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.
Stephen Bayer was recently appointed to Vice President of Development and Alumni relations, moving from Director of Development and Acting Vice President or Development and Alumni relations. Bayer is replacing previous VP Dan West who retired this semester. As the Vice President, Bayer will manage general fundraising efforts, outreach efforts with alumni and start planning for a new fundraising campaign that will begin in two years.
Bayer came to Swarthmore seven years ago, through the Planned Giving department, with an eclectic employment history. As an attorney, a wealth manager and an entrepreneur, Bayer was the perfect candidate for a position at Swarthmore that was looking for an attorney with financial background. “I fell in love with the passion of Swarthmore,” he said. Bayer continued moving through departments of giving until West retired, opening up the position of VP. “As the Director of Development, I had broad experience and was thinking of the next step,” he said.
The search committee, which included President Al Bloom, Vice President Maurice Eldridge, Provost Constance Hungerford and Director of Human Resources Melanie Young, conducted a national search with 20 candidates; Bayer was the only one from Swarthmore. Young said the committee was looking for someone who understood Swarthmore’s uniqueness and could lead development in the right direction. “Stephen has strong relationships with many of our major donors and a wonderful ability to connect with others,” Young said. “He has held many positions in Development and really understands how the department operates here at Swarthmore.”
Although he only has two weeks under his belt, Bayer has many goals and visions to increase funding to help Swarthmore grow. His most immediate concern is further integrating different departments in development. “Development has historically worked within silos,” he said. “I want to foster collaboration and the concept of team [between different departments].”
Long-term goals involve off-setting costs for the loan-free initiative Swarthmore introduced last December and provide financial aid to international students so they can be accepted to Swarthmore need-blind. “We want to make sure that we give access to Swarthmore students regardless of their ability to pay, across the board including international students,” he said. International aid is a general area that needs improvement, including alumni connections in different countries. While Swat alums reconnect through regional get-togethers and the like, such activities are not generally available abroad.
Each of these progressive financial aid changes is a natural progression for Swarthmore, said Bayer. Although schools like Harvard and Yale have the wealth to the raise the bar on financial aid, “Swarthmore has been giving free tuition to certain income levels. We are ahead of the line,” said Bayer.
Ultimately, Bayer hopes to implement his visions to help Swarthmore remain a leader in its wealth, both in resources and finances.