Swarthmore's Commencement Honors Life Paths of Alumni and New Graduates

Delaware County Daily Times: Swarthmore students moving on

May 27, 2012

As Nolan Gear spoke, representing the 374 Swarthmore College Class of 2012 graduates, he acknowledged those traditionally in line for thanks: Parents, siblings, recent professors and first teachers. He also thanked the college staff, who "made our campus gorgeous."...

"It's hard to believe in a space so sunny and benign that the future is not so rosy," said Gear.

The future and individual paths are clearly themes of any commencement, but Gear concluded his lively and enlightened address with a quote from writer, producer and comedian Mel Brooks, who said, "We should now ourselves more."

President Rebecca Chopp echoed two of Gear's observations. She said that added to recognition of Swarthmore's achievements in academics, green building, student activism and community involvement, the college has been chosen as one of the country's most beautiful.

Chopp added that she would like to slow down the graduation process itself for a greater reflection on "Swarthmore-style leadership" and the core values of critical thinking, creative reframing of ideas, thinking out of the box, listening deeply and envisioning new ways forward. She pointed to the three alumni receiving honorary degrees as exemplifying those characteristics.

The pool from which Swarthmore draws for its annual honorary degree awards is extraordinary in its depth and diversity. Each of the three honorees set, by example, remarkable standards for the graduates.

Lottie Bailyn, a 1951 graduate, is a professor at MIT's Sloan School of Management whose work centers on technical and managerial professionals, and has dealt with such workplace innovations as telecommuting, flexible scheduling, family benefits and work redesign...

Frank Easterbrook, a member of the Class of 1970, is the chief judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, and a professor at the esteemed University of Chicago Law School...

Judy Richardson's arrival at Swarthmore with the Class of 1966 was the quintessential right place at the right time.

Admitted on a four-year scholarship, Richardson almost immediately became involved with the Swarthmore Political Action Committee.

She left Swarthmore in her sophomore year, joining the committee and fully committing to a life activism through film-making, writing and lecturing...