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ICYMI: Top 21 Web Stories of the Year

A collage of students, staff, and alumni

From an award-winning carbon-pricing campaign to a range of achievements for students, faculty, staff, and alumni, the 2016-17 academic year provided more than its share of momentous and memorable occasions. So ICYMI, below are some of the most popular Swarthmore College web stories of the year.

  1. Sustainability Momentum

    Green Roof on Swarthmore's campusSwarthmore continues to be at the forefront of campus environmental and sustainability efforts. This spring, the College helped lead the Put A Price On It campaign, which supports carbon pricing as a matter of policy and has received support from the worlds of higher education, politics, business, and entertainment. For this initiative, Swarthmore won the 2017 International Sustainable Campus Network Sustainable Campus Excellence Award. Last summer, the College implemented a carbon charge for its 2016-17 operating budget. Community activists also made their voices heard on climate issues this year, as students and faculty challenged the Board of Managers on 2013 and 2015 decisions not to divest, and several dozen students rode College-funded vans to participate in the Peoples Climate March in Washington D.C. In June, President Valerie Smith also joined over 180 leaders in higher education and over 1,000 leaders in the U.S. in declaring their intent to uphold the Paris Climate Accord.

  2. Opening Doors

    A student advises another studentSwarthmore's comprehensive approach to supporting students continues to expand. Last fall, the College detailed how staff, faculty, and students from all areas of the College help new students to feel at home and aware of resources available to help them succeed when they arrive, as well as how an array of financial support from all corners of the College helps ensure that a world-class education accessible to all. The Board of Managers pledged to increase the financial support available to undocumented, first-generation, and under-represented students who may need assistance during the academic year In June, the College hosted its inaugural College access summit.

  3. Bright New Spaces

    Double rainbow over McCabe LibraryThe College embarked on several campus improvement projects, aligning the College's physical spaces with strategic objectives. Progress continues on the one of the largest undertakings in College history: the Biology, Engineering, and Psychology building. Whittier Hall (left), an academic building behind the Lang Center for Civic and Social Responsibility, opened this spring. In September, Swarthmore’s commitment to fostering an inclusive campus environment received a major boost with a $4.3 million gift to establish the James Hormel ‘55 and Michael Nguyen ‘08 Intercultural Center at Sproul Hall. In October, members of the College community joined representatives from SEPTA, local elected officials, and community leaders to celebrate the completion of the Crum Creek Viaduct project. In the spring, the Athletics Department unveiled a new baseball press box named in honor of Ernie Prudente, the winningest baseball coach in Swarthmore history. Several of the College's recent campus improvements received accolades: the “Danawell Connector” project that merged the separate Dana and Hallowell residence halls—was named “Best in Education” at the 2016 IIDA PA/NJ/DE Design Awards. A recent award from the Urban Land Institute is the fourth for the College's Inn at Swarthmore, Broad Table Tavern, and Swarthmore Campus and Community Store since they opened last year.

  4. College Classroom 2.0

    Liliya Yatsunyk's summer research group in LouisvilleFour students who spent the summer working in Associate Professor of Chemistry Liliya Yatsunyk’s research lab had the unique opportunity to meet, collaborate, and present their research to experts in their field. The enterprising students in Richter Professor of Political Science Carol Nackenoff's American Elections class created an interactive map that compressed the myriad changes to and differences in state voting laws into a single, easy-to-use tool for the 2016 election. Students in Assistant Professor of Political Science Emily Paddon Rhoads’ class learned about Sub-Saharan Africa through investigative journalism projects, encouraging students to pursue projects that would "bring the field to the classroom and focus on the human dimensions of politics.”

