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Leadership Transition in Student Affairs

Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff Members, 

I am writing to share with you the news that Vice President for Student Affairs Jim Terhune is leaving the College to return to his work as a strategic consultant focusing on educational institutions. He will conclude his time at Swarthmore at the end of the calendar year.

Jim came to the College on an interim appointment in 2018 during a leadership transition in Student Affairs. He quickly proved to be a strategic, thoughtful, and compassionate member of our community. After a national search failed to produce a suitable candidate, he graciously accepted my offer to remain at Swarthmore as vice president for student affairs. Throughout his time here, Jim has made extraordinary contributions to the College and has been a constant advocate for strengthening the student experience. 

Shortly after Jim arrived, he restructured the student dean program with a focus on expanding student access to deans and improving the continuity of student advising. In 2019, Jim worked with Provost and Dean of the Faculty Sarah Willie-LeBreton to establish the Garnet Collaborative, an initiative that invites students, faculty, and staff members to build upon and expand meaningful relationships across our campus. He also created the Student Life Committee, a representative group of campus community members that serves as a venue for communication among students, faculty, and the administration and a vehicle for discussion of key issues affecting campus life and the student experience. Jim is working to strengthen and expand the impact of the Career Services Office, which is in the midst of its own strategic planning process that will include student, faculty, and staff participation. And Jim has prioritized the health and well-being of students throughout his tenure here, including by expanding the capacity and resources within both the Worth Health Center and Counseling and Psychological Services. 

In addition, Jim’s steady, insightful leadership was critical in helping the College navigate COVID-19 and mitigate the impact of the pandemic on the campus community. From the early days of the pandemic, he worked to ensure we did all that we could to continue offering students a rich and engaging co-curricular experience while prioritizing the health and safety of the community.

Jim and his wife, Marnie, live in New Hampshire, and he has been on campus nearly every week this past academic year. He will spend more time working remotely this fall. I appreciate his extraordinary commitment to the College, and while I’m sad to lose him as a colleague, I’m happy that he and Marnie will be able to spend more time together. 

I will convene a search committee comprising students, faculty, staff members, and representatives from the Board of Managers this summer. While it’s possible that we will have identified Jim’s successor prior to his last day on Dec. 31, should circumstances warrant an interim appointment, Dean of Students and Professor of Art History Tomoko Sakomura has agreed to serve in that role, and Senior Associate Dean of Student Life Nathan Miller has agreed to serve as interim dean of students. My thanks to Tomoko and Nate for their willingness to take on those additional responsibilities.

Fortunately, there is time to celebrate Jim and all of his accomplishments before he leaves later this year. Until then, please join me in thanking him for his many contributions to the College and wishing him all the best in his future endeavors. 


Val Smith