Portraits in Liberal Arts
The individual -- brilliant, creative, unique -- drives the liberal arts. At F&M, we have created our own educations since this nation’s democracy, built around the ideal of free individuals pursuing noble ends, was codified in the U.S. Constitution in 1787. It is our individual striving and our unique abilities that fuel progress. But it is the result -- our collective success -- that changes lives and builds great institutions. Your individual investment is irreplaceable. Our collective momentum is unstoppable. Thank you for your support and for everything you do for F&M.
A Message from President Porterfield
DEAR ALUMNI, PARENTS AND FRIENDS,
Last year, at Franklin & Marshall College, we advanced our mission as a leading national liberal arts institution, cultivating individual minds and talents while building our collective strength.
As they have since our founding, our students and faculty proved themselves leaders. Our students embraced the hallmarks of an individualized F&M education by designing and conducting research, studying abroad, competing for national championships, leading and mentoring their peers, and much more.
Our faculty continue to break new ground -- as knowledge creators in their disciplines and as committed educators in their classrooms. I’m inspired by every member of our community.
I’m inspired, too, by the ways their efforts and your support -- advocacy, expertise and philanthropy -- have, together, shaped the College community.
We each have tremendous, unique talents, but together, we are F&M. This report acknowledges and celebrates all that is made possible through the generosity of nearly 9,500 individual donors last year -- our philanthropy and vision for an extraordinary liberal arts college. Your individual and collective investments make all the difference in generating educational opportunities whose rewards last a lifetime.
The impact we create together extends across campus and around the world, but for each of us, it begins with a single, individual impulse: to take action for the betterment of our students, this College and our world.
Thank you for your commitment to our mission.
All the best,
Daniel R. Porterfield, Ph.D.
Alejandra Zavala-Perez ’16
Alejandra Zavala-Perez ’16 speaks French, Spanish and English, but her most elemental form of communication might be her art. Visceral and intelligent, her works mix media and cross boundaries.
A native of Mexico, Zavala-Perez emigrated with her family to rural Lancaster County, Pa., when she was seven. At first, she spoke no English.
“I used art to communicate with my teachers and peers when I first arrived in the U.S.,” she said. “I was always nervous in school, but art was the one class I was most excited about. I didn’t need the language.”
Soon enough, it became clear that art, itself, was a language.
“I had a friend and couldn’t understand what she said. We drew pictures to each other as a way to show our friendship. I remember tracing my hands and decorating them with beads; one said 'amigas' and the other said 'friends.'”
More than a decade later, in her senior year at Franklin & Marshall College, she would again represent her native country to classmates and friends, this time exploring its struggles.
Her capstone project, Hasta La Raíz (Down to the Root), is a display of 43 portraits -- photographs of F&M students of Mexican heritage -- positioned symmetrically in four long rows. The student portraits are superimposed over images evoking Mexican culture and geography. The project mourns and protests the 2014 abduction and disappearing of 43 college students from a rural teachers college in Mexico. It condemns the lack of accountability or resolution for their grieving families.
Hasta La Raíz is a gut-wrenching window into the pain of a community and nation. It is also a stunning act of defiance, giving faces -- identities -- to people whose abductors effected their literal disappearance through violent means.
"When I was working on my project, it allowed me to meet a lot of students with similar backgrounds," she said. "I honestly wasn’t expecting to find all 43 on campus. We connected through our culture.”
It was a uniquely liberal-arts way of exploring her roots. While an F&M student, she investigated careers in teaching, enjoyed French, studied in Paris, Provence, and Copenhagen, gravitated to psychology, and nearly always made art. Her eventual double major, psychology and art, helped her delve into the character of her homeland -- and her own.
“I never felt like I fit in one spot or another,” she said, “so I like to use different forms of art to explore that -- to explore my identity, my American side and Mexican side. When I first moved here, I didn’t understand the difference between them.
“For me, my Mexican side represents my roots -- my traditional values. My American side has expanded my view. I like to think of it as a tree, my roots are in Mexico but my branches have grown and extended in America.”
Such was the impact of Hasta La Raíz, that Franklin & Marshall acquired it as part of its permanent collection.
Her biggest achievements, though, still to come, may be drawing out the greatness in others. As a teenager, she became aware of the possibilities that education holds through her association with the Upward Bound program.
“I come from a family where it’s a big deal to graduate from high school,” she said. “I knew very little about the college process, but I had an awesome [Upward Bound] mentor who recommended F&M. I fell in love with the College during an overnight visit.”
