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College History Fast Facts

Presidents of Franklin and Marshall College and its Predecessor Institutions, 1787-present


Franklin College (1787 - 1853)
1787-1815 Gotthilf Heinrich Ernst Muhlenberg
1815-1853 [college operated by Board of Trustees]

Marshall College (1836 - 1853)

1836-1841 Frederick Augustus Rauch
1841-1853 John Williamson Nevin

Franklin & Marshall College (1853 - )

1853-1855 Presidency vacant*
1855-1866 Emanuel Vogel Gerhart (Marshall College 1838)
1866-1876 John Williamson Nevin
1876-1877 William Marvel Nevin, acting
1877-1889 Thomas Gilmore Apple (Marshall College 1850)
1889-1909 John Summers Stahr (F&M 1867)
1909-1935 Henry Harbaugh Apple (F&M 1889)
1935-1941 John Ahlum Schaeffer (F&M 1904)
1941 H. M. J. Klein, acting (F&M 1893)
1941-1954 Theodore August Distler
1954-1955 Interim period-College administered by a Trustee committee
1955-1956 William Webster Hall
1956-1962 Frederick deWolfe Bolman Jr.
1962 Anthony Roberts Appel (F&M 1935)
1962-1963 G. Wayne Glick, acting
1963-1983 Keith Spalding
1983-1988 James Lawrence Powell
1988-2002 A. Richard Kneedler (F&M 1965)
2002-2010 John Anderson Fry
2010-2011 John F. Burness, interim (F&M 1967)
2011-2018 Daniel R. Porterfield
2018- Barbara K. Altmann

* During the merger and transition between Franklin College and Marshall College and Franklin and Marshall College in 1852 and early 1853 John Williamson Nevin, President of the former Marshall College served as the unofficial de facto President of Franklin and Marshall College. After Nevin turned down the Board of Trustees' official offer of the presidency, Philip Schaff, Professor at the Theological Seminary in Mercersburg, PA was elected President in March 1853, an offer he ultimately turned down in November of that year. During the search for another candidate, William Marvel Nevin of the faculty was named President pro-tem and served during the year 1854 until the election and seating of Emanuel Gerhart as Franklin and Marshall's first President.

Gotthilf Heinrich Ernst Muhlenberg (1787-1815)

G.H.E. or Henry Muhlenberg was born on November 17, 1753 in New Providence (Trappe) Pa, the son of noted Lutheran minister Henry Melchoir Muhlenberg. Henry Ernst studied in Europe at the University of Halle before becoming a Lutheran pastor. During the American Revolution the Muhlenberg family distinguished themselves as patriots of the cause of Independence. One brother served in the Continental Army and another, a member of the Continental Congress, became the first Speaker of the US House of Representatives. In 1780 Muhlenberg became pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church in Lancaster and was instrumental in the ecumenical formation of a German College in Lancaster. He was elected the first "Principal" of the new Franklin College on June 8, 1787. During his presidency, Henry championed courses in geography, composition and oratory, English and natural science. A notable scholar, he is credited with the first English-German, German-English Dictionary ever published in America in 1812. However, Henry is most famous as "the American Linnaeus" due to his work in the field of botany. An accomplished botanist, chemist, and minerologist, Henry is credited with classifying and naming 150 species of plants in his 1785 work Index Flora Lancastriensis.Muhlenberg's work and collaboration with European botanists led to great advances in the study of plants and earned him the distinction as "America's first outstanding botanist."

Frederick Augustus Rauch (1836-1841)

Frederick Augustus Rauch

Frederick Rauch was born July 27, 1806 in Kirchbracht, Hesse-Darmstadt (now Germany). After graduating in 1827 from the University of Marburg, Rauch spent two years at the Universities of Giessen and Heidelberg studying philosophy and theology. At the age of 24, Frederick was invited to serve as an extraordinary (assistant) professor of philosophy at the University of Giessen. A year later he was hired as an ordinary (tenured) professor at the University of Heidelberg where he taught until emigrating to the United States in the fall of 1831. Rauch settled in Easton, Pa. where he served as a professor of German at Lafayette College and taught piano. In June of 1832 he went to York, Pa. to take charge of the newly formed classical school. By the fall of 1832 he was ordained a minister of the German Reformed Church and named professor of biblical literature at the church's Theological Seminary. In 1835, Rauch moved to Mercersburg, Pa with the seminary and classical school and became the first President of Marshall College (which was formed out of the old classical school). A protege' of the German philosopher Charles Daub, Rauch was noted for his scholarship in classical literature, natural history, theology and philosophy. Inspired by the philosopher Georg Hegel, Rauch outlined his views in his work Psychology; or, a View of the Human Soul : Including Anthropology, (1840).He died March 2, 1841 after a brief illness.

