Franklin & Marshall began as two separate German-influenced institutions: Franklin College, a coed, bilingual school founded in 1787 named for Ben Franklin, and Marshall College, an all-male, rigorous school named for Chief Justice John Marshall founded in 1836. In 1852, the two schools merged and became an all-male liberals arts school affiliated with the Reformed Church, with U.S. President-to-be John Buchanan at the helm.
Gradually the school expanded, became more liberal, and loosened its ties to religion and its German heritage. In 1969, the school became officially secular and began admitting women (again).
F&M's 170-acre, lush, historic campus is close to downtown Lancaster. Most of its red brick buildings have a unified, colonial look, and some date back to the 19th century, like the picturesque Alumni House, the Distler House, and the Buchanan House. The 22-acre grassy, tree-lined Buchanan Park, though not owned by the college, is an unofficial extension of F&M.
A free shuttle runs through campus until 1 AM Sunday through Wednesday and until 3 AM Thursday through Saturday.
Lancaster, PA, is a small city in rural Amish country, famous for quilts, farm-made goods, and excellent produce. Students can easily get to the revitalized downtown, but there are a limited number of entertainment options and the pace of life is pretty relaxed. Those who need more excitement and have cars can also make it to Philly or D.C. without too much trouble.
As reported by a Junior:
"The Spring Arts is one of the biggest carnivals at Franklin and Marshall. During the second week of April, the campus suddenly becomes a gallery full of photographs, films, music and art works. Bands play at the Hartman Green (the big lawn) and students throw parties everywhere on campus.
The Fun Follies is the biggest, most hilarious and creative musical comedy at F&M. Audiences can't get enough of the show, which pokes fun at the college and is performed and produced by more than 100 faculty and staff members, and even some senior officers.
The Alma Mater singing competition is a relatively new tradition on campus that was introduced after the College House system was developed. Every summer each house's freshmen class competes with each other in singing the Alma Mater during new student orientation. The only judging criterion is creativity. Backward singing, rapping and funny dances are just a few examples of the entertaining competition."
Roy Scheider '55, actor ("Jaws")
James Lapine '71, award-winning playwright ("Into the Woods")
Ken Mehlman '88, former GOP chairman
F&M Diplomats compete in the NCAA's Division III, except the Wrestling Team, which is Division I. Students do tend to take sports pretty seriously: lots of them play on IM as well as varsity teams, whose options include baseball, basketball, cross country, football, golf, lacrosse, soccer, squash, swimming, tennis, indoor track and field, outdoor track and field, field hockey, and volleyball.
F&M is the 17th oldest liberal arts college in America and the 25th oldest college or university.
The school was called Franklin College after Benjamin Franklin and, when it opened, it was the only college to admit women. That policy was soon abandoned, however, and not put back into place for almost two hundred years.
Hersheypark is only twenty minutes away.
Starting in the 05-06 academic year, F&M began a residential house system governed by students themselves. To encourage unity, house members go through orientation together, take a residential seminar, and play IM sports on the same team.
There are four houses: Marshall-Buchanan-Thomas House, Ware College House, Schnader House, and Bonchek College House. All are coed.
As reported by a Freshman:
"Last semester the MBT House changed its name to Brooks House when Mr. and Mrs. Brooks donated 2.5 million dollars to build new Commons. In President Fry’s new update letter to parents, he also announced a plan to build a new residential house —the first house to be built in two decades.
Each College House has its own culture, including motto, mascot, flag, house color and Congress. While F&M students often like to compare the House System to Hogwarts, every House sees itself as Gryffindor. College House is an independent system with its own finances. The house provides free bagel breakfast once a week, sponsors different events every month and sometimes pays for House residents' tickets.
Dorms are single-sex, but halls are all co-ed. The greatest advantage of F&M House is that freshmen in the same First Year Wring Seminar (FYS) live next door to each other in the same hall, which encourages students to team work and support each other. When rising to upper classes, students can choose from single rooms, shared suites and ordinary rooms. Off-campus apartments, frat houses and theme houses are also available.
Each FYS is assigned two Peer Assistants (PAs) and one House Assistant (HA), both of whom live in the same hall with the FYS freshmen. They are picked from upper-class students who took the same seminar to help first-years with both living and academic concerns. They also serve as part of student self-governance and self-advising within Houses."