ICYMI: Top 17 Web Stories of the Year

Top Stories 2016 Collage

From the inauguration of President Valerie Smith to the opening of the Inn at Swarthmore, the 2015-16 academic year provided more than its share of momentous and memorable occasions. So ICYMI, below are some of the most popular Swarthmore College web stories of the year.

  1. Valerie Smith Inaugurated as President

    President Valerie Smith​Swarthmore celebrated the arrival of its 15th president, Valerie Smith, with a vibrant, two-day celebration, “Changing Lives, Changing the World.” Standing before the College community and delegates representing 81 institutions, Smith affirmed her commitment to expanding access and to the transformative power of education. She spent much of her first year on campus immersing herself in all things Swarthmore and introducing herself to the greater community. At Board of Managers meeting in May, Smith outlined a vision for the future of the College with three key areas of emphasis: access and inclusion, academics, and education for the common good.

  2. The Inn at Swarthmore Opens

    Town Center WestIn May, Swarthmore cut the ribbon on The Inn at Swarthmore and celebrated the culmination of a more-than 20-year effort to more closely align the College and Swarthmore Borough. The inn has 40 guest rooms and suites and 3,400 square feet of meeting rooms. Abutting the inn is Broad Table Tavern, a full-service restaurant and bar, and the Swarthmore Campus and Community Store, which more than doubles the size of the previous bookstore. The inn's public spaces are a showcase for art created by Swarthmore alumni and each guestroom features a piece of student artwork.

  3. Swarthmore Takes Hollywood

    Amy Vachal '11​Swarthmore produced big hits on the small and large screen this year. Singer/songwriter Amy Vachal '11 was an instant success on NBC's singing competition The Voice and made it all the way to the knockout round. Steven Spielberg's Fall 2015 film Bridge of Spies depicts the release of suspected spy Frederic Pryor, professor emeritus of economics and senior research scholar, who called it an enjoyable account but one, he says, that “took a few liberties.” And biomechanist Adam Summers ’86, of the University of Washington's Friday Harbor Laboratories, advised Pixar on the science of how fish move for its film Finding Dory, following his consulting on its predecessor, Finding Nemo.

  4. Student Innovators

    Fatima Boozarjomehri '17Ingenuity continues to course through campus. Among highlights this year are five students winning the Innovation Marketplace Challenge, A'Dorian Murray-Thomas '16 founding the nonprofit girls program SheWins, members of the Intercultural Center Collective creating a new student publication for marginalized voices, students entering an energy-efficient vehicle into the Shell Eco-marathon, teams of students presenting original products at the Swat Tank Innovation Competition, and Lang Scholar Fatima Boozarjomehri '17 (left) bringing sustainable eyewear to Iran.

  5. New Collaborations

    Eric JensenSwarthmore forged new connections this year, everywhere from outer campus to outer space. The Lang Center for Civic & Social Responsibility hosted two Collegium events at which students and professionals from Swarthmore Borough exchanged insights and shared contacts. The Lang Center also helped students who studied visual and exhibition culture in one of Associate Professor of English Literature Bakirathi Mani's classes receive a private tour of an art exhibit in Philadelphia this fall. A team of students, faculty, and an alumnus organized a workshop with Philadelphia officials to help better align behavioral economics with public policy. William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of Political Science Kenneth Sharpe and Professor of English Literature Elizabeth Bolton co-authored an essay for Inside Higher Ed on the importance of teaching in higher education. Associate Professor of English Literature Jill Gladstein spearheaded the release of the The National Census of Writing, and Professor of Astronomy Eric Jensen (left) teamed with fellow astronomers to help NASA confirm the discovery of a new 'Tatooine' planet

  6. Singing Praises 

    Jacob Oet '16​Swarthmore remains a top producer of Fulbright winners, with four alumni being offered and accepting the coveted honor in 2016. According to a new study, Swarthmore is also fourth among U.S. schools that are most responsible for the greatest advancements in science, as measured by per-capita rate of production of alumni recipients of the Nobel Prize, among others. Students this year received Watson, Truman, Boren, Beinecke, Goldwater, National Science Foundation, Gates-Cambridge, and Newman Civic Fellows honors and recognition.  Additionally, Jacob Oet '16 (left) won the 2015 Ruby Irene Poetry Chapbook Contest for his book of poetry.

