Swarthmore Bids Farewell to 10 Retiring Faculty Members
This spring, the College celebrates the retirement of 10 esteemed faculty members, who combine for an astonishing 370 years of service to Swarthmore. Though they will be missed on campus, each leaves behind an indelible legacy, fostered through their notable scholarship, devoted mentorship, and lasting commitment to the liberal arts.
Nathalie Anderson, the Alexander Griswold Cummins Professor of English Literature and director of the Creative Writing Program, joined Swarthmore’s faculty in 1982, while she was completing her Ph.D. at Emory University. A modernist initially focused on modern British poetry, Anderson stretched her teaching repertoire over time to include Victorian and contemporary poetry, while also highlighting the work of American women and Irish poets. In the ’80s, working in partnership with College librarian Michael Durkan, Anderson helped bring numerous Irish poets to campus, leading to her involvement with the American Conference for Irish Studies; since 2019, she has been president of the group’s southern regional chapter.
As director of Swarthmore’s Creative Writing Program, Anderson motivated generations of students to push themselves artistically, through such courses as the Poetry Project and the Advanced Poetry Workshop. In the latter, which Anderson taught for two decades, students created their own chapbooks of poems reflecting their obsessions and musings, yet often inspired by the work of an author studied in class. Beyond the classroom, Anderson herself is an award-winning writer, having published multiple chapbooks and full-length volumes, for which she received a Pew Fellowship in 1993. She is also an accomplished librettist, working in collaboration with music professor and composer Thomas Whitman ’82 on five operas, culminating in 2019 with Cassandra.
In honor of her retirement, the English Literature Department put together a collection of poems written by people Anderson worked with over her years at Swarthmore. Titled Opening Vistas, the festschrift includes a foreword from President Valerie Smith and nearly 100 poems from her former students — a testament to Anderson and her impact as a teacher and mentor. “My biggest takeaway is how much fun I’ve had with the students,” Anderson says. “I really enjoy the quirkiness and the obsessiveness and the creativeness of their minds, and to see what they can make of what they learn in one class and bring into another. It’s been such a tremendous pleasure to have the opportunity to work with them.”
Since 2001, Caroline Burkhard has been a laboratory instructor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. Caroline came to Swarthmore from the University of Delaware, where she served as a research and teaching assistant after earning her bachelor’s and master’s degrees there in 1991 and 1994, respectively. With a background in marine studies, Burkhard led labs for a range of courses at the College, including General Chemistry, Biological Chemistry, Analytical Chemistry and Instrumentation, and Advanced Experimental Biological Chemistry.
For the past several years, Burkhard has devoted her time to the Chester Children’s Chorus’s summer camp, planning the curriculum for the five-week Science for Kids program. In Burkhard’s workshops, students conducted lab experiments on playtime putty and explored the chemical reactions behind fireworks and glow sticks — all with a goal of fostering a love of science among middle schoolers. Last summer, Burkhard was also involved with the Swarthmore Summer Scholars Program, helping to design a virtual session for the scholars that focused on the chemistry of drinking water.
“I will miss my time in the laboratory with the students and my colleagues,” Burkhard says. “I thoroughly enjoyed helping the students with the concepts and skill sets that they would need to be successful on their scientific journey. I will also miss seeing the excitement of the Science for Kids participants.”
Professor of Sociology Joy Charlton has had a career unlike most other faculty members at Swarthmore, marked as much by her administrative service as by her academic achievements. A qualitative researcher focused on gender, religion, and organizations, among other subjects, Charlton arrived at Swarthmore in 1981 while completing her Ph.D. from Northwestern University. She quickly became known on campus, working with other faculty members to found the Women’s Studies Program; for her contributions to the program, Charlton received the Elizabeth Bond Award in 1986.
After serving as chair of Sociology & Anthropology from 1992 to 1997, Charlton stepped into the role of associate dean for academic affairs, a position she held for a decade. In 2007, she was named executive director of the Lang Center for Civic and Social Responsibility, which also provided her with a role on the Board of Managers’ Social Responsibility Committee. These appointments gave her a broader understanding and appreciation of Swarthmore’s inner workings and the talents of her colleagues and students, while also enabling her to influence and promote positive changes through program initiatives, constructive hires, and engagement with the wider community. Throughout her 23 years of administrative service, Charlton continued to teach at least one course a year and maintain involvement in professional organizations, including a term as president, from 2012 to 2014, of the Religious Research Association. When she resumed full-time teaching in 2016, she did so in the President's Sustainability Research Program, allowing her to stay connected to social issues and community engagement.
