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Board Chair Names Presidential Search Committee

Board Chair Names Presidential Search Committee

As shared in a message sent to the Swarthmore community on June 4, 2008.


Dear Members of the Swarthmore Community,

With Al Bloom's announcement that he will conclude his remarkable 18-year tenure as president in August 2009, we must turn this year to the challenging task of finding a new president for the College, one who can lead us forward, securing and advancing our place among the most preeminent liberal arts colleges in the country. I would like to share with you how that search will be conducted and to enlist your aid in making it successful.

The search committee will consist of four members of the Board of Managers, three faculty members, one alumni representative, one staff representative, and two students. As chair of the Board of Managers, I will work directly with the committee.

The members are:

  • Chair: Thomas E. Spock, Class of 1978, M.B.A., Stanford Graduate School of Business; an 11-year member of the Board and chair of the Finance Committee.
  • Dulany Ogden Bennett, Class of 1966, M.S., University of Pennsylvania; M.A., Psy.D., Pacific University; member of the Board since 1989, chair of the Student Affairs Committee, and a lifelong member of the Society of Friends.
  • Giles K. Kemp, Class of 1972, M.B.A., Harvard Business School; member of the Board since 2003 and chair of the Development and Communications Committee.
  • Sujatha A. Srinivasan, Class of 2001, member of the Board since 2005 and member of the Finance Committee.
  • Alan Symonette, Class of 1976, J.D., Villanova University. Alan is a former president of the Alumni Council who also served on the Board from
    1995 to 1997 and from 1999 to 2002. He will serve as the alumni representative on the search committee.
  • Michael Cothren, professor of art history, past chair of the Art Department, former chair of the Humanities Division and a member of the planning group on recruiting and retaining an excellent faculty. Michael earned a B.A. from Vanderbilt and a Ph.D. from Columbia.
  • Pieter Judson, professor of history, past chair of the History Department and newly re-elected to the Council on Educational Policy. This year he served on the recruitment, composition of class, and financial aid planning group. After earning a B.A. from Swarthmore in 1978, he pursued a Ph.D. at Columbia University and taught at Pitzer College for four years before returning to Swarthmore.
  • Elizabeth Vallen, associate professor and chair of the Biology Department. Liz is responsible for the Science for Kids initiative, which is a key pre-college outreach component of the College's Howard Hughes Medical Institute Program. She earned a B.A. from Case Western Reserve University and a Ph.D. from Princeton University, and held postdocs at Yale and Rockefeller universities before coming to Swarthmore.
  • Rafael Zapata, assistant dean and director of the Intercultural Center. He received a B.A. from Iona College and an M.A. from Arizona State
    University. Currently he is a Fontaine Fellow at the University of Pennsylvania, where he is completing a Ph.D. in sociology. Rafael will serve as the staff representative on the search committee.
  • Two members of the Class of 2009 will be named by Student Council within the month.

The Committee will begin its work over the summer. During that period, you can be helpful in two significant areas. First, we encourage you to recommend candidates for this position. If you believe there are people the College should consider, please submit their names and a brief description of why you believe they would be effective as Swarthmore's next leader. Second, as the Committee considers the skills necessary for Swarthmore's next president, please let us know if you believe there are particular characteristics, experiences, or strengths that we should seek.

The Committee, working with the Board and others, will prepare an official job description in September. We welcome your nominations and
recommendations at any time. If you would like to nominate a candidate or share your view on the qualities most essential for a successful Swarthmore president, please write to I know we can count on your assistance as we take on this critical task and we will provide regular updates as the search progresses.

Finally, in this, the last year of Al Bloom's tenure, I hope that all of you will join the Board and the campus community in celebrating his exceptional 18 years of leadership. I believe that he will be considered to be one of the College's very best presidents.


Barbara W. Mather, Class of 1965
Chair, Board of Managers


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