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Letter to the Editor: participate in the capital campaign

in Letter to the Editor/Opinions by

This past week, Swarthmore College publicly launched the “Changing Lives, Changing the World,” an ambitious $450 million comprehensive capital campaign. This campaign purports to preserve, and promote, the college’s commitment to curricular diversity, social impact and, of course, inclusive community. A recent Philadelphia Business Journal outlines just how the large sum of money that the campaign aims to raise will be delegated to benefit Swatties. Among the results that the campaign is expected to have are an interdisciplinary academic building, increased financial aid support for incoming students, more resources in support of Swarthmore’s commitment to social impact and infrastructure renovation.  Yet, it would be a mistake to solely emphasize the monetary value of this campaign. For all intents and purposes, this campaign provides a meaningful opportunity for Swarthmore community members—current staff and students, alumni, and friends—to have a stake in the overall improvement of Swarthmore College. Surely financial contributions have to be made in support of this campaign, yet those contributing, especially young alumni, should see this campaign as an opportunity to contribute to a better, more enriching and more inclusive Swarthmore experiences for future Swatties.

While a student at Swarthmore, I benefitted from a full college experience. Both on and off campus, I participated in cultural groups, I was placed in meaningful summer internships and I participated in various extracurricular activities that enriched the education I received in the classroom. Yet, I recognize that what I now call my Swarthmore experience would not have been possible if it wasn’t for the generosity of members of the Swarthmore community—like the Kohlberg family, and others—that came before me. In that spirit, I think it is important that alumni, particularly recent alumni, support the “Changing Lives, Changing the World” campaign.

Recent alumni share a unique perspective of Swarthmore College. After all, we have graduated from Swarthmore and can acknowledge that our lives no longer revolve around an arboretum. Yet, we still share a kind of familiarity with Swarthmore which enables us to not fully feel disconnected from current students. Just as importantly, many of us can recall having concerns, holding conversations and participating in amphitheater convocations during which we wanted to build a more inclusive and nuanced community at Swarthmore. Many of us may even recall the frustration we felt towards “the administration,” whom we felt, at times, was not responding to our concerns, or worse, was part of what we perceived to be the problem. I think Swarthmore heard us, and through this campaign, we have an opportunity to help create the Swarthmore we wish we had when we were students.

For some, this campaign may elicit some concern. For instance, asking recent alumni to contribute financially may be regarded as an undue burden to recent graduates who are still transitioning into adult life. That transition, understandably, can be especially difficult for recent graduates with student loans to pay off, as well as other financial obligations. That said, recent alumni still have an obligation to future generations of Swatties. In one way or another, someone had our backs while at Swarthmore, and we have to pay it forward.

I am not assuming that this campaign is an all-encompassing solution to all the concerns that all Swarthmore students may have. I do believe, however, this campaign presents an opportunity for alumni to channel the energy, love, and frustration that we had, and many of us still have, towards Swarthmore to make sure future Swatties have everything they may need to reach their full potential during their time at Swarthmore. During the announcement of the campaign’s public launch, Political Science Professor and Executive Director of The Lang Center for Civic and Social Responsibility, Ben Berger, framed the campaign in a way that I think is relevant to all Swarthmore community members, including alumni. “The product [of the campaign] is us,” Professor Berger said while speaking to a crowd of students, faculty and alumni. Further, the goal of the campaign, Professor Berger mentioned, is “everyone here.” He was right. There really is one beneficiary of this campaign—Swarthmore College. And we are all—students, alumni, faculty, parents, etc.—a part of Swarthmore College. Thus, we have a responsibility to contribute to its improvement so that future generations of Swatties may benefit from our involvement, and they can then pay it forward themselves.

Divestment necessary as a model of sustainability

in Letter to the Editor/Opinions by

We are writing in response to the article that appeared in the Phoenix on December 1st, 2016 entitled “Sustainability Office’s Work Continues, Consultants to be hired; Future of the Carbon Tax Unclear.”
We are both Swarthmore class of 1965. We are concerned about the global future, and the college that we love and we desperately need to make it more sustainable. We have asked—no, pleaded with—the Board of Managers to divest from fossil fuels and we have put our money where our mouths are by making significant contributions to the President’s Climate Commitment Fund. We are happy that the PCCF helped send a Swarthmore delegation to Marrakech for the important Conference of the Parties 22 meeting this past November.