Charlton looks forward to taking a break in retirement before resuming work on the causes that characterized her tenure. “Swarthmore College is a place where educators can match their values with their work and be supported by the College as an institution,” she says. “That is, if not unique, then unusual, and I have benefited from that environment. It has in part made my career, but it has also made my work at Swarthmore so satisfying.”
Arthur McGarity, the Henry C. and J. Archer Turner Professor of Engineering, joined Swarthmore’s faculty in 1978 after completing his Ph.D. at Johns Hopkins University. An environmental engineer, McGarity was instrumental to the formation of the College’s Environmental Studies Program in 1991, with most of his courses cross-listed between the two disciplines. McGarity was drawn to the College by engineering professor Fred Orthlieb, with whom he had worked during a summer internship at the National Science Foundation. At Swarthmore, the two teamed up to design and build two solar energy labs, for a course McGarity developed with assistance from a small grant in 1979. He built on this experience to design a third solar energy lab on the roof of the newly completed Singer Hall. McGarity also taught Environmental Systems for many years, examining issues related to water and air quality, urban planning, and public health. For the past two decades, he has engaged students in research and projects on improving water quality in the Crum Creek Watershed.
Beyond the classroom, McGarity helped establish the College’s Central Europe study-abroad program, based on his two Fulbright experiences in Krakow, Poland, and the personal relationships that he, wife Jane, and his four children developed with Polish colleagues and their families. McGarity also put his scholarship into practice through a five-year stormwater-management study sponsored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The GreenPhilly project, for which McGarity served as principal investigator, examined the use of green infrastructure to solve stormwater runoff-related problems across the city. In retirement, McGarity plans to continue this type of professional involvement, with an appointment as a senior research scholar at the College.
Reflecting on his Swarthmore career, McGarity is proud of the legacy he leaves behind, especially as it relates to Environmental Studies. “It’s been very gratifying to see this program grow while retaining a strong interdisciplinary character,” he says. “Environmental problems are really, truly interdisciplinary. You need to bring people together from different disciplines and approach problems using the tools and perspectives that those disciplines bring. Otherwise, you can miss things that are very important.”
Centennial Professor of Sociology Braulio Muñoz is a scholar of contemporary social thought and culture. A native of Peru, Muñoz received his B.A. from the University of Rhode Island and his Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania before arriving at Swarthmore in 1978. In his 43 years at Swarthmore, Muñoz has taught a wide range of sociological and interdisciplinary courses, such as Art and Society, Modern Social Theory, Critical Social Theory, and Spanish America Through Its Novel. He is the author of multiple books, including Tensions in Social Theory and The Storyteller: Mario Vargas Llosa Between Civilization and Barbarism.
In addition to his scholarly achievements, Muñoz is also an award-winning writer of fiction and poetry. His first novel, 2004’s Alejandro and the Fishermen of Tancay, has been printed in Spanish, Italian, and English, and received the top prize in historical fiction at 2009’s International Latino Book Awards. His subsequent books of poetry and prose have also been published in multiple languages. In his retirement from Swarthmore, Muñoz plans to continue this second career, with three forthcoming projects: a book of short stories and a book of poems, both to be published in Spanish; and a newly finished novel written in English, The Always Already.
“Art helps us overcome our preconceived ways of seeing, hearing, tasting, and touching — even of understanding our place in the cosmos,” Muñoz said in a 2016 Bulletin article. “In an increasingly disenchanted world, art nurtures the sacred found in all cultures.”
Marjorie Murphy, the James C. Hormel Professor in Social Justice, came to Swarthmore in 1983 after briefly teaching at Loyola College and Bryn Mawr College. A scholar of U.S. history, Murphy received her Ph.D. from the University of California, Davis, and taught courses focused on working-class history, women and gender, and foreign affairs. Murphy is also an authority on the history of the teachers union and educational reform, and the author of the acclaimed 1991 book Blackboard Unions: The AFT and the NEA, 1900–1980.
