Franklin & Marshall College President Daniel R. Porterfield, Ph.D., has been announced by the Aspen Institute as its next president and CEO. Porterfield, who has served as F&M's president since 2011, will remain with the College through the end of the current academic year and assume his new role with the Institute effective June 1, 2018.
Established in 1949 and now headquartered in Washington, D.C., the nonprofit, nonpartisan Aspen Institute is a leading international educational and policy research center dedicated to "fostering enlightened leadership, the appreciation of timeless ideas and values, and open-minded dialogue on contemporary issues." Among its many leadership and policy programs, seminars, public conferences and events, it is the sponsor of the annual Aspen Ideas Festival, one of the nation's premier public gatherings of thought leaders. Porterfield was an invited speaker at the 2016 festival in Aspen, Colo., examining how demographic changes, political tensions, and a shifting economy are informing the future of higher education. He has also played an integral role in the work of the Institute's College Excellence Program, which together with Bloomberg Philanthropies and Ithaka S+R helped found the American Talent Initiative (ATI), modeled on F&M's Next Generation Initiative.
Porterfield's selection as the next president of the Aspen Institute was announced by James S. Crown, chair of the Institute's board of trustees, following a formal election by the board Nov. 30. Porterfield was the unanimous choice of the Institute's presidential search committee and will succeed Walter Isaacson, who has led the Institute since 2003 after a long and distinguished career as a media executive at CNN and TIME magazine.
"We selected Dan to lead the Aspen Institute because his career reflects lifelong impact in values-based leadership and a commitment to the open exchange of ideas — those pillars of our mission that have withstood the test of time and are poised to carry us into the future," said Crown. "An innovative, strategic thinker, Dan brings to the position an intellectual depth, a commitment to inclusivity and diversity, and an ability to lead a complex, mission-driven organization to create impact and make a difference in the world.
"When we began this process, we stated publicly that we were looking for a leader who could embrace our mission, elevate others, be an agent of change, tell better stories, preserve integrity, build bridges, reach more Americans, expect excellence and exhibit joy. We have found the candidate that fulfills all of those criteria in Dan Porterfield."
Porterfield's many achievements at F&M include leading the development of the College's latest strategic plan, Claiming Our Future, as well as significant expansion of the financial aid budget, creation of the Office of Student and Post-Graduate Development (OSPGD) and the F&M College Prep program, and building new recruitment pipelines to talented students in underserved communities across America.
"I am profoundly grateful for my opportunities over the past seven years to support the mission and community of Franklin & Marshall College. Our talent strategy to recruit, educate and launch students from the full American mosaic and with global reach is making a difference many times over. I'm inspired by every accomplishment of this community and the extraordinary dedication to excellence that defines Franklin & Marshall College," said Porterfield. He added, "After the school year ends, I will bring to my future work countless friendships, moments of growth, and joyful experiences. With my wife, Karen Herrling, and our daughters Lizzie, Caroline and Sarah, we thank this community for every kindness that has been extended to us."
F&M Board of Trustees Chair Sue Washburn '73, who chaired the search committee that brought Porterfield to F&M in 2011 from his previous role as senior vice president for strategic development at his alma mater, Georgetown University, said Porterfield's departure will be keenly felt by the College community, but that his mark on the institution will be a lasting one.
"What greater testimony to all that Franklin & Marshall and Dan Porterfield have accomplished together than to have Dan become a leading voice at the intersection of ideas, education, policy, research and advocacy through the global reach of the Aspen Institute? We are so proud of him," said Washburn. "Dan has been an indefatigable champion of our pivotal liberal arts mission and our outreach to talented students from across this nation and the world. Franklin & Marshall will honor his vision as we continue this profoundly important work."
During Porterfield's time as president, F&M has set new records for both applications from prospective students and donations from alumni and other supporters. The proportion of incoming Pell Grant students has tripled to 20 percent and the proportion of incoming domestic students of color has more than doubled.
In addition to OSPGD, the College under Porterfield's leadership has created a new Faculty Center, opened a new student health and wellness center in College Square, renovated many of its student residences and earlier this fall dedicated Shadek Stadium, a multipurpose facility that is the anchor development of the College's new North Campus athletic district.
Also during this period, Porterfield has emerged as a strong national voice advocating for greater college access and opportunity for talented students from underrepresented communities in every community and every zip code. Through his public speaking engagements and more than 40 articles and commentaries published in The Washington Post, Forbes, The Chronicle of Higher Education, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Hechinger Report, and other prominent media outlets, Porterfield has helped focus the academy and the nation's attention on threats to federal student aid programs, innovative ways to reduce student indebtedness, the value of preserving national service programs such as AmeriCorps, and other issues of importance in higher education.
In 2014, Porterfield was honored by the "I Have a Dream" Foundation with its Eugene M. Lang Lifetime Achievement Award for his "visionary efforts and devotion to ensuring that every child … has the opportunity to achieve greatness," and in a 2016 ceremony at the White House, was named a "Champion of Change for College Opportunity."