Comments for Swarthmore College Strategic Planning http://sp.swarthmore.edu Wed, 04 Jan 2012 19:02:32 +0000 hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.1.1 Comment on Strategic Directions for Swarthmore College by Ted Goodfriend ('53) http://sp.swarthmore.edu/?page_id=1383#comment-1380 Ted Goodfriend ('53) Wed, 04 Jan 2012 19:02:32 +0000 http://sp.swarthmore.edu/?page_id=1383#comment-1380 It's easy to recommend additions, and difficult to recommend deletions. The Swarthmore experience is extremely taxing as it is, and I can't think of anything I learned or experienced there that wasn't worth the time (see "Lunch" below). Still, I wish I had learned more about personal finance, marriage, parenthood, health, and care of the elderly. I finished college, medical school, and post-grad training almost as naive as I was in high school. I needed a course called "Life!" What could it have replaced? Bridge? Lunch? Why not experiment with an elective? Although the only people attending would probably be those who need it least, if it saved one marriage or prevented one bankruptcy it would be worth it...and there might be more alums willing to come to class reunions. It’s easy to recommend additions, and difficult to recommend deletions. The Swarthmore experience is extremely taxing as it is, and I can’t think of anything I learned or experienced there that wasn’t worth the time (see “Lunch” below). Still, I wish I had learned more about personal finance, marriage, parenthood, health, and care of the elderly. I finished college, medical school, and post-grad training almost as naive as I was in high school. I needed a course called “Life!” What could it have replaced? Bridge? Lunch? Why not experiment with an elective? Although the only people attending would probably be those who need it least, if it saved one marriage or prevented one bankruptcy it would be worth it…and there might be more alums willing to come to class reunions.

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Comment on Strategic Directions for Swarthmore College by Jeremiah Nelson http://sp.swarthmore.edu/?page_id=1383#comment-1258 Jeremiah Nelson Fri, 25 Nov 2011 20:43:43 +0000 http://sp.swarthmore.edu/?page_id=1383#comment-1258 <b>1. Field-wide scholarship vs. published research for faculty</b> Doing publishable research helps assure quality faculty, esp in the sciences, but it moves Swarthmore from a college model to a university model of education. Older people with broad scholarship of their field -- its growth and intellectual battles, its boundaries with other disciplines-- such faculty tend to disappear. This may be driving the concerns in other comments with preserving a liberal arts education, and retaining honor for the Honors Program. <b>2. Climate change</b> The only thing saving us from dealing with climate change today is our lack of imagination. Sea level rise, the loss of arable and densely-populated lands, bodies stacked like cordwood because there is not enough manpower to bury them, governments rendered illegitimate in the eyes of citizens they could not help -- all this awaits the current students of the College as they reach mid-life, mid-century maturity and seek a future for their families. The failure to emphasize earth and space science generally (as others have commented), and concern with America's flight from world leadership in particular, can only arise in the insularity brought by wealth. So our Quaker values, as well as our imagination, are failing here. <b>3. Teacher-Students, Social Ranks and Roles</b> The College fosters breaking social ranks (e.g. wealth) and roles (e.g., who is the "teacher"). This is why we are residential. This is why we treasure Honors. This may be driving other laments about the being alone with a book, especially in the humanities, while science students collaborate with their prof and each other in lab projects. The Strategic Directions Plan never takes Man herself as the topic of strategic planning. We are social, territorial, hierarchical; we deceive and dissemble for self advantage, we have never devised a sustainable civilization. The Quaker traditions and current strategies may be viewed as a response to problems never placed on the table. I thank the College for the education and values I received (and for my wife) and for the education and values my son received (and for his wonderfully complementary wife). Webmaster: the page lacks an PREVIEW / EDIT cycle. 1. Field-wide scholarship vs. published research for faculty

Doing publishable research helps assure quality faculty, esp in the sciences, but it moves Swarthmore from a college model to a university model of education. Older people with broad scholarship of their field — its growth and intellectual battles, its boundaries with other disciplines– such faculty tend to disappear. This may be driving the concerns in other comments with preserving a liberal arts education, and retaining honor for the Honors Program.

