Bloom, Campbell '69, and Hormel '55 to Receive Honorary Degrees at 137th Commencement

Alisa Giardinelli

Alfred Bloom, Mary Schmidt Campbell '69, and
James C. Hormel '55 to Receive Honorary
Degrees at Swarthmore's 137th Commencement

by Alisa Giardinelli
05/08/2009

Swarthmore College President Alfred H. Bloom will award honorary degrees to Mary Schmidt Campbell '69, dean of NYU's Tisch School of the Arts and professor and chair of art and public policy, and James C. Hormel '55, a philanthropist devoted to social justice and human rights and the first openly gay ambassador in U.S. history, at the College's 137th commencement on Sunday, May 31.  Bloom himself will also receive an honorary degree on the occasion of his departure from the College after 18 years as president. About 350 seniors are expected to graduate at the ceremony, which will be held at 10 a.m. in the Scott Outdoor Amphitheater.  

Alfred H. Bloom

Alfred H. Bloom

A member of Swarthmore's faculty in psychology and linguistics from 1974 to 1986, Alfred Bloom also served as associate provost for one year, director of the Linguistics Program, coordinator of a comprehensive review and restructuring of the educational program, and coordinator of Asian Studies. His return to Swarthmore as president in 1991 followed five years of service at Pitzer College in Claremont, California, as dean of faculty, vice president for academic affairs, and, later, executive vice president.

During President Bloom's tenure, the College has achieved a significant increase in admissions applications and selectivity, the College's longstanding commitment to financial aid has expanded to cover all foreign study and to eliminate loans from students' financial aid packages, Swarthmore's endowment has more than doubled from $400 million in 1991, and the College has strengthened its already exceptional academic program and acted powerfully on its commitment to diversity.  The College's physical campus and related focus on sustainable initiatives have also developed dramatically. Multiple major building and campus renovation and landscaping projects, including the LEED-certified Science Center and the construction of several green roofs on new and existing buildings have been completed. In addition, 40 percent of the College's energy supply is now provided by wind power.

President Bloom received a B.A. from Princeton University, summa cum laude, in Romance languages and European civilization in 1967; was a Fulbright-Hays fellow for study in France from 1967-1968; and received a Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1974 in psychology and social relations.

Mary Schmidt Campbell '69

Mary Schmidt Campbell '69 by Jimmy Katz

A nationally recognized authority on arts policy issues and American cultural history, Mary Schmidt Campbell '69 is dean of NYU's Tisch School of the Arts and professor and former chair of the Department of Art & Public Policy.

Under her stewardship, the Tisch School of the Arts has become one of the most selective schools at New York University, and one of the most diverse.  During her tenure, she has renovated over two thirds of the school's facilities, attracted leading artists and intellectuals from around the world to teach at Tisch, forged vital partnerships with New York City cultural institutions, and incubated a number of new disciplines and programs including moving image archiving and preservation, recorded music, and arts and public policy.

In June 2007, Campbell was nominated by the Governor of New York to head the New York State Council on the Arts, and was later confirmed as chair by the New York State Senate.  Previously, she was New York City Commissioner of Cultural Affairs in the Koch and Dinkins administrations. She came to city government after serving as executive director of the Studio Museum in Harlem.

Campbell graduated with a B.A. in English literature in 1969 from Swarthmore and later earned an M.A. in art history and a Ph.D. in humanities from Syracuse University.  She has co-authored and co-edited a number of publications including Harlem Renaissance: Art of Black America (New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 1987) and Memory and Metaphor: The Art of Romare Bearden, 1940-1987 (New York: Oxford University Press & The Studio Museum in Harlem, 1991).  She is the co-editor of Artistic Citizenship: A Public Voice for the Arts (New York: Routledge, 2006.) She sits on the board of The American Academy in Rome and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. In the fall of 2001, she was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Campbell's son, Garikai Campbell '90, is currently Swarthmore's associate dean for academic affairs.

James C. Hormel '55

James C. Hormel '55

James C. Hormel '55, renowned for his generous support for education, public health, and social change initiatives, is perhaps best known as the first openly gay ambassador in U.S. history. Dedicated to public service, Hormel was a member of the U.S. Delegation to the 51st U.N. Human Rights Commission, twice served on a regional panel for the President's Commission on White House Fellowships, and was unanimously confirmed as an alternate delegate for the U.S. at the 51st U.N. General Assembly. Yet his nomination to serve as ambassador to Luxembourg during the Clinton administration languished for almost two years due to rancorous opposition in the Senate. He ultimately received a recess appointment to the post in 1999.

Engaged in a wide range of philanthropic endeavors, Hormel was instrumental in starting what is now the Human Rights Campaign, the largest civil rights organization in the country that works to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) equality. In addition, his support of the San Francisco Public Library led to the creation of the Gay and Lesbian Center, named in his honor and home to collections documenting LGBT history and culture.

Hormel, a grandson of George A. Hormel, founder of Hormel Foods, graduated in 1955 with a B.A. in history.  In 1958, he earned a J.D. from the University of Chicago Law School, where he later served as dean of students.  A generous benefactor of the College, Hormel has made significant contributions to several fellowships, professorships, and foundations, all of which make a point of supporting community service and scholarship, especially efforts that focus on social justice issues.  Hormel has five children, 14 grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren. He lives in San Francisco with his life partner, Michael P. Nguyen '08.