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Developing a Mission Statement for Swarthmore College

Dear Friends,

I hope that the spring semester is off to a productive start for you.

As you may recall, when the Middle States Commission on Higher Education affirmed the College’s accreditation in June, it required us to address the evaluation team’s recommendation that the College codify a mission statement. As the team members observed, we as a community know what our mission is in spirit, but we need to capture it more effectively in writing.

Developing a clear and accessible mission statement demonstrates a common understanding of why we are here and what we hope to achieve. It clarifies our priorities, signals our aspirations, and guides our decision-making. Accordingly, we must consult broadly to benefit from the wisdom and many perspectives within our community to ensure that our statement is accurate, clear, and inspiring.

I am grateful that the following individuals have agreed to serve on the Mission Statement Committee:

  • Luis Alvarez, lead support services tech, Events Management

  • Rhonda Resnick Cohen ’76, member, Board of Managers

  • Bennett Lorber ’64, H’96, emeritus member, Board of Managers

  • Rose Ridder ’20, double major in engineering and computer science

  • Kathryn Riley ’10, assistant professor of bioanalytical chemistry

  • Ed Rowe, chief of staff and secretary of the College, co-clerk

  • Tomoko Sakomura, assistant vice president and dean of academic success; associate professor of art history

  • Robin Shores, assistant vice president for institutional effectiveness and assessment and assistant secretary of the College, co-clerk

  • Patricia White, Eugene Lang Research Professor and department chair, Film and Media Studies

The committee will begin its work this month and start consulting with various groups on campus in late February and March. It will review existing materials from prior working groups, including one that was part of the Middle States self-study process. 

Following a series of listening sessions with faculty, students, and staff, the committee will develop a draft, seek feedback on that draft from various constituencies, and continue to refine the statement throughout the spring semester. This will be a deeply collaborative and iterative process. We expect the committee to provide a final version for adoption in September 2020.

Please look for further communications from committee members. If you have questions or want to share feedback, feel free to email Chief of Staff Ed Rowe at


Valerie Smith