Michael Mark, Esq., '74
Michael Mark, Esq., '74 hasn't traveled beyond the moon—yet—but he has been involved in "planetary entry, descent and landing." For the last 15 years, he has served as an associate chief counsel for NASA at the Langley Research Center in Virginia. He's a team lead in the legal office at the facility, which focuses on aerospace research.
"If it encompasses landing on a planetary body, we would be involved," he says. "Langley has had a hand in the Mars landers, in parachutes, in heat shields, landing systems and orbiters—we're even involved with some newer systems."
He credits his liberal arts education from F&M with permanently stretching his mind and his ability to learn different things.
"I work with scientists and engineers, and I can understand the basics of what they do," he says. "That's what a liberal arts education does for you. You absorb things you don't even realize you are learning, and it provides you with the tools you need to analyze and think."
Before touching down at NASA, Mark was a judge advocate with the U.S. Air Force for more than 20 years. He earned his law degree from George Washington University, but Mark started on the path to a legal career with a government major at Franklin & Marshall College—and the support of the faculty.
"Grier Stephenson (Charles A. Dana Professor of Government) was very supportive of law school for me," he remembers. "I figured I could practice business with a law degree but I couldn't practice law with an MBA—so law school it was!" He remembers being in class with students who did their undergraduate work at Harvard, University of Pennsylvania, and Yale, and he felt he was more prepared than any of them.
Mark, who supports F&M every year, has made a bequest and is working toward funding an endowed scholarship because he believes the College's intimate atmosphere, wonderful professors and overall quality must continue for future generations.
"At my first Homecoming & Family Weekend, Sid (the late Charles A. Dana Professor of Government Sidney Wise) told me I needed to support F&M," Mark says. "I was a law student with very little money and told him that. He handed me a dollar and said, ‘Give that to the College.’ So I did, and have done so ever since then. It was important to him, and I realized it should be important to me, for all the gifts I had received through my F&M education… I give to the College because I'd like others to have the opportunities and experiences I had."
To learn how to craft your own legacy gift to F&M, contact Mary Ann M. Cooke, J.D., ’90, Director of Gift Planning, at 717-358-4821 or firstname.lastname@example.org.