Daniel R. Porterfield

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Portrait of Daniel R. Porterfield, Ph.D., President of Franklin & Marshall College

Daniel R. Porterfield (born August 19, 1961) is the 15th president of Franklin & Marshall College.


A native of Baltimore, Maryland, Daniel R. Porterfield graduated from Loyola Blakefield, a Jesuit college prep school, in 1979. In 1983 he received a B.A. in English from Georgetown University. As a Rhodes Scholar, Porterfield earned a second B.A./M.A. from Hertford College, Oxford University. He was a Mellon Fellow in the Humanities at The City University of New York Graduate Center, which granted him a Ph.D. in 1995.[1] His dissertation, which covered writers in captivity, received the Irving Howe Prize at The Graduate Center, CUNY.


In 1984 Porterfield founded the D.C. Schools Project, through which college students tutor immigrant or first-generation children and their parents in English-language skills.[2] He was also instrumental in creating the After School Kids program in 1987, which trains college students to tutor at-risk youth in the District of Columbia.[3] Both programs are currently run by the Center for Social Justice Research, Teaching and Service at Georgetown University.

From 1993 to 1996 Porterfield served as a chief speechwriter and then Deputy Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs (Policy & Strategy) for U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Donna E. Shalala.[4]

Georgetown University president Leo J. O'Donovan recruited Porterfield to join the English faculty at his alma mater in 1997. He taught literature courses dealing with human rights, education and social justice. 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.[5]

Porterfield later served as Senior Vice President for Strategic Development at Georgetown. In this role he assisted President John J. DeGioia 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 also served as interim director of Georgetown's NCAA Division I athletics program from June 2009 to April 2010.

On Nov. 16, 2010, the Franklin & Marshall College board of trustees announced its selection of Porterfield to serve as the college's 15th president.[6] Porterfield began his tenure at F&M on March 1, 2011 and was inaugurated on Sept. 25, 2011.

In his inaugural address, titled "Kindle Fire," Porterfield spoke about the core purposes and values of a liberal arts education, the traditions of Franklin & Marshall and the power of ideas and knowledge. "It is imperative that we at F&M and all liberal arts colleges embrace the idea that we can be high-impact forces for the long-term good in the world," Porterfield said. "Liberal arts education is the single finest form of cultivating emerging human talent and character that this world has ever known."

Since becoming president, Porterfield’s strategies in the area of college access have led F&M to enroll three of the most talented and diverse classes in its history. The percentage of incoming Pell Grant-eligible students has increased from five percent in 2008 to 17 percent each year since 2011. Porterfield and F&M attribute these results to 95 percent increase in need-based financial aid for the first-year class over that time period and to a strategy of targeted outreach to promising students in underserved communities.

As he did at Georgetown, Porterfield has forged new partnerships between F&M and K-12 educators and access programs including the Posse Foundation, KIPP, Achievement First, Uncommon Schools, Noble, College Match, College Track, the College Advising Corps and Cristo Rey. While serving at F&M, he has remained on the board of Cristo Rey, while also joining the boards of the College Board and the Lenfest Foundation, a Philadelphia-based scholarship and college access organization. He also sits on the Teach For America University Champions' Board and the College Advising Corps Advisory Board.

In 2011, Porterfield created a highly regarded pre-college summer program, F&M College Prep, to allow 70 rising seniors from low-income communities to spend three weeks learning from F&M faculty and current students. He also absorbed F&M’s career center into a comprehensive Office of Student & Post-Graduate Development, an effort that has gained national attention for its innovative approach to transitioning students into successful lives after college.

KIPP honored Porterfield in 2012 with its “Beyond Z” award, which “celebrates members of the school community who go above and beyond for the benefit of children.” The “I Have A Dream” Foundation has announced that it will present him with its Eugene M. Lang Lifetime Achievement Award in summer 2014.

Porterfield is a frequent contributor to the national dialogue on issues like the value of the liberal arts, college access and the impact of technology on higher education. His pieces have been featured in The Chronicle of Higher Education, the Houston Chronicle, the Philadelphia Inquirer, and Forbes, and he writes a regular blog for The Huffington Post.

In 2013, Porterfield took part as a panelist discussing “A Path to Higher Ed” on NBC News’ Education Nation, and was the only liberal arts college president invited to speak at the Obama administration’s 2014 summit on college opportunity, which more than 80 college presidents attended.


Porterfield is married to Karen A. Herrling, an advocacy attorney in state and local enforcement of immigrant rights. They have three children. At Georgetown the Porterfield family lived on campus for eight years in Copley Hall.


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