Emanuel Vogel Gerhart (1855-1866)

Emanuel Vogel Gerhart

Emanuel Vogel Gerhart was born in Freeburg , PA June 13, 1817 the son of the Rev. Isaac and Sarah (Vogel) Gerhart. He entered the Classical School in York, PA in 1832 and moved with it to Mercersburg, PA in 1835 where it became Marshall College. He was a graduate of the Class of 1838 of that institution. He taught in the Female Seminary in Mercersberg while he continued his study at the Mercersburg Seminary. In 1842, he was ordained a minister. He accepted a call to serve a congregation in Gettysburg in 1844 and served there for six years. In 1851, he moved to Tiffin, OH to become President of Heidelberg College and professor in the Theological Seminary. Two years after the organization of Franklin and Marshall College, he was offered the position as it first president. He accepted this challenge and served the college in this role from 1855 to 1866. During this period, he kept the struggling College afloat raising $100,000 for its endowment, recruiting students to the new institution, building the Main College buildings and leading the college through the Civil War. In 1866, the Board of Trustees asked Gerhart to step down so that John Williamson Nevin could assume leadership of the college. In 1868, Gerhart became president of the Mercersburg Theological Seminary. He oversaw the move of this institution to Lancaster in 1871 and continued to serve as its president until his death in 1904. Gerhart married Eliza Richenbaugh and had three children with her. After her death in 1864, he married Mary Hunter (who died in 1866). In 1875 he married Lucille Cobb who survived him.

John Williamson Nevin (1866-1876)

John Williamson Nevin

John Williamson Nevin was born in Franklin County, PA on February 20, 1803. Nevin was a graduate of Union College and the Princeton Theological Seminary (1826). In 1830, after teaching several years at the Princeton Theological Seminary, he became Professor of Biblical Literature and Church History at the Western Theological Seminary in Allegheny City, PA. He served there for ten years before accepting a position teaching in the Mercersburg Seminary, a German Reformed institution. Upon the death of Frederick Rauch in 1841, Nevin became president of Marshall College a position in which he served until the union of Franklin College and Marshall College in 1853. Nevin retired from public life for eight years before accepting a position as professor of the Philosophy of Science at Franklin and Marshall College in 1861. In 1866, he was asked by the Board of Trustees to serve as President of the College. Nevin agreed, and served in this capacity until his retirement in 1876. Nevin is best know as one of the proponents of "Mercersburg Theology." This doctrine argued for the importance of church life and the sacramental side of Christianity, particularly the importance of doctrines relating to Baptism and the Eucharist. Nevin married Martha Jenkins in 1835. The Nevins had eight children. John Williamson Nevin died at his home in Lancaster, PA, June 26,1886.

Thomas Gilmore Apple (1877-1889)

Thomas Gilmore Apple

Thomas Gilmore Apple was born near Easton, PA on November 14, 1829. He graduated from Marshall College in 1850 and then taught at the Elmwood Institute for Boys. He studied theology and was ordained as a minister in the Reformed Church in 1852. He served as pastor in Riegelsville, Greensburg, Irwin, Mechanicsburg and Greencastle before becoming President of Mercersburg College in 1867. In 1871, he accepted a position as professor of Church History at the Reformed Church Seminary in Lancaster, PA. While continuing this professorship, he became President of Franklin and Marshall College in 1877. This position was intended to be a temporary one, but Apple served in it until he retired from the College in 1889. Apple retained his professorship at the Theological Seminary until his death September 17, 1898. He married Emma Matilda Miller, August 27, 1851. The couple had eleven children.

John Summers Stahr (1889-1909)

John Summers Stahr

John Summers Stahr was born December 2, 1841 near Quakertown, PA. He graduated first in his class from Franklin and Marshall College in 1867. Stahr had intended to enter the seminary in Mercersburg but was offered an assistant professorship of History and the German Language at his alma mater. He accepted the position and continued his own study, receiving a Master of Arts degree from the College in 1871. He also pursued a private study of theology under John Williamson Nevin and was ordained a Reformed minister in 1872. Stahr was appointed President of F&M in 1889 and served in that capacity until 1909. After his presidency, Stahr continued teaching at the College until the the Fall of 1915. He married Francina Andrews in 1871. They had four children, three of whom survived to adulthood. John Stahr died in Lancaster on December 21, 1915.

