Smaw returns to campus as interim director of the intercultural center

After only a year away from Swarthmore, Daryll Smaw has returned to the college to take the position of interim director of the Intercultural Center (IC).  Smaw, who worked at Swarthmore as the associate dean for multicultural affairs from 2002 to 2011, left the college to  retire.  However, the sudden departure of Alina Wong, the dean of the sophomore class and director of the IC that created the opening for an interim director of the IC, peaked Smaw’s interest.  After a search lead by Dean of Students Liz Braun and Dean of Diversity, Inclusion, and Community Development Liliana Rodriguez, he was rehired to take on the new position.

Smaw, who received an Ed.D. from Harvard University and an M.Th. from Colgate Rochester Divinity School, held the position of associate dean for program development in the graduate school of education and the assistant dean for student life in the divinity school at Harvard.  Smaw explains, “I’m charged with looking at how you guide the students and the whole IC enterprise during this time of change and transition.”

Faculty and administration are satisfied with his return to Swarthmore for this year.  “…[Smaw] renegotiated the power of the term diversity, led pedagogy and diversity workshops for dozens of faculty with Professor [of sociology] Sarah Willie-LeBreton, and mentored scores of students, faculty and staff,”  said Braun in her email announcing Smaw’s appointment.

Smaw echoes this excitement.

“I enjoyed my time at Swarthmore,” he said. “I love Swarthmore students, bright and intelligent, coming after you and challenging you, and that’s good.”

It is this challenge that Smaw enjoys tackling here at Swarthmore.  In his previous role, Smaw said he worked on building an inclusive community.

“What that meant,” he said, “was working with broad constituents across the entire campus: faculty, staff and students.  Because when you’re thinking about an inclusive community, it includes everyone.”

Smaw worked in conjunction with LeBreton to introduce programs such as the diversity workshops all first year students participate in during orientation.

“I am interested in working with students of the IC as well as the broader Swarthmore community to determine what are the next steps as we look forward, and sometimes it’s a painful process, but it also can be a very valuable process for the entire community,” Smaw said. He recognizes that there is still much work to be done, but he feels confident that his role as interim director will allow him to continue where he left off last year.

For now, Smaw is going to work to continue to grow and strengthen the IC.  “For me,” Smaw said, “it is listening to the students, being a support person, an advocate,…being the person who can stand with them in difficult times and represent their interests … I’m interested in helping students to think strategically about change and moving forward.”

At the same time, Smaw’s hopes to lay the groundwork for the new director and serve as an aid in this transition.  Before he leaves in June, Smaw said he hopes the school has an opportunity to think about what they “would like the IC and the broader Swarthmore community to be doing as we bring on board the new director and dean.”

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