  7. Faculty at Work

    Ayse Kaya​Dorwin P. Cartwright Professor of Social Theory and Social Action Barry Schwartz drew national attention with his latest book, Why We Work, an examination of motivation in the workplace. Thanks to a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Associate Professor of Music Barbara Milewski will probe the first feature film released in Poland after World War II. Political scientists Carol Nackenoff, Ben Berger, and Dominic Tierney offered their expertise on pressing issues, including Supreme Court decisions, the threat of ISIS, and the 2016 presidential election. Numerous faculty members published books and received accolades from their peers, including Eugene M. Lang Research Professor and Department Chair Educational Studies Ann Renninger, Professor of History Bruce Dorsey, and Associate Professor of Political Science Ayse Kaya (left). Read more faculty research and news.

  8. Alumni Achievements

    Patrick Awuah '89​In the fall, education entrepreneur Patrick Awuah '89 (left) joined the ranks of MacArthur "genius grant" recipients for his efforts to establish Ashesi University in Ghana. New books arrived from Jonathan Franzen ’81, Raghu Karnad '05, and Patricia Park '03, while Adam Haslett '92 received a $200,000 award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Artist Njideka Akunyili Crosby '04 was named a leading global thinker by Foreign Policy; Christiana Figueres '79 was named one of TIME Magazine’s 100 most influential people for 2016 for her role in securing the Paris Climate Agreement, and David Rosen '08 and Aaron Schwartz ’09 were named to Forbes' 30 under 30 list. This spring, filmmaker Dawn Porter ’88 released her latest documentary, Trapped, winning the Social Impact Award at the Sundance Film Festival, and Eran Ganot ’03 led the University of Hawaii men’s basketball team on a historic run through March Madness. Read more alumni news.

  9. On Stage and Off 

    Piano ​This fall, five baby grand pianos appeared throughout campus as part of Lost Pianos, a public music installation produced in connection with Chopin Without Piano, a production from Poland that came to campus - with director Michal Zadara ’99 - for its North American debut. Musician Stephanie Hsu '08 established a classical music program for under served students in Washington State. Evan '01 and Andrew Gregory '04 provided the music for Michelle Obama's "Go to College." Percusionist, composer, and educator Alex Shaw '00 brought the three-day symposium Consciência Negra: A Legacy of Black Consciousness in Brazil, to campus as a Cooper Series event in March, culminating in his performance of The Mandinga Experiment. Also this spring, students, alumni, and professional musicians collaborated to stage Stravinsky’s “Soldier” and Other Tales, one of the most complex and colorful productions in recent College history. In another example of interdisciplinary collaboration, students, faculty, and alumni from the departments of music, art, and classics joined forces to generate interest and give context for this spring's production of Purcell's Dido and Aeneas

  10. Sporting News

    Katie Jo McMenamin '16Swarthmore's student athletes achieved enviable levels of success this year. Katie Jo McMenamin '16 won the 1,500-meter run and placed second in the 5,000-meter run at the NCAA Division III Outdoor Track & Field Championships, becoming the first NCAA national champion in the history of the College's track and field program and the first Swarthmore woman to win an NCAA title of any kind. The women's soccer team won a program-record 18 matches and advanced to the NCAA quarterfinals. The men’s lacrosse team and volleyball team both captured ECAC South Region Championships for the first time in their histories. The men’s basketball team recorded the program’s best season in two decades. Read more athletics news.