Henry Harbaugh Apple (1909-35)

Henry Harbaugh Apple

Henry Harbaugh Apple was born Nov. 8, 1869 in Mercersburg, PA, the son of Thomas Gilmore Apple (F&M President 1877-1889). He attended Franklin and Marshall College graduating in 1889. He then studied at the Theological Seminary of the Reformed Church, graduated in 1892 and was ordained that same year. Apple served as pastor at a church in Philadelphia until 1898 when he became pastor at Trinity Reformed Church in York, PA. He was elected President of F&M in 1909 and served in this position until 1935. During Apple's tenure as President nine buildings were constructed, the size of the student body was increased by three times and the endowment was increased by a factor of 5. He is also noted for always having a surplus in the budget even during the Depression years. Apple married Florence Emma Herr, Nov. 8, 1894. Their one child, Emma, died in infancy. Henry Harbaugh Apple died May 19, 1943 in Lancaster.

John Ahlum Schaeffer (1935-41)

John Ahlum Schaeffer

John Ahlum Schaeffer was born May 31, 1886 in Kutztown, PA. Schaeffer graduated from Franklin and Marshall Academy in 1900 He attended Franklin and Marshall College receiving his B.A. in 1904 and M.A. in 1905. In 1908, he received his Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of Pennsylvania. He then taught for three years at the Carnegie Institute of Technology. In 1911, he went to work for the Picher Lead Company, first as its chief chemist and later as its vice-president in charge of research. In 1935, he was elected President of Franklin and Marshall College. On January 2, 1912, he married Alice McConomy. They had four children. He died April 5, 1941 at his home on the College Campus.

Theodore A. Distler (1941-54)

Theodore A. Distler

Theodore ("Prexy") August Distler was born in Brooklyn, NY November 22, 1898. He attended Stevens Polytechnical Institute and Brown University before receiving his BS and MA from New York University. In 1922, he joined the faculty at New York University teaching Public Speaking. He continued serving NYU in a variety of positions (including Dean of Students) until 1934. Distler then accepted the position of Dean at Lafayette College. He was selected by the Board of Trustees to become President of Franklin and Marshall in 1941. "Prexy" is best known for attracting the V-5 and V-12 programs to campus during World War II. This institutional and government cooperation, helped to keep the College financially afloat during this period. In 1954, Distler resigned from F&M to become the Executive Director of the Association of American Colleges He married Alice Boxhold June 30, 1923 and had three sons. He died April 7, 1991 in Lancaster, PA.

William Webster Hall (1955-56)

William Webster Hall

William Webster Hall was born July 31, 1903 in Greenwich, CT. He received his A.B. from Princeton, B.D. from the Union Theological Seminary and his Ph.D. from Yale University. From 1925- 28 ,he served as the Director of the Social Hall at Robert College in Constantinople, Turkey; from 1931 -34 and 1937-39, he held the position on Dean of the American College in Sofia, Bulgaria. In 1939, he was appointed president of the College of Idaho serving there until 1948 when he became President of Westminster College. He was elected president of Franklin and Marshall College in August 1954 by the Board of Trustees. Due to health reasons, Hall was forced to resign as president of Franklin and Marshall July 1, 1956. He died in Santa Barbara, CA December 6, 1973. Hall was married to Lucy Clark Street on May 28, 1931. The couple had two children.

Frederick deWolfe Bolman Jr. (1956-62)

Frederick de Wolfe Bolman

Frederick de Wolfe Bolman was born June 30, 1912 in Leavenworth, KS. A graduate of Harvard University and the Union Theological Seminary, Bolman received his Ph.D. from Columbia University in 1942. He taught philosophy at Columbia University, Randolph- Macon College, Princeton University and New York University before assuming the Presidency of Jamestown Community College in 1951. In 1956, Bolman was selected by the Board of Trustees to become the ninth president of Franklin and Marshall College. During his nearly six year tenure, a complete curriculum review was accomplished, a new tenure review system was established, merit pay increases for faculty were instituted based on teaching and scholarship, and two buildings (Appel Infirmary and Mayser Gymnasium) were constructed. Bolman was forced to resign his position on September 5, 1962 in a dispute with the Board of Trustees. In 1962, he accepted a position as a Consultant for the American Council on Education and from 1964-77 was the Executive Director of the Exxon Education Foundation. He died in Stamford, CT on August 14, 1985.

