Community Message from Board of Managers Chair Gil Kemp '72

 

June 12, 2014

 

Dear Faculty, Students, and Staff,

As you have just heard from President Chopp, today she will formally accept the position of chancellor at the University of Denver, where she begins on Sept. 1. Rebecca concludes an extraordinary five years of service to the College, and I will share some of the highlights of her tenure in a moment. We are very grateful for her leadership, and I know that we are in a very strong position to build upon the foundation we have set together as a college community these last five years.

I am delighted to share the news that effective July 14, former Provost Constance Cain Hungerford has agreed to become our interim president during this next year while we search for our next president. Connie is best known for her thoughtful, highly collaborative leadership style, which will serve us very well in this transitional year.

A bit of background: Connie is the Mari S. Michener Professor of Art History and an expert in 19th-century French painting. She first joined the Swarthmore faculty in 1975. In addition to her academic teaching and research, she has served in a number of administrative roles, most recently ten years as provost from 2001-2011. As provost, Connie worked very closely with Rebecca in steering the strategic planning process, particularly the faculty and curricular priorities, and other aspects of the plan related to academic rigor. Connie received her B.A. from Wellesley College and her M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of California Berkeley. Connie is highly regarded both on campus and in her field, and I could not be more grateful that she has agreed to serve in another leadership role on behalf of Swarthmore. I know you will find her to be a steady, guiding, and imaginative influence during this next year.

Though leadership changes can be challenging, ours comes at a good moment in our history. Swarthmore has never been stronger financially or better positioned strategically to serve as a model of liberal arts education. Having just worked together as a community on a forward-looking strategic plan, we are poised to embark on an even more impactful role in our leadership in the liberal arts and to reach for still greater capacity to solve some of the world's most pressing problems through our exceptional faculty, students, and graduates. We are also blessed with a superbly talented and committed group of senior administrators and staff.

The search for our next president will begin in earnest when students and faculty return this fall. This summer, the Board will lay the groundwork for a search committee to help us find the right president to lead us into the next phase of our work together.

Let me focus on some of the most notable achievements we have made during Rebecca's presidency. In just five years, thanks to her indefatigable leadership and the creative and substantial contributions from every segment of our community, we have:

  • Weathered the great recession without reducing faculty, staff, or financial aid;
  • Adopted a strategic plan that places academic vigor, the creation of an intentional campus culture, access and opportunity, and alumni engagement as the four cornerstones of Swarthmore's future;
  • Established the Frank Aydelotte Foundation for the Advancement of the Liberal Arts as a way to support innovation among our faculty and to promote Swarthmore nationally and internationally;
  • Created the Center for Innovation and Leadership to provide opportunities for students to develop fully their abilities to inspire, listen, and learn;
  • Made sustainability central to the mission of the College;
  • Evolved our approach to diversity on campus to one of equity and inclusion;
  • Responded comprehensively to the changing landscape of Title IX through new staff support, training, programming, education, and prevention efforts;
  • Embraced wellness for the whole campus; and
  • Received some of the largest financial commitments in our history, allowing us to proceed confidently in our campus master planning efforts, including a new building for biology, engineering, and psychology and renovated spaces for numerous academic departments; new and improved student residential and social space; improved wellness, fitness, and theatre spaces through the Matchbox; and improvements to our iconic Parrish Hall.

We are deeply grateful for Rebecca's contributions to the College, and we wish her, Fred, and their entire family the very best in the next chapter of their lives together. A reception honoring Rebecca's years of service will be held sometime in July, and we will provide more details in the coming weeks.

Please join me in wishing Rebecca well, in welcoming Connie in her new role as interim president, and in helping to inform the very important selection of the next president of Swarthmore College when we begin our search in the fall.

Sincerely,

Gil Kemp '72,
Chair
Swarthmore College Board of Managers