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Update on Vice President and Dean of Students Search

April 15, 2019

Dear Friends,

I am delighted to share the news that Jim Terhune has accepted my offer to serve as vice president and dean of students through the 2020-21 academic year. During that year, we will resume a national search for the next vice president and dean.

As you know, last fall we embarked on a national search for a vice president and dean of students. Our exhaustive search and broadly consultative process—including feedback from the community members who met with the finalists—failed to yield a leader suitable for this critical position.

Pausing the search allows for a different candidate pool to emerge and enables us to continue to benefit from Jim’s wisdom and steady leadership. This year, Jim has served with distinction as interim dean of students. Although he made it clear when he arrived that he was not a candidate for the permanent position, Jim has demonstrated through words and deeds his commitment to student success and his effectiveness in leading the Dean’s Division.

As I mentioned when he joined our community in July, Jim has more than 30 years of experience in student affairs, including at Colgate University and Colby College. He has also provided counsel and strategic management assistance to a number of education clients as founder and principal of his own consulting firm.

In his brief time at Swarthmore, Jim has changed the class dean structure to improve access and consistency for students, increased avenues of communication with student government, served admirably on president’s staff, and partnered with Title IX Office to continue to evolve the process for addressing complaints. I look forward to working with him as we continue to support the intellectual and social development of all students and better align the work of the Dean’s Division with the academic goals of the College; refine the division’s organizational structure and resources to best serve students; partner with the Title IX Office to more fully develop and expand sexual violence prevention and education programming; and develop meaningful student participation in determining how we engage with each other on important issues.

Jim earned an A.B. in English from Middlebury College and an Ed.M. in administration, planning, and social policy from Harvard University. He was vice president for student affairs and dean of students, and vice president for strategic initiatives at Colby College from 2006–2017. Prior to Colby, he served in a number of leadership roles including dean of student affairs at Colgate University and assistant to the dean of the college at Middlebury.

As vice president and dean of students at Swarthmore, Jim will continue to oversee all aspects of the Dean of Students Division, including academic affairs and advising, diversity, inclusion, and community development, student conduct, first-generation-to-college-initiatives, and the Office of Student Engagement. He will also direct the efforts of the Registrar’s Office, International Student Services, Health and Wellness Services, Counseling and Psychological Services, Career Services, the Black Cultural Center, the Intercultural Center, and the Interfaith Center.

I wish to thank Provost Sarah Willie-LeBreton for chairing the search committee and the following individuals for their service: Isabelle Andrews ’20, Vice President for Finance and Administration and Treasurer Greg Brown, Katherine Capossela ’21, Climate Action Senior Fellow Nathan Graf ’16, Director of Public Safety Mike Hill, Director of Grounds Jeff Jabco, Liam Maniscalco ’22, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs Tomoko Sakomura, and Associate Professor of English Literature Eric Song. I am also grateful to all of the students, staff, and faculty members who contributed to their efforts.


Val Smith