Anthony Roberts Appel (1962)

Anthony Roberts Appel

Anthony Roberts Appel was born March 27, 1915 in Lancaster, PA. He received his BA from Franklin and Marshall College in 1935 and his L.L.B. from the Dickinson School of Law in 1938. He was a partner in the Lancaster law firm Appel, Ranck, Herr & Appel. Appel was elected president of Franklin and Marshall College by the Board of Trustees immediately following the resignation of Frederick de Wolfe Bolman on September 5, 1962. His mode of his selection was so unpopular with the faculty of the College that Appel submitted his resignation as president to the Board six days later. Appel continued as president through the October 27th Board of Trustees meeting when G. Wayne Glick was named acting president. Appel married Elizabeth Hooker on June 14, 1940 and had two children.

Keith Spalding (1963-83)

Keith Spalding

Keith Spalding was born May 1, 1921 in Wichita, KS. He graduated from the University of Kansas in 1942 and did graduate studies at the University of Wichita and the University of Iowa. He married Dorothy Lint in 1943 and they had five children. Spalding served in the Naval Air Corps during WWII rising to the rank of Captain. In 1948, he took a position at the New York Herald Tribune where he served in a variety of capacities. In 1956, he became assistant to the President at Pennsylvania State University, Milton Eisenhower. When Eisenhower took over as President of Johns Hopkins in 1958, Spalding followed, remaining as his assistant and later as Secretary of Johns Hopkins. In 1963, Spalding was selected by the Board of Trustees as the 11th President of Franklin and Marshall College. He served in this position until 1983. During his 20 year tenure, Spalding oversaw the building of three buildings and the renovation of many more, he saw the College through its transition to a coeducation institution, and built the endowment to $24 million.

James L. Powell (1983-88)

James L. Powell

James L. Powell was born July 17, 1936 in Berea, KY. He graduated with his A.B. from Berea College in 1958 and received his Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1962. In 1962, he accepted a position as assistant professor of Geology at Oberlin College later becoming a Full Professor and Chair of the the Geology Department there. In 1973, he became an associate dean and in 1976 Vice President and Provost of Oberlin College. Powell served as Acting President at Oberlin from 1981 - 82. In 1982, he was selected to become the 12th President of Franklin and Marshall College by the Board of Trustees. During his five year tenure here, the endowment doubled and a long-range plan for the College was developed which included shrinking the student/faculty ratio. A comprehensive study of Student Life was also conducted under his leadership which led to the derecognition of fraternities and sororities by the College in 1987. He resigned in 1988 to become President of Reed College. Powell is married to Joan Hartmann and they have two children.

A. Richard Kneedler (1988-2002)

A. Richard Kneedler

A. Richard Kneedler was born in Pittsburgh,PA and graduated in 1965 from Franklin and Marshall College. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania in French Language and Literature in 1970. In 1968, he returned to F&M as an Instructor of French and served as an Assistant Professor of French from 1970-77. He also served the College as Assistant to the Dean of the College (1971-74), Assistant to the President (1974-78), Secretary of the Board of Trustees 1974-88), Secretary of the College (1978), Administrative Vice President (1979-81), Vice President for Administration (1981-84) and Vice President for Development (1984-88). He was selected President of Franklin and Marshall by the Board of Trustees in 1988, the position in which he now serves. He is married to the former Suzette Gallagher and they have two children.

John Anderson Fry (2002-2010)

John Anderson Fry

Fry, a native of Queens, New York, studied American civilization at Lafayette College and received the George Wharton Pepper Prize, the highest honor awarded to a graduating senior. In 1986, he earned a master's in business administration from the New York University Stern School of Business. During his early professional life, Fry worked as a higher education consultant, first with KPMG Peat Marwick and then with Coopers & Lybrand's National Higher Education Consulting Practice where he was elected a partner in the firm. In 1995, he became the executive vice president of the University of Pennsylvania. As chief operating officer of the university, he was responsible for finance, investments, human resources, facilities and real estate, public safety, information systems, computing, technology transfer, corporate relations, auxiliary enterprises and internal audit and compliance. Fry has served as a member of the board of trustees at Lafayette College, where he was on the Athletics and Student Affairs Committee, the Easton Initiative Committee and the Admissions Selectivity Committee. He has also served on numerous civic, educational and business organizations, including the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce and Sovereign Bancorp. Fry is married and he and his wife, Cara, have three children: Mia, Nathaniel and Phoebe.

