ICYMI: Top Web Stories of the Year
The 2014-15 academic year ran the gamut – from sumo robots and athletic championships to Fulbright, Truman, Watson, and Marshall scholarships (among others) and the announcement of a new president. So ICYMI, below are some of the most popular Swarthmore College web stories of the year.
On a snowy February day, the College announced Valerie Smith as its 15th president. The announcement shattered nearly every record on the College’s social media platforms. A distinguished scholar of African American literature and culture and the former dean of the college at Princeton University, Smith was unanimously approved by the College’s Board of Managers. Smith’s appointment drew resounding praise from the campus community. Following the announcement, Smith joined hundreds of the students, staff, faculty, and Board members in Eldridge Commons, where they warmly welcomed her to Swarthmore.
An interdisciplinary spirit and drive for innovation continues to fuel the College’s faculty and students. Swarthmore teams captured first place in the Google Hackathon and at the Rowan University Sumo robots competition. For the third consecutive year, Swarthmore students raced an energy-efficient vehicle into the Shell Eco-Marathon (left). In need of a microscope that would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, Associate Professor of Biology Nick Kaplinski used eBay and 3D printing to create a world-class lab, yielding a publication he co-authored with students.
In July, Professor of Astronomy Eric Jensen’s discovery of planets with wildly misaligned orbits drew national attention. The work of Associate Professor of Statistics Steve Wang, who traced the evolution of birds from dinosaurs, also garnered headlines. Other faculty research in the news included Professor of Economics Amanda Bayer’s (left) work with the Federal Reserve, Professor of Psychology Andrew Ward’s study on weight bias, and an interdisciplinary study on Federal Reserve thinking prior to the 2008 Financial Crisis by political scientist Ayse Kaye, economist Stephen Golub, and sociologist Mike Reay. Also of note: Professor of Film and Media Studies Patricia White’s new book on global women’s filmmaking and Associate Professor of Political Science Dominic Tierney’s The Right Way to Lose a War. Read more faculty research and news.
Seven students were awarded Fulbright Scholarships. Students also earned Watson, Truman (left, Louis Lainé ’16), Goldwater, and Beinecke scholarships, among others. Hayden Dahmm ‘15, whose story was chronicled by USA Today, was awarded a Marshall Scholarship.
Swarthmore alumni continued to make an impact on the world. In August, David Gelber ‘63 received an Emmy Award for his work on the film Years of Living Dangerously. In September, historian Tara Zahra '98 was named a 2014 MacArthur Fellow, often referred to as a “genius grant.” Designer Josepha Altuzarra ’05 launched a new fashion line with Target. Patricia Park ’03 made news with her retelling of Jane Eyre. Mary Schmidt Campbell ’69 (left; Spelman College) and Kevin Quigley ’74 (right; Marlboro College) joined the well-populated ranks of alums serving as college presidents; learn more about them and other alums in the news this year.
Thanks to a Rome Prize Fellowship, Assistant Professor of Classics Jeremy Lefkowitz will head to the Eternal City to pursue a project in ancient studies. The Linguistic Society of America inducted Professor of Linguistics Donna Jo Napoli (left) as a fellow, recognizing the depth and breadth of her contributions to the field. Assistant Professor of Design Matt Saunders was one of 12 individuals awarded a Pew Fellowship in the Arts, and the only one from the field of theater. Recognized for innovative research and academic leadership, physicist Michael Brown is one of 50 science professors named a Cottrell Scholar, chosen this year for the first time from liberal arts colleges.
In November, The College officially opened the Matchbox, providing 21,000 square feet of space to support wellness, fitness, and theater programming at Swarthmore. The dedication of the space occurred over Garnet Weekend. Thanks to lead benefactors Salem Shuchman '84, P'16 and Barbara Klock '86, P'16, the Matchbox reflects not only a commitment to wellness, but of environmental sustainability.
The College Addresses Climate Change
Swarthmore has a long tradition of honoring the natural environment. At the December Board of Mangers meeting, the College committed $12 million toward making the planned Biology, Engineering, Psychology building the equivalent of LEED Platinum with maximum energy savings, ensuring the highest ever standard of sustainable campus construction. In February, the College hosted a Sustainability Charrette, which combined inspiring and thought-provoking talks from leaders in sustainable design, engineering, policy, and economics with a collaborative, facilitated process to bring forth the best ideas for a sustainable campus.
The digital humanities took center stage in April when the College hosted the fifth annual Re:Humanities, a two-day national conference for undergraduates, pioneered and organized by students of the Tri-Co colleges.
The women’s soccer team captured its first-ever Centennial Conference championship, advancing to the NCAA Tournament with a thrilling shootout win over Johns Hopkins. Osazenoriuwa Ebose ‘15 and Sarah Nielsen ’16 both earned All-America honors for the track & field program, while Elle Larsen ’15 (women’s basketball) and Sarah Wallace ’18 (volleyball) were named All-America honorable mention in their respective sports. Karl Barkley ’15 (left) of the men’s basketball team was named to the 2015 Allstate NABC Good Works Team, one of only three NCAA Division III student-athletes in the country to receive the honor.
Through video, we got to meet the Class of 2018, learn what’s next for the Class of 2015, discover our students’ favorite places on campus, and enjoy the College’s fall colors from above. On Instagram, members of the community continued to share their best #SwatPhotos, while students, faculty, and staff chronicled their Swarthmore experiences through the #SwatTakeover campaign.
The ImagINe Project brought together students, faculty, and staff to inspire others about the impact each individual can have in the world. The project, supported by a community development grant, combines portrait photography by Adam Mastoon with text and artwork by members of the Swarthmore community.
Sesquicentennial Ends on High Note
The College closed out its sesquicentennial celebration with a series of events that reflected the College’s values and traditions. This fall in McCabe Library, the "Joseph Leidy and the Foundations of Philadelphia Biology" exhibit honored the "last man who knew everything." In December, Peace Talks brought the College's chorus and orchestra together, while also reviving Founders Day. Debuting during Black History Month and the product of a special research seminar, Black Liberation 1969, a digital archive on the civil rights movement at Swarthmore reframed the narrative through the lens of the era’s key figures. The final event of the 18-month long celebration of sesquicenntial occurred in May, when students, faculty, and staff joined area schoolchildren to stage The Royal Singer, a new children's opera.
At Swarthmore's 143rd commencement on May 31, Interim President Constance Hungerford awarded honorary degrees to conductor and teacher John Alston, Justice Randy J. Holland ’69, and scientist and educator Molly Miller Jahn ’80. The senior class speaker, as voted by his classmates, was Patrick Ross, who graduated with majors in theater and English literature. In addition, 391 undergraduates were awarded degrees at the ceremony, held at the Scott Amphitheater.
Blue skies and sunshine, and one stray shower, provided a perfect setting for 1,250 alumni and their families to celebrate their reunions during Alumni Weekend. Highlights included the annual Parade of Classes, a Collection featuring Kenyon College President Sean Decatur ’90, an alumni choral reading of Mozart’s Requiem directed by John Alston H’15, and SwatTalks by College faculty members.