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Hello everyone and good morning. My name is Koof Kalkstein, Class of 1978 and chair of the Board of Managers. I am delighted to welcome all of you here today to Swarthmore College’s 151st Commencement. What a tremendous and beautiful day this is!

Let’s begin our time together this morning in the Quaker tradition, with a moment of silent reflection. 

I want to begin by congratulating the Classes of 2023!

We are here today to celebrate you, graduating seniors!  You should be tremendously proud of all that you have accomplished, particularly as you navigated your time here at Swarthmore during the uncertainties and challenges of the pandemic.

Reflect on your time at the College. Think back to when you first arrived.  Perhaps in those early days you were nervous about being away from home, curious about the academic path ahead and excited to join a community of smart, thoughtful, empathic (and hopefully fun) fellow students.  Over the course of your time here, I hope you have been asking challenging questions, engaging in a boatload of reading, intensive research, writing, and play, while building your own wide-ranging community both inside and outside of the classroom.  

You have had the privilege to pursue both your passion and your purpose at Swarthmore, surrounded by your fellow students and the talented and committed faculty and staff that have shaped your experiences here.  Swarthmore provides a transformative education, one grounded in intellectual curiosity and a connected community working towards the common good.  

As you look forward to whatever comes next, remember that as alumni, we are strengthened by our connections, to each other and to this place.  Over the next day, as you say au revoir to your friends, I urge you to also take a few minutes, alone, to walk about the campus.  As I have found over the 45 years since my graduation, even when your people are no longer here, this campus will always remain, beautiful as ever, ready to welcome you back.

On behalf of the Board of Managers, I want to once again welcome everyone to today’s celebration. You will soon hear from President Smith, the member of the Class of 2023 chosen to speak by her fellow seniors, and our honorary degree recipients who will share their perspectives with us.

To the members of the Class of 2023, well done and congratulations!