On a crisp late summer night, under the bright lights of Clipper Magazine Stadium, students, faculty, staff and alumni came together to celebrate a milestone with the Lancaster community: the 225th anniversary of Franklin & Marshall College.
Many in the audience who arrived before the start of the Barnstormers game Sept. 14 wore their signature F&M blue and white, some proudly donning 225th anniversary baseball caps commemorating a yearlong celebration of academic excellence, scholarship and service.
“I think it’s awesome,” said Brianna Talbot, a senior neuroscience major from Southampton, N.J., who secured one of the coveted caps—there were, fittingly, 225 of them. “I take pride in going to a school that has a lot of history. And both my dad (Christopher Talbot ’73) and grandfather (Richard S. Cranmer, D.D.S. ’33) went here.”
The home team took on the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs, and while the opposing team prevailed 4-1, Franklin & Marshall fans cheered throughout the celebratory night. (To watch a highlights video of the evening, visit go.fandm.edu/225- Barnstormers)
The evening began with a slideshow flashing key moments in College history across the scoreboard. David G. Taylor ’81, president of the F&M alumni board, threw out the opening pitch, and the festivities ended with the bright bursts and spectacular pyrotechnics of a rousing fireworks show.
The game was the second in a series of events that will honor F&M’s legacy throughout the year. The celebration, carrying the theme “Beyond 225: Inspired for Life,” began with Convocation on Aug. 28 (See story on Page 6) and will culminate with Reunion Weekend in June. It coincides with the academic year to mark the 225 years since Franklin College began with its first class of 114 students.
The students—78 men and 36 women—assembled July 16, 1787, in the humble surroundings of a brew house on Mifflin Street, near Trinity Lutheran Church in the borough of Lancaster. While the College faced some trials over the next few decades, it endured and merged with Marshall College in 1853, taking its current name.
In announcing the anniversary events in a message to the College community, President Daniel R. Porterfield emphasized F&M’s legacy of perseverance through its early years, pointing out that today, Franklin & Marshall College is a well-known liberal arts college with a national reputation for excellence in educating students from around the world.
“During this year, we will celebrate 225 years of academic excellence and scholarship, service to the community, building enduring networks of support among our many constituencies, and a commitment to propel our students to lifetimes of meaning and achievement beyond their years at F&M,” Porterfield said.
The “Beyond 225” theme, selected by a committee of faculty, professional staff and students, “truly reflects the imperative that drives us to grow F&M’s greatness beyond what we can even imagine today, and to contribute to the lifelong success of generations of F&M students and alumni to come,” Porterfield added.
During Convocation, Porterfield encouraged F&M’s newest students to take note of the College’s remarkable history. He called it “beyond inspiring” that the College was founded in 1787 with a gift of 200 pounds from “the Renaissance American of the revolutionary era,” Benjamin Franklin. Students were encouraged to remember that Marshall College was founded in 1835 to honor the legacy of “the greatest American jurist,” and the leader most responsible for the core grounding of the Supreme Court in the U.S. political system, Chief Justice John Marshall.
Porterfield recounted how, after the two colleges merged in 1853, the first stones of Old Main were laid, 156 years ago— before the Civil War.
“Like America itself, our College grows out of the ever-fertile soil of remarkable thinkers, early American leaders such as Benjamin Rush, John Williamson Nevin and Frederick Rauch,” he said.
Students may draw lessons from embodying the legacy of leadership of the College’s notable alumni, he said, such as World War II hero Maj. Richard D. “Dick” Winters ’41, whose inspiring story was featured in the HBO mini series “Band of Brothers.”
Vice President and Dean of Admission and Financial Aid Daniel Lugo added to the reflections on F&M’s long and storied history in his welcome to the new class. He noted that Convocation always is “a special day in the life of our College,” but this year’s ceremony was especially so.
“For 225 years now, our proud and illustrious College has been welcoming the brightest students from all over this great nation and the world,” Lugo said. “To the members of the Class of 2016, today you join and become equal participants and stewards of this noteworthy and cherished legacy.”
