President Rebecca Chopp Announced as Chancellor at Univ. of Denver, Constance Hungerford Named Interim President for Swarthmore

by Nancy Nicely

In simultaneous messages to the Swarthmore College and University of Denver communities, it was announced today that President Rebecca Chopp had accepted the position of chancellor of the University of Denver, beginning Sept. 1. In a subsequent message at Swarthmore, Board of Managers Chair Gil Kemp '72 announced that former provost Constance Cain Hungerford will serve as interim president, effective July 14.

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Rebecca Chopp

In her message to the Swarthmore community, Chopp gave thanks for the "extraordinary privilege it has been to serve on behalf of such a remarkable group of faculty, students, staff, alumni, and parents at Swarthmore. I will remain forever inspired by the brilliance of this special place and its people and also proud of all that we have accomplished during the five years I have been president. Together we have created a strong and vibrant strategic plan for the College and its future, and that is something that we can all be proud of."  Read her complete message.

In his subsequent message, Kemp praised Chopp, expressed the Board of Managers' strong endorsement for Hungerford, and said that though leadership changes can be challenging, this one comes at a good moment in the College's history. "Swarthmore has never been stronger financially or better positioned strategically to serve as a model of liberal arts education," he said. "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." Read his complete message.

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Constance Cain Hungerford

Chopp cited both personal and professional reasons for her decision, noting that it had been a very difficult one to leave Swarthmore and that she and her husband, Fred, "have lived away from our family since the 1980s, and it feels important and right to be with them now, particularly since Fred has been experiencing a number of challenging health issues in this last year or so." She added that, "the University of Denver is an institution that combines the best in a residential liberal arts undergraduate experience with a broad array of nationally ranked graduate and professional programs, all focused on quality and value. More than anything, and resonating with my own deepest values, is that the University of Denver, in its 150-year history, has always stayed true to its vision to be a private university in service to the public good, preparing students to live lives of meaning, purpose, and accomplishment. Very much like Swarthmore, its long and proud tradition is to use the knowledge and experience of its faculty, students, alumni, and staff to resolve core problems for its region, the nation, and the world."

Kemp praised Chopp for "an extraordinary five years of service to the College" and cited several notable achievements of her tenure, including:

  • Weathering the great recession without reducing faculty, staff, or financial aid;
  • Adopting 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;
  • Establishing the Frank Aydelotte Foundation for the Advancement of the Liberal Arts as a way to support innovation among the faculty and to promote Swarthmore nationally and internationally;
  • Evolving Swarthmore's approach to diversity on campus to one of equity and inclusion;
  • Receiving some of the largest financial commitments in the College's history, allowing it to proceed confidently in its 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 the iconic Parrish Hall.

Hungerford 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 10 years as provost from 2001-2011. As provost, Hungerford worked very closely with Chopp in steering the strategic planning process, particularly the faculty and curricular priorities, and other aspects of the plan related to academic rigor. She received her B.A. from Wellesley College and her M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of California Berkeley.

"I am committed to continuing to build on the substantial work of the last five years and ensuring that the rich, transformative educational experience that Swarthmore provides is available for future generations," Hungerford says. "I look forward to working closely with faculty, students, staff, and alumni during the coming year."

A reception honoring Chopp's years of service will be held in July. More details will be provided in the coming weeks.