As an advisor to the Pennsylvania College Advising Corps (PCAC), she hopes to bring the same knowledge and mentorship to another generation of high school students. PCAC offers mentorship -- academic support, advice in the college-search and application process -- to promising students from underrepresented populations. The majority is composed of refugees and immigrants from Nepal, Dominican Republic, Burma.
Zavala-Perez is in the second year of a two-year commitment. What’s next? Certainly more of the things she loves -- art, photography, travel, hiking, family -- and likely a graduate degree in art therapy.
Her interest in helping children through art seems right on point.
“I had a mentor,” she said, “and it changed my life.”
Scroll through the slideshow above to see examples of Alejandra's artwork.
"My passion for art started very young. Inspired by the colorful surroundings of my childhood in Mexico. From my abuelita's apron, to her beautiful garden of exotic flowers and succulents. From el altar we built every día de los muertos (Day of the Dead was my favorite holiday growing up), to the fruit stands we ate from on the daily. From the heartbreak of leaving my homeland, to the comfort of my new friendships. My art has stemmed from a mixture of feelings and a blend of cultures."
- Alejandra Zavala-Perez ’16
Portraits of Philanthropy
In 1976, Richard and Faye Gelhard purchased a bowling alley and moved back to Lancaster County. Their timing was good. Dick, a graduate of Lancaster’s McCaskey High School, had served in the 101st Airborne Division, 49th Airborne Engineering Battalion, during the Korean War, earning the Korean Service Medal with three bronze service stars.Learn More About Faye Gelhard and Richard Gelhard ’57
For decades, the Klehrs have supported students through their volunteer service and generous philanthropy. Recently, they increased their already considerable financial support with a $1 million gift for financial aid.Learn More About Leonard Klehr ’72, P’12 and Susan Kline Klehr ’73, P’12
Does striving to excel amidst difficulties equip people with grit, persistence, and a higher emotional quotient (EQ)? Can it enhance success in school, work and business? A gift of $1 million from Ken Mehlman ’88 addresses those questions, establishing The Mehlman Talent Initiative at Franklin & Marshall.Learn More About Ken Mehlman ’88
Portraits of Volunteerism
Anne Fass loves to bridge gaps. An adolescent psychodynamic psychotherapist, she works with vulnerable young people in schools and community centers across London. Her husband David’s career -- he’s CEO of Macquarie Group Limited, Europe -- took them across the Atlantic years ago.Learn More About About Anne and David Fass P’17
For Alysse Vaccaro Szur ’11 and Caralyn Reiff ’13 being F&M alumnae means being part of something bigger than themselves -- sharing a connection with thousands of F&M graduates who help each other and make a difference.Learn More About Alysse Vaccaro Szur ’11 and Caralyn Reiff ’13
Without the volunteerism of F&M alumni, Shadek Stadium’s October dedication may never have occurred. Hundreds of donors stepped up, funding the majority of the stadium’s construction and honoring legendary coaches and Diplomat athletics through their philanthropy. Volunteers played an essential role in inspiring this support.Learn More About The Shadek Stadium Volunteers
Portraits of Students
Sean Hyland ’18 has always felt a strong sense of citizenship in his community and country. Through internship opportunities funded by his Franklin & Marshall education, he put this civic duty into action -- allowing each new role to expand his perspective and impact.Learn More About Sean Hyland '18
Portraits of Faculty and Staff
These are exciting times for Epps, who has led F&M's athletic and recreation programs since 2007. She played a central role in the planning of Shadek Stadium, the College’s new multipurpose athletic facility that will anchor an athletic district on North Campus.Learn More About Patricia S.W. Epps
Susan Dicklitch-Nelson’s barometer predicts human rights -- and their absence. The first-of-its-kind Global Barometer of Gay Rights (GBGR) is a country-by-country rating system measuring the human rights of sexual minorities in 194 countries -- every country recognized by the United Nations and some that aren’t.Learn More About Susan Dicklitch-Nelson
Generally speaking, it’s a bad idea to look through someone else’s glasses -- a bit of conventional wisdom Franklin & Marshall Professor of Classics Shawn O’Bryhim and Associate Professor of Physics Ken Krebs have ignored. Fortunately for them, the liberal arts are all about ignoring conventional wisdom.Learn More About Shawn O’Bryhim and Ken Krebs