At F&M, fall is not one season but many. In the humidity of August, we set bold goals for our students, for ourselves as educators, and for the College as an engine of discovery and opportunity. The first-year students and transfer students bring new life, new experiences, new personalities. Everything is possible.
By the time the leaves change in October, our idealism is tempered in productive ways. Everyone now has midterm grades. Class material becomes more complex. Not every research project is sailing along perfectly. We’re all pushing ourselves; nothing seems easy. Rehearsals enter their final weeks before opening night. And our fall sports teams are striving to finish the season strong.
As our new Provost and Dean of the Faculty Joel Martin likes to say, this is where inspiration meets reality—and this is where the real learning happens.
This fall, F&M assembled another deep and diverse class of new students, as you’ll see in this issue. Applications continue to rise, and we have never been in greater demand among highly talented students across such a wide range of states and countries. As always, we’re witnessing vibrant conversations in every corner of the campus—about the dynamics of sameness and difference among us, about the responsibilities of adulthood, about the values of an academic community.
We’re also getting the public recognition for academic quality that F&M has long deserved. For example, we ranked 26th of all colleges and universities in The New York Times’ new “opportunity index,” ahead of Yale, Princeton, Georgetown, Duke and Swarthmore. In September, F&M was the only liberal arts college invited to address a White House symposium on future national directions in STEM education.
In the annual U.S. News & World Report rankings, we climbed eight places to No. 37 and were named one of the top five “up and comers”—institutions that are making “the most promising and innovative changes in the areas of academics, faculty and student life.” F&M has also earned substantially higher rankings in Forbes, Washington Monthly, and other national reviews of top institutions.
And we’re not done—F&M will build on this momentum and enhance our national leadership and prestige. How? By focusing on what matters most—educating students one-by-one, mind-on-mind with faculty, in ways that cultivate the eminence of each individual. By keeping classes small. By fostering student research. By leveraging our College House System. By strengthening student health services and the Office of Student and Post-Graduate Development. By bringing great speakers to campus. By making sure students don’t wait in line for the activities and opportunities that round out their education.
I hope you’re inspired to see your alma mater working hard and well—at the mind’s limits, where real learning happens.
— President Daniel R. Porterfield
“In the annual U.S. News & World Report rankings, we climbed eight places to No. 37 and were named one of the top five “up and comers” —institutions that are making “the most promising and innovative changes in the areas of academics, faculty and student life.”