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Updates from the May 2021 Board of Managers Meeting

Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff Members, 

We are writing with a summary of the Board of Managers’ most recent meeting, which took place remotely last week. Before the official meeting, the Board’s Social Responsibility Committee, in conjunction with the President’s Fund for Racial Justice, hosted “An Evening with Eric Holder: Voting Rights, Leadership, and Social Justice.” The event featured an engaging conversation with the former U.S. attorney general, led by Professor of History Allison Dorsey, covering topics of racial justice and the current threat to voting rights in America. Students Tristan Alston ’22, Sonia Linares ’22, and Daniel Torres Balauro ’23 moderated the postdiscussion Q&A session. Our thanks to all those involved, particularly Special Assistant for Presidential Initiatives Pamela Shropshire and Assistant Vice President for Communications Alisa Giardinelli, both of whom dedicated a tremendous amount of time and energy to making this a successful event. 

Among the Board’s chief fiduciary responsibilities is approving the College’s budget. Given the continued disruption brought about by COVID-19, the Board approved an interim budget for the upcoming fiscal year. Final adjustments will be made in the fall, once we have a better sense of the state of the pandemic and enrollment figures. The more substantive budget updates include the following:

  • We are very pleased to share that, after studying the issue for some time, we will increase the College’s minimum wage to $15 per hour. All individuals making less than that will see their pay increased as of July 1. We will also make some additional adjustments to address issues of compression.
  • We’re also happy to share that, due to the College’s good stewardship of its financial resources and in acknowledgement of the efforts of the faculty and staff throughout this extraordinary time, as part of the Board’s approval of the budget, we’ve reinstated salary and wage increases for continuing faculty and staff members. Faculty and staff members can expect to hear more on this from Human Resources in June.
  • After eliminating the proposed increase in tuition last year due to the financial hardships caused by the pandemic, the Board approved a 2.95% increase to tuition, room, and board. It did so while reaffirming its commitment to meeting students’ full demonstrated financial need and continuing funding for the Textbook Affordability Program.

We’d like to thank the members of the Financial Study Group, which comprises managers as well as faculty and staff members, for the substantive discussions that informed the Board’s actions on these and other financial matters. 

During the meeting, the Board held two plenary sessions. The first was a discussion on planning for the fall semester, led by Provost and Dean of the Faculty Sarah Willie-LeBreton, Vice President and Dean of Admissions Jim Bock ’90, and Vice President for Student Affairs Jim Terhune. As discussed during the session, the College aims to provide all students with an in-person residential learning experience, while also prioritizing the health and safety of the campus community. 

Additionally, Sarah, along with Vice President for Finance and Administration Greg Brown and Associate Vice President for Sustainable Facilities Operation and Capital Planning Andy Feick, led a discussion about plans to renovate Martin Hall as a new interdisciplinary home for Computer Science and Film & Media Studies. Planning remains in the early stages and will continue into the next academic year. 

We also spent time discussing the College’s upcoming strategic planning initiative, which will begin in earnest in the fall. More detailed information will be shared about that exciting work in the months ahead. 

The Board recognized four managers who have concluded their service on the Board: David McElhinny ’75, Robin Shapiro ’78, David Singleton ’68, and Joseph Turner ’73. The Swarthmore community owes them all a great debt of gratitude for their extraordinary commitment to and stewardship of the College. The Board also approved five new managers, who will be announced later this year.

And as it does each May, the Board had the pleasure of approving the conferral of degrees for members of the Class of 2021, pending final approval by the faculty. As this most unusual and challenging academic year comes to a close, we look forward to celebrating the graduating class at the in-person celebration on May 30 and during the formal Commencement ceremony, which will be broadcast on the College’s various digital channels, on June 6.


Valerie Smith, President

Salem Shuchman ’84, Chair, Board of Managers