We were around Swarthmore in early October and happy to visit our alma mater. We were delighted to find the campus as beautiful as we had remembered it. On a somewhat chilly morning we explored the Sproul Observatory building looking for the office of the College Bulletin, which is the magazine through which the College stays in touch with alumni. We found the office, but were dismayed to also find an air conditioner cooling an area next to the Bulletin’s office. The problem was not necessarily the air conditioner, but the fact that the school was running the air conditioner on an already cold day.
From this experience and the way that the college is currently handling the conflict with divestment, there is much to be gained by the work of the Sustainability Office and the work of the President’s Office as a whole. The effect on people, especially students, is even greater than the effect that it has had by making the campus greener.

We are proud that Swarthmore will be educating a group of leaders in sustainability! However, we also need to ensure that Swarthmore is taking all the steps it can to set an example for leaders in sustainability, starting with divestment.

Gail (Sise) Grossman and Richard Grossman, Swarthmore ‘65

Letter to the Editor: Help us reclaim our country

in Letter to the Editor/Opinions by

Dear class of 2017:

When my Class of 1967 was getting ready to graduate, we paid no attention to the class of 1917, which was then celebrating its 50th reunion. To the extent we thought about them at all, they were just old farts. But if we had asked, they could have told us about Woodrow Wilson’s presidency, progressive in every way but race, the horrors of World War I, or the post-war Red Scare, courtesy of our own A. Mitchell Palmer (class of 1891).

You probably think we’re old farts too, although, perhaps, you imagine the ‘60s as a rush of revolution fueled by sex, drugs, and rock & roll. In fact, we’re not very different than you. We came to Swarthmore in September 1963, shortly after the March on Washington at the end of August, which some of us attended. The campus buzzed with civil rights our first year. Scores of students went to jail in Chester in the first northern demonstrations. Later, there was a debate between two seniors – Carl Wittman (dead these many years) and Jed Rakoff (now a Federal judge in New York) – over the proper role, if any, of violence in the movement.

Schools outdid one another in sponsoring civil rights conferences. In one, at Connecticut College in New London, senior Mike Meeropol showed up with his guitar, belting out songs. I didn’t know anything about him at the time but remember his saying, “I’m from Swarthmore, and I’m proud of it.” 

Back then, we had Collection every Thursday in Clothier, and students were required to attend. A speaker one Thursday was a South African official (perhaps the country’s UN representative). We loathed apartheid, but it didn’t even occur to us to demand that he be barred from speaking. Instead, we demonstrated outside Clothier, so he would be sure to see us when he was going in. One of the signs said, “Free Speech Yes/Apartheid No.”

Yes, things swirled. One Friday in November, though, everything stopped. On November 22, I was talking to upperclassman Jack Riggs in his room in Wharton when Mickey Herbert, a friend from high school, burst in and yelled “The President’s been shot!” My parents remembered where they were when they heard of the attack on Pearl Harbor, and your generation probably remembers where you were on 9/11. The assassination of JFK was our 9/11.

The war in Vietnam began under President Kennedy, and he may – or may not – have ended the war had he lived. Certainly Lyndon Johnson didn’t, and thousands of Americans and Vietnamese were dying. And unlike the wars you have known, many of our casualties had been drafted. So, men in college had a special reason to be skeptical, and men and women protested the war.

But we weren’t always marching. We listened – and danced— to  great music. The Beatles were on Ed Sullivan our first year, and “Satisfaction” hit the summer of ’65. Early on, Swarthmore had a folk festival, but it was supplanted by one featuring rock, and the Jefferson Airplane appeared at the rock festival on the group’s first East Coast tour. Finally, on the eve of our graduation, “Sergeant Pepper” came out.

