At the inauguration of President Valerie Smith, Lynne Cottman of Dining Services offered greetings on behalf of the staff.
Good afternoon President Smith and Swarthmore College family.
My name is Lynne Cottman and it is indeed an honor to stand before you today to celebrate the inauguration of the first African American female president of Swarthmore College.
I have been employed at Swarthmore College for 42 years in the Dining Services Separtment as a baker, as well as serving in many other dining positions. I am a mother of four, a neighborhood community leader, and an active member of the great Mount Olive Baptist Church in Linwood, Pa., where I am appointed in many leadership roles.
Like many of our students who face financial, social, and personal challenges to success, during my years at Swarthmore College, I, too, have experienced and overcome challenges to success. I am a two-time cancer survivor and have also experienced challenges with changes in management and administration.
While the College’s purpose, mission, and commitment to higher education, along with its ideals of community in providing students with the best learning environment, remains intact, the same focus and dedication to staff must be reformed to the same level in order to remain fully relevant and continue to prosper. Staff members also require the best working environment by providing support, encouragement, and respect.
Just as you do for the students of this great institution, I ask that you rededicate your administration with an obligation to support, guide, encourage, and equip staff with the tools and environment necessary to succeed.
Thank you for this privilege to speak at such an important event. I wish you great success as you move to uplift the community through embracing change!