2. Climate change

The only thing saving us from dealing with climate change today is our lack of imagination. Sea level rise, the loss of arable and densely-populated lands, bodies stacked like cordwood because there is not enough manpower to bury them, governments rendered illegitimate in the eyes of citizens they could not help — all this awaits the current students of the College as they reach mid-life, mid-century maturity and seek a future for their families. The failure to emphasize earth and space science generally (as others have commented), and concern with America’s flight from world leadership in particular, can only arise in the insularity brought by wealth. So our Quaker values, as well as our imagination, are failing here.

3. Teacher-Students, Social Ranks and Roles

The College fosters breaking social ranks (e.g. wealth) and roles (e.g., who is the “teacher”). This is why we are residential. This is why we treasure Honors. This may be driving other laments about the being alone with a book, especially in the humanities, while science students collaborate with their prof and each other in lab projects. The Strategic Directions Plan never takes Man herself as the topic of strategic planning. We are social, territorial, hierarchical; we deceive and dissemble for self advantage, we have never devised a sustainable civilization. The Quaker traditions and current strategies may be viewed as a response to problems never placed on the table.

I thank the College for the education and values I received (and for my wife) and for the education and values my son received (and for his wonderfully complementary wife).

Webmaster: the page lacks an PREVIEW / EDIT cycle.

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Comment on Strategic Directions for Swarthmore College by Daniel M. Singer http://sp.swarthmore.edu/?page_id=1383#comment-1235 Daniel M. Singer Mon, 14 Nov 2011 20:45:11 +0000 http://sp.swarthmore.edu/?page_id=1383#comment-1235 What is a concerned alum to make of the startlingly (and frighteningly?) ambiguous and elliptic reference to Honors -- i.e., "including the Honors Program" -- in the Strategic Plan? Woven into all the chatter about programmatic quality and curricular rigor, one might have anticipated a full-throated and proud recognition of the role of the Honors Program in Swarthmore's history and an indication that, where appropriate, the Program's features and values were to be preserved and (dare I say it?) enhanced. What is a concerned alum to make of the startlingly (and frighteningly?) ambiguous and elliptic reference to Honors — i.e., “including the Honors Program” — in the Strategic Plan? Woven into all the chatter about programmatic quality and curricular rigor, one might have anticipated a full-throated and proud recognition of the role of the Honors Program in Swarthmore’s history and an indication that, where appropriate, the Program’s features and values were to be preserved and (dare I say it?) enhanced.

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Comment on Strategic Directions for Swarthmore College by Maxine Singer http://sp.swarthmore.edu/?page_id=1383#comment-1233 Maxine Singer Sun, 13 Nov 2011 23:07:56 +0000 http://sp.swarthmore.edu/?page_id=1383#comment-1233 Several previous comments resonate with me including a limitation on new building so as to maintain the green aspect of the College. Sixty years ago, it was that green aspect on the walk from the railroad station to Parrish that made me decide to attend Swarthmore. I also agree that the College should not grow in size. Most important, the emphasis on the 'liberal arts' requires a clear definition of what this means. Half a century ago, it was perhaps reasonable to assume that many people would have a common understanding of these words. That is not true today. Some people will think it refers to 'liberal' political or social considerations. Others will think it refers to the arts, perhaps including literature, music and such. My main concern is that the emphasis can be interpreted as omitting the sciences. The only reference to science in the plan summary is the suggestion that biology needs new space. It would be helpful to have a clear statement on the College's commitment to the sciences. My chief concern, however, is to recognize the consistent engagement of Swarthmore-educated scientists in the institutional, public and social aspects of science in government, education, and the private sector. I am no longer surprised when I realize that Swarthmore scientists are over-represented on commissions and committees concerned with the role of science in society. It is not clear to me that the College recognizes this aspect of its strength. Yet, such scientists will be even more vital in future as science and technology advance and present challenges to the public. The connection between the College's values and science education truly marks a unique accomplishment. It should be recognized and sustained. Several previous comments resonate with me including a limitation on new building so as to maintain the green aspect of the College. Sixty years ago, it was that green aspect on the walk from the railroad station to Parrish that made me decide to attend Swarthmore. I also agree that the College should not grow in size.
Most important, the emphasis on the ‘liberal arts’ requires a clear definition of what this means. Half a century ago, it was perhaps reasonable to assume that many people would have a common understanding of these words. That is not true today. Some people will think it refers to ‘liberal’ political or social considerations. Others will think it refers to the arts, perhaps including literature, music and such.
My main concern is that the emphasis can be interpreted as omitting the sciences. The only reference to science in the plan summary is the suggestion that biology needs new space. It would be helpful to have a clear statement on the College’s commitment to the sciences. My chief concern, however, is to recognize the consistent engagement of Swarthmore-educated scientists in the institutional, public and social aspects of science in government, education, and the private sector. I am no longer surprised when I realize that Swarthmore scientists are over-represented on commissions and committees concerned with the role of science in society. It is not clear to me that the College recognizes this aspect of its strength. Yet, such scientists will be even more vital in future as science and technology advance and present challenges to the public. The connection between the College’s values and science education truly marks a unique accomplishment. It should be recognized and sustained.