  5. Can We Talk? 

    Patrick Houston '17Members of the community were prominent voices in the national conversation surrounding the 2016 presidential election. Throughout the primary season, Claude C.Smith ’14 Professor of Political Science Rick Valelly ’75, Lang Center Executive Director and Associate Professor of Political Science Ben Berger, Richter Professor of Political Science Carol Nackenoff, Professor of Political Science Keith Reeves ’88, and Assistant Professor of Economics Syon Bhanot all offered their analysis and expertise. An exhibit from curator Wendy Chmielewski spotlighted the women who ran for office before the 19th Amendment. Brittni Teresi '19 wrote an op-ed in the Philadelphia Inquirer calling on the presidential nominees to focus on more substantive topics during their debates, Patrick Houston '17 (left) introduced President Barack Obama at a rally held in front of the Philadelphia Art Museum, and Nate Urban '18 also lent a helping hand at the Democratic National Convention held in Philadelphia. Immediately following the election, as conversations about the election’s impact continued across campus and beyond, 12 faculty members across a range of disciplines offered their perspectives

  6. Including Everyone

    Bryan StevensonTo celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month, Visiting Assistant Professor of Mathematics and Statistics Alexander Diaz-Lopez created a website to highlight Hispanic and Latino/a representation in mathematics. The College celebrated its annual MLK Commemoration Week, presenting a rich array of programs for students, faculty, and the greater community centered on service and inclusivity. Black History Month events culminated with a talk by social justice lawyer and activist Bryan Stevenson (left) in which he outlined a four-step approach to fight inequality. In March, students had the opportunity to participate in a number of activities celebrating the culture and diversity found among the vibrant campus community as part of Cultural and Identity Appreciation Week. Later in the spring, Swarthmore hosted its inaugural Inclusive Leadership Conference, designed for student leaders who will serve as change agents on campus and in the world.

  7. See for Yourself

    An aerial photo of Clothier Bell Tower and Parrish Hall surrounded by fall foliageAlumni described (or at least tried to describe) Swarthmore in 3 words. We also saw a day in the life of eight students, toured one of the College’s green roofs, and viewed the College from high above at the peak of the fall foliage. Swarthmore also launched a Snapchat account — @SwatSnaps – one of the most popular social media platforms among current and prospective students. Through student takeovers and submissions, the social media channel showcased life on campus, promoted campus events, and highlighted unique aspects of the College.

  8. Alumni in Action

    Nancy Grace Roman in Lego formThe White House honored two alums, Mary Schmidt Campbell ’69 and A’Dorian Murray-Thomas ’16, as Champions of Change for College Opportunity. LEGO’s Women of NASA set included two women with Swarthmore ties - Nancy Grace Roman '46 H'76, NASA's chief astronomer and "mother" of the Hubble telescope, and Sally Ride '72, the first U.S. woman in space. Chris Van Hollen '83 won Maryland's open Senate seat, artist Njideka Akunyili Crosby '04 was named a Woman of the Year by the Financial Times, and Adam Haslett ‘92 and Joe McGinniss Jr. ‘94 were finalists for the prestigious Kirkus Prize. Twelve Swarthmore alumni received 2017 graduate research fellowships from the National Science Foundation in recognition of outstanding potential in each of their respective fields of study. Four alumni were awarded Fulbright grants in 2017, affirming Swarthmore’s status as a top producer of grantees, while Mayra Tenorio Lopez ’15 became just the third Swarthmore alum to earn a Gates-Cambridge Scholarship. Read more alumni news.

  9. Super Staff

    Cooks from Dining Services wearing silver medalsTyrone Dunston joined the Swarthmore community as director of environmental services. This year's edition of the annual faculty-staff book club focused on the environment with an emphasis on climate change and justice. Four chefs from Dining Services earned a silver medal at a "Chopped"–style culinary competition among other colleges. Librarian Pam Harris discussed the ways in which the library has changed over the years and the rich offerings of today’s McCabe Library. Andrew Moe, associate dean of admissions, explained his efforts to promote diversity, inclusion, and access during the admissions process.

