1992 13th President Alfred H. Bloom
In his inaugural address, Alfred H. Bloom (b.1946) challenged Swarthmore to better prepare students to "address the needs of a society and a world in need." Students, he said, must be more than well trained and broadly educated; they must also possess "ethical intelligence."
Criticizing "value-free education" as something that "bears no responsibility beyond that of maintaining the status quo," Bloom called for a "shift of consciousness from unexamined assumptions about what is right and wrong to a consciously chosen set of values." Colleges, he said, must give students "a detailed understanding of the problems facing their society and the world ... an exposure so vivid that it will develop in them a lifelong commitment to responding to them."
During Bloom's tenure, the College expanded its longstanding commitment to financial aid to cover all foreign study and to eliminate loans from students' financial aid packages. It also strengthened its commitment to diversity and to the academic program, revitalizing its signature Honors Program and enriching its educational offerings with new and expanded offerings in a host of disciplines across the curriculum. In addition, he oversaw a restructuring of the athletics program that resulted in the controversial elimination of football and wrestling and made improvements to the physical plant through campus renovations, sustainability initiatives, and noted examples of green architecture, including the LEED-certified Science Center and two new residence halls.
Bloom, whose research brings together psychology and linguistics, received a Ph.D. from Harvard University and a B.A. from Princeton University. A member of Swarthmore's faculty in psychology and linguistics from 1974 to 1986, he also was associate provost, director of the linguistics program, coordinator of a comprehensive review and restructuring of the educational program, and coordinator of Asian studies. His return to Swarthmore followed five years as dean of faculty, vice president for academic affairs, and executive vice president at Pitzer College in Claremont, Calif. Bloom is now vice chancellor of NYU Abu Dhabi.