For many years, Murphy led the beloved honors seminar Labor and Urban History, which drew from Murphy’s passion for social history and labor while encouraging students to engage in community-based learning. Murphy was also instrumental in the founding of Swarthmore’s War News Radio in 2005. The project, which started as a way for students to shed light on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, features 30-minute news shows highlighting the human impact of war and politics. More than a mere adviser, Murphy created a semester-long course devoted to the radio show, allowing students to earn credit for their participation.
“The guidebooks all said that professors at Swarthmore often became friends,” Anne Kolker ’08, a member of the first War News Radio staff, said in a tribute to Murphy produced by former students. “When it comes to Marj, however, friend is at best an imprecise term to describe the relationship she has with so many of her students, including me. Thank you, Marj, for being the matriarch of the War News Radio family.”
War News Radio's Tribute to Marjorie Murphy
Carol Nackenoff, the Richter Professor of Political Science, has been a member of Swarthmore’s faculty since 1992, teaching courses on constitutional law, environmental politics and policy, American elections, and gender and politics. In her 29 years at the College, Nackenoff has served in a number of leadership roles, including chair of Political Science, Environmental Studies, and the Social Sciences Division, and representative of interdisciplinary studies programs to division chairs. She has also exemplified the liberal arts model of teaching, through such courses as Water Issues and Water Policies. Developed as part of the Luce Initiative on Asian Studies and the Environment, the course was co-taught with a Chinese Section faculty member and included a trip to Asia for students to explore in more depth the issues they had studied.
With a master’s and Ph.D. from the University of Chicago, Nackenoff started her career as a political theorist before gravitating to historical and archival research in American political culture and political development. Her more recent scholarship has centered on birthright citizenship, culminating in the co-authored book American by Birth: Wong Kim Ark and the Battle for Citizenship, due out in June. Nackenoff plans to begin retirement by wrapping up her latest project, a book exploring how female activists of the late 19th and early 20th century helped reshape the work and scope of the American state. She also hopes to take a photography class, master Italian, do some more classical singing, and perhaps teach a class through Lifelong Learning at Swarthmore.
“Swarthmore is almost unimaginably wonderful, and we are all fortunate to be a part of this community of learning, exploration, and growth,” Nackenoff says. “I am in awe of the amazing students; of the creativity, dedication, hard work, teaching commitment, and scholarship of the faculty; and I have tremendous respect for the leadership of the College. Swarthmore College inspired me to do my best and invest 100%. Swarthmore changed my life, and I hope I have been able to have an impact on other lives while I have been here.”
Micheline Rice-Maximin, an associate professor of French and Francophone studies and co-coordinator of the Black Studies Program, joined Swarthmore’s faculty in 1991 after having taught at Trinity University and Brown University. A native of Guadeloupe, an overseas department of France, Rice-Maximin graduated from the Sorbonne in Paris, with a concentration in British and North American studies and African American literature. She completed her Ph.D. in French from the University of Texas at Austin in 1986. As a member of the French & Francophone Studies Section of Modern Languages and Literatures, Rice-Maximin taught a wide variety of courses at Swarthmore, covering French literature and language; Caribbean, Haitian, and West African studies; Creole; and comparative literature, among other topics. She also regularly served on a number of College committees, including the Black Studies Committee, receiving the Kathryn L. Morgan Award in 2016 for her contributions to Swarthmore’s Black community.
Rice-Maximin always took an immersive approach to her courses. In her literature and cultural courses especially, students were encouraged to bring their own ideas and analyses to the table, rather than relying solely on the views of published scholars. Among her fondest memories were honors seminars taught from her home on campus and her involvement until 2011 with the study-abroad program in Grenoble, France, where she watched firsthand as students fully embraced a new culture. Rice-Maximin also enjoyed introducing her students to professional organizations such as the African Studies Association, the African Literature Association, and the Caribbean Studies Association, where they were often among the only undergraduates present at conferences. She plans to continue her association with these groups in retirement, while also spending time on translation work, continuing her connections with Francophone writers and scholars, traveling, and reading as she moves to Paris.
