New Book Celebrates Swarthmore's History and Mission on Eve of Sesquicentennial Year

by Alisa Giardinelli

These photos are included in a portfolio at the center of the book.

On the eve of Swarthmore's sesquicentennial year, a new book, Swarthmore College: A Community of Purpose, will soon be made available as a gift to the community. Alumni and parents will receive theirs in the mail, while faculty, staff and current seniors will be able to obtain their complimentary copy on campus.

In a letter that accompanies the book, President Rebecca Chopp encourages readers to "take to heart" the book's subtitle. "I am continually amazed by the many extraordinary ways our alumni have over the years served the common good," she says, "and am fully confident that our recent graduates and current students will likewise go on to do great things, most commonly in service to our proud Quaker tradition of giving back to others what has been given so freely to us."

The 190-page book celebrates the College's Quaker roots, academic tradition, the value of an intentional community, campus beauty, especially as home to an arboretum, and commitment to educating for the common good. Throughout the volume are hundreds of images culled from the College's vast archives as well as its contemporary collections. Additional photos (above) are the focus of a portfolio at the book's center. Throughout, more than 20 alumni, spanning a wide range of class years, disciplines, and career paths are featured in first-person essays. They are complimented by profiles of several current faculty members. All speak of the distinctive quality and nature of a Swarthmore education.

In addition to a celebration of Swarthmore's past, the book, made possible through the generosity of a Swarthmore alumnus whose career was in book publishing, also provides a glimpse into its future. In her chapter that closes the volume, Chopp focuses on the College's enduring mission and the value of the liberal arts in society:

"As the nation becomes more diverse and more global, the need to highlight the link between the liberal arts and democracy - as well as the necessity of articulating the importance of the liberal arts for the 21st century communities, careers, and personal satisfaction - is paramount. ... Swarthmore must continue to focus on its historic mission of rigorous, creative academics ... while educating students to 'realize their full intellectual and personal potential combined with a deep sense of ethical and social concern.'"