Introduction by Victor Brady '13
Twenty-five years here at Swarthmore. I'll be honest...I can't remember anything I was doing 25 years ago...
Dean Westphal walked by as I was having lunch outside of the Co-Op a couple weeks ago with a friend from that other tri-co school not named Bryn Mawr and she introduced herself as the Dean of Sex, Drugs, and Rock and Roll. Sounds like a fun job. But with her tireless work ethic and the daily giving of herself to the people of this community, she has fundamentally shaped Swarthmore student life.
"Let your life speak."... In thinking about the introduction today, I was reminded of this Dean Westphal gem, one of her "Myrtisms" if you will. It's an adaptation of a quote of George Fox, the founder of the Religious Society of Friends, who lived with his wife in her home Swarthmoor Hall in North West England. Fox actually said "Let your lives preach, let your light shine, that your works may be seen." Our actions must bear witness to our beliefs; our decisions must reflect our values. To preach with the lips but not with the hands and the heart renders our words useless.
This idea cuts to the very core of this institution's mission. "Swarthmore seeks to help its students realize their full intellectual and personal potential combined with a deep sense of ethical and social concern." What a perfect marriage between this College and Dean Westphal. She is the epitome of her saying and of this mission. One of the most generous people on this campus, genuine in her concern and support, the first in line to volunteer, to lead, and to serve wherever she might be needed. She is fiercely loyal - to her mentors and mentees, her students, and the school. And most importantly she is fiercely loyal to her values that have driven her action for the past 25 years. Dean Westphal has been the ears for so many of us when we just needed someone to listen, a wall against whom we could bounce thoughts and ideas. All of these qualities, I'm told, also make her a great doubles partner on the tennis court...as long as she is winning.
Every policy decision, every explanatory email, every one-on-one, face-to-face conversation has been shaped with the interest of this student body at the forefront. Her adaptability, intensity, and commitment to action have endeared her to students and colleagues and driven program overhaul including the reorganization of the housing lottery. She was the visionary leader behind a series of second-year specific programs to combat the "sophomore slump." I am grateful to have had the opportunity to work with Dean Westphal on the overhaul of the game-room in Tarble and the creation of the new well, what we're calling the Brady-Westphal lounge outside of Essie Mae's. Through her unyielding authenticity and altruism, Dean Westphal's service has been the manifestation of her beliefs and commitment to this institution's, and her's, principles.
I am a big Parks and Recreation fan, and in this past season's finale, Leslie Knope, celebrating her first year on City Council in a town hall meeting, posits the question, "Are you better off now than a year ago?" It is such a simple question, and we ask it all the time - voting, relationships, evaluating our success. But it's funny... because we consistently forget to ask too in the face of anger, frustration, heartbreak, disappointment.
And so I ask everyone...are we - as a community and a school better off now than a year ago? Than when we entered as freshmen four years ago? And to both of those I believe the answer is a resounding yes - I am proud of what we have accomplished, and of the work that will continue after we leave.
And this institution and community is better off because of Dean Westphal's commitment and dedication to us and all of her students for the past 25 years. This institution and community is better off because of her leadership and her decisions under each of the hats she has donned here. And this institution and community is better off because of the values and ideals that she taught, lived, and exuded. I am sure that her legacy of leadership, wisdom, and energy will continue to live through the actions of the administrators and students, both still here and those who are moving on.
"Let your lives preach, let your light shine, that your works may be seen." It is my great honor to introduce Associate Dean of Student Life Myrt Westphal.