Fifty Years of Change: Franklin & Marshall, 1956-2006
This exhibit was originally prepared in 1996 for the 40th reunion of the Class
of 1956 by College Archivist Ann Keene. It has been reposted and updated in commemoration
of the 50th reunion held in 2006. ---Michael Lear, Archives and Special Collections
When the Class of 1956 arrived on the Franklin
and Marshall Campus, you were greeted by President Theodore "Prexy" Distler.
He welcomed an all-male Freshman class of 292 out of a total enrollment at the
College of 1,100 students. Freshmen who were not commuting to campus were required
to live in the rather spartan quarters provided in Hartman Hall. Upperclassmen,
however, had the option of living in fraternity houses and in rooms rented in
private homes. For the privilege of attending F&M, students paid $1,310
for tuition and room and board.
In 2002 President Fry welcomed a much different Class of 2006 to the F&M
campus. Forty-seven percent of the 528 students entering the College in
were women. The Board of Trustees ended the all-male tradition at Franklin and
Marshall in 1968 with the first class including women entering in the Fall of
1969. For the past 20-30 years the school has focused on providing a more diverse
climate for our students to live and learn. In the class of 2006, for example,
approximately eleven percent of entering Freshmen were from multi-cultural backgrounds
were foreign students. Residential life
is also quite
different. The construction of Marshall-Buchanan
Hall, Benjamin Franklin Hall, and Weis Hall allows nearly three-quarters of the
student body to live very comfortably on campus. Most first and second year
students (no longer called "Freshmen" and "Sophomores") choose
to live in the
co-educational residence halls (no longer called "dormitories"). Student
are equipped with
telephones, voice mail, and cable television hook-ups. All
student rooms in the residence halls are wired with Internet connections which
allow them access the library catalog, email and the world-wide web from their
room. As you may have guessed, the comprehensive fee for tuition, room and board
has risen substantially in the past fifty years, to around $40,000 for the 2005-2006
Hazing was a major part of the Freshman experience
on campus during the 1950s. The College Blue Book, published each year for the
incoming Freshmen, enumerated the regulations. Among the rules were:
* Freshmen shall purchase the traditional identification badge and hat. These must be worn at all times on campus with the brim down.
* Freshmen shall roll their pants up to the knee.
* Freshmen passing Old Main must remove their hats, place them over their
hearts and say "We Hail Thee Alma Mater" three times.
These rules were enforced by the Sophomore class for the majority of the first
semester unless the Freshmen were able to defeat them in some sort of challenge
like the "pants fight." Hazing of this sort disappeared from the college
landscape by the early 1960s. In recent years, incoming students have participated
in a number of class unity-building activities such as Convocation and an Orientation
weekend during their first few days on campus.
The mid-1950s was a time of transition within the College administration.
President Distler resigned in 1954 and was replaced by William Hall.
the College only one year before Frederick Bolman succeded him in 1956.
The confusion caused by this revolving door of presidents led to a mix-up with
the diplomas to be received by the Class of 1956. The ones given during
the 1956 commencement had to be returned because the wrong signature
was printed on them. Corrected diplomas were distributed in August. During this
unsettled period, the College relied heavily on the guidance of Mac Darlington,
Dean of the College, and Richard Winters, Dean of Students, to continue smooth
The curriculum has had its share of changes
since the mid-1950s. In 1956, students were required to complete 120 semester
hours of work and pass a final comprehensive exam
in their major to graduate. All students, except seniors, were required
attend three College assemblies and four chapel services a semester. Today, F&M
is widely recognized for excellence in liberal arts education, granting degrees
in 25 fields of study including Theatre, Dance and Film, Women's Studies, Africana
Studies and Art. Students are required to
complete 32 courses - 1/3 Major, 1/3 College Studies, 1/3 elective. The College
Studies program was implemented in the mid 1960s to provide a wide exposure
to a variety of themes in liberal arts. Students take at least one course in:
scientific inquiry, the arts, foreign cultures, historical studies, literature,
language and systems of knowledge and belief
in order to graduate. In addition, students have increasingly become involved
original research with faculty members through the Hackman Scholar Program.
introduced to the curriculum are first-year seminars. This experience brings
15 first year students together during their first semester to live on the same
dorm floor, attend a common course and ultimately become a support network
for each other. This program has become quite
popular, with enrollment exceeding the number of seminars offered. While attendance
at lectures on campus are no longer required, students today are provided the
opportunity to hear many nationally and internationally known speakers, such
as John Updike and Maya Angelou, through the various lecture
series sponsored by the College.