There was no “Saturday Night Live” in our era. But the Smothers Brothers made their debut early in ’67, lampooning pomposity and resolutely anti-war. Blacklisted for 15 years, Pete Seeger came on to sing “Big Muddy” (“we were neck deep in the Big Muddy, and the big fool said to push on”). We knew who he was singing about.

Perhaps the class of 2017 has already been asked to decide on a class gift, maybe an oak to be planted or a bench to sit on. Our class gift was a protest. In our time, the college still had what was called the “sex rule,” a seldom enforced edict that forbade coupling by students on pain of expulsion. The rarity of its invocation did not make it any less troubling.

So we decided that our class gift would be the abolition of the sex rule. Of course, we lacked the power actually to abolish it, and then we left. But if you never heard of the sex rule, maybe you should thank the old farts in the class of ‘67.

I’m writing this in early March, just after President Trump’s first address to Congress. It’s too early to see how bad things will be – for example, whether the Republicans will fulfill their pledge to gut Obamacare, which brought healthcare to millions, or whether deportations will skyrocket. But it’s certainly not too early to fight to reclaim our country. We geezers are going to spend our retirement doing that, and we’d appreciate some help from you younger folks.


Doug Huron ‘67

Wendy Xu ’15 returns to Swarthmore with new moves

in Arts by

Swarthmore alumna Wendy Xu ’15 made a return to campus last Sunday, when she led a hip-hop choreography workshop in the Lang Performing Arts Center. The early afternoon workshop was sponsored by the college’s own Rhythm N Motion Dance Company. Xu, a four-year member of Rhythm N Motion, had previously led dance workshops at the college as a student. Rhythm N Motion sponsors independent dance workshops throughout the academic year, open to all students of the college.

About 20 students attended the workshop, which was held in the LPAC’s Troy Dance Lab. Students came from a range of different dance backgrounds — some with minimal experience, while others were members of Rhythm N Motion. During the workshop, Xu presented and taught a choreographed routine to Chris Brown and August Alsina’s “Been Around the World.” Additionally, Xu shared insight about her creative process and preferences as a choreographer.

“There’s no need to be self conscious here,” said Xu at the beginning, before demonstrating the first part of the routine.

Xu’s teaching style was characterized by her receptiveness and adaptability to dancers of all skill levels. Often, when presenting a move, she showed an advanced version followed by a more accessible version. When performing the choreography along with the dancers, she alternated between between versions. Xu also encouraged creativity and individuality in her trainee’s routines.

“I liked how she explained each way, and said how we could put our own personal thing into some parts of the routine,” stated workshop participant Pravadh Singh ’19.

Along with individuality, Xu also emphasized creativity and exploration as major parts of her choreographic process.

“I just freestyle to [the song], and over time, the more and more I freestyle to it, some moves just stick,” said Xu. She prefers choreographing to the lyrics of the song, rather than the count, as she stated near the beginning of the session. For her, the choice to choreograph to Alsina’s “Been Around the World” was an obvious one.

“I don’t really listen to the radio, I don’t know a lot of songs. But once in a while I just hear one, and then I can’t stop listening to it,” said Xu. She emphasized the smooth vocals and fast beats of Alsina’s 2015 release “This Thing Called Life” as factors that made it a simple choice to choreograph to.

“I thought the routine was pretty tough to pick up,” noted Singh. Xu agreed and said to the workshop at one point that the fast-paced choreography was not the easiest. She added that she was impressed at how well the dancers, who ranged widely in experience, handled it.

“It was pretty enjoyable once you practiced it,” added Singh. He went on to say that he would be  interested in attending future events of a similar nature.

“I’m really happy that RnM has let me come back to do a workshop once in a while,” said Xu. She noted the lack of opportunities to lead workshops outside of the college, saying that these workshops helped maintain her drive to continue choreographing.


