Daniel R. Porterfield, president of Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, will be honored at the White House Friday for his dedication to helping talented students from low income families get their education.
Porterfield will be among 11 people and one of two four-year college presidents from around the country to be honored as a "champion of change for college opportunity."
The other four-year college president, Mary Schmidt Campbell, also has local ties. Campbell is a graduate of Girls High in Philadelphia and Swarthmore College. Last year, she became president of Spelman College, a prominent historically black women's college in Atlanta.
Porterfield, who became president of Franklin & Marshall in 2011, has made access to college one of his signature goals. The college has built partnerships with K-12 programs that help students from low income families get into college.
"There's tremendous talent in every zip code — America's top colleges and universities need to seize opportunities to provide more qualified students with the kind of rigorous education and holistic growth that transforms talented 18-year-olds into leaders," Porterfield said in an announcement on the college's web site.
Over the last decade, the college has tripled its number of incoming students from low income families who qualify for federal Pell grants, the college said. In 2006-08, about seven percent of students qualified for the grants. Over the last three years, an average of 19 percent of incoming students were from low income families.
The students are successful at F&M, Porterfield said.
"In each of the past five years, Pell Grant recipients and first-generation college students have had retention rates that are higher than their class as a whole, while earning comparable GPAs," he said in the web site announcement.
"They're doing high-level research with scholars, leading student organizations, winning national fellowships, entering graduate school or getting great jobs after graduation. And they are graduating— 85 percent of Pell Grant recipients who enrolled in 2010 graduated at F&M, compared to 51 percent nationally."
Here's what the White House had to say about Campbell in its press release: "As president, Dr. Campbell leads an institution that is a global leader in the education of women of African descent, with more than 2,100 students from 41 states and 15 foreign countries and with a graduation rate of 76%. Over 79% of Spelman students receive financial aid and nearly half of enrolled students receive Pell Grants. Spelman is also leading work examining innovative strategies that may positively impact student learning as a 2015 U.S. Department of Education First in the World grantee."