Autumn colors and a cool snap in the air added to the traditional festivities of Franklin & Marshall College’s Homecoming & Family Weekend Oct. 14-16.
It was a weekend of celebrating milestones – the 50th anniversary of F&M’s Hillel, the 10th anniversary of the Joseph International Center and the fifth anniversary of the African-American Alumni Council each brought together alumni to reminisce.
As alumni and family began to arrive on campus Friday afternoon, the Autumn Research Fair offered them a glimpse of such student projects as sophomore Md Faisal Alam’s “Are Our Telescopes Sensitive Enough to Detect Extragalactic Pulsars?” and junior Jennifer Deasy’s “Understanding the Common Roman Man through Ancient Graffiti.”
That evening, the Alumni Sports & Fitness Center (ASFC) crackled with political dialogue as F&M alumnus and CNN political commentator Jeffrey Lord ’73, a political strategist and an adviser to Republican nominee Donald Trump, exchanged views with his broadcast colleague, Paul Begala, a Democratic political consultant and an adviser to former President Bill Clinton. The two men offered their views on the presidential race as Terry Madonna, director of the Franklin & Marshall College Poll, moderated the discussion.
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Under a big tent outside ASFC, Dean of the College Margaret Hazlett welcomed six athletes inducted into F&M’s Athletic Hall of Fame: Amy Abernathy ’04, women’s basketball; Jack Bailey ’69, track and field; Steve Coulson, volleyball coach; Eve Dintino ’83, women’s lacrosse and field hockey; Leah Rubin ‘00, women’s tennis; and Jack Savage ’89, football and wrestling.
Saturday morning offered a series of breakfasts including the Office of Student and Post-Graduate Development briefing, where Tammy Halstead, director of alumni advising and development, explained to parents how the liberal arts experience increases internship opportunities for students and employment opportunities for graduates.
Over coffee, eggs, pastries and other fare at the African-American Alumni Council’s awards breakfast, Donna “Bonnie” Glover ’76, director of Domestic Violence Services in Lancaster, and Sylvester Cox ’80, a Circuit Court Associate Judge in Baltimore, were on hand to receive the Sydney N. Bridgett ’51 Award for achievement. Bridgett, a leader in public education in Lancaster, died earlier this year. Unable to attend were two other award recipients, Ricardo Rivers ’93, associate vice president at Wells Fargo Investments, and Nick Peterson ’02, teaching assistant at Lancaster Theological Seminary.
“To know Mr. Bridgett as a young lady was just incredible,” Bonnie Glover said. “In Lancaster, he has the same kind of respect as he does on this campus.”
Outside Hensel Hall in the Barshinger Center for Musical Arts, where F&M President Daniel R. Porterfield was about to lead a discussion with faculty and staff on the College’s approach to the liberal arts experience, Fred Honaman ’55, P’81, P’83, took a moment to enjoy the sunshine before he, his son, Drew, and his grandson, Francis, an eighth-grader, went inside.
“If he came to F&M, he would be in the Class of 2025,” Honaman said of his grandson. “My father was in the Class of 1925.”
Under a series of large white tents on Hartman Green, alumni, students and family swarmed the Tailgate Party, enjoying great music and food while visiting tables laden with information, baked goods and spirit merchandise set up by the academic departments, student organizations, athletic teams and alumni groups.
Offering cookies, pumpkin bread and pumpkin walnut muffins at the Phi Sigma Pi honors fraternity, sophomore Anthony O’Donnell said, “They’re selling like hot cakes!”
In the afternoon, following the Diplomats’ handy 25-7 defeat of McDaniel College on Sponaugle-Williamson Field, alumni, coaches, student-athletes, senior staff and Porterfield gathered for the groundbreaking of Sponaugle-Williamson’s replacement, Shadek Stadium.
Located behind ASFC on the developing North Campus, Shadek Stadium, the new home of F&M football and men’s and women’s lacrosse, should be completed by next fall. Attending the ceremony was trustee Laurence Shadek ’72, P’05, P’06. Four years ago, Shadek and the Shadek Family Foundation launched the fundraising drive for the $19.1 million multi-purpose stadium with a generous $5 million gift. To date, $14.5 million has been raised.
“This endeavor reflects a true team effort,” Porterfield said. He praised fundraising efforts and said the College’s commitment to Shadek Stadium and development of North Campus is so strong that F&M literally “moved a railroad” to make it happen. “That has never been done in higher education,” Porterfield added.
Just before shoveling and tossing the ceremonial shovelful of dirt, Shadek said the College never wavered in its commitment to the project, which began under the former administration of F&M President John Fry.
To the cheers of about 200 spectators there for the groundbreaking, Shadek said, “They passed the ball to President Porterfield and his team, and they took it and ran it in for a touchdown.”
That evening at the Tribute Dinner, senior sociology major Donnell Bailey, in introducing Porterfield, captured what it means to be a student, particularly for an African-American, at F&M.
“In my time here at Franklin & Marshall, I’ve had incredible opportunities to work on issues that deeply matter to me in and outside of the classroom,” Bailey said. “I’ve learned to be a fearless sociology major asking the big questions and acting upon opportunities to interrupt systemic racism, classism, ableism, and sexism. I’ve had the privilege of serving as class president for two years, student body president, interned in the U.S. Senate, House, and the White House. All of this because my liberal arts education has made me fearless.”
At that dinner, Al Ingraham '72 earned the Alumni Development Volunteer Award, while two members of the College's Board of Trustees, Susan Kline Klehr '73 and Ray Sanseverino '68, received the Alumni Medal. The program also included a special recognition of F&M swimmer Becca Meyers, who won three gold medals and one silver at September's Paralympics Games in Rio de Janeiro, setting two world records and two Paralympics records in the process. Greeted with a standing ovation from the crowd of more than 300, she thanked everyone for their support in her brief remarks, ending with a rousing, "Go Dips!"