12/03/2012 Chris Karlesky

Remarks at 225th Anniversary Gala in New York

Generations of Franklin & Marshall College alumni joined President Daniel R. Porterfield, trustees, members of the faculty and professional staff, students and friends of the College for a 225th Anniversary Gala in New York Nov. 29. Conceived and spearheaded by Trustee Ray Sanseverino, Esq., '68, the gala featured a look back at F&M's origins and showcased present-day initiatives and accomplishments by students and faculty members. Sanseverino, Porterfield and Chair of the Board of Trustees Dr. Lawrence Bonchek P'91, prepared the following remarks for the gala.

  • F&M Trustee Ray Sanseverino, Esq., '68, speaks about the College's history in remarks during the gala reception. (Photo by Nick Gould)

Introduction by Trustee Ray Sanseverino '68 (as prepared)

Good Evening, Ladies and Gentlemen, Alumni, Parents and Friends.

I'm Ray Sanseverino, Class of 1968, F&M Trustee, Chair of the Gala Committee and a native New Yorker. I'm honored to welcome you to Franklin & Marshall College's 225th Anniversary Celebration in New York!

This is a special night when we can all come together in F&M's second home -- the greatest city in the world -- to mark an incredible milestone in our College's history. Please direct your attention to one of the monitors for a short video tribute.

If you were standing in Independence Hall in Philadelphia on Sept. 17, 1787, you would hear the buzz of voices and feel the air charged with the excitement of new possibilities, for you would witness Benjamin Franklin and more than 30 of our forefathers adopt the United States Constitution and resolve to submit it to the states for ratification, a process that was begun and held in New York City.

Now, let's go back several months before this defining moment in history to the spring of 1787, when Benjamin Franklin authored another defining moment in the new republic.  He donated 200 pounds -- the equivalent of more than $1 million today -- to establish Franklin College.

Think of that! The College whose history we celebrate tonight was founded before the framework of our great nation was established.

The history of Franklin & Marshall is a story that was begun by distinguished statesmen and nation-builders. The founders and first trustees of Franklin College include not only Benjamin Franklin, but four other signers of the Declaration of Independence, three future governors of Pennsylvania, and two members of the Constitutional Convention. It's a history that is full of firsts -- Franklin College was the first bilingual and the first co-educational college in the country, and educated the first Jewish female college graduate in America.

It's a legacy that was made great by accomplished scholars and teachers. Marshall College was internationally known for creating the intellectual movement known as the Mercersburg Theology.

The combining of these two renowned institutions in 1853 -- spearheaded by Board President James Buchanan just a few years before he was elected president of the United States -- created something that was even greater than the sum of its parts.

Today, Franklin & Marshall is a top national liberal arts college known for the rigor of its curriculum and the supportive community in which students learn and grow. Its faculty are scholars and artists whose contributions to knowledge and society are recognized around the world.

For those of us here tonight who are its grateful alumni, F&M is a place we will always call home -- a place that left an indelible mark on us, taught us how to think, helped us to see the world in new ways, gave us the opportunity to develop our potential, and shaped our lives in wonderful ways.

For that extraordinary education and extraordinary opportunity, I know that I will be forever grateful.

It is now my great honor to introduce to you our 15th president, but before I do that, I'll ask you to join me in a round of applause for the members of our Gala planning committee, all of whom are here tonight, and for all the staff who have worked so hard to make this a magical evening. Their names are listed in the invitation and in the dinner journal you will find at your seats. Please thank them personally. I also want to thank our sponsors of this evening. Without their support, this celebration would not be possible. Thank you!

Dan Porterfield joined the College just over 18 months ago, in March 2011. He has brought to F&M his passion for holistic undergraduate education and his deep commitment to helping F&M sustain and enhance its excellence -- from the high caliber of our students and faculty to all the ways F&M prepares students for life beyond college and launches them into lives of meaning and achievement. Dan also cares deeply about giving intelligent young people of limited means the opportunity to obtain a first-rate education, such as one provided by F&M. We will hear more about this later.