  10. Swarthmore Solidarity

    Parrish HallThroughout the year, President Valerie Smith and the College’s Board of Managers stood together in support all members of the community, whatever their backgrounds or circumstances. In November, Smith joined more than 100 college and university presidents calling for President Donald Trump to both forcefully condemn acts of harassment, hate, and violence, and continue the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. In December, following requests from the campus community, the Board of Managers announced its commitment, to the fullest extent of the law, to protect and provide sanctuary for all members of the community who may need such protection. The Board also pledged to increase the financial support available to undocumented, first-generation, and under-represented students who may need assistance during the academic year, and President Smith offered support for the transgender members of our community who may lose federal protections. 

  11. Faculty Corner

    Tomoko SakomuraProfessors of Astronomy Eric Jensen and David Cohen helped discover a Jupiter-like planet with a dayside temperature of over 7,800 degrees Fahrenheit. Research from economists Erin Todd Bronchetti and Ellen Magenheim found that providing coupons for produce at a local grocery store led shoppers to spend more money on fresh fruits and vegetables. Assistant Professor of Biology Liz Nicholos used fake green caterpillars to see how the caterpillars' risk of getting eaten varied around the world. Professor of Linguistics and Associate Provost K. David Harrison will head to the South Pacific islands of Vanuatu to document the plants and languages of local communities with a grant from the National Science Foundation, while Professor of Biology Amy Vollmer was named a Phi Beta Kappa Visiting Scholar for the 2017-2018 school year. Stephen Lang Professor of Performing Arts Allen Kuharski is the recipient of a prestigious Fulbright research grant. Also receiving accolades were Associate Professor of History Diego Armus, Associate Professor of English Literature Lara Langer Cohen, and Associate Professor of English Literature Jill Gladstein. Faculty in math, art, and anthropology received tenure and two in psychology and physics were promoted from assistant to associate professor. Professor of Linguistics Donna Jo Napoli, Associate Professor of Art History Tomoko Sakomura (left), Alfred H. and Peggi Bloom Professor​ of English Literature Craig Williamson, and Professor of Religion Steven Hopkins all published new books. Read more faculty research and news.

  12. Go Garnet!

    Swimmers hold their championship trophy above theirs heads in the poolIt was another standout year for Swarthmore athletics, with two programs winning conference titles for the first time in history. The men’s basketball team won the Centennial Conference championship with a thrilling comeback victory before a raucous home crowd. The team also won its first NCAA Tournament game, while Cam Wiley ’19 was named the program’s first All-American. The men’s swimming team also won its first Centennial Conference championship, dethroning the eight-time defending champion by 120 points. The volleyball team concluded its season by winning its second-consecutive Eastern Conference Athletic Conference championship tournament. The newest class inducted into the Garnet Athletics Hall of Fame honored scholar-athletes in badminton, cross-country, field hockey, football, lacrosse, swimming, tennis, and track & field. Read more athletics news.

  13. Leading with Joy

    President Valerie SmithIn a New York Times profile, President Valerie Smith shared her early leadership lessons as president, her advice for new college graduates, and the importance of listening before you lead. In the fall, she gave a keynote address at the University of Pennsylvania's Graduate Women's Leadership Conference. Smith also received an Honorary Doctor of Letters from Hong Kong Baptist University for her leadership and dynamic first year at Swarthmore.

  14. Beyond the Bubble

    Students work on an art project during their externshipLearning at Swarthmore extends well beyond the classroom. The 2017 Class of Eugene M. Lang Opportunity Scholars shared their finals projects, which helped communities from Haiti to Nigeria and even other college campuses around the country. This year's Extern Week matched 269 students with alumni mentors, sparking experiences and insights and strengthening intergenerational bonds. 

  15. Arts@Swarthmore

    The curators of the List GalleryThe List Gallery celebrated 25 years of enlivening and forging connections on and off campus with the publication of a commemorative book and on-campus celebration. Chamber Orchestra First Editions returned to the College with a new concert, once again giving students the chance to share the spotlight with professional musicians. Music and dance alumni discussed their sometimes “chaotic” professional lives post-Swarthmore.

