Karen Henry ’87
Dean of First Year Students
Karen Henry '87 serves as the dean of first year students. She holds a B.A. from Swarthmore College, an M.S.S. from Bryn Mawr College Graduate School of Social Work, and a Ph.D. from Temple University.
Of her time at Swarthmore, Henry says, "When I came to Swarthmore, I felt like I didn't fit. I struggled here, mainly because my Philadelphia high school hadn't prepared me for the challenge. What saved me was the mentoring I got from faculty and staff. All of them helped me not just to survive but to thrive at Swarthmore.
"When I returned to work in the Student Affairs Division, I determined to make sure to provide this same kind of mentoring and support. A lot of students come into my office and describe what a different experience Swarthmore is for them. I share with them my experience and assure them they will survive. I encourage them to use faculty office hours and to speak up in discussion-based classes—two things first-gen students struggle with. I tell them that this is their chance to take advantage of the great resources Swarthmore has to offer—summer research funding, internships, career services, and programs such as the Richard Rubin Scholar Mentoring Program. This helps first-gen students navigate not only Swarthmore, but life after."