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Constance Hungerford

Good afternoon.

I am Constance Hungerford, provost of the College and an art historian in Swarthmore's Department of Art. I am honored to represent my fellow members of the faculty in warmly welcoming Rebecca Chopp as our new president.

We hail you especially as a fellow scholar, who brings a distinguished record of ground-breaking research in feminism and theology, a pursuit of inquiry and writing that you have sustained even through the distractions of administrative responsibility at Emory, and then the Yale Divinity School and, finally, at Colgate. We are pleased that you are finding in the College's Quaker history rich new material for your study of progressive religious movements, in which exemplary women have been national leaders, including Lucretia Mott (whose portrait now graces your desk).

We embrace you as a colleague able to share our passion for teaching our unique Swarthmore undergraduates: You officially join the Department of Religion, where you have already participated in a seminar that demonstrated vividly what is so exhilarating about being part of the intellectual community at Swarthmore.

We look forward to your support as we seek to strengthen Swarthmore's dedication to rigorous and imaginative academic inquiry, integrated with what one of our panelists this afternoon called, "turning knowledge into action." Both academic excellence and social responsibility have long been integral to Swarthmore's sense of itself. But we seek more than preservation and look to your leadership as we move into the 21st century, where we face daunting challenges in preparing our students to address a host of theoretical, social, political, and moral issues.

We share your commitment to developing the role of civil discourse in academic debate on our campus and in larger contexts, for it is essential to a vibrant, pluralistic democracy in the U.S. and a prerequisite to our possibilities for interacting peacefully and constructively across great chasms of difference internationally. After our first symposium session today, we are eager to probe and to use this institution to educate for the benefit of societies beyond our green oasis.

We join with you in your emphasis on the pressing issue of environmental sustainability in a world that must reduce its carbon footprint quickly and dramatically. While we set our horizons globally, we are glad that you are also focusing locally by having Swarthmore continue and enhance its commitment to environmentally sensitive "best practices."

As you have extended your listening tour to each of our academic departments, as you have chaired our difficult discussions through this year of financial uncertainty — what an initiation! — we faculty have delighted in beginning to get to know you. We are eager for our next steps together and look forward to achieving great things with you.