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Watch: President Valerie Smith


Good afternoon, everyone! I know how busy the spring semester can be, so I’m grateful that all of you took the time to join in this celebration. Let me first express my gratitude to Tom Spock '78 for his gracious introduction. Tom, your commitment to Swarthmore and your energetic leadership as Chair of the Board of Managers has helped the College maintain its position as a leader in higher education. I’d also like to thank Gil Kemp '72, who is in the audience today. Gil, I am deeply grateful for your service as Chair of the Campaign Executive Committee. This celebration speaks volumes about your hard work and vision for this campaign and for the College. Thank you, as well, to the remarkable students featured in our campaign video. We’ll all have a chance to hear their powerful stories at the end of the program.

This celebration marks the launch of the public phase of the most ambitious campaign in the history of the College, with the goal of raising $450 million to advance our core mission. Through this event and throughout the campaign, we’re celebrating the transformative power of a Swarthmore education through the joy of philanthropy.

We are here to celebrate the limitless potential that emerges when you bring Swatties together. We’re here to celebrate the spirit of discovery, service, and resilience when minds meet in the living laboratory of our campus. We’re here to celebrate the love of learning that extends from classrooms to performance halls to athletic fields. Ours is the type of education that changes lives, and we must do everything in our power to sustain and enhance it, while ensuring that a Swarthmore education is accessible to all qualified students, irrespective of their financial background.

As faculty, staff, students, and community members, you may be wondering what your role is in this campaign. I want to assure you that there are many ways to contribute, whether by extending your welcoming presence to our alumni, sharing your stories, encouraging other donors, or giving a gift yourself. Every contribution, no matter how big or small, plays a crucial role in advancing our mission, because each gift reminds us that we are part of a multi-generational community. With that experience comes privileges: a life-long intellectual curiosity; cherished relationships and friendships; access to alumni; a campus that will always feel like home.

Membership in this community also comes with responsibility. Every student who comes to Swarthmore, even those who pay full freight, benefits from financial aid because the cost of a Swarthmore education exceeds the amount of tuition charged.  Evidence of philanthropy is all around us—from the scholarship a student receives, to the funding needed to launch a new initiative or program, or to build or renovate a building, or to endow a faculty position. We all share responsibility for paying this extraordinary resource forward to benefit future generations.

In recent months, there’s a phrase I’m sure we’ve all heard over and over again: “Now more than ever.” At Swarthmore and in the context of this campaign, that phrase has taken on special meaning. Now more than ever, we must dedicate ourselves to connecting the liberal arts – by bridging disciplines and connecting the classroom to the world. We will strengthen our position as a leading liberal arts college by endowing new professorships, underwriting faculty research, and creating opportunities for learning beyond the classroom.

Now more than ever, we must dedicate ourselves to building an inclusive community – by fostering an environment in which all students can flourish and engage with ideas and experiences that differ from their own. We will invest first and foremost in a $100 million commitment to financial aid. Additionally, we will expand student support services and build the capacity of the Dean’s Discretionary Fund, which helps low-income students meet unanticipated expenses such as out of pocket medical expenses, travel for family emergencies or interviews, and costs associated with unpaid internships.

Now more than ever, we must dedicate ourselves to enhancing our social impact. We will strengthen our support for the myriad ways in which our students and faculty make a difference in the world, including sustainability research and advocacy, social responsibility and innovation, entrepreneurship, and civic engagement. We will strengthen our connections to the communities around us through continued investment in the Chester Children’s Chorus and the Scott Arboretum.

Now more than ever, we must dedicate ourselves to creating vital campus spaces. We will enhance our academic mission and support healthy and productive co-curricular activities by investing in new structures such as the Biology-Engineering-Psychology building, and in renovated spaces such as the James Hormel-Michael Nguyen Intercultural Center in Sproul Observatory.

Connecting the liberal arts, building an inclusive community, enhancing our social impact, and creating vital spaces – this campaign will help us achieve each of these goals. Our speakers today will  tell us about the significance of these themes to their lives and work and explain how you can get involved in these efforts. Now more than ever, we will need the leadership and generosity of all community members – including alumni, families, faculty, staff, students, and friends of the College – to help us advance Swarthmore’s legacy of changing lives and changing the world.

Watch: President Valerie Smith

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