President Valerie Smith announced the 2020 Alumni Award winners in a recorded message sent to reunion classes over what would have been Alumni Weekend 2020.
Joseph B. Shane ’25 Alumni Service Award: Charles “Kip” Davis ’75
Kip Davis has worked tirelessly to support diversity and increase the involvement of diverse alumni at Swarthmore College. In their nomination of Davis for the Joseph B. Shane ’25 Alumni Service Award, Ted Abel ’85, Laura Markowitz ’85, Laura McKee ’88, and Giridhar Srinivasan ’98 wrote: “[Davis] has been a joy to work with and has a tremendous positive impact everywhere he goes. He is a model of grit and persistence.”
Davis’s service to Swarthmore spans multiple alumni groups and two different classes. Though officially a member of the Class of 1975, he returned to the College more than 40 years after he arrived to complete his senior thesis in sociology & anthropology and graduated with the Class of 2017.
Davis is one of the co-founders of the Swarthmore Black Alumni Network (SBAN), created in 2013 to serve, involve, engage, and inform the Swarthmore community of Black alumni. Davis also served as the SBAN representative on the most recent presidential search committee and helped establish the SBAN summer internship fund. He advocated for the establishment of what would become the Swarthmore Summer Scholars Program — designed to support incoming students from underrepresented communities interested in STEM. He also wrote and executed the first Black alumni interest survey and organized a number of student/alumni dinners featuring guest speakers at the College.
Davis is a member of the Class of 1975 Reunion Committee and the Alumni Council Executive Committee. In the latter role, he has been an advocate for initiatives to increase involvement of diverse alumni in the life of the college. This has increased alumni engagement as well as support for students.
Professionally, Davis has worked in various capacities in the market research industry in New York City for more than 30 years and currently works for Ipsos. In his position as a senior account manager, Davis manages operations, finances, client contact, and communications for the Ipsos Affluent Survey USA and various custom projects.
Outside of market research, Davis was a co-creator of the opera X, The Life and Times of Malcolm X, which premiered in 1986 at the New York City Opera, and he has spent many years in leadership roles for neighborhood, educational, and youth sports organizations, including block associations, the Hunter College Campus Schools, the Manhattan Soccer Club, and the Harlem Little League. Davis is the board chair for Replications, an educational nonprofit serving underserved middle and high school students.
Arabella Carter Community Service Award: Terry Fromson ’75
Terry Fromson has devoted her career in public interest law to improving the lives of women and girls. She was nominated for the Arabella Carter Community Service Award by Anita Cava ’75, who wrote, “I could not be more proud of my college and law school roommate and her contribution to the public’s interest for her entire career.”
After graduating with honors with a bachelor’s in Russian from Swarthmore, Fromson attended New York University School of Law and began her legal career at Community Legal Services in Philadelphia. In 1994, she joined the Women’s Law Project (WLP), where she has worked ever since, currently as managing attorney.
For more than 25 years, Fromson has worked to secure legal protection for women in cases of sexual harassment and assault, domestic violence, and pregnancy discrimination. She has also been successful in efforts to enforce Title IX’s promise of equal opportunity in athletics programs. In addition, Fromson led a national effort to stop insurance companies from discriminating against victims of domestic violence, challenging industry practices. Fromson also helped change Pennsylvania law to provide victims of domestic violence with a safe and confidential process to change their names.
In 2019, the Philadelphia chapter of the National Organization for Women named her Woman of the Year. In her remarks at the award ceremony, Fromson said that the work she is most proud of is WLP’s efforts to increase police accountability in Philadelphia’s Special Victims Unit. Two decades ago, the unit was exposed for improper handling of, and even ignoring, sexual assault cases. Fromson played a lead role in the reform effort, partnering with police to review past cases and improve protocols for future cases. These improvements have been adopted by many cities nationwide and are often referred to as “the Philadelphia Model.”
More recently, Fromson co-authored an amicus brief to the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that allowed the city of Philadelphia to pass a law prohibiting employers from asking candidates for salary history. “Looking at prior pay is just reflective of historic discrimination,” she told Courier. Employers that set a starting salary based on a potentially already-unequal rate are continuing that cycle, she argued, noting that the impact is particularly felt by women of color.
In 2016, the American Law Institute elected Fromson to its membership — an honor granted to “individuals who reflect the excellence and diversity of today’s legal profession.”
Eugene M. Lang ’38, H’81 Impact Award: Maurice Eldridge ’61
Maurice Eldridge’s long career and deep commitment to education and the arts have had a far-reaching impact, but the Swarthmore College community has benefited most of all. In its nomination of Eldridge for the Eugene M. Lang ’38, H’81 Impact Award, the Swarthmore Black Alumni Network Executive Committee called Eldridge “the spiritual and moral heart of the Black community at the College.” He was also nominated by Giridhar Srinivasan ’98, who described Eldridge as “an institution at Swarthmore.”
Eldridge received a bachelor’s degree with honors in English literature from the College and a master’s in education from the University of Massachusetts. During the first part of his career, he was an English and creative writing teacher before transitioning to education administration. He was an education specialist with the Massachusetts Department of Education, assistant headmaster of the Windsor Mountain School in Lenox, Mass., and principal and director of the Duke Ellington School of the Arts in Washington, D.C. He remained at Duke Ellington for 10 years before returning to Swarthmore in 1989.
It was not his first return to the College. In response to Eldridge’s vocal support of school integration in the late 1950s, a fellow student wrote him a hate-filled, racist note. Eldridge decided to leave campus; when he came back a year later, it was with greater conviction and determination to be himself and to fight for social justice. In addition to doing so as an educator and community activist, he was also a conscientious objector during the Vietnam War.
Despite the challenges he faced as a student, Eldridge became deeply committed to Swarthmore as an administrator, serving as vice president for college and community relations. For 27 years, he mentored students — especially first-generation and Black students — and became involved in the Chester community. He was a driving force for the Chester Charter School of the Arts (now the Chester Charter Scholars Academy), the Chester Children’s Chorus, and the Chester Fund. He has won numerous awards for his professional and community service.
In 2011, Eugene Lang ’38, H’81 established the Maurice G. Eldridge Faculty Fellowship to recognize faculty who embody the College’s commitment to community-based learning by integrating academics with civic engagement. Upon his retirement in 2016, Eldridge was honored with the creation of the Maurice G. Eldridge ’61 Community Service Award for a senior that has served the Black Cultural Center community with a commitment to academic excellence, social responsibility, and civic engagement.