“I’ve had fun teaching here — the students are captivating and they’re curious, and I learn with them, too,” Rice-Maximin says. “The relationship with students and professors here is so different from what it was while studying in France. It’s been a great experience, the American system, especially in a small liberal arts college like Swarthmore, and I should add that I’ll miss the Arboretum.”
Centennial Professor of Psychology Allen Schneider has been a legend at Swarthmore since 1972, when he joined the faculty as a full professor after nine years at New York University. With a Ph.D. from Indiana University, Bloomington, Schneider has led courses in psychology and neuroscience, with special interest in the physiological basis of learning and memory, drug tolerance, and recovery from brain damage. His lectures, fondly referred to as “The Allen Schneider Show,” have been described by students and colleagues as transformative experiences, full of passion and excitement as Schneider presented the big picture of psychology and behavioral neuroscience.
Over his six-decade academic career, Schneider co-wrote a textbook in behavioral neuroscience and collaborated with current or former students on over 100 research projects, including chapters, poster presentations, and more than 40 journal articles. His discoveries included evidence of a neurochemical protective mechanism that regulates memory storage and retrieval, with deficits being linked to symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. In 2020, former students Glenn ’77 and Ann Dannenberg Rosen ’77 established the Allen and Naomi Schneider Summer Research Fund, named for Schneider and his wife. The fund, which supports off‐campus life science research with a preference for psychology or neuroscience, aims to provide enriching learning experiences for first-generation college students. Schneider has received a number of other memorable recognitions, among them an ode to him published in the New Yorker and an M.D./Ph.D. thesis dedicated in his honor. However, he says his greatest rewards have come directly from the students — from witnessing their intellectual enthusiasm and accomplishments, and their compassion for others as unique human beings.
Though he’s officially retiring, Schneider will remain on the faculty next school year in a part-time capacity to ease the transition for the Psychology Department — and for himself. “Sadly, it’s time: a dream come true, a calling heard, 150 theses, 1,500 seminars, 3,000 lectures, 10,000 students, 60 years of bliss,” Schneider says. “I can’t imagine a ‘life of the mind’ better lived. Thank you, Swarthmore, for giving me the privilege and pleasure.”
Professor of Engineering Faruq Siddiqui arrived at Swarthmore in 1982 from the University of Pittsburgh, where he had spent a year as a lecturer after completing his Ph.D. The son of a civil engineer, Siddiqui followed his father into the field, receiving his bachelor’s from the Bangladesh University of Engineering & Technology, Dhaka, before moving to Pittsburgh for graduate school. With a background in structural dynamics and earthquake engineering, steel and reinforced concrete structures, and computer-aided instruction and design, Siddiqui led classes focused on mechanics and structural theory. He served as chair of Swarthmore’s Engineering Department from 1998 to 2003.
For 37 years, Siddiqui taught the first-year engineering course ENGR 06: Mechanics, leading to a nickname of “Mr. E6.” The course had a reputation for being one of the most difficult at Swarthmore, with the material growing progressively more challenging each class. (An 8:30 a.m. start time probably didn’t help.) However, the basics covered in Mechanics set students up for success, Siddiqui says, as they learned how to learn in the course. In 1999, Siddiqui proudly watched as his team placed third nationally in the American Concrete Institute’s annual Beam Competition, the only undergrads competing against graduate schools and international teams. Another memorable career note came in 2002, and marked a far more somber occasion: On the request of President Al Bloom, Siddiqui delivered a poignant address on campus to honor the first anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.
In retirement, Siddiqui hopes to continue writing a textbook while also pursuing his favorite hobby, photography. In whatever he does, he’ll move forward with a teaching philosophy he’s carried with him throughout his career: “When you take up a complex problem, you break it up into smaller pieces,” he says. “Then you analyze the smaller pieces and make sure that everything is compatible with each other to finally get your solution. You can apply that methodology to any problem that you deal with, whether it's a sociological problem or an environmental problem. You’ll always be faced with new challenges, so you must be able to learn the fundamentals. Learn the fundamentals well, and it will serve you for life.”