I feel privileged to work closely with Dan as a Trustee. His leadership of the College community is extraordinary, and his vision for F&M's future is inspiring. And if all this were not enough to cause you to embrace Dan, then I must tell you that this native of Baltimore is an avid New York Yankees fan. But on a more serious note, what I think is best about Dan is that he fully embodies Ben Franklin's precept: "Tell me and I forget, Teach me and I may remember, Involve me and I learn."

Please join me in welcoming Dan Porterfield.

  • F&M President Daniel R. Porterfield addresses the crowd at the College's 225th Anniversary gala in New York. (Photo by Nick Gould)

Remarks by President Daniel R. Porterfield (as prepared)

Thank you, Ray, for that gracious introduction. I would like to thank all of the members of the 225 Gala Planning Committee for your commitment and creativity in bringing this remarkable evening to life.

I want to say a little bit about Ray Sanseverino -- part visionary, part saint, part police chief, part pit bull, always a devoted husband and father -- and always a dedicated son of Franklin & Marshall College.

Ray Sanseverino will never, ever forget that F&M bet on him and believed in him. He will never forget that this College trusted that the son of a courageous single mom from Long Island could cut it at F&M and then come back home to the city educated, empowered and inspired for life. Remembering where we come from and who held us and taught us and launched us is one of the greatest virtues in life. Ray, thank you for showing the way.

Each one of us here tonight is enlarged by our affiliation with an extraordinary American institution that was kindled from the fire of this country's very founding.

Ben Franklin: The self-made American. Ambassador, inventor, entrepreneur, journalist, scientist.

John Marshall: The institution-builder. Philosopher, historian, statesmen, jurist. The architect of the greatest court on the planet.

Ben and John. American originals, diplomats, patriots, nation-builders.

The College that bears their names is a great institution, but we're also more.

Fundamentally, Franklin & Marshall College is an idea, a truly American concept -- that learning and freedom are bound as one … inextricable, twin strands of a great chord that pulls this country forward. It was this idea that sparked enormous investments in the post-Revolutionary period to create new institutions of higher learning such as ours, and this idea catalyzed other periods of massive American commitment to education during Reconstruction, after World War II and in the Civil Rights era.

American at the core, and inspired by our namesakes, Franklin & Marshall College has no ordinary calling. Our mission is to boldly advance the human condition -- elevating students, families, communities, this country and the world.

Our vision: This College must have national reach and global renown just like the iconic Americans in whose names we work.

Our values: Integrity. Freedom. Opportunity. Discovery. Fairness. Service. Community. Hard Work. Greatness in all that we do -- because greatness is what we were built for, and because the legacy of 225 years of excellence calls us to do and be more.

So what does greatness look like today?

It looks like our alumni and alumnae -- the people we've educated and the achievements they make with those rigorously sharpened F&M minds.

We think of that member of the Class of 1957 who went on to become a physician and a scholar who made foundational discoveries that facilitated the advent of intravenous feeding, and who will receive an honorary degree at Commencement this May, Dr. Stan Dudrick.

We think of that member of the Class of 1977 who helped the American economy get back on track through her leadership of the SEC, Chairwoman Mary Schapiro. We thank you, Chair Schapiro, for your selfless leadership in these most demanding times, and wish you the best as you return to private life.

We think of that member of the Class of 1988 who served the 43rd President of the United States with distinction and now is spearheading a civil rights cause for our time and all time, the right for all to marry, Ken Mehlman.

And we think of that member of the Class of 1977 who has been the guiding hand of a historic New York City administration, one of those the poet Yeats called "that passionate serving kind," Patti Harris.

Where else do we see the greatness of Franklin & Marshall College?

We see it in transformational education. In 2012, five F&M students competed for and won Truman, Mitchell, Pickering and Fulbright scholarships. No other college or university -- not Harvard, not Stanford, not Yale -- had winners in all four competitions.

We see greatness in transformational scholarship. This year, Sociology Professor Jerome Hodos published an award-winning study of cities during globalization; Chemistry Professor Kate Plass earned a coveted National Science Foundation Career Fellowship; Professor Rob Jinks won a $1.4 million Howard Hughes Medical Institute grant to expand our pioneering work to identify the markers of genetic diseases among Amish and Mennonite children.

