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I’d like to raise a toast to Jeff Lott, who steps down in January as editor of the Swarthmore College Bulletin after more than 21 years of service. Under his leadership, this magazine has matured with alumni and with the College, keeping us informed and interconnected.

I’ll never forget the day, 14 years ago, when my son was a newborn and I finally found some time to take a nap; but a nearby issue of the Bulletin caught my eye. Soon, thoughts of a 30-hour labor and my son’s worrisome time in the ICU disappeared as I read the issue nearly cover to cover, from the article about the College’s legendary folk festivals in the 1940s and 1950s to the essay by James Michener ’29 on the need for educational reform. When I looked up again, I felt I as if I had just been reading an especially good issue of The New Yorker. I remember thinking—such literary quality in an alumni magazine?

A year later, when I came to work at Swarthmore, I was not surprised to learn that the Bulletin had won numerous awards for excellence in content and design. And I was delighted to get to know Jeff, who—even at Swarthmore—stands out as an especially smart, generous, and inspiring colleague.

Whereas many college or university periodicals are drab and unabashed marketing tools—not much more than a succession of cheeky photos, advertisements, and sales pitches—under Jeff’s leadership, the Bulletin has remained relatively free of agenda-driven or sycophantic articles. A sampling of articles from the July 2011 issue offers a glimpse of the Bulletin’s range and civic engagement: “Chernobyl Witness,” described Michael Rothbart’s [’94] documentation of the aftermath of nuclear disaster; “Juvenile Injustice” profiled Edgar Cahn’s [’56] efforts to reduce youth incarceration; “Style and Substance” described some of the challenges faced by Cindi Lieve ’88 as editor in chief of Glamour magazine; and in a modest news story we learn of the Bulletin’s most recent national award, this time for Best Article of the Year.

Such articles reveal much that is worth examining, not just on campus, but in all alumni communities. I think the best way to honor Jeff’s remarkable career and legacy will be to ensure that the Bulletin remains intellectually free and creative as a vehicle for communal inquiry and engagement.

Jeff graduated from Middlebury with a degree in studio art, but he wholeheartedly embraced Swarthmore’s culture, represented it as well as anyone could, and greatly enhanced an appreciation of the importance of the arts here. Under his leadership, the Bulletin has reminded us of Swarthmore’s rich history; described its evolving campus, curriculum, and outlook; and inspired us to broaden our perspectives. Thank you, Jeff, for your creative vision, wisdom, and collaborative spirit. You didn’t sell the College to us; you helped realize a collective vision. In doing so, you made Swarthmore a better community.

Andrea Packard ’85
Wallingford, Pa.

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