During his tenure at Franklin and Marshall College from 2002-2010, Fry oversaw unprecedented academic growth and improvements in quality and access at the College: The student-to-faculty ratio was lowered to 10:1, and the faculty's areas of expertise expanded with the commitment to hire 40 new faculty members. The quality of students improved, as measured by a 63-point gain in SAT average over seven years. Nearly one-third of the faculty enjoys new or renovated office, classroom, laboratory or meeting space, thanks to record fund-raising support. Residential life dramatically improved with the creation of the College House System, which clusters students into smaller, informal learning communities led by faculty members and provides students leadership opportunities and a measure of self-governance.While leading colleges and universities were retreating from expansive commitments to financial aid, Franklin & Marshall increased its financial aid to needy students by 14 percent and began a long-term strategy to remove financial barriers to a Franklin & Marshall education for all highly qualified students.

Fry also led an extensive expansion and improvement of the College's physical plant resulting in newly constructed and improved facilities such as the Barshinger Life Sciences and Philosophy Building, Patricia Harris Center for Business, Government, and Public Policy, Philadelphia Alumni Writers House, Klehr Center for Jewish Life, John Joseph International Center, Brooks Tennis Center, Tylus Field and improved College House facilities including: Ware, Brooks, Bonchek, and Weis College House Commons. In addition, Fry led the effort to increase by 50 percent the College's land holdings for future use. He oversaw the transformation of an abandoned industrial property into a $35 million mixed-use residential and retail complex (College Row). With community partners he initiated the $75 million Northwest Gateway Project. In the first phase of that project, the College and its partners cleaned up and rehabilitated former Armstrong World Industries Liberty Street plant. The second phase—the relocation of a portion of the Norfolk Southern Dillerville rail yard to make land available for the future expansion of the College and Lancaster General Health—is under way. In 2010 Fry left the presidency of Franklin and Marshall College to become President of Drexel University.

( Excerpted from various biographies by the Office of College Communications )

Daniel R. Porterfield (2011-2018)

Daniel R. Porterfield

Daniel R. Porterfield, Ph.D., became Franklin & Marshall College's 15th President on March 1, 2011. As president, Porterfield prioritizes enhancing academic excellence, supporting students, building campus community and increasing civic outreach. A professor of English, he plans to teach literature courses dealing with human rights, education and social justice.

Prior to his appointment at Franklin & Marshall, Porterfield served as Senior Vice President for Strategic Development for his alma mater Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. In this role he assisted the president of the university with the development of new projects and led Georgetown's institutional positioning, communications, government relations, community relations and intercollegiate athletics. He spearheaded Georgetown’s relationship with Teach For America, KIPP, the D.C. public schools and The Cristo Rey Network, on whose board he serves. He founded a number of longstanding Georgetown programs for immigrant children, D.C. students and at-risk youth. In 2003, Porterfield received Georgetown's Dorothy Brown Award for exemplary commitment to the educational advancement of students. He subsequently received the Georgetown College Edward Bunn, S.J., Award for Faculty Excellence and the School of Foreign Service Faculty Excellence Award.

Prior to coming to Georgetown in 1997, Porterfield served for four years as a senior aide to U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Donna E. Shalala. Porterfield was awarded a Rhodes Scholarship and a Mellon Fellowship in the Humanities. He earned his Ph.D. at The City University of New York Graduate Center. A native of Baltimore, Porterfield is married to Karen A. Herrling, an advocacy attorney in state and local enforcement of immigrant rights. They have three children. (By the Office of College Communications)

Barbara K. Altmann (2018- )

Barbara K. Altmann

Barbara K. Altmann, Ph.D., began her duties as president of Franklin & Marshall in August 2018. She was named the College's 16th president in May by unanimous vote of its Board of Trustees.

A scholar of French medieval language and literature, Dr. Altmann had served as the provost at Bucknell University since 2015. There, she played an instrumental role in securing major gifts for programs, capital facilities and endowed faculty positions to support all divisions at Bucknell.

President Altmann, a native of Canada, received her bachelor's degree with honors in romance languages at the University of Alberta. She earned her master's degree in French language and literature from the University of Toronto, and her doctorate in medieval French language and literature from the same university. Prior to her arrival at Bucknell, Dr. Altmann served for more than 25 years at the University of Oregon. She was a professor of French, chair of the Department of Romance Languages and director of the Oregon Humanities Center, before spending her last three years at the university as senior vice provost for academic affairs. She also served as an assistant visiting professor at Dartmouth College.

President Altmann has written or edited four books and written numerous articles, reviews and conference papers in her field of expertise. She has served as an elected delegate to the executive councils of the American Council of Learned Society and the Modern Language Association. (By the Office of College Communications)