Scorecard presents misleading financial data

in Campus Journal by

On September 12, the U.S. Department of Education released its new College Scorecard, a website that President Obama introduced as a way for students and families to compare how much alumni of different schools earn, their levels of debt, and how easily the average graduate can pay off their loans. Although the scorecard was introduced as more than a ranking system, comparing Swarthmore’s data to those of other schools seemed to be all that students at the college were interested in. The statistic that was the source of the most concern and discussion was the school’s standing on the “Salary After Attending” category, for which Swarthmore’s average was $49,400 — the lowest number in the tri-co, and a number much lower than that of Williams, Amherst, and every Ivy League school. While at first glance this may seem cause for alarm, the statistic is actually easily explained — and, in a way, contradicted — with a little further research.

A set of data from PayScale, a website devoted to research and data collection on human capital, and a compilation of salary information from the Wall Street Journal paint a much more encouraging picture of Swarthmore alumni earnings, with rankings much higher than implied by the College Scorecard information. Much of these seemingly contradictory data can be explained by simply examining how the U.S. Department of Education collected its information. While the category is titled simply “Salary after Attending,” the Scorecard explains that the data is gathered only 10 years after entering the college, which for most students is maximum of 6 years after graduation, a time when a large proportion of Swarthmore grads are still in graduate school, earning little to no income.

PayScale ranked Swarthmore as the liberal arts college with the ninth highest paid graduates, ranked behind a few private schools and several U.S. Military and Air Force schools. On a list of all 1,034 schools, Swarthmore was tied for 32nd with Cornell, a university that ranks much higher in the Department of Education’s scorecard in the “Salary after Attending” category. According to Payscale, Swarthmore grads are paid overall higher salaries than graduates from Yale, Brown, Columbia and Northwestern, schools that also were ranked higher on the scorecard for having higher-paid grads 10 years after entering college.

The Wall Street Journal’s data support those of the College Scorecard, noting that Swarthmore graduates have a starting median salary of $49,700—the 59th highest on the WSJ’s list. However, what the Journal’s data also show that the Scorecard’s do not is that, by mid-career, alumni have a median salary of $104,000, the 30th highest number on the list. (For reference, Dartmouth is first, with a mid-career median salary of $134,000. Half the schools on the list ranked above Swarthmore have median salaries below $110,000.) For the 75th percentile of mid-career salaries, Swarthmore ranked 10th, with 25 percent of graduates earning an annual salary of at least $167,000.

According to data on Swarthmore’s Career Services website, 75-90 percent of students plan on entering graduate school within five years of graduation, but only 18 percent plan on doing so directly after leaving Swarthmore. (According to the Williams College Record, their number of students who plan on matriculating within five years is 68 percent.) If a student is planning on pursuing a master’s degree, which accounts for 31 percent of students who enter graduate school directly after leaving the college, then they will be earning a fairly representative salary by the time the College Scorecard data is taken. However, this is not the case for most students.

The gap between the approximately 85 percent of students who plan on pursuing graduate school within 5 years and the 21 percent who plan on entering the year after they graduate implies that a large number of Swarthmore students enter graduate school more than one year after leaving Swarthmore. This is echoed in the difference between the 9.5 percent of students who enter Ph.D. programs directly after leaving Swarthmore and the 19.9 percent of Swarthmore students who eventually end up completing these programs — the third highest percentage in the nation — which last an average of over 8 years.

In fact, there is a large difference between the number of students who express interest, or who actually end up enrolling, in a certain graduate program or field, and how many matriculate the year after graduating. While 11 percent of Swarthmore alumni are employed in the field of law, only 2.5 percent enter law school directly after graduating. Although the 11 percent of Swarthmore alumni who work in healthcare is a smaller percentage than the 20-25 percent who express interest in enrolling in medical school, the amount is much higher than the 2 percent of students who enter medical school the year after they graduate.

Not only does some extra research begin to account for the relatively low “salary after attending”— students who enter grad school earn more money, but students who enter grad school years after graduating college earn more money later — but also helps to explain why only two thirds of Swarthmore students are making more than people working with only a high school diploma, another piece of data from the College Scorecard. Six years after graduating, many Swarthmore students are either not working for pay or are earning only stipends, are earning nominal salaries before they complete their graduate programs, or have only just started their graduate programs, which for students who are going beyond a Master’s can take anywhere from 3 years to longer than 10 to complete.