Some aspects of student life have not changed
since the Class of 1956 attended F&M. While the Green Room Theatre (where
you participated in productions such as "The Caine Mutiny Court Martial," "Mr.
Roberts, "Bernadine," and "Jacobowsky and the Colonel,")
has been replaced by the Roschel Performing Arts Center (opened in 2003) theater
Intercollegiate athletics are still an important part of the F&M experience.
During your time here, the college sponsored 10 athletic teams.
Today, the college sponsors 23 intercollegiate men's and women's teams and 7
club sports with over 25% of the student body participating in at least one sport.
The Men's basketball team, in particular, gained notice in the last ten
years participating in the 1996 NCAA Division III Final Four. Some of you will
the Phi Sigma Kappa touch football team who went undefeated in five years of
intramural play (1951 - 1956). This tradition continues with large numbers
of students participating in co-ed volleyball, basketball and touch football
Fraternities were major players on the
social scene at F&M during the 1950s sponsoring weekend dance parties and
yearly formals. In addition, the College organized exchanges with Hood and Wilson
Colleges to bring female students to campus for social events. Today, Ben's
Underground, a student-run nightclub housed in the basement of the Ben Franklin
Hall provides a venue for comedians and student
and local bands. For over 25 years the College held
the Spring Arts Festival where student-created art works were displayed
at various locations across the campus and Hartman Green hosted the "Battle
of the Bands" where local and student musical groups vied for prizes.
The greatest changes you may notice while visiting campus are the facilities.
For instance, the Fackenthal Library and its fondly remembered
Browsing Room has undergone a great deal of change. In 1982, it was renovated
to become the Shadek-Fackenthal Library. The
Sciences was constructed in 1990 to house the College's extensive collection
related to the
sciences and psychology. It is also home to the Center for Information Systems
and Computing Services which maintains the campus' Internet connections and computing
resources and provides a computer workroom for students to write papers, browse
the Internet and complete coursework.
Stahr Hall was the home of many of the physical
science classrooms in the 1950s. It also housed the College's natural history
until moved to the new North Museum in 1953. In 1966 the Pfeiffer Science Center
was constructed as the home of the physical sciences, ending Stahr Hall's role
as a science building.
building has been renovated several times during the years, the latest being
rededicated Stager Hall in 1988.
The Campus House -- now named Distler Hall --contained
a canteen/snack bar and student lounge, and later the campus bookstore (1960-1976).
offices such as the Personnel, Registrar and Business Offices. In 2004 the building
was renovated and returned to use as the campus bookstore as well
as a coffee shop.
East Hall was used as the Academy building, as a dormitory, and for a variety
of administrative offices until it was razed in 1977. Steinman College Center,
behind this site, was completed 1976. The College Center has become the hub of
student activity on campus, housing the Student Center, WFNM (the College radio
station), various eateries, the post office and the Phillips Museum
Hartman Hall served as the Academy building, a dormitory, and the Student Center
at different times in its history until it was torn down in 1975. The space on
which it stood has been converted into Hartman Green.
To make room for the construction of the
Pfeiffer Science Complex, the Scholl Observatory was razed in 1966 along with
the last of the Quonset huts which stood on campus. The Campus Observatory has
been moved to the Baker Campus, a few blocks west of the main campus, and has
been renamed the Grundy Observatory. Pfeiffer underwent extensive renovation
in 1996 to expand its space and modernize its laboratory facilities. The new
complex is known as Hackman Physical Science Center.
Construction of the Alumni Sports and Fitness Center on the North Campus was
completed in 1995. It provides an Olympic sized swimming pool, an indoor track
and fitness equipment. This new facility is a welcome addition to the physical
education facilities on campus.
Between 1998 and 2000, Hensel Hall was completely renovated to become the Barshinger
Center for Musical Arts. Completing President Richard Kneedler's vision of an
Arts quad, the Roschel
center was constructed between the College Center and the
This facility now houses the mainstage theatre as well
In 2002, new College President John Fry began a series of exciting projects,
including the construction of a new Writers House and an International House
on College Avenue. Also under construction are a mixed-use retail and student
housing complex on Harrisburg Pike, as well as a new Life Sciences building
Psychology, and Philosophy departments. Other initiatives involve raising
the number of applications to the College, raising the College's national prestige
and increasing the number of faculty.
I hope that you have enjoyed this virtual trip through the past forty years
at Franklin and Marshall. My thanks to George Hoeltzel (F&M '56) for sharing
memories of his College days, Dick Orkin (F&M '56) for encouraging the development
of this page and Mo Oakes (F&M '56) for providing several of the photographs
used in this presentation.--Ann Keene, 1996.
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