I was excited to learn that the cover story for this issue of Franklin & Marshall Magazine would share with alumni the vibrancy of the City of Lancaster. The development of Lancaster is an American success story. All of us who work and study at F&M have the great fortune of being part of a community that has been rising to a place of prominence and distinction among America’s mid-sized Renaissance cities.
Recently named one of Movoto Real Estate’s 10 Most Exciting Small Cities in America, Lancaster is creative, diverse and thriving—as more people move here and stay here to enjoy parks, restaurants, cafes, art galleries, Central Market and amenities of many types, all nestled in a walkable downtown core.
Today’s Lancaster is a tribute to the deep and longstanding commitments of leaders in business, nonprofit organizations, economic development, and education, and especially the visionary leadership of Mayor Rick Gray, his administration, and a succession of City Councils. I also want to recognize my predecessor, President John Fry, for his tireless and effective leadership in economic development, civic engagement, and bringing to reality the historic Northwest Gateway project. That project will lead to redevelopment of the Armstrong World Industries and Norfolk Southern rail yard sites and knit together two neighborhoods in northern Lancaster city—for the benefit of the community, the College and Lancaster General Health.
F&M community members are partners in the resurgence of Lancaster, and the College is making significant investments in the city. To name just a few:
- In partnership with the United Way of Lancaster County, specially trained F&M student volunteers, including coordinator Gordon Heller ’15, annually assist working families with their taxes—last year helping to file 411 free tax returns, yielding more than $572,000 in refunds.
- For the past six years, F&M squash players and other students have mentored School District of Lancaster students in the Squash ACES program—helping them stay academically focused while teaching discipline through squash.
- In conjunction with the F&M Works program, F&M students use federal work-study awards to serve local nonprofit organizations.
- Thirteen students are working this summer in Lancaster nonprofits as Public Service Summer Interns through F&M’s Ware Institute for Civic Engagement.
- This fall, Class of 2014 graduates Astrid Barreras and Patricia Gonzalez will work for our College Advising Corps as college advisers in Lancaster’s McCaskey High School.
- Through the City Life homebuyer incentive program, 62 employees have purchased homes in the neighborhood between the campus and downtown since 2004—deepening the close community that characterizes an F&M education and helping stabilize one of Lancaster's neighborhoods.
- Each year, the College makes a payment in lieu of taxes and maintains the beautiful Buchanan Park beside campus.
These initiatives and others demonstrate that, while there’s no denying that our students enjoy the city, they are also giving back to the place that embraces them for four years. They are honing their skills as engaged, empathetic citizens and neighbors of action. Our town offers them a place to learn these values, and Lancaster’s increasing prosperity underscores what happens when a strong community grows and works together.
—President Daniel R. Porterfield