Swarthmore Joins Pennsylvania Consortium for the Liberal Arts

Swarthmore College and nine other liberal arts colleges in Pennsylvania have received an $800,000 grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to create the Pennsylvania Consortium for the Liberal Arts (PCLA).

The consortium is designed to help each institution improve the quality of academic and co-curricular programs, enhance inter-institutional knowledge and collaboration, create new cost efficiencies, and contribute to national discussions about improving access to higher education and improving affordability for families. The Mellon grant, which will be expended over three years, will provide seed money for collaborative programs among the various schools.

Swarthmore is joined in the PCLA by Tri-Co Consortium members Bryn Mawr College and Haverford College, as well as Dickinson College; Gettysburg College; Franklin & Marshall College; Juniata College; Muhlenberg College; Ursinus College; and Washington & Jefferson College.

"Liberal arts colleges across the country face serious challenges - shifting demographics, student access, affordability and the pressure to keep up with new technology," says Tori Haring-Smith '74, president of Washington & Jefferson College. "Bringing Pennsylvania liberal arts colleges into a consortium helps us leverage our collective strengths to better serve our students." Haring-Smith was a featured speaker at a symposium on the Future of the Liberal Arts held at Swarthmore last semester. 

The 10 consortium members will explore and develop collaborative programs in seven core areas: academic program improvement; faculty development; study abroad; library resources; administrative services; compliance and risk management; and enhancing the institutional climate for diversity. Examples of proposed collaborative initiatives include combining under-enrolled courses at member institutions, shared training for faculty, staff, and administrators, and shared study abroad sites and library resources. 

In February, Swarthmore's capacity to advance liberal arts education received a major boost in the form of a $5 million commitment from James '79 and Anahita Naficy Lovelace to endow the Frank Aydelotte Foundation for the Advancement of the Liberal Arts. The goal of the Aydelotte Foundation is to draw on the College's reputation for innovation and tradition and its worldwide network to serve, support, and evolve the role of liberal arts education on the national and international stage.