great and happy."


  • Archives & Special Collections

Classes began on July 16, 1787, with instruction in both English and German, making Franklin College the first bilingual college in the country. It was also the first coeducational institution; its first class was made up of 78 men and 36 women. Among the first-year students was Richea Gratz, the first Jewish female college student in the United States. 

However, the coed policy was soon abandoned. Coeducation was not revived at the College for another 182 years.

Marshall College, named after the great Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall, was founded in 1836 in Mercersburg, Pa., under the sponsorship of the German Reformed Church. It attracted a distinguished faculty that became nationally known as leaders of an intellectual movement known as the Mercersburg Theology.

In 1853 Marshall College moved to Lancaster, Pa., and merged with Franklin College to form Franklin & Marshall College. James Buchanan, 15th President of the United States, was the first President of the Board of Trustees.

  • Archives & Special Collections

From the time of its centennial, the College complemented its strengths in the classics and philosophy with a widely respected program in science.

Then, in the 1920s, it added a program in business. The College's transformation continued after World War II with gradual expansion in size and academic scope. Increasingly, students and faculty were drawn from all regions of the nation and the world. Campus facilities expanded and the College became primarily residential. 

  • Archives & Special Collections

Franklin & Marshall College became coeducational in 1969. The connection to the Reformed Church, later part of the United Church of Christ, was severed and the College became a secular institution. Throughout all of these changes, however, the College remained committed to "liberal learning."

Frederick Rauch, the first president of Marshall College, had proclaimed in 1837, "The fortune of our lives and our government depends not exclusively on useful knowledge but on our character as citizens, and to form this character by cultivating the whole [person] is the aim of education in the proper sense."

Today, with more than 2,300 students, Franklin & Marshall College proudly continues our dedication to intellectual freedom and critical learning as fundamental to a democratic society. As our mission statement affirms, this means that the College expects students to see connections, to discover community, and to understand the centrality of service to the human endeavor.