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Stories from Chicago

October 28th, 2009

Rebecca Chopp in ChicagoRainy weather didn't dampen the spirits of the alumni, parents, and friends who joined us for the most recent Listening Tour event in Chicago on Monday evening. Instead, a warm sense of community enveloped the room, inspiring all to share stories of what has made Swarthmore special to them.

Many shared their cherished memories of good times enjoyed while on campus. Whether describing the fashion choices of days gone by, their involvement in sports, founding Swarthmore Warders of Imaginative Literature, or recounting their first experiences with cultural events, it was clear that living in community and having fun together was a significant part of the Swarthmore experience for each of the alumni present. This sense of community was also, according to many parents, an important consideration in current students selecting Swarthmore. Students at the College are truly supportive of one another, and while that often means engaging in rich intellectual discussions, it also means showing up for soccer matches, theater events, and parlor parties to support their peers in a wide variety of extracurricular activities.

Rebecca Chopp and a guest after the Chicago eventOf course, underpinning all of the fun and social engagement lies a deep, enduring tradition of intellectual rigor at the College. I've encountered it in conversations with students enthusiastic about their honors seminar discussions and seen it in the faces of faculty members who light up when asked about the experience of teaching at this fine institution.

These traditions of intellectual engagement, support for others, and simply having fun resonate with people as they learn about Swarthmore, either as prospective students, or candidates for faculty or staff positions. I look forward to finding ways that we can share the essence of Swarthmore more actively with the world at large, and I'm grateful to the alumni, parents, and friends of the College who are helping me develop a vision for the College's future.

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One Response to “Stories from Chicago”

  1. John Wright says:

    I was happy to learn, in conversation with Pres. Chopp, that the College has done a presentation on Lucretia Mott. I got the impression that this was a one-woman show (along the lines of Hal Holbrook's "Mark Twain Tonight") and that it is a recurring event rather than a one-shot deal. I would like to suggest (perhaps on the Quaker principle of equal representation for men and women) that something of the sort be done with John Woolman as well, maybe in alternate years. I'm embarrassed to say that though a birthright Quaker and a Swarthmore grad I'd never heard of Woolman until around five years ago. To a certain extent I blame the College's excessive reticence about Quakerism in my day. Woolman's journal came as a revelation to me, and an exposure to his ideas would at the least have been very useful to me and my contemporaries.