Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Lancaster's best leader is from out of town

John Fry, President of Franklin & Marshall College, recently announced that their five-year goals, which he helped set when he arrived at F & M, have largely been completed within a period of three years.

F & M has: 1) Reduced the student-to-faculty ratio to 10:1; 2) Launched an initiative to internationalize the curriculum; 3) Created the College House system; 4) Completed the Barshinger Life Sciences & Philosophy Buildings; 5) Partnered with Lancaster General Hospital to redevelop the Armstrong World Industries site; 6) Opened College Row to approximately 400 students and several retail tenants; and 7) Welcomed record numbers of applications from increasingly talented students.

Unlike our various benighted community leaders who were born, educated, and seldom worked outside of our region and who often joined the firms they now head as a result of nepotism, Fry is not a native and had distinguished careers in New York City and Philadelphia before accepting the helm at F & M.

At the very time that members of the Power Elite have been leading Lancaster into unsound ventures such as the Convention Center disaster and the trolley car harebrain scheme*, Fry has not only invigorated F & M but has been the impetus behind the James Street Renewal Improvement District (http://www.jsidlancaster.org), another promising effort of intelligence and competence. Fry wisely enticed Lisa Riggs who worked in urban development in Baltimore before moving to Lancaster to serve as the organization's president.

NewsLanc is not suggesting that Lancaster hasn't produced its fair share of extremely able individuals. But a lifetime exclusively in an internecine environment does not often produce highly qualified leaders.

Lancaster's best bet is to bring back the native-born who have made their mark elsewhere or import proven talent. The current Power Elite is in large part comprised of bumpkins and the avaricious, and their follies and schemes are killing us.

*It is estimated to cost the taxpayers $14 million initially, it is projected to lose another $300,000 annually (but probably much more), the trolleys will clog the streets, and, since they run silently, will endanger pedestrians and especially children.