Introduction of David Bradley '75

David Bradley '75

David Bradley, you are a gifted business leader, an innovative entrepreneur, a dedicated community servant, and a prominent public intellectual. You are the chairman and owner of several distinguished publishing, news, and media properties, among them the award-winning magazine The Atlantic, which you have elevated to new heights of prominence and influence. You have combined your business acumen and organizational skills with your commitment to volunteerism to create public service opportunities for your employees. Your philanthropy has enabled other institutions to carry out their own imaginative service programs to serve their communities and save lives.

After graduating from Swarthmore in 1975 with honors in economics and history, you were a Fulbright scholar in the Philippines; then, you earned an M.B.A. from Harvard in 1977 and a law degree from Georgetown in 1983. In earlier years, you served as a White House intern and were involved with the White House Conference on Children and Youth. In 1979, while still in law school, you launched your first business venture, the Advisory Board Company in Washington, D.C., a combination of think-tank, publishing company, and health services consulting firm. The company developed into a research powerhouse, spawning another company, Corporate Executive Board, that serves more than 1,400 financial institutions, including most of those in the Fortune 500 group. Now publically owned, these two companies you founded are the largest employers of young professionals in the Washington area.

In 1997, you led a buy-out team that acquired the National Journal Group Inc., which includes the influential weekly political magazine The National Journal, described by Newsweek as "the nation's most respected nonpartisan source of information about how the Washington policy-making machinery really works." In 1999, you purchased what was then The Atlantic Monthly and its parent publishing group, the Atlantic Media Company, which defines its mission as being "founded on two pillars: the force of intellect and the spirit of generosity." In 2000, your gift made it possible for Swarthmore College to begin an oral history project to capture the essential aspects of your mentor and fellow alumnus James Scheuer, Class of 1942's 13 terms as a representative in Congress.

Throughout your professional life, you have emphasized the importance of giving back to the community. This "spirit of generosity" — which you describe as "living professional life as if its purpose were service to others" — has been and remains at the core of the value system of every company you have owned.

But your philanthropy extends far wider than your professional circles. Through your family's CityBridge Foundation, you and your wife Katherine support two primary program areas: education reform and international healthcare. The Foundation supported ServiceCorps, which identified high-impact service opportunities for employers and individuals who wanted to contribute to their community. You and Katherine also established 38 child abuse centers across the Philippines, which have handled thousands of cases and produced a cadre of trained professionals to help children who have suffered physical and emotional trauma.

Your many awards include the Paul R. Dean Award from the Georgetown University School of Law and the Voice Education Research Awareness Award. Under your leadership, The Atlantic has won numerous awards, including the prestigious National Magazine Award. Your leadership in publishing, politics, philanthropy, and the arts has been enlightened and wide-ranging.

David Bradley, you are a creative entrepreneur who thinks independently, a humanist dedicated to public service, a corporate leader who has been an inspiration to everyone both inside and outside the business world. You are a model for our students who want to combine knowledge with service, ethics with outreach, wisdom with a commitment to the well-being of the wider world.

Upon the recommendation of the faculty and by the power vested in me by the Board of Managers of Swarthmore College and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, I have the honor to bestow upon you the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters.

Read David Bradley's address.