It employs 175 full-time faculty members and has a student body of approximately 1,980 full-time students.
In 2008, F&M was ranked as 40th on U.S. News & World Report's annual list of America's 215 liberal arts colleges. It was also ranked #1 in the nation for "Faculty accessibility" by The Princeton Review. The college is a member of the Centennial Conference. For the Class of 2011 Admissions Cycle, the acceptance rate dropped to 37%, making it F&M's most selective class yet.
Franklin College was also America's first coeducational institution, with its first class of students composed of 78 men and 36 women. Among the latter was Rebecca Gratz, the first Jewish female college student in the United States. However, the coed policy was soon abandoned and it would take 182 years before women were again permitted to enroll in the school.
In July 1789, Franklin College ran into financial difficulty as its annual tuition of four pounds was not enough to cover operating costs. Enrollment began to dwindle to just a few students and eventually the college existed as nothing more than an annual meeting of the Board of Trustees. In an effort to help the ailing school, an academy was established in 1807. For the next three decades, Franklin College and Franklin Academy managed to limp along financially, with instructors supplementing their income with private tutoring.
In 1835, the school's Debating Society was renamed Diagnothian Literary Society at the suggestion of seminary student Samuel Reed Fisher. In June of that year, Diagnothian was divided into two friendly rivals to encourage debate. Diagnothian retained its original name, while the new society was named Goethean, in honor of German philosopher and poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. The two organizations sponsored orations and debated politics, philosophy and literature. They merged together in 1955, but became separate entities again in 1989. The Diagnothian Society is the oldest student organization on campus.
During its first year, 18 students were taught by Frederick Augustus Rauch and his assistant, Samuel A. Budd. Rauch, an acclaimed young scholar and theologian from Germany who authored the first American textbook in psychology, also served as the College’s president.
The school's small, but brilliant faculty grew in both size and status with the addition of John Williamson Nevin and another German scholar, church historian Philip Schaff. Nevin became the college’s president upon Rauch’s sudden death in 1841.
Life at Marshall College was well-regimented. Students were required to attend morning prayers—sometimes as early as 5 a.m.—and were expected to study in their rooms for six hours a day. In addition, they were forbidden to associate with people of questionable moral character.
Marshall College quickly gained national recognition and attracted students from a large geographical area, with some coming as far away as the West Indies. However, despite being initially well-funded, Marshall College began to experience financial difficulties of its own. By the late 1840s, financial support and enthusiasm among the local community had virtually disappeared and the school was in danger of closing its doors for good.
The college’s first two presidents, Emanuel Vogel Gerhart, a Marshall College graduate, and Nevin struggled to keep the young school afloat with an inadequate endowment. But the hope of creating a reputable liberal arts institution fueled their efforts to push on. “No second- or third-rate school will do,” said Nevin at the formal dedication of the united college. “We must either have no college at all or else have one that may be in all respects worthy of the name.”
On May 16, 1856, Franklin and Marshall College dedicated its main building, "Recitation Hall." The distinctive, tall-towered structure, designed in the Gothic Revival style, was constructed on "Gallows Hill," the former site of Lancaster's public executions and the highest point of ground in the city. At the laying of the building's cornerstone in 1853, Henry Harbaugh, a Marshall College graduate and pastor of the Reformed Church of Lancaster noted that the city's lowest point was the location of the Lancaster County Prison. Harbaugh stated: "Thank God! The College stands higher than the jail. Education should be lifted up and let crime sink to the lowest depths!" Recitation Hall came to be known as Old Main and the ground as College Hill.
Franklin and Marshall College took as its motto the Latin phrase "Lux et Lex", which translates in English to "Light and Law". This was the reverse of the Marshall College motto "Lex et Lux". While legend has it that the switch was the result of an error by an engraver, it was more likely a deliberate decision to pair the words with its founders Benjamin Franklin ("light") and John Marshall ("law").
