Board of Managers Lays Background For Future Decisions

Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.

The Board of Managers convened last weekend for their annual December meeting. As is standard for these meetings, no significant decisions were made; rather, the board gathered information and planned for the future, especially for decisions to be made at the next meeting in February.

“Typically,” said Maurice Eldridge, who serves as assistant secretary for the Board as well as vice president for the College, “December is not a decision-making time in any major way, because there’s still information that needs to be developed.”

On Friday, the various planning committees each met with their respective board members. There was also an annual report on the state of athletics — which Eldridge called “very positive” — by both the Academic and Student Affairs committees. The Student Affairs committee also discussed career services at Swarthmore, particularly for those students looking to enter the private sector.

Friday also included more background information and a look at the capital budget. Money will go in particular to the ADA-required renovations, as well as general repair and improvements. Again, nothing concrete will be decided until February.

The day concluded with a dinner at the President’s house, where there were “many toasts” for Dan West, the Vice President for Development who “makes a lot of things possible” and is retiring this year. Dean of Admissions Jim Bock also gave a talk on admissions, especially visitations and other outreach programs.

Saturday held a few conversations on contentious topics. One was the deer-culling plan, long a cause of debate. The outside consultant gave a presentation on the options available, but no decision was yet made — the Board chose to hold off, partly because they think the decision lies largely under the purview of the administration but also because they need to decide how to make the process “as public as possible” for both the College and the borough. Any “dissenting voices” should be heard, they think. Eldridge said to expect a final decision “probably by May.”

Another controversial issue then discussed was that of the inn, to be located “near the train station.” The field of proposals has been now been narrowed to three developers, who each talked on Saturday about their plans, answering questions. The developers’ ideas differ in the “mix of hotel rooms versus apartment space,” the amount of retail space included, and the like. Each developer intends to include a restaurant; “at least one” would like to move the College bookstore. They are in the process of finalizing their proposals, which should be completed by January for a Board decision in February. In any case, the College will spend “some money” on infrastructure for the inn.

The rest of the day focused on financial aid. “Every day there’s new news” on aid, Eldridge said; “everyone’s doing something different” to try to improve the situation. Harvard, for example, announced today that it would “significantly increase the financial aid it offers to nearly all middle-class and upper-middle-class students” as well as eliminating loans for all of its students. Williams and Amherst have also eliminated loans. Duke, although it has not eliminated loans entirely, decided this weekend to scale them back considerably. Swarthmore’s Board of Managers, however, decided on “nothing really worth reporting.”

The Board will meet again during the last weekend in February; they will make many actual decisions at that time. Before then, however, expect more details on the progress of both the inn and the deer proposals in the Gazette.


  1. “Nothing worth reporting” ?!? They decided to replace all loans with scholarships in student financial aid awards!!

  2. lol, thanks Harvard. Considering when the Harvard story broke and when the Board of Managers were meeting, I have to wonder if this was a split-decision made over a couple of emergency conference calls, or whether they had (for whatever reasons) actually discussed this at the BoM.

    I also enjoy the statements leading up to, well, right now, suggesting that we would go bankrupt or somesuch if we attempted this. Oops? I mean, good game BoM, but I have to laugh a little.

  3. We’ll have a story on it in a few minutes, but this was discussed at the meeting. They didn’t want to publicize it until a good press-release was written, apparently.

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