               Overall, the data seem to suggest that Swarthmore students take more time than students at many schools to start earning high salaries, but that they don’t ultimately earn less. It seems that this is in large part due to both Swarthmore students’ high likelihood to attend graduate school, and particularly to enter programs that take a long time to complete. However, this is largely speculative: there are other aspects that could explain these numbers that we do not have access to, and the information that is available leaves many questions unanswered. What we can be sure of, however, is that later in their careers, Swarthmore students’ salaries come out on top of those of alumni from many other schools where students earn high incomes right after graduation. While this apparent trend might not ease concerns of students who need higher incomes directly after graduation to begin to pay off loans or for other reasons, the College Scorecard also points out that of the 26 percent of Swarthmore undergraduates who take out federal loans, 96 percent of students are able to start paying down their debts within 3 years of leaving school. So although numbers from the College Scorecard might be cause for concern for some Swatties, at a second glance it certainly seems that financially, Swarthmore grads are doing just fine.

Delivering on the promise of a Swarthmore education

in Op-Eds/Opinions by

One of the greatest promises of a Swarthmore education is the chance to be a part of an exceptional community that extends well beyond the grounds of our campus. As many students have searched for opportunity in their lives after Swarthmore, this community has often proved an invaluable source of support. In 2014, two members of the Board of Managers, Rob Steelman ’92 and Ruth Shoemaker Wood ’01, initiated an effort to make this support system much more accessible to all Swarthmore students.

To help navigate the sometimes obscure path to post-undergraduate opportunities and careers, they launched the Career Collaborative — a formal program meant to match current students with relevant alumni mentors. After extensive discussion with the deans and other members of the Board, considering dozens of communities that alums already had strong connections to (including various Men’s and Women’s athletic teams and the BCC), the Greek Life organizations were selected to take part in a pilot version of the program.

The program has matched over 70 students with alumni mentors to date. While students’ requested professional or academic fields were given priority, the matching process was far more tailored, considering various other factors to ensure the best possible student-alum pairs. Steelman, with significant help from DU and Theta alums, Brandon Carver ’04, Chris Ciarleglio ’04, Melissa O’Connor ’14, and Ashley Gochoco ’14, spearheaded the matching process, devoting time to personally meet with students to understand their goals before connecting them with most appropriate alumni.

The program hopes to formalize and expand on the success that Career Services has had in the numerous networking events and Wall Street receptions it has organized in the past.  In less than a year, the pilot has connected Swarthmore students with leaders in a broad range of professional and academic fields, including educational services, political activism, banking, medicine, marketing, law, and consulting.

One of the reasons that I can speak so easily to the success and benefits of the Career Collaborative is that it has proved, very literally, life changing to me. Late last year, I was paired with Zack Ellison ’04, a Director at Sun Life Investment Management. After taking the time to understand and flesh out my career objectives, Ellison personally reached out to and put me in touch with contacts he had at almost every major bank.

Three months, numerous interviews, and a couple offers later, I was accepting the opportunity to intern at William Blair & Co., a leading international middle market investment bank. Fast-forward another 7 months, I found myself with a full-time offer to work with the Technology Investment Banking group that I had spent my summer with. Having had the opportunity to meet my mentor in person since then, I know that the program has not only afforded me an incredible opportunity for my first years after Swarthmore, but has also given me a lifelong mentor, who is genuinely invested in my success and ambitions.

My experience is only a small example of the power of the connections the Career Collaborative has helped build. Jessica Seigel ’16 had similar results: “My mentor, Martha, provided me insight on how to navigate the job and intern search in Washington, D.C.. She was able to give me advice on the various types of careers that I could explore in politics, as well as ways to tailor my resume for these opportunities. Every industry and every city has different practices for networking and job hunting, and it’s enormously helpful to have someone to guide you through these processes.”

Braeden DeWan ’16 also weighed in on his experience and the value of the program: “Mark Bode ’80, my mentor, is genuinely involved in my career process. He has been a very reliable source of information and has helped me make many contacts that have led to interviews and offers. Through the program, Rob Steelman has assisted me in obtaining a summer internship, and introduced me to a variety of Greek life alums. My experience showed me that many alumni really do want to help, but do not always know how or the best way to do so. [The Career Collaborative] offers a structured way to make a difference.”