The college seal depicts the profiles of Franklin and Marshall, both looking to the left. It has been often suggested that this represented the two leaders looking westward towards the (then) future expansion of the United States. Despite the fact that his name comes second, John Marshall is shown on the left of the seal and Benjamin Franklin is on the right. But Franklin's full head is shown, while Marshall's profile is cut off and far in the background. Some say that this shows the college's unspoken tendency to favor Franklin's legacy over Marshall's. Recently this preference became more than simply unspoken, as the school actively promoted recognition of Benjamin Franklin's 300th birthday while ignoring John Marshall's 250th birthday, both of which occurred during the spring semester of 2006. The school only recognized Marshall's milestone birthday after a petition was circulated by then senior Ryan Corbalis and signed by a significant portion of the students and faculty of the college.
College Days, the first student newspaper, began publication in 1873. Later student newspapers included The College Student (1881–1914), The F&M Weekly (1891–1915), The Student Weekly (1915–1964), The Blue and The White (1990–1992) and The College Reporter (1964-present).
Oriflamme, the Franklin and Marshall College yearbook, was established in 1883.
In 1887, the centennial celebration of Franklin College was held at the school. By then, over 100 students were enrolled at F&M.
1899 saw the formation of the college's first theatre group, the Franklin & Marshall Dramatic Association. The next year, it was renamed The Green Room Club. The club performed plays at Lancaster's Fulton Opera House. Because the college admitted only men, the female roles were played by local actresses. In 1937, the Green Room Theatre opened on campus. F&M alumni who have performed on the Green Room stage include Oscar-winning film director Franklin J. Schaffner and actors Roy Scheider and Treat Williams.
The college began a rapid period of growth after World War I. Enrollment rose from around 300 students in 1920, to over 750 students by the year 1930. In 1924, the architectural firm of Klauder and Day presented a master campus plan in the Colonial Revival style. Dietz-Santee dormitory, Meyran-Franklin dormitory, the Mayser Physical Education Center, and Hensel Hall were all completed within three years. Two additional dormitories were planned at that time, but never constructed.
The sesquicentennial celebration of Franklin College was held in mid-October 1937. Student enrollment at that time was 800. A commemorative plaque celebrating the sesquicentennial of Franklin College and the signing of the United States Constitution was presented to the college by the Lancaster County Historical Society.
In 1939, the school began an aviation program in the new Keiper Liberal Arts Building. The Aeronautical Laboratory eventually became a government-sponsored flight school with 40 faculty members. Two airplanes were disassembled, moved into the building and reassembled on the third floor where they were used as flight simulators.
By 1945, with the majority of young men fighting in World War II, the college population dwindled to just under 500 students and 28 faculty members. But the end of the war brought many new students who decided to pursue their education under the G.I. Bill. By 1946, enrollment had swelled to over 1,200 students (including four females permitted to study in the pre-med program) and there was a sudden critical shortage of faculty members.
The fifties and sixties brought more college expansion and construction to the campus including: North Museum (1953), Marshall-Buchanan Residence Hall (1956), Appel Infirmary (1959), Schnader Residence Hall (1959), Mayser Physical Education Center (1962), Benjamin Franklin Residence Halls (1964), Pfeiffer Science Complex (now Hackman Physical Science Laboratory) (1967), Grundy Observatory (1967), Whitely Psychology Laboratory (1968) and Thomas Residence Hall (1968).
Like other academic institutions in the sixties, Franklin and Marshall experienced a series of student protests during the decade that were based on important social issues, such as the American Civil Rights Movement and the Vietnam War. In April 1961, students rioted in front of the President's house and Hensel Hall, burning effigies and college property in protest of administration policies.
In 1965, visiting English instructor Robert Mezey was suspended after being accused of urging students to burn their draft cards. He was later reinstated. This became known as the "Mezey Affair."
In the spring of 1969, black students protested the final examination of the history course "The Black Experience in America." Demanding an apology from the faculty for exploitation and an "A" in the course, the students argued that no white man can test them on their "blackness." The day before the exam, the professors agreed to the apology, but still insisted that the students take the final exam. On May 22, the day of the exam, forty black students—many of whom were not enrolled in the course—blocked the entrance to the exam room in Old Main. The professors attempted to hand out the exam to the other students in the class, but the protesters confiscated them. Retreating to Goethean Hall next door, the professors and staff met to evaluate the situation. The protesters followed them to the building, blocked all doors and exits and held them hostage. They declared that they would not release the faculty members until they received an apology and immunity from punishment. The standoff lasted until midnight, when the professors agreed to allow the students to grade themselves. The students relented and released the hostages. However the college's Professional Standards Committee later overturned the decision, declaring that the professors would, in fact, have to grade the students after all.
