Speeches

Announcement Address

Eldridge Commons, Science Center, Swarthmore College

Saturday February 21st, 2015

“Swarthmore offers one of the finest liberal arts experiences available anywhere in the world. With its commitment to academic rigor and creativity, to access and opportunity for all students regardless of their financial circumstances, to nurturing a diverse community of students, faculty, staff and alumni, and to contributing to the common good, the College is poised to define the meaning and the value of the liberal arts both nationally and internationally for this generation, the next and beyond…”

View the Full Speech: http://www.swarthmore.edu/15th-president​​ 


Inauguration Address: “Changing Lives, Changing the World”

Lamb-Miller Field House, Swarthmore College

Saturday, October 3rd, 2015

“As we embark on this next chapter of the history of this great college, let us build together a Swarthmore that provides a rich and vibrant community experience for students, faculty, and staff, whatever their cultural background, beliefs, or experience, a place where everyone is treated with respect and dignity. Let us build together a Swarthmore that houses academic and co-curricular programs and residential experiences in buildings that inspire imagination, creativity, discovery, joy, and a spirit of collaboration. Let us build together a Swarthmore that is more vitally connected to people and institutions in the region and across the globe than ever before in its history, so that we can change the world in ways we have not yet imagined...”

View the Full Speech: http://www.swarthmore.edu/inauguration-valerie-smith/valerie-smith


Martin Luther King Jr. Unity Breakfast Keynote Address

Drexelbrook Events Center, Drexel Hill, PA

Monday, January 18th, 2016

“I suggest that as we remember Dr. King, we consider that memory is a critical, active engagement, and not only a contemplative exercise. Let us draw inspiration from “The Drum Major Instinct” speech and look beyond the prizes and the more familiar moments.  Let us explore the deeper, more profound meanings of his life and ministry and their implications for the present day and for the future...”

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Office of Sustainability Open House Welcome Address

Parrish Parlors, Parrish Hall, Swarthmore College

Thursday, February 25th, 2016

“Swarthmore has a long tradition of sustainability through our Quaker legacy of social responsibility, simple living, and conservation of resources. Now more than ever, I believe we have a responsibility to educate our students and campus community on the causes and consequences of climate change, to model best practices, and to provide leadership in the wider community…”

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A Celebration of Commitment to Education: Keynote Speech

Arch St. Presbyterian Church, Philadelphia, PA

Sunday, May 1st, 2016

"Let us remember the words of the great Nelson Mandela, who said, “Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world.” We must commit ourselves to fighting for a fair, equitable, and just education system in our region, in our state, in our country, and across our globe. When we resolve to provide educators and administrators with the resources they need to educate the whole person, and we commit to providing all young people with knowledge, skills, confidence, empathy, and compassion, we will be making the highest and best investment in our shared national and global future."

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Commencement Address

Scott Amphitheater, Swarthmore College

Sunday, May 29th, 2016

"As you leave this place, take time to reflect on the ways that it has shaped you. And as you move forward into the next stage of your life, I urge you to cultivate the habits of open mindedness and openheartedness you’ve learned in our residential community. Our primary commitments – work, family, cultural, religious, and political affiliations – all have much to teach us. But the serendipitous encounters, petty annoyances, in between times, and unremarkable moments are rich with meaning as well, if we take the time to observe and reflect upon them. As the poet Rita Dove observes: “Nothing is too small.  Nothing is too . . . ordinary or insignificant. Those are the things that make up the measure of our days, and they’re the things that sustain us.” This habit of mind can help us to perceive the web of connection that binds our moments to each other; it can hone our intuition; and it can cultivate our sense of compassion towards others."

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