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“A Swat Superhero”: Associate Dean and Director of Student Engagement Rachel Head Honored with Welsh Award

Rachel Head accepts Welsh Award from Beth R. Glassman

Rachel Head (left) accepts the Welsh Award from Vice President for Human Resources Beth R. Glassman.

In recognition of exemplary service to Swarthmore, the College awarded the 2024 Suzanne P. Welsh Award to Rachel Head, associate dean and director of student engagement, at an all-staff meeting on Wednesday.

Head, who was one of more than 30 nominees from all across the College, was lauded for her unwavering dedication to the College community. In particular, colleagues highlighted Head’s ability to deftly and tirelessly balance the needs of students and the College.

“Rachel is a Swat superhero,” said Andy Feick, assistant vice president for sustainable facilities operation and capital planning, who nominated Head for the award.

“She brings her best self to every situation, offering thoughtful advice, proposing solutions, and identifying the ripple effects of various scenarios,” he added. “She has an innate ability to see things or angles that others don’t.”

Added Nathan Miller, senior associate dean of student life, “Rachel embodies the criteria for this award every day: commitment to the College’s mission, integrity, dedicated service, initiative, and quality of work.”

Miller, who supervises Head, referred to her as the “glue” of the Office of Student Engagement, citing her exceptional efforts at times of staff short-handedness and throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I never have to worry about our response to an issue if it’s Rachel responding,” he said.

The Welsh award is given biennially to a staff member who has made outstanding contributions to the College and demonstrated commitment to its mission through hard work, creativity, and kindness. It serves as an opportunity for students, faculty, and staff to honor their colleagues, mentors, and friends, and to shine a light on those who help make Swarthmore all that it is. 

In recognition of their contributions to the College community, winners receive a cash award and a trophy made from sustainable materials. A student scholarship donation is also made in their name.

Accepting the award was something of a role reversal for Head, noted Vice President for Human Resources Beth R. Glassman.

“Rachel is always the person nominating everyone else,” Glassman said. “She’s always recognizing others.”

Receiving the award was “a wonderful surprise,” says Head, who has served the College for 15 years.

“​​Each day, I get to work with brilliant faculty and staff colleagues, who show up every day because we all genuinely care about the students and have a shared core belief that four years at Swarthmore can be transformative,” she said. “It makes it easy to want to do good work and support the student experience.”

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