  16. Student Spotlight

    Miriam Pierson '18 and Nathaniel Urban '18Layla Hazaineh ’20, a Jordanian-Palestinian feminist, created a series of videos tackling women’s issues in Arab societies. Miriam Pierson ’18 and Nathaniel Urban ’18 (left) claimed the biggest win for Swarthmore’s Amos J. Peaslee Debate Society in more than 15 years, while the newly revived Quiz Bowl team also found success at regional competitions. Tessa Jones '17 was honored by the Ultimate Frisbee community, while OASiS, Swarthmore's slam poetry collective, excelled at the College Unions Poetry Slam Invitational, with George Abraham ’17 being named best poet. Four sophomores will be tackling social-action projects around the globe as the newest recipients of the Eugene M. Lang Opportunity Scholarship. Students this year also received Watson, BorenGoldwater, Cahn, and Newman Civic Fellows honors and recognition. 

  17. Changing Lives, Changing the World

    A dancer performs during the campaign kickoff eventIn April, the Swarthmore community gathered to celebrate the public launch of a $450 million comprehensive campaign, Changing Lives, Changing the World. With support from the community, the College will be able to realize a vision for its future that is captured in the campaign’s four key themes: connecting the liberal arts, building a more inclusive community, enhancing our social impact, and creating vital spaces. Watch the campus celebration.

  18. Leaving Footprints

    Eugene M. Lang '38 H'81Swarthmore experienced the loss of several devoted members of its community this year. Read tributes to them, from entrepreneur, philanthropist, and chair emeritus of the College’s Board of Managers Eugene M. "Gene" Lang ’38 H'81 (left) to game designer Sam Jenkins ’19, gardener Bill Costello, former football coach Tom Lapinski, athletics equipment manager Ray Scott, emerita member of the Board of Managers Julie Lange Hall ’55, and Dining Services staff member Bitsy Snively.

  19. Creating the Change

    Sedinam Worlanyo '17Innovation continues to thrive on campus. Switchboard, a messaging service that allows students to connect anonymously and randomly with other students at their college, was the judges' choice at the final round of the 5th annual SwatTank competition, which saw a record number of participants in the growing entrepreneurship program. One of the winners of the 2016 SwatTank competition, Sedinam Worlanyo '17 (left), teamed with classmate Murtaza Khomusi ’17 to place second in the Georgetown Innovation Marketplace Case Competition for their proposal on family planning services in Nigeria. For their senior engineering project, Michael Chen ’17 and Christopher Grasberger ‘17 combined their interests in robotics and computer vision to produce an autonomous vehicle, which they rode through campus.

  20. Oh, the Places You'll Go!

    Kip Davis '75At Swarthmore's 145th commencement on May 21, President Valerie Smith awarded honorary degrees to film producer and journalist David Gelber ’63, philanthropist John Goldman '71, and actress and playwright Anna Deavere Smith. In addition, 374 undergraduates were awarded degrees at the ceremony, held at the Scott Amphitheater. Among the graduates was Charles “Kip” Davis (left), the class president of the Class of 1975.

  21. There's No Place Like Home

    Members of the Class of 2007 begin their march in the Parade of ClassesDespite a damp start to the weekend, the weather cleared for a picture-perfect Saturday as approximately 1,350 alumni and their families came to campus to celebrate their reunions during Alumni Weekend 2017, May 26 to 28. Highlights included the annual Parade of Classes, Alumni Collection in the Scott Outdoor Amphitheater featuring news executive Barbara Stubbs Cochran ’67, and a state of the College from President Valerie Smith, accompanied by a screening of the Changing Lives, Changing the World short film.

Submissions Welcome

The Communications Office invites all members of the Swarthmore community to share videos, photos, and story ideas for the College's website. Have you seen an alum in the news? Please let us know by writing