Swarthmore College Names New President

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Rebecca S. Chopp, distinguished scholar and author and current president of Colgate University in Hamilton, N.Y., has been selected as the 14th president of Swarthmore College. Chopp will become Swarthmore's first woman president when she succeeds Alfred H. Bloom, who announced in May that he would step down as president after nearly 20 years.

Succeeding Al Bloom is a daunting prospect

Swarthmore, PA -- Rebecca S. Chopp, distinguished scholar and author and current president of Colgate University in Hamilton, N.Y., has been selected as the 14th president of Swarthmore College. Chopp will become Swarthmore's first woman president when she succeeds Alfred H. Bloom, who announced in May that he would step down as president after nearly 20 years.

Bloom continues as president of the College until the end of June, when he will assume full responsibility as vice chancellor of New York University Abu Dhabi.

Chopp, 56, was selected by Swarthmore's Board of Managers during a meeting on Feb. 21. She will take office on July 1.

In making the announcement, Board Chair Barbara Mather '65 praised Chopp's abilities. "She is a first-rate scholar and a seasoned and effective leader who has successfully and imaginatively managed Colgate during a time of great accomplishment," Mather said. "Her collaborative style will be a good fit for Swarthmore, and I am very pleased that we were able to persuade her to come."

Board member Tom Spock '78 chaired the 12-member presidential search committee, consisting of faculty, staff, student, alumni, and Board representatives, and noted that Chopp emerged from a deep and competitive field of candidates. "Succeeding Al Bloom is a daunting prospect," he said, "but her deep commitment to the liberal arts, along with her proven administrative talents, make her the ideal president to move the College forward."

"I am deeply honored to be selected as Swarthmore's next president," Chopp said upon learning of the Board's decision. "As one of America's finest educational institutions, Swarthmore provides some of the most gifted students in the world with an education that combines the rigorous life of intellectual inquiry with the values of building the civic good. Guided by its Quaker heritage, this diverse community reasons together toward consensus, a model of deliberation that is more important than ever in today's global environment."

About Rebecca S. Chopp
Chopp received a B.A. from Kansas Wesleyan University, an M.Div. from St. Paul School of Theology, and a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago. A well-known scholar of religion and American culture, she has authored or edited five books and has published more than 50 articles in her areas of expertise. In recent years, her research and professional presentations have focused on changing structures and cultures of higher education, the role of liberal arts in a democratic society, and religion and higher education.

Chopp came to Colgate from the Yale Divinity School, where she served as dean and Titus Street Professor of Theology. Before joining Yale, she spent 15 years at Emory University, where she held the positions of provost and executive vice president for academic affairs. At Emory, Chopp oversaw two colleges of liberal arts and seven professional schools and led strategic planning in areas such as teaching and research, international affairs, university/community relations, and information technology.

As president of Colgate, Chopp has presided over the development and implementation of a comprehensive strategic plan that expanded the university's academic space by the largest amount in its history; strengthened academic programs and developed new interdisciplinary institutes and centers; implemented a new vision for residential education that provides leadership education for students and new programs in arts, academic teams, and wellness; strengthened athletics; expanded university-community partnerships including the establishment of the Upstate Institute; and developed the most successful campaign in Colgate's history with a goal of $400 million which, by the time it had gone public, had raised over half the goal while creating new alumni avenues of connection and support. During Chopp's tenure, notable increases in admissions, improvement of student quality, and expansion of programs supporting diversity and globalization have occurred.

Among the many awards Chopp has received are the Alumni Achievement Award from the University of Chicago, the Alumna of the Year award from the University of Chicago Divinity School, honorary doctorates in divinity from Lehigh University and Lafayette College, and the Alumni Achievement Award from Kansas Wesleyan University. She currently serves on the boards of the Association of American Colleges and Universities and the National Survey of Student Engagement and on the Presidential Advisory Committee for the NCAA.

Chopp is married to Frederick H. Thibodeau. They have three sons.

About Swarthmore College
Located near Philadelphia, Swarthmore is a highly selective liberal arts college whose mission combines academic rigor with social responsibility. With an enrollment of 1,450 students, Swarthmore is distinguished by its unique honors program and Lang Center for Civic and Social Responsibility.

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Alisa Giardinelli
Swarthmore College
610-690-5717
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