  11. Watch This!

    Double rainbow over McCabe LibraryThrough the College’s multimedia efforts, we witnessed a day in the life of four Swarthmore students, heard advice for the Class of 2019 from faculty and staff, and viewed the campus from high above during peak fall foliage. On Instagram, members of the community continued to share their best #SwatPhotos, including several images of this spring’s double rainbow. Students, faculty, staff - including President Smith - chronicled their Swarthmore experiences through the #SwatTakeover campaign.

  12. Pioneering Women

    Alice Paul '05During Women's History Month, the College profiled some of the dedicated women who have influenced Swarthmore through the years, including Kathryn Morgan, Jane Addams H'31, and Susan Cunningham H'1888. In April, we learned that two of those women — Lucretia Mott, a founder of Swarthmore College known for her anti-slavery and equal rights work, and Alice Paul (left), a member of the Class of 1905, women's rights advocate, and pioneer in non-violent resistance —will be incorporated into the new design for the $10 bill. In addition that month, President Obama designated the house that served as the headquarters for the National Woman's Party, which Paul founded, as the Belmont-Paul Women's Equality National Monument.  

  13. Honoring Retiring Faculty

    Barry SchwartzWith nearly 130 years of combined teaching experience, four professors - Professor of Dance Sharon Friedler, Dorwin P. Cartwright Professor of Social Theory and Social Action Barry Schwartz (left), Associate Professor of Political Science Cynthia Halpern, and Edward Hicks Magill Professor of Mathematics and Natural Sciences Frank Moscatelli - reflected on their careers in the classroom at Swarthmore prior to their retirement. In March, more than 300 students, alumni, and colleagues gathered on campus to pay tribute to Schwartz with a day-long symposium.

  14. Going Green(er) 

    Dean Liz Braun at the Sustainability Summit​Swarthmore added to its long tradition of honoring the natural environment on several fronts this year. In September, the Board of Managers adopted a sustainability framework that prescribes a green approach to sustainable buildings, stormwater management, and the reduction of carbon and energy use. In December, five students and two faculty members represented Swarthmore at the 21st United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference of Parties in Paris, which some deem the most important climate meeting in history. Also that month, the Board approved the creation of a new Fossil Fuel-Free Fund. In February, the Board allocated $300,000 for a new carbon charge, providing support for campus initiatives and projects that increase energy conservation and efficiency and promote renewable energy. And in April, the College hosted its first Sustainability Summit, drawing more than 200 members of the College and local community.

  15. Stretching Beyond Campus 

    Students visit the White HouseLearning beyond the classroom is nothing new for Swarthmore students, even if that means traveling thousands of miles from campus. Over winter break, 11 students went behind the walls of Silicon Valley giants like Apple, Google, and Salesforce to explore how the liberal arts prepares them for a life in tech. In the spring, three groups of Swarthmore students, faculty, and staff visited the White House, each with the goal of highlighting opportunities and promoting inclusivity. Additionally, five students discussed their travels abroad and how they enhanced their Swarthmore experience.

  16. Commencement

    Class of 2016 at CommencementAt Swarthmore's 144th commencement in May, President Valerie Smith awarded honorary degrees to film critic and cultural historian Leo Braudy '63, ecosystem ecologist F. Stuart "Terry" Chapin III '66, and world-renowned scholar and advocate for deaf communities Carol Padden. In addition, 359 undergraduates received degrees at the ceremony, held at the Scott Amphitheater.

  17. Alumni Weekend

    Reunited classmates hug during Alumni WeekendDespite a few rain showers, approximately 1,500 alumni and their families had a wonderful time celebrating their reunions during Alumni Weekend in June. Highlights included the annual Parade of Classes, Alumni Collection featuring speaker Maurice Eldridge ’61, a conversation between writer and editor John Freeman '96 and Professor of English Literature Peter Schmidt, and a combined alumni and Chester Children’s Chorus reading of Faure’s "Requiem" directed by John Alston H’15.