A generous combined gift brings three donors with distinctly different paths into the same intertwined Franklin & Marshall story.
Affiliates of James Street Housing, LP and Ascent Real Estate Advisors, LLC have made a collective gift of $1.75 million toward the Office of Student and Post-Graduate Development (OSPGD) Endowment Fund and a trio of other on-campus recipients. Dean Benjamin P’21, John Porges ’90 and Kevin Silverang ’77 are the principals behind this gift.
Benjamin and Porges are principals of Ascent Real Estate Advisors, LLC, founded in April 2003. Silverang is a co-founding partner of Silverang, Rosenzweig & Haltzman, LLC and the original sponsor of James Street Housing, LP.
While their time as undergrads never overlapped, Porges and Silverang formed a friendship through serving on the F&M Leadership Council. Benjamin and his wife, Gabrielle, became part of the F&M community when their daughter, Caroline, joined the Class of 2021.
“All three of us wanted to give something back,” said Silverang, a reunion volunteer and member of the former Real Estate Advisory Committee and Business, Government and Public Policy fundraising committee. He has been a member of Leadership Council since its inception in 2003 under former F&M President John Fry.
“We’ve been very fortunate in our professional lives and we’re interested in helping the College sustain its tradition of making adults out of young people in a liberal arts context,” he added.
A portion of Silverang’s gift will also provide support for Shadek Stadium, a nod to his participation in varsity football and the men’s rugby club.
A plaque will be added to the stadium’s trophy case in memory of his wife Claudia’s brother, Scott Auer, who passed away from cancer.
“Scott was a wonderful person,” said Silverang. “He was a father of two and a wonderful husband. He is the epitome of somebody who had given a substantial amount of his own life and time to the care of others and we wanted to honor him with this gift.”
- - -
The inspiration behind Porges’ gift began long before he set foot on campus. When his father emigrated from Austria to the United States, in 1938, “his family always said the only thing they can’t take from you is an education,” Porges said.
Embodying that spirit, Porges has made gifts every year since graduation – a 30-year streak of giving.
“I place a lot of value on education,” he said. “Giving back to my alma mater and creating the opportunity for others to have as positive an experience at Franklin & Marshall as I did is important to me. I value the rigor and quality of the education that F&M provided me.”
A portion of Porges’ gift was also allocated to the Swimming Endowment Fund.
“I have a lot of positive memories from my time on the swim team,” said Porges, who competed for the Diplomats in the former Fackenthal Pool, since replaced by Kunkel Aquatic Center.
Porges is a member of Phi Kappa Psi fraternity. He has served as an F&M admission volunteer, reunion volunteer and member of the former Investment Advisory Council and Real Estate Advisory Committee. He supported the fundraising campaign for Business, Government and Public Policy and currently serves as a member of the Leadership Council.
- - -
Dean and Gabielle Benjamin felt a strong connection to campus the moment their daughter Caroline moved into Brooks House in 2017.
“It was a warm experience and was a good preview of what was to come,” Benjamin said.
“We’ve donated since the moment our daughter got there,” he added. “We like the idea of having some kind of ongoing connectivity.”
The Benjamins have become increasingly involved with the College and serve as members of the Parents Council.
“You find yourself as a parent of an upperclassman asking, ‘What’s next?’” Benjamin said. “OSPGD has got a massive function. When you look down the road, that function is essential to development.”
Additionally, a portion of the Benjamins’ gift will support the Hillel/Klehr Center for Jewish Life Endowment.
“My wife and I really believe and support what the Klehr Center, and Hillel, do on campus. Their doors are open to everyone,” he said.
F&M is excited to separately and collectively recognize the trio’s extraordinary gift to the College.