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Welcome, Jonathan, to your new job as editor of the Bulletin

I see not a word about your immediate predecessor, Carol Brévart-Demm, in your first issue. Carol was a mainstay of the Bulletin for many years, and in my opinion, one of its greatest strengths.

Welcome, Jonathan, to your new job as editor of the Bulletin

I see not a word about your immediate predecessor, Carol Brévart-Demm, in your first issue. Carol was a mainstay of the Bulletin for many years, and in my opinion, one of its greatest strengths.

—Stephan Hornberger P’97, Philadelphia, Pa. and Cusco, Peru


JR responds: Thanks for your letter, Stephan. We couldn’t agree more about the wonderful, one-of-a-kind Carol. Over her 21 years of writing for the Bulletin, she dazzled readers with her beautiful, award-winning pieces, and colleagues and friends with her unrivaled warmth and generosity. Although she retired in September before I came aboard, Carol made a big impression on me, both from reading her work as well as meeting her in person. After my arrival at Swarthmore, I made it a point to seek out Carol’s wisdom and am proud to now call her a friend. I’m even prouder that she will return to these pages as a freelance writer every issue, starting with her piece on Michaela Shuchman ’16. I know that I am speaking on behalf of our entire community when I say how grateful we are to Carol for everything she’s brought—and will bring, going forward—to the Bulletin, Swarthmore, and our lives. 

A Farewell to Carol ...

The following is the speech written by collegue Carrie Compton for Carol Brévart-Demm upon her retirement. 

I’ll start by saying something that you might find hard to believe. Here it is: I was once afraid of Carol. I truly was. I remember preparing for my interview here and being acutely intimidated and nervous about meeting everyone, but especially Carol. You see, I had read one of her pieces online, and I’d convinced myself that someone with such monolithic talent would almost certainly have to be a fiercely critical, acerbic, crusty sort. Because that’s what all good writers are like, right? Well, as you can imagine, it didn’t take me long to be disabused of this notion. Perhaps the most admirable aspect of our Carol’s magnanimity is just how free she is with it—She always makes everyone around her feel welcome no matter the situation.

            I think what impressed me most about Carol’s writing was her command of voice—and yes, strange as it sounds, even her writing has a whiff of an English accent—and that voice somehow just fits Swarthmore perfectly. The warmth of her writing is rivaled only by the warmth of her spirit; it effectively spans continents and generations to not only remind people of the College, but to reassure them that Swarthmore is a place that can nurture talent in its students and also in its staff.

            Many of you have read Carol’s writing. But not so many of you know about her almost magical editing panache. Now, you have to understand that for us editor types it’s a thing of beauty to see an entire sentence clarified, developed, and refined with just a few subtle changes, changes the writer won’t even notice—they have no idea what hit ’em, they just know they like it. Good editors make writers better than perhaps they deserve to be. Prior to working with Carol I never had the pleasure of seeing this kind of talent in action. Her ability to apply minor edits to foster radical changes in a draft speaks to an intense and deep level of editorial sophistication; and I, for one, am a much better writer and editor for bearing witness to her work.

Now, as we know, writing and editing has a strong subjective element. But Carol’s editorial acumen can in some ways actually be quantified. Let me explain. She recently took an editing test that other senior editors from varied backgrounds scored less than 80 percent on. For the record, that’s C plus territory. This was not an easy test. How many out of 100 questions did Carol miss? Three. That’s an A plus.

            Beyond her editorial skills, among the many things we will miss about our darling Carol is her absolutely unflappable gentility.  Carol’s social grace and warm-heartedness imbue every project, every quick office pop-in, even every email with a sun-shiny glow of genuine congeniality. And guess what, folks: She’s wonderful even in the morning. She’s wonderful even on Monday morning. She’s wonderful even on Monday morning before her coffee.

            It would take me much, much longer than this short speech to name the things I’ve learned from Carol. But a few come to mind readily: She’s taught me—all of us, in fact—that generosity of spirit and heart are just as suited to the workplace as they are to the home. She’s taught me that, where editing is concerned, elegance is found in simplicity. She’s taught me that, yes, good writing really does come from the heart. And I hope that my words can begin to illuminate the tremendous amount of gratitude and adoration that I, and the entire department, have in our hearts for our Carol.

            On behalf of the communications family, Carol, I say to you that not only will you be missed, but, I predict, you’re also likely to be mythologized. Please raise your glasses and toast our very own living legend, Carol Brévart-Demm.