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President Valerie Smith's Charge to Marianne McKenna '72

Marianne McKenna '72

Marianne McKenna, Swarthmore College Class of 1972, came here from Montreal, where she joined a handful of fellow Canadians attending Swarthmore at the time. She studied art history and graduated at a time of great social upheaval and challenge to the status quo. Those seeds of reinvention took root and continued through her time at Yale University, the pioneering Toronto-based firm she co-founded, and the many innovative projects she has led.

Marianne’s projects form a large and growing legacy of Modernist buildings that are sustainable, urbanistically responsible, and spatially and programmatically complex. They range from educational and cultural buildings to mixed-use developments, and have been described as examples of “buildings as good citizens.” And her years of teaching, mentoring, and advocacy work exemplify her devotion to excellence in design architecture. No wonder that in 2012, McKenna was appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada, and that in 2021, she was the first woman to receive a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Design Futures Council.

Marianne McKenna, you are internationally renowned for creating architecture that enriches the public experience. Now, upon the recommendation of the faculty, and by the power vested in me by the Board of Managers of Swarthmore College and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, I have the honor to bestow upon you the degree of Doctor of Arts.