Gil Kemp '72 Named as New Board Chair
by Nancy Nicely
Giles "Gil" Kemp '72 has been selected as the 13th chair of the Board of Managers of Swarthmore College. Kemp, whose appointment was announced at the Board's quarterly meeting this past weekend, will succeed Barbara Mather '65, who has served as chair for eight years. His term will begin at the end of the Board's annual meeting in early May.
In making the announcement, Board member Jack Riggs '64, who chairs the Board's nominating and governance committee, noted that Kemp is a natural fit for the role. "Gil's deep and abiding commitment to this institution makes him the ideal person to lead Swarthmore into the future," he said.
Current Board Chair Barbara Mather said, "It has been a privilege to serve as chair of the Board of Managers for Swarthmore College during these past eight years. As we embark on the implementation of the strategic plan, ready ourselves for the upcoming celebration of the College's sesquicentennial in 2014, and build toward a comprehensive campaign, this is the perfect time to transition to a new Board chair."
President Rebecca Chopp praised both Mather and Kemp's leadership. "Since I arrived in 2009, I have continually been inspired by Barbara's careful and wise stewardship of this special institution, and I hold her in the highest esteem," Chopp said. "Through our work during the strategic planning process, I've also gotten to know Gil as a remarkably skilled and creative thinker and am excited about working more closely with him in his new role, most immediately in implementing the recommendations outlined in our new strategic plan, Strategic Directions."
"I am deeply honored to be selected as Swarthmore's next Board chair," Kemp said. "I know firsthand the value and lasting impact a Swarthmore education can have. It's been extremely gratifying to support the College in the past, and I'm looking forward to deepening my involvement and further ensuring its success."
About Gil Kemp
Kemp, a Scarsdale, N.Y. resident, graduated with honors from Swarthmore with a B.A. in sociology and, in 1976, earned an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School. For the next 15 years, he developed direct-marketing programs for books and newsletters for New American Library, Bantam Books, and Harcourt Brace Jovanovich. In 1990, he founded Home Decorators Collection, one of the nation's leading direct sellers of home furnishings and accessories. Kemp led the company as president until 2009, approximately three years after the company was purchased by The Home Depot.
A longtime supporter of his alma mater, Kemp joined Swarthmore's Board in 2003. He chaired the College's Annual Fund for three years and is currently chair of the Board's development and communications committee. He also served, among his other Board-related roles, as chair of the Strategic Planning Council, which recently led the College community through an 18-month direction-setting process and produced Strategic Directions.
Kemp's philanthropy at Swarthmore reflects his commitment to students and honors those who have influenced him. His gifts include a residence hall, named for his grandfather, David Kemp; an endowed professorship in the natural sciences, named for his father, Dr. Walter Kemp; West House, the home of the vice president for development and alumni relations, named in honor of former Vice President Dan West and his wife, Sidney; and men's and women's locker rooms, given in honor of his former cross-country coach, Joe Stefanowicz. Kemp still holds the College's outdoor mile record of 4:15.5, which he set in 1970.
Kemp is the co-author of Dale Carnegie: The Man Who Influenced Millions (1989). He currently serves on the board of the East Meets West Foundation, which supports health and education programs in Asia, and Let's Get Ready, which provides free SAT preparation and college admission counseling to low-income high school students. He also served for 10 years on the board of The Scarsdale Foundation and 22 years on the board of United Way of Scarsdale.
Kemp is married to Barbara Guss Kemp. They have two children, Rebecca, 29, and David, 27.