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Letter to the Community

Dear Friends,

A week has passed since the presidential inauguration, and I continue to feel uplifted and inspired by the loving, communal energy of that special celebration. I am tremendously grateful to the many people who organized and staffed the events and contributed in myriad ways to making the weekend such an exhilarating and joyous occasion. Their tireless efforts and gracious hospitality allowed over 1,200 guests and participants to feel welcome and at home on our campus. (Indeed, the audience stretched well beyond Delaware County: on Sat., Oct. 3, people in seven countries and 26 states watched the inauguration ceremony through our livestream.)

One of the most profound joys of last weekend was having my dear friends and family meet my new Swarthmore family. As I watched the various communities meet and get to know each other, I was reminded of the remarkable outpouring of support I have received since my appointment was announced back in February. I thank you all for sharing in this occasion that was so meaningful both for me personally, and for the College.

To build on the inaugural theme, “Changing Lives, Changing the World,” later this fall and through the winter and spring, I will visit 10 cities to meet with Swarthmore alumni, parents, and friends. (Please follow this link for more information about the tour). I very much look forward to these occasions where I will be able to share my vision for the College and to hear your hopes for Swarthmore. Most of all, I want to hear your Swarthmore stories. I want to hear about the impact Swarthmore had on you – what it taught you about your area of academic interest; what lessons you learned beyond the classroom; how it prepared you for your life after college; and what it taught you about yourself and your place in the world. 

The year is off to an exciting start.  As I begin traveling this fall, I look forward to meeting as many of you as possible.  Please plan to join me.


Valerie Smith