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Rebecca S. Chopp


Rebecca S. Chopp, fourteenth president, served between 2009 and 2014

Rebecca Chopp (b. 1952) served as the 14th president of Swarthmore College and as a professor in the Religion Department. As president, she focused on, and worked ceaselessly to promote, the “signatures” of the College—academic rigor and creativity, and intentional, residential community—in order to affirm and amplify the College’s tradition as a progressive leader in liberal arts education in the nation and the world. She also passionately upheld the College’s longstanding commitment to admitting the most highly qualified students without regard for their financial circumstances.

In addition to weathering the global recession of 2009 without reducing faculty, staff, or financial aid, Chopp also oversaw and served as the primary author of Strategic Directions, which establishes academic vigor, the creation of an intentional campus culture, access and opportunity, and alumni engagement as the four cornerstones of Swarthmore’s future. She was instrumental in establishing the Frank Aydelotte Foundation for the Advancement of the Liberal Arts to support innovation among the faculty and to promote Swarthmore nationally and internationally. Chopp also oversaw the development of Swarthmore’s first campus master plan and the transformation of practices in several administrative areas. She worked tirelessly to connect with alumni across the nation and world.

Chopp is a well-known scholar of progressive religious movements in American culture and has also focused her research on changing structures and cultures of higher education and the role of liberal arts in a democratic society. She is the author or editor of six books, including Remaking College: Innovation and the Liberal Arts (2013). Chopp received a B.A. from Kansas Wesleyan University, an M.Div. from St. Paul School of Theology, and a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago. Prior to joining Swarthmore, she served as president at Colgate University and provost and executive vice president for academic affairs at Emory University. She retired as the first female chancellor in the University of Denver's history in 2019.

* From July 2014 to June 2015, Constance Cain Hungerford served as interim president