We see greatness in F&M's becoming the first liberal arts college to comprehensively partner with today's powerful K-12 education change-makers. Thank you to the Posse Foundation, the KIPP Foundation and the Cristo Rey Network, represented here tonight by their presidents, Debbie Bial, Richard Barth, and Father Joe Parkes, and thank you to former Amherst president and current president of The New York Public Library, Anthony Marx, who has advised us every step of the way.

We're proud that our Board voted to increase financial aid by 50 percent two years ago, and that with those new resources we've recruited two classes of astonishing depth of talent.

This record of achievement sets the trajectory for Franklin & Marshall College for the future -- national prestige, national impact, national excellence, national leadership in creating results that matter.

In an era of global challenge and change, we must take F&M to the next level -- as a place that trains minds, forms character, shapes discourse, makes discoveries, gives hope, helps heal, and sets an example.

Let's help each of our students create the most deeply formative education possible -- with the most well supported faculty, on the finest campus, with the greatest range of learning opportunities.

Let's be a place that says to every high school student in America: Work hard, be true, give back, believe in yourself and be a leader. Earn your place at F&M, come here ready to make it count, and we'll take care of providing the resources needed for great learning, because we see you as nothing less than the future of the planet.

Ben and John would expect no less.

  • Chair of the Franklin & Marshall College Board of Trustees Dr. Lawrence Bonchek P'91 thanked guests at the gala for their support of Franklin & Marshall. (Photo by Nick Gould)

Remarks by Dr. Lawrence Bonchek P'91 (as prepared)

Good evening everyone. I'm Larry Bonchek, Chair of the Franklin & Marshall Board of Trustees, proud father of a 1991 F&M graduate, proud father-in-law of a 1992 F&M graduate and, thanks to the Alumni Association, an honorary alumnus.

So all of you here tonight who are parents, not alums, I hope you are like me -- so grateful for what F&M gave your children that you remain committed to it for life.

First, on behalf of the entire Board of Trustees, I'd like to thank you all for coming to celebrate the College's 225th anniversary.

Next, I'd like to thank the enormously hard-working and dedicated Gala Planning Committee.

Most of all, I'd like to thank the main person behind this event. Those of us on the Board know, but the rest of you may not realize, that this Gala is the culmination of the long-standing dream of one person: Ray Sanseverino, one of the most loyal, tenacious, and devoted alumni in the history of F&M. And I don't use the word 'history' lightly.

At the reception tonight you heard Ray mention Benjamin Franklin and the founding of the college in 1787. Ray speaks from personal experience because he has been working on this Gala since then. It is a fact that at the very moment of our founding in 1787, Ray, who was sitting next to Ben Franklin, leaned over and said to Old Ben: 'You know, I think we should have a gala event for the New York alumni.' Ben replied: 'Ray, we don't have any alumni yet!'

But you can't keep a good man down, and Ray has been working on this event ever since. Thank you, Ray, for never giving up.

On behalf of the Board of Trustees, I also want to thank all of you for your generous support of this event, which will enable F&M to create a new endowment of more than $200,000 to support need-based financial aid.

In 2008, we made a strategic decision to expand F&M's financial aid budget significantly, and the amount of aid we offer the entering class has grown 77 percent over the past five years, to more than $10 million per class today. The Board is committed to the College's mission of ensuring that F&M remains accessible to the most promising students from across the full American mosaic. It's a commitment that resonates with me personally. I am a first-generation college graduate, and I attended both college and medical school here in New York on scholarships.

In addition to expanding financial aid, we've enhanced access to F&M by developing and enhancing partnerships with the Posse Foundation, the Knowledge Is Power Program, and the Cristo Rey network, and we've led a consortium of colleges that provides admission counseling in rural Pennsylvania schools.

[Comments during live auction.]

… I want to offer a final thanks to all of you for celebrating with us tonight F&M's rich history and its bright future.

Dan, thank you for outlining our shared vision for that future so eloquently, and for inspiring all of us to work together to make that vision a reality.

Before we sing the Alma Mater, will you all please rise and join me in a toast to the College we love -- Happy 225th, Franklin & Marshall!

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