6/12/2015 Kate Carlisle

Harwood’s $1.5 Million Gift Supports Significant Move for Student Success

This magazine article is part of Spring 2015 / Issue 81
  • harwood with students Image Credit: Melissa Hess

Franklin & Marshall’s Office of Student and Post-Graduate Development (OSPGD) soon will have greater capacity to prepare students effectively for lifelong success, thanks to a gift from philanthropist and business executive Brett Harwood ’71.

Harwood, an F&M trustee, has committed $1.5 million to house the office in larger, newly renovated space in what is now Appel Infirmary, the current site of F&M’s health and counseling services, which are slated to move into a new facility in spring 2016. OSPGD will move from 619 College Ave. to the center of campus and the newly renamed Harwood Commons.

F&M launched OSPGD in 2012 to engage students more intentionally in applying the skills they’ve acquired through academic learning toward their pursuit of summer internships, graduate school, and other career options. A program that has received national attention as a transformation of the traditional career services model, OSPGD builds on the liberal arts mission of developing the whole student, with one-on-one mentoring, professional guidance from alumni and parents, and programs in such areas as financial literacy, public speaking and leadership development.

“This generous investment from Brett Harwood will ensure our students will be better positioned for the opportunities they seek,” F&M President Daniel R. Porterfield said. “The renovated facility will provide needed space for pre-health advising, pre-law advising, meeting modern needs for video conferencing, and student interviews on campus with potential employers.”

Strengthening career support for students is among the College’s strategic priorities, and documenting that success is essential to demonstrating the value of a liberal arts education, according to Porterfield.

“This remarkable investment in the future of our students will allow us to continue momentum in empowering students to achieve their goals, everything from graduate school to great career opportunities, from internships to forging important mentoring relationships with our extraordinary alumni,” Porterfield said.

Harwood is CEO of Harwood Properties, a third-generation real estate and parking business, the founder of New Jersey-based Park Equity and chairman of Welcome Parking. He said he was inspired to make the gift to support OSPGD after being impressed by the success of OSPGD’s career exploration, leadership development and other programs.

“Beyond your classes, athletics and your social life, there are certain other ways you need to develop,” said Harwood, who meets with F&M students regularly and observes their experiences. “I see great potential in the work OSPGD does to leverage the power of the liberal arts in this way.”

A government major at F&M, Harwood credits much of his success in life to the team he has assembled around him—coaches, counselors, valued mentors—and is quick to note that their support is not unlike that offered students through OSPGD.

“I learned early on that I didn’t have all the answers,” Harwood said. “But you have to be able to ask for help, and to accept that help and to develop those skills you don’t have is a wonderful achievement.”

Beth Throne ’95, associate vice president of student and post-graduate development, said Harwood’s gift will help OSPGD bring out the drive that students and graduates need to be successful in a dynamic, global knowledge economy.

“Since OSPGD’s inception, Brett has strategized with us about what an outstanding facility could and should offer to best prepare F&M students and graduates for lives of success beyond college,” she said. “With this timely investment, Brett is turning that vision into an exciting and tangible reality.”

As part of the Harwood Commons project, the College plans to memorialize the Appel Infirmary and honor the many contributions of the Appel family to F&M’s history. The infirmary was named by the Franklin & Marshall Board of Trustees in 1959 to recognize College Physician James Appel and the eight members of the Appel family who served the College as professors, presidents and trustees.

Harwood’s commitment to OSPGD is the latest in a series of gifts supporting F&M. In 2012 he provided seed funding for the Harwood Leadership Seminars for F&M sophomores. The seminars allow a group of 12 varsity athletes and 12 student leaders in other areas to participate in a series of workshops exploring dimensions of leadership such as team building, self-discipline, accountability and resilience.

He also has supported the Roschel Performing Arts Center—where a terrace is named in his honor—and the Klehr Center for Jewish Life.  

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