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.
This January, the Swarthmore Alumni Relations Office held a student art contest where students could submit their photographs, paintings, and other artistic media that they thought evoked the essence of Swarthmore College.
Alumni relations planned for the winning art piece is to serve as a thank you present to departing Alumni Council members. Composed of Swarthmore alumni across the world, the Council facilitates communication between the College and its alumni. To connect with current Swarthmore students, some of their activities include career dinners, the extern program, and bi-annual academic department mixers. Each year, at least fourteen members will leave the council… and this year, the framed, resized winning art piece will be presented to each of them as a departing gift.
Matt Armstead ‘08, the Alumni Relations Fellow for the Alumni Relations Office, expressed the office’s desire to “give [leaving alumni council members] something to say ‘thank you’ for all their time and service to the campus.” Instead of presenting a plaque to these Council members, the Relations office wants to foster an interactive relationship between current students and alumni. Armstead continues, “The Alumni Office is working on finding new ways to connect current students with alumni.”
In the end, despite advertisements in the RSD and flyers posted all across campus, the Alumni Relations Office only received a couple of submissions. Armstead suggested that the primary reason for the dearth of submissions was the timing of the art contest. The Alumni Relations Office held the contest early in the semester to allow time for them to resize and frame the art; however, this may have caused complications for Swatties. Armstead explains, “The beginning of semester is a hard time for someone to have a finished piece of artwork. Also, I think that a lot of on-campus contests are spread by word of mouth. This is something we’re going to work on with future projects.”
Although the student art contest was not as successful as the Alumni Relations Office had hoped, Armstead remained optimistic for future efforts to connect current Swatties and former Swatties.
Armstead advises Swarthmore students to, “keep an eye out for other opportunities to get involved with the Alumni Office. With ongoing academic mixers, admitted students send-offs, etc, we’re continually trying to find new ways for students to take a more active role with alumni through the Alumni Relations Office. If you have any ideas or thoughts we would love to hear from you.”