In 1969, Franklin and Marshall College ended its formal affiliation with the United Church of Christ, becoming a secular school.
Since its inception, Franklin and Marshall was an all-male institution, although Franklin College had enrolled female students and women were permitted to attend summer school classes at F&M beginning in 1942. Continuing a trend in single-sex schools across the country, the Board of Trustees announced on January 17, 1969 that it had voted to admit women to F&M, a decision that was unanimously and enthusiastically supported by male students. In the fall of 1969, 82 freshman women and 34 female transfer students were enrolled in F&M's first coeducational class.
In 1970, F&M students protested the administration's failure to rehire popular sociology instructor Anthony Lazroe and history instructor Henry Mayer. The protest, known as the "Lazroe-Mayer incident," culminated in the East Hall sit-in on April 30, where students took over the building for several hours.
In 1976, the Steinman College Center was constructed. The building—designed by Minoru Yamasaki, architect of New York's World Trade Center—originally housed the campus bookstore and post office. Today it houses the College Reporter, the Oriflamme Yearbook, the College Entertainment Committee, the Phillips Museum of Art, Pandini's (a popular restaurant) and the campus radio station WFNM.
On April 29, 1976, the Green Room Theatre staged the world premiere of the John Updike play Buchanan Dying, about former President James Buchanan, a Lancaster resident and former President of the Board of Trustees. The production was directed by Edward S. Brubaker and starred Peter Vogt, an F&M alumnus. After the premiere, a reception was held at Wheatland, Buchanan's Lancaster residence.
The eighties were a prosperous time for the college. Construction projects initiated during the decade included Hartman Green (1982), French House (1984), Murray Arts House (1984), Ice Rink (1984), Spaulding Plaza (1985), the Other Room Theatre (1985), major renovations and expansions of Fackenthal Library (1983, renamed Shadek-Fackenthal Library) and Stahr Hall (1985, renamed Stager Hall, 1988) and the Black Cultural Center (1986).
The nineties brought a major expansion to the north side of campus with the construction of College Square in (1991). The multi-use complex housed a new bookstore, laudromat, video store, restaurants and a food court. Other buildings from the decade include Weis Residence Hall (1990), International House (1990), Martin Library of the Sciences (1990) and the Alumni Sports and Fitness Center (1995).
In 2000, Bill Cosby was chosen as commencement speaker for the graduating class. He also donated $100,000 to start a scholarship in honor of his deceased son Ennis. The scholarship is awarded to students who pursue their graduate studies in education at Columbia University Teachers College, Ennis' alma mater.
On January 19, 2006, the college celebrated the tricentennial of Benjamin Franklin's birth. Among other activities, noted Franklin scholar Walter Issacson gave a lecture, and a full-page ad praising Franklin and advertising the college was purchased in the New York Times.
Following the installment of President John A. Fry, Franklin & Marshall enacted their new master plan with large scale construction projects, including the Writers House, Distler Bookstore and Coffee House, Barshinger Life and Physical Science Building, and the Harrisburg Ave. Mixed Use Project. These projects have received support from the F&M community, although the introduction of a new, four-year live-on-campus requirement initially angered a large portion of the student body. Although the new projects promise aesthetic and educational enhancement for Franklin and Marshall, their full effect and potential has yet to be realized. President Fry's master plan is ten years ahead of schedule.
In 1866, the student-run Alpha Club sponsored the college's first baseball game.
In 1887, the first football team was organized by Seminary student Miles O. Noll. Franklin and Marshall College was defeated 9–0 by the York YMCA.
Sponaugle-Williamson Field was constructed in 1895 with the assistance of $1,500 from Henry S. Williamson. It was later renamed "Williamson Field." A concrete grandstand was added in 1922 at a cost of $10,000.
In 1900 the first basketball game was played. The opposing team was Millersville Normal School.
