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Caring for our spaces means caring for one another

"But this being Swarthmore, the impulse to care is more complex than it might first seem. Indeed, at Swarthmore, empowering others to become their most realized selves is a crucial part of what caring for their well-being means.” —Al Bloom H’09, Swarthmore president, 1991–2009

Since I began my unexpected journey in this caring community where I’ve had the honor of helping shape some of its physical spaces, I have been continually delighted, encouraged, and empowered by countless people who give these spaces life: our faculty, students, staff, alumni, and friends.

In the early 1980s, Eugene Lang ’38, H’81’s generous gift gave me the opportunity to come to this campus when I was assigned as the project manager by the construction firm building Lang Performing Arts Center.

Shortly after my LPAC work began, Bill Spock ’51 became the vice president and CFO of the College. I see him as the epitome of Swarthmorean caring, and his example as a gentleman and a leader is a lighted marker for me.

Bill hired the actual impetus for my invitation and inclusion here: Larry Schall ’75 came on as associate vice president for administration in 1990. 

Early the following year, he offered me the job of director of facilities management. Larry’s thoughtfulness, creativity, intelligence, and encouragement strengthened our operations to further embrace what Al Bloom defined as Swarthmore’s empowering form of care.

Larry’s sensitivity to design in collaboration with Al and the late Margaret Helfand ’69 also set the direction of facilities design on campus—Kohlberg Hall and the Science Center, for example—and I am happy to have followed that lead.

As I come to the end of my career at Swarthmore, I cherish a more recent example of the kind of care that is the exemplar of this community. 

The setting was September’s annual appreciation breakfast for our Environmental Services (EVS) staff. Director Tyrone Dunston introduced President Valerie Smith, who thanked the staff for their work taking care of buildings on campus. 

More important, she applauded them for their care of the people on campus, especially students. Val gratefully emphasized that point by speaking of the care she had received from the staff seated before her from the moment she arrived on campus.

EVS and all of the facilities staff are very much part of that form of empowering care Al described at Swarthmore. I will always be thankful for having been part of that.

I remain delighted and forever changed by every opportunity I’ve had to notice not only the splendor of the campus in large and very small ways, but of the people and their interactions whose caring ties it all together. 

This care makes Swarthmore the uncommon endeavor it is, and, with unbound gratitude, I say thank you for my extraordinary life as a member of this community.

—After serving the College for nearly 30 years, STU HAIN retired Dec. 31 as vice president for facilities and capital planning.