How Are Swarthmore’s Managers Selected

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 is, perhaps, the single most powerful group at Swarthmore. Still, most Swatties don’t know much about the organization, so the Gazette caught up with Maurice G. Eldridge ’61, the Assistant Secretary for the Board of Managers and Vice President for College and Community Relations.

There are three kinds of Board member.

Young Alumni

Young Alumni Managers are individuals who graduated from Swarthmore within the past seven years, which means everyone who graduated more recently than 2001 is eligible. These managers are appointed for four year terms without the option of immediate reappointment. Usually there are two men and two women.

Generally, Eldridge explained, these Managers are unofficially nominated by the Deans. “Those are the folks who know them well,” he said, noting that frequently the Young Alumni Managers are drawn from the select few who win the Ivy or Oak Leaf awards.

Alumni Managers

The Alumni Managers are generally nominated by the Alumni Association. “There is a list of names shared between the [BOM’s] Nominating and Governance Committee and the Alumni Council,” said Eldridge. Generally, there are eight managers in this category, split evenly between men and women. Like the Young Alumni, they have four year terms, and they must take a year off before re-appointment (Young Alumni need to take two years off).

Term Managers

The Board has up to twenty-seven Term Managers. The mainstay of the organization, these members don’t necessarily have to be alumni … but every single current member did graduate from the College. These members are selected by the Nominating and Governance committee from a list of names submitted and gathered by Board members. And not only are there many more term managers, but they can serve longer, with the option of three consecutive four-year terms.

Once the members have been nominated, the process for selection is generally the same, no matter the category. The Nominating committee studies the candidate’s background and one of the committee members visits the potential member. “They try to get to know the person,” said Eldridge. This visit suggests the committee is interested, but doesn’t mean an imminent selection—instead, a list of potential Managers is kept for whenever terms are finished. At the current time, Eldridge revealed, there are “two alumni managers and one young alumni manager” under consideration.

The committee is particularly interested in factors like whether the nominee has “kept in touch with the school, has been a donor, and has volunteered [for the school]” explained Eldridge. Another consideration is the candidate’s professional background—several committees require specialized knowledge, so the Board is particularly interested in candidates with backgrounds in “higher eduction, finance, investment, and property.”

Apart from the normal members, there is the special category of Emeritus Manager. This position is for-life, and requires special selection based on service and level of commitment. “They can attend all meetings, but can’t vote,” explained Eldridge, noting that, because decisions are usually reached by consensus, the right to vote isn’t too important. “[Eugene Lang ’38], Emeritus Chair, always comes—it is rare that he misses a meeting,” Eldridge said, but the two other Emeritus members “only attend occasionally.”

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