5/08/2018 Daniel R. Porterfield

President's Perspective

This magazine article is part of Spring 2018 / Issue 91

We do live in interesting times.

Today’s science- and technology-driven global knowledge economy brings us previously unimaginable breakthroughs in medicine, genetics, agriculture, commerce, communications and manufacturing.

But it also brings anxiety-inducing threats ranging from job disruption to climate change, and from authoritarian regimes to new technologies of thought control and war.

In these times, what resources does a good society need?

One is liberal arts education. That’s as true today as it was in another era of dizzying change, post-revolutionary America, when Ben Franklin made the first donation that founded this College.

Why liberal arts? Because, across the ages, no tradition of education invests more emphatically in the creative capabilities of the young. No tradition better prepares students to develop both core knowledge and intellectual skills. No tradition better empowers students to frame and solve problems. And no tradition better propels graduates into lives of continuous learning and leadership in thought.

F&M has always been a national leader in our tradition. We see this across our history in the achievements of our alumni, the discoveries of our faculty, and the innovations in how we kindle fire among each generation of students.

It’s exciting that, today, Franklin & Marshall College has claimed national leadership in new ways, like residential education, STEM education, launching students into careers, and recruiting high-achieving lower-income students. Next may come distinction in the visual arts and the fostering of innovation.

I’m grateful for the impacts that F&M’s drive to thrive will always have on me. Among the deepest honors of my role was the privilege of presenting eight classes of graduates with their well-earned Franklin & Marshall diplomas.

Watching those women and men stride across the stage and into the love and work of their adult lives and our shared future, I’ve always sensed that Ben Franklin would be proud—and that he’d challenge us to do more.

This College is a national treasure and a place of hope. I hope that you will always give back to it, because Franklin & Marshall’s continuing excellence matters greatly—for the one and the many, the individual and the society—now, more than ever.

  • F&M President Daniel R. Porterfield
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