Nathaniel Erskine '10
My name is Nathaniel Erskine, and I am a member of the Class of 2010. As Student Council appointments chair, I nominated the two students who served on the presidential search committee. Later, as Student Council vice president, I saw the culmination of the committee's remarkable work, as I attended the Board of Manager's meeting at which Dr. Rebecca Chopp was confirmed to become the 14th president of Swarthmore College. Last fall, I had the privilege of working with President Chopp as she took over. It has been a great experience to closely witness her introduction to Swarthmore, and I have been excited by her work so far.
President Chopp's current and future successes rest on her ability to reach out to and interact with communities of alums, faculty, staff and students. This last group can be a particularly daunting one to work with. We have journeyed from all over the United States and the world to this small campus in suburban Philadelphia. We hope that our time here will grant us the knowledge, the critical skills, and the moral compass that will empower us to make a difference when we depart for our next destinations. We know that the success of a Swarthmore education comes from our teachers' commitment to challenge us to do our best. Simultaneously, we do not hesitate to challenge this institution to ensure that it is doing its best for the people here and in the world beyond the campus.
I believe that President Chopp is the right individual to serve as both the administrator and the role model to a group of students who demand much from their college. This is because Dr. Chopp does not perceive our educational and social needs as demands but as new opportunities. President Chopp first accomplishes this as an attentive and reflective listener. She continually welcomes ideas and stories whether they are about a freshman's transition to Swarthmore, budgetary policy, or her beloved discipline of theology. Students are glad to have a leader who proactively values their contributions. This is a fantastic asset to have when we live on a campus experiencing changes from the annual cycling in and out of students and from a world that continually offers new technologies, new ideas, and new challenges.
Moreover, President Chopp has the extraordinary quality of drawing upon the experiences of others to create new connections that enhance the community. This is best symbolized by her commitment to new interdisciplinary studies at the institutions that she previously led. During her first year at Swarthmore, we saw that President Chopp brought students, faculty, and staff together to shape a budget adjustment that would secure the College's future while upholding prior commitments to living wage, financial aid and academic excellence. This commitment to find unity among diverse individuals, disciplines, and ideas reflects one of the core principles of the liberal arts tradition. The student community is fortunate that President Chopp's commitment to that tradition ensures that they will make valuable contributions both inside and outside of the lecture hall.
Thus, on behalf of both current and future students, I deliver this simple charge: Keep up the good work.
President Chopp, may you continue to treasure the student voice, to unite our studies and our communities, and to find joy and inspiration in our learning. Thank you for joining our community, and I wish you the best in your endeavors in the years ahead.