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Swarthmore Priorities

The College has engaged in a number of major planning and priority-setting efforts since the last accreditation Self-Study, including Strategic Directions (2011) [1],  Self-Study on Learning, Working, and Living (2015) and the work of the resulting Action Committee (2015-16 )[2], priorities outlined by president Valerie Smith as she completed her first year (2016 )[3], Re-imagining the Student Experience: A Visioning Exercise (2016-17)[4], and finally, priorities identified for our comprehensive campaign, Changing Lives, Changing the World (2017)[5].  Though each of these had its own focus and purpose, a number of themes are common across all.  In deciding the priorities through which we will focus our 2019 re-accreditation Self-Study, we selected those most closely aligned with our mission[6], and that in a fundamental way reflect who we are and what we want to strengthen.

  • Access and Inclusion – We strive to create an environment that is inclusive and welcoming to students, faculty, and staff whatever their backgrounds, country of origin, race, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, physical ability, class, and or cultural, political, and religious affiliations, among other considerations. We will recruit, admit, and support a diverse student body. This includes ensuring that no qualified students will be denied access to a Swarthmore education because of their financial circumstances, and investing funds for financial aid, student support services, and the “hidden costs” of education. It also includes creating environmentally sustainable, aesthetically appealing academic, residential, and communal spaces that will catalyze intellectual, social, and ethical growth and foster informal, serendipitous interactions between and among students, staff, and faculty. 
  • Academic Rigor and Creativity   - Through structures and incentives that encourage innovation, Swarthmore seeks to foster a curriculum of intellectual rigor and creativity that combines disciplinary strength and flexibility. We strive to recruit and retain outstanding, dedicated, and diverse scholar/teachers in order to offer a curriculum that is simultaneously innovative, interdisciplinary, and grounded in the traditional disciplines; that integrates civic and social engagement; and that supports student research, both independently and with faculty. Our signature Honors Program is the embodiment of these values and provides a model for the promise of education throughout the College and beyond. 
  • Education for Impact –The College strives to serve the common good by creating opportunities for faculty, staff, and students to address some of the most pressing and urgent issues in our local and global communities, such as sustainability. This includes developing research, leadership, and service opportunities for students both in and beyond the classroom. Swarthmore seeks to encourage the ethical development of our students and engage them in efforts to promote social justice. Recognizing the mutually dependent relationship between students’ academic and extracurricular lives and achievements, Swarthmore makes a commitment to educating the whole person.  In prioritizing education for impact, the College seeks to strengthen the liberal arts in today’s global community.