About This Book
The title of this book, The Meaning of Swarthmore, contains an important assumption-that a college can have meaning, and, in particular, that Swarthmore College has meaning. It also contains an inherent question: What is the meaning of Swarthmore? The object of this book is the contemplation of that question.
Each of the 48 alumni essayists who contributed to this book has answered the question in his or her own way. For some, the meaning of Swarthmore is quite personal; attending the College was an experience that transformed their lives. They developed surprising new intellectual passions in the classroom, discovered hitherto unknown personal strengths in athletics or extracurricular activities, and made lifelong friendships among their classmates.
Others not only honed their intellectual and analytical abilities, they also found-often in the College's Quaker traditions-a moral and social compass that has inspired them to work for equality, peace, and justice. For them, Swarthmore's meaning lies in the clarification of their values and in the imperative to use those skills and values in the service of creating a better world.
To have meaning beyond the lives of its graduates, a great college must serve the interests of the larger world. Swarthmore's educational and intellectual excellence-coupled with its ethical, moral, and social values-have provided generations of leaders in every imaginable field. These values are not just those of today's Swarthmore; they have roots in its history and traditions. The College has thrived through its uncompromising commitment to offering a liberal arts education of the highest quality-an education that has consistently helped students learn to question and explore, to think critically, to develop their imaginations, and to act responsibly and with conviction. They are both its legacy and its future.
The publication of this book was made possible by a gift to the College from Mark Pattis '75 and The Pattis Family Foundation. Roger Youman '53 volunteered to edit the book, and the staff of the College's Publications Office guided its production.
It is no coincidence that The Meaning of Swarthmore is also the name of the College's ongoing comprehensive campaign. This $230 million fund-raising effort is crucial to ensuring that Swarthmore will continue to provide the kind of life-changing educational experiences and nurture the deep commitments to creating a better world that are exemplified in this book.