Recognizing the unique success of this program, Lenny Nathan ’92 is initiating a similar program for the Men’s soccer team. With the guidance of Alex Unger, an Associate Director of Leadership Giving at Swarthmore, Clarus Capital Investments, a student-run investment club on campus, also began a similar effort for its members.  Both these initiatives represent an organic extension of the pilot program that will hopefully be folded into a broader version offered to all Swarthmore students in the near future.

Above all, the resounding success of the pilot’s first year is proof that we have an incredible alumni base that is eager to mentor and share their experience with current students. The Career Collaborative has proven itself a self-sustaining outlet for their energy and offers the chance to catalyze opportunity and, more importantly, build lifelong relationships within our community.

Sheila Magee ’81 nurtures community in campus gardens

in Campus Journal by

Swarthmore prides itself on the surpassing beauty of the pristine campus and lush grounds. Particularly for first years, being in an unfamiliar place with unknown people and new experiences feels more like home when you’re surrounded by an extensive, well-kept arboretum, where care exudes from friendly grounds staff and foliage.

Sheila Magee is a Swarthmore alumna who now works at the school as a gardener. Magee came back to volunteer at the Scott Arboretum in 2002, and two years later applied for a full time position as a gardener.

“I just kind of got hooked back into the school,” Magee said. Her re-involvement has not been limited to the campus grounds —  she has been drawn back too into the Swarthmore classroom, over 30 years after her graduation. She is currently auditing an environmental studies class called “Change Makers.”

 Before coming to work at Swarthmore, Magee spent time raising her two daughters and doing field work on bird censuses.

“There wasn’t really any of that kind of work I could do here so I just switched over to plants,” Magee explained.

Since taking a twenty year break from the school, Magee says the grounds have significantly improved from when she was a student. And with an expansion in student enrollment from 1400 students in the 80s to almost 1550 students this year, the campus has had to add a few more buildings to accommodate, creating more work for the grounds staff.

“When you go to a place this small, 150 students is enough to make a difference,” Magee said. “I think the experience here is very different from in the past, but the community aspects of the school have stayed pretty much the same.”

Magee has made an effort to become more involved in the Swarthmore community over the past few years. “I’ve served on committees so I feel like I’ve gotten to meet more people on campus and people in different roles.” Magee is also involved in the divestment campaign on campus. “I knew some student workers who were involved in the very beginning and took an interest,” Magee said.

 The grounds and arboretum staff also has positions open to students, allowing Magee and her colleagues to further become involved in the school, and interact more with Swatties. “Student staff are pretty much doing whatever we’re doing, shoulder to shoulder with us. I hope it’s a good experience for them,” Magee said.

Magee says she often recognizes students that pass her by while she’s working on the arboretum, but isn’t familiar with most. “It’s mostly the outdoorsy kids who we see out here and get to know; there’s always people at graduation who we’ve never seen before,” Magee said.

 Apart from serving on committees and working alongside student staff, Magee said there’s not a very easy way for the staff to interact with the campus. “People don’t always say ‘hi’ to us. I’m sure that people have their own thoughts as they’re walking around and they don’t always notice us, and that’s fine,” Magee said. She said she remembers that as a student, she didn’t ever really take notice of the grounds staff. “I always sort of appreciated the grounds but didn’t really have any connection to the people who take care of them. I’m hoping we’re putting more of a face to that,” Magee said.

 Magee says that it’s important to find a community at Swarthmore where you feel at home, whether that be working alongside the grounds staff, or just finding a group of people that make you feel comfortable.

 “For me and I think for others too, college was a little easier to make friends,” Magee said. “Everything just opens up a lot more in college because you’re meeting people from way more diverse backgrounds. I tried to tell my kids to find the people who valued their friendship, valued them as people. Just anybody that you can really find a commonality with who is accepting. And it doesn’t have to be a ton of people, it doesn’t have to be a big group, just one person that you really feel like appreciates you for who you are and you feel the same way about them.”

