Rebecca Chopp came to Swarthmore in July 2009 from Colgate University, where she was president since 2002. Before joining Colgate, she served as dean and Titus Street Professor of Theology at Yale Divinity School. Prior to Yale, she spent 15 years at Emory University, where she held the positions of provost and executive vice president for academic affairs. At Emory, Chopp oversaw two colleges of liberal arts and seven professional schools and led strategic planning in areas such as teaching and research, international affairs, university/community relations, and information technology.
A well-known scholar of religion and American culture, Chopp has authored or edited five books and has published more than 50 articles in her areas of expertise. In recent years, her research and professional presentations have focused on changing structures and cultures of higher education, on the role of liberal arts in a democratic society, and on religion and higher education. [curriculum vitae [pdf]]
More than 20 vice presidents, deans, and vice provosts reported to Chopp at Emory, where she established three priorities for their work together: strengthening the schools and establishing cross-disciplinary programs, identifying new intellectual initiatives, and identifying and supporting colleagues with leadership potential. Chopp also served as director of graduate studies for the Institute of Women's Studies, dean of faculty and academic affairs at the Candler School, and Charles Howard Candler Professor of Theology at Emory.
At Yale, Chopp completed the rebuilding project for the entire Divinity School campus; developed an academic strategic plan that continues to be implemented; rebuilt financial and management structures; and implemented new approaches in alumni relations, communications, and fundraising.
As president of Colgate, Chopp presided over the development and implementation of a comprehensive strategic plan that expanded the university's academic space by the largest amount in its history; strengthened academic programs and developed new interdisciplinary institutes and centers; implemented a new vision for residential education that provides leadership education for students and new programs in arts, academic teams, and wellness; strengthened athletics; expanded university-community partnerships including the establishment of the Upstate Institute; and developed the most successful campaign in Colgate's history with a goal of $400 million which, by the time it had gone public, had raised more than half the goal while creating new alumni avenues of connection and support. During Chopp's tenure, notable increases in admissions, improvement of student quality, and expansion of programs supporting diversity and globalization had occurred.
Chopp, a native of Kansas, received a B.A. from Kansas Wesleyan University, an M.Div. from St. Paul School of Theology, and a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago. She has received the Alumni Achievement Award from the University of Chicago, the Alumna of the Year award from the University of Chicago Divinity School, honorary doctorates in divinity from Lehigh University and Lafayette College, the Alumni Achievement Award from Kansas Wesleyan University, the Distinguished Alumna Award from Saint Paul School of Theology, and the Founder's Day Award from Baker University.
She currently serves on the boards of the Association of American Colleges and Universities and the National Survey of Student Engagement. She has served on the executive committee of the Annapolis Group, the Board of Trustees of the Carnegie Foundation for Teaching, and on the Council of Information and Library Resources. Chopp has also served as president of the Patriot League and is currently a member of the Presidential Advisory Committee for the NCAA.
Chopp is married to Frederick Thibodeau. They have three sons.