Living the Liberal Arts

The Swarthmore community gathered on Friday, Dec. 1, for “Living the Liberal Arts: A Celebration of Eugene Lang ‘38, H’81.” Lang, who died in April, left an indelible mark on Swarthmore College and, through his generous support of the arts, education, and the common good on campus and around the world, let his life speak and inspired many others to live liberal arts lives.

The day’s programming encapsulated the full breadth and depth of support Lang offered generations of Swarthmore students and alumni, with an emphasis on social responsibility, academic achievement, and the arts. The day also provided an unprecedented opportunity for current and past Lang Scholars to convene over lunch and dinner.

The formal program began in the Lang Performing Arts Center (LPAC) with opening remarks from Joy Charlton, Professor of Sociology and Executive Director of the Lang Center for Civic & Social Responsibility from 2007 to 2016. Ben Berger, Associate Director of Political Science and the current Executive Director of the Lang Center for Civic & Social Responsibility,  followed by introducing five distinguished alumni who shared their stories about living the liberal arts in business, theater, data science, medicine, and education: Eleanor Joseph '07, the CEO and co-founder of Ubuntu Capital; Nell Bang-Jensen '11, a Philadelphia-based theater director and creator; Dan Hammer '07, the 2017 winner of the Pritzker Prize for contributions to the environment; Tsuyoshi Mitarai '98, emergency medicine/critical care medicine physician and clinical associate professor at Stanford Hospital; and Kimberly St. Julian-Varnon '12, high school history teacher and community college professor in Texas.

Following the talks, students, staff, faculty, and alumni gathered in the LPAC lobby for a reception amid an array of posters representing work from a range of disciplines, including sustainability, robotics, the arts, and juvenile justice. The evening concluded in the Lang Music Building with a concert by student musicians from the Elizabeth Pollard Fetter Chamber Music Program, introduced by Daniel Underhill Professor of Music Tom Whitman '82 and Jane Lang '67