Members must have deep love for college, Board says

in Around Campus/News by

In light of the increased mobilization of Swarthmore Mountain Justice, study breaks with Dean of Students Liz Braun earlier this year in Parrish Parlors, and the selection of Valerie Smith as the college’s 15th president, the Board of Managers has become more visible on campus in the past academic year. Despite its heightened profile at the college, students know little about the select group of alumni, and know even less about the selection of this committee that handles the majority of the fiduciary responsibilities and makes some of the most important decisions at the college.

Many of the Managers cited a deep love of Swarthmore as both the reason why they believed they were selected for the position and the reason why they chose to accept it. For Ann Reichelderfer ’72, a shareholder of Stevens & Lee PC, her interest in Swarthmore was reignited when her daughter began playing here as the goalie of the women’s lacrosse team, and she found herself more frequently at the college.

“It was much easier to become reengaged with [Swarthmore] because I was there a lot, and it’s such a great place to be,” she said.

For Nate Erskine ’10, becoming a member of the Board came as a surprise, but felt like it was a natural progression from his position as the chair of the Appointments Committee while a student at the college. Having graduated just five years ago, Erskine had become acquainted with many of the current members of the college administration during his tenure as appointments chair and already felt as though he had contributed to lasting change at the college. However, Erskine felt that actually becoming a Manager and joining this group of alumni was an entirely different experience. He said it was a very interesting transition, and something he had to work hard at.

“It was very intimidating, because you’re working with Board members who had years of amazing professional experience, who have gone on to accomplish amazing things, and then it was interesting trying to figure out what I could be doing to contribute to the Board,” he said.

None of the board members interviewed for this article expected themselves to have a position on the board while they were students at the college or even before the day they were notified they were being considered.

David Singleton ’68 called his invitation to join the Board “very unexpected”.

“[Former President] Al Bloom approached me and asked if I’d be interested. He felt I’d could bring some new perspectives to the board as an alum, the parent of a recent alum, a Quaker, and the son of an alum,” Singleton said in an email.

The college website notes that while non-Quakers have served on the Board since 1938, and although Friends compose a small minority of students, faculty, and staff members, the college still holds many Quaker principles in high esteem. Because of this, it appears that the college looks highly upon many of the values of the Society of Friends when it considers candidates to the Board.

David Ko ’92 did not become a part of the Board through a traditional route; as the sitting President of the Alumni Council, he joined the Board when he took office two years ago.  He said that his growing involvement in the alumni council after graduation, in which he was able to stay connected with aspects of the college community and engage with other alumni across generations, led him to seek the presidency and eventually become a part of the Board. He also cited his strong desire to give back to the college as another reason for his heavy involvement with the Alumni Council, and by extension, the Board.

After speaking with these Managers, it remains unclear the exact process by which potential Board members are asked to join. None of the Managers were involved in the actual selection process, but several were able to point to values that the college generally looks at during the selection process. Reichelderfer noted that she started to serve the college as an administrator because she wanted to be able to give back her skills as a legal expert in estate management and planned giving. She served on the Planned Giving Committee before being asked to join the Board three years ago.

Erskine said that the college is generally looking for a diverse group of alumni to make up the Board; he believed that a significant factor in his selection was his ability to present a newer, younger perspective on the college to the Board.

Even though Erskine and Reichelderfer both noted the Board’s desire for diversity, a closer analysis of its makeup makes this claim less than certain. Out of the 39 regular (non-emeritus) Managers, 56 percent are men, 72 percent are white, and 90 percent graduated from the college before the 2000. Thirty-six percent of the Managers fit all three of these categories. It is also worth noting that the most common career field amongst the Board is in investing, finance, marketing, or consulting, in which 54 percent of the current Managers currently work. In fact, 56 percent of the Board went on to earn either an master’s in business administration or a law degree after they completed their studies at the College.

Many of the more recent appointments to the Board of Managers have been to more diverse alumni, and that the Board is making a conscious effort to promote more diversity amongst its ranks. It remains to be seen if this trend of increased diversity will continue.

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