A highlight of Convocation was the special musical score for “Beyond 225” that premiered at the ceremony. The piece was written by John Carbon, the Richard S. and Ann B. Barshinger Professor of Music, and directed by Brian Norcross, the conductor of instrumental ensembles. The score is expected to be featured at various events throughout the year.
Director of Special Events and Assistant Secretary of the College Debbie Martin ’72, who co-chairs the anniversary planning committee with Lisa Wolfe, associate director of F&M’s Ware Institute of Civic Engagement, said the anniversary events are intended to bring together all of F&M’s alumni, students, faculty, professional staff and friends.
“This yearlong celebration gives the entire College community an opportunity to reflect on the rich history of F&M as one of the earliest institutions of higher learning in this country and to be proud of how the College has evolved over the years to meet the needs of students in the 21st century,” Martin said.
In addition to the Barnstormers game, other events for the year include the special gatherings held during Homecoming and Family Weekend Oct. 18-21, an upcoming 225th Celebration for alumni and parents in downtown Lancaster, an alumni gala event in New York City in November, and a variety of academic and arts-related programs.
Maggie Phenicie ’13, an English major from Harrisburg who attended the Barnstormers game, called the College’s 225th anniversary “something to brag about.”
“I think it’s really cool that it connects me with all the history of the Diplomats,” she said. “It’s also a way to get F&M students hooked into the community more, which I love.”
Jake Ehleiter ’09, a native of Lancaster who now works for the Special Work Assignment Team with F&M’s Facilities and Operations Department, said he is proud of his alma mater.
“Not only as a Diplomat, but as a Lancaster native, it is important for us to be out here and show that we are part of the community. We’re a national liberal arts college, but we’re part of the community, too,” he said.
Franklin & Marshall College: 225 Years and Counting …March 10, 1787: Pennsylvania Legislature grants charter and act of incorporation for Franklin College, to be named in honor of Benjamin Franklin.
March 31, 1836: Pennsylvania Legislature grants charter to Marshall College.
Dec. 6, 1849: The trustees of Franklin College extend to the trustees of Marshall College a proposal to unite the two colleges.
June 7, 1853: Franklin & Marshall College formally opens.
1871: Harbaugh Hall, the campus’ first dormitory, is constructed. It houses 40 students and includes dining facilities for 100.
1874: The Alumni Association incorporates in the state of Pennsylvania.
1887: The first football team is organized by Seminary student Miles O. Noll (F&M is defeated 9-0 by the York YMCA).
1916: Inspired by World War I, students form a military drill program at F&M. More than 200 students are enlisted by the end of the year, including half the senior class.
1924: The architectural firm of Klauder and Day presents a campus master plan calling for future buildings to be constructed in the Colonial Revival style. Dietz-Santee dormitory, Meyran-Franklin dormitory, Biesecker Gymnasium and Hensel Hall are all completed within three years.
1955: Goethean and Diagnothian literary societies merge.
Dec. 12, 1963: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. visits campus and addresses a capacity crowd of 3,300 at Mayser Center
1964: Ben Franklin residence halls are constructed. 1938: Fackenthal Library is dedicated. 1967: Pfeiffer Science Complex opens. The building is later renovated and renamed Hackman Physical Sciences Laboratories.
1974: The Black Student Union and Black Cultural Center are founded.
1976: Steinman College Center is constructed.
1987: College celebrates bicentennial of Franklin College.
1995: Alumni Sports & Fitness Center opens.
2000: Hensel Hall opens after extensive renovations. The auditorium is renamed Barshinger Center for Musical Arts.
2003: Roschel Performing Arts Center opens. Philadelphia Alumni Writers House constructed. Floyd Institute for Public Policy established.
2004: College House system established.
2007: Barshinger Life Sciences & Philosophy Building opens.
2011: College inaugurates its 15th president, Daniel R. Porterfield.
2012: F&M celebrates its 225th anniversary.