5/14/2019 Barbara K. Altmann

In Perspective (Spring 2019)

This magazine article is part of Spring 2019 / Issue 93

I'm almost two semesters into my F&M adventure! Since starting as president just before our incoming class arrived, I have been getting to know our people and our campus as rapidly as possible. The welcome I received and everything I have learned confirm my initial impressions: Franklin & Mar- shall is truly a superb liberal arts college, situated — to its great benefit — in the vital, appealing city of Lancaster.

In my convocation address to our first-year and transfer students, I invited them to stretch in every conceivable way. That means stretching intellectually, socially, physically, and even spiritually, to move well beyond what they already know and take advantage of all the ways they can grow while at F&M. The ability to go well beyond the bounds of the familiar is the biggest opportunity students find in a fine liberal arts school like ours. If we do our jobs well, and if our students take responsibility for their own learning, four years of campus life under the guidance of our exemplary
faculty will forge them into knowledgeable, engaged citizens and problem-solvers, more than ready to take on both problems and opportunities in the larger world. That’s what a great education is all about. Proof of its power shines in the accomplished seniors now midway through their last year, many of them working at what would be a graduate level in other schools. It shines in our alumni — in all of you reading this magazine — who demonstrate how a great education in any one of our majors prepares adults who can succeed in the world, no matter how we measure success.

We have the same obligation to stretch as an institution. As good as we are, we need to avoid the temptation to hold steady, content with the impressive gains of the recent years. We need to find the balance between well-deserved confidence and the perpetual imperative to strive to be better. We must stretch to create and make space for emerging fields, even while nurturing our broad curriculum that spans the liberal arts. We must stretch to raise our endowment and our annual giving, both of which will support financial aid, enhance every student’s experience, and provide the resources to incubate the best ideas generated by this smart, creative, hard-working community of scholars.

We have seen positive change in our talent strategy, our programs, and our national stature over the last decade. Those gains give us a chance to look ahead to new horizons and new opportunities for our people, programs, and facilities. What we offer is a culture of possibility. An F&M education is worthy of the best students everywhere and the steadfast support of everyone who found their voice here. We need to claim the distinction that is rightfully ours. I count on all of you to help us make the case.

After almost two semesters on the job, I know my time at F&M is the richest, most mean- ingful professional adventure of my life. Thanks for traveling this road with me.

 

“We have seen positive change in our talent strategy, our programs, and our national stature over the last decade. Those gains give us a chance to look ahead to new horizons and new opportunities for our people, programs, and facilities. What we offer is a culture of possibility.”
President Barbara K. Altmann, Ph.D.
Barbara K. Altmann
President, Franklin & Marshall College
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