Professor Charles W. Mayser founded the F&M wrestling team in 1923, and early 1924 saw the college's first wrestling match as the Blue & White defeated Western Maryland College, 24–5. The Diplomat grapplers finished their maiden season with a 4–1 record. F&M wrestling competes in the EIWA, the oldest collegiate wrestling conference in the United States.
Mayser Physical Education Center, the college's second gymnasium, was opened in 1927.
In 1992, F&M became a charter member of the Centennial Conference, an athletic conference of 11 mid-Atlantic institutions that compete in 22 sports in the NCAA's Division III. The other founding members of the conference are Bryn Mawr College, Dickinson College, Gettysburg College, Haverford College, Johns Hopkins University, Muhlenberg College, Swarthmore College, Ursinus College, Western Maryland College, (renamed McDaniel College) and Washington College.
In 1995, the Alumni Sports and Fitness Center, the school's third gymnasium opened on the site of the college's former ice rink.
Currently, F&M's best athletic teams are Men's Soccer, Men's Swimming, Baseball, Men's Squash, Women's Swimming, and Women's Lacrosse. They all traditionally compete for Conference Championships and are ranked high nationally. In 2007, the Women's Lacrosse Team won the National Championship after an undefeated season. Also in 2007, the Men's Swimming Team won the Centennial Conference Championships and the Women's Swimming Team placed 2nd. Four swimmers went on to the national competition. In the 2008 national championships, rising superstar Thomas Anthony Grabiak Jr. set two national records in the 100 and 200 yd breaststroke events. Men's Squash consistently maintains a top 16 Division I national ranking, having finished #16, #12 and #14 the past three seasons, respectively.
In April 1988, the College's Board of Trustees voted no longer to officially recognize the school's fraternities and sororities. This was known as "derecognition." At the time, three of the school's fraternities had recently lost their national charters due to various offenses. In an effort to repair the system, the college administration proposed eight specific reforms to the Greek Council, which were ultimately rejected by all of the organizations. The result was derecognition. Derecognition was highly unpopular with the student body, but it served to remove the college from any liability associated with hazing and underage alcohol abuse, issues that were in the national public eye at that time. The experiment met with mixed results. Despite the decree, the Greek System continued—albeit unofficially—and the college kept a watchful eye on how it developed without financial or administrative support. No Greek chapters were closed during this time and membership was generally not affected. But after several years unsupervised, a small number of fraternities struggled with health code violations, fires and one unfortunate accidental alcohol-related death of a Chi Phi member in 1993. Owing to several factors, including dwindling financial support from fraternity and sorority alumni and legitimate concerns about student academics, health and safety, the college announced on May 19, 2004 that it would reinstate a new, revised Greek System beginning on September 1, 2004 after a 16 year absence.
As part of the new agreement between the school's Greek organizations and the administration, Fraternity and Sorority houses are required to submit to weekly "life safety" inspections by school officials, and inspections by the local Fire Department, Police Department, and Office of Public Health conducted once per semester.
There are still disputes between the Greek System and the school's administration centering on the fact that Greek organizations are held to a much more stringent set of standards than any other campus organizations. There are also tensions between the Greek system and Lancaster City, arising chiefly from incidents of crime.
Franklin and Marshall College:
In 1999, after seeing an official Franklin & Marshall sweatshirt, a company based in Verona, Italy began producing clothing in a vintage 1950's collegiate-style with the words "Franklin and Marshall" on them. F&M alumni began to report seeing F&M merchandise for sale in Europe, which puzzled the college.
In 2001, Tim McGraw posed for publicity photos wearing a "Franklin Marshall Wrestling" t-shirt, one of which was included in the CD booklet for his album Set This Circus Down. When the college became flooded with inquires about its (nonexistent) connection to the singer, they began to investigate further and discovered that the Franklin Marshall Clothing company was using its name without permission.
In 2003, after lengthy discussions, the college decided not to sue and instead agreed to accept a licensing fee from the company so that they could continue to produce their products, which had begun to gain popularity with youth, especially in the United Kingdom.
Today, the line is sold in upscale stores, such as Bloomingdales and, as part of the agreement with the college, at the Franklin and Marshall College bookstore. However, many of the designs omit Franklin & Marshall's ampersand and instead reads simply "Franklin Marshall."