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.
Harwood, a 1971 alumnus and Franklin & Marshall trustee, has committed $1.5 million to house the office in larger, newly renovated space to be named the Harwood Commons. The office will move from 619 College Ave. to 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.
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.
The College announced earlier this month that its student health and counseling services will be relocated to renovated space in the F&M-owned College Square building on Harrisburg Avenue. The move sets in motion an expansion of health, counseling and wellness resources for students as part of a new partnership with the nonprofit Lancaster General Health system.
Harwood, 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, 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."
Investment in an innovative model
Since its founding, OSPGD has been an innovator in meeting the needs of students and alumni, Throne said. Whereas traditional career services assign students a post-graduate advisor in their senior year, F&M students now have access to an advisor as early as they would like. The office also engages alumni and parents to provide professional guidance to students and their fellow alums.
"Before OSPGD, only about 20 percent of F&M students interacted with career services," Throne said. "Last year, nearly 75 percent of students went to a workshop, engaged online services or met with an advisor.”
In the Harwood Commons, the office will be better able to respond to the needs of today’s students. For Harwood, this provides opportunities for his fellow alumni and friends of F&M to add their support to the program.
"I would hope that they would see the need and offer their help to this great program," he said. "Whether through annual gifts, or endowments for specific areas, that would be wonderful."
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 gift will renew the life of the aged building for future generations.
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. His philanthropy beyond F&M extends to the Jersey City Medical Center, the Jewish Home and rehab center, his synagogue and other causes. He is also on the board of Big Brothers and Big Sisters.
Harwood also contributes to F&M as a member of the board of trustees, where he was first elected in 2008 and currently serves on the board’s Academic Affairs Committee, Enrollment Committee, and Building, Grounds and Sustainability Committee. He is a past member of the College’s Leadership Council, and has served as a Reunion Volunteer, Admission Volunteer and on the President’s Regional Advisory Council. He belongs to the College's John Marshall Society, William A. Schnader Society and Founder's Society, all recognizing loyalty in investing in and contributing to the College and its mission.
Harwood believes a strong liberal arts education provides a strong foundation for any life pursuits, he said.
"One critical mission should be to assist students along life's path," Harwood said. "Preparing for life beyond college is more than a catch phrase, it's a mandate."