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Comment on Strategic Directions for Swarthmore College by John Halbert http://sp.swarthmore.edu/?page_id=1383#comment-1231 John Halbert Sat, 12 Nov 2011 19:00:08 +0000 http://sp.swarthmore.edu/?page_id=1383#comment-1231 I feel compelled to register a voice of dissent regarding the idea that there is a "Swarthmore style of leadership," or that Swarthmore is somehow better than other institutions at preparing students to be leaders. I realize that the College has changed - and, in my mind, for the better - since I was there, but my experience learning how to be a leader at Swarthmore was, quite simply, abysmal. I was one of the people who ran Amnesty International while I was there. I was "Treasurer" because, of course, it would not have been politically correct to have a President, since that would have implied that we were establishing a hierarchy in a student political organization. Amnesty received financial support from the College, as did most other groups. But I never had any kind of faculty support, or even any interaction with the faculty. I had exactly one conversation with a faculty member about Amnesty, and that was about a parking ticket. I had 2 internships in Washington, DC, fighting the death penalty - one for Amnesty, and one for the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty. I had a stipend from the College (I think it was $400) for the second internship, but other than that, I had no interaction with the College or any faculty regarding those experiences. Never talked to any professors about them. Arranged them myself. Leadership is about making difficult decisions that affect other people, usually without having enough relevant information. But as a philosophy major, I spent most of my time sitting alone in a room reading books, or sitting alone in a room writing papers. Leaders have to listen well, but discussing philosophy is usually at least as much about arguing as it is about listening. Leaders articulate a specific goal that all members of a team work towards. But sitting in a classroom, each individual student has their own goal, which is usually to do well in the class. The presence of other students enriches the experience, but the individual students are autonomous - you read books alone, you write papers alone, you take tests alone. Most of that description of how students learn in the liberal arts applies more to the humanities and the social sciences rather than the physical sciences. And there are examples of collaborative learning in the liberal arts. Specifically, I am thrilled that there is now a Film and Media Studies program at Swarthmore. I went to film school at the University of Southern California, which is incredibly collaborative, as is the film industry itself. It was wonderful. As I wrote above, I've noticed a number of positive changes at the College since I graduated. The Lang Center seems like a very positive development, and I'm happy that Joy Charlton (my faculty adviser) is serving as the Executive Director. What I haven't noticed is a recognition of the extent of the problems. I feel compelled to register a voice of dissent regarding the idea that there is a “Swarthmore style of leadership,” or that Swarthmore is somehow better than other institutions at preparing students to be leaders. I realize that the College has changed – and, in my mind, for the better – since I was there, but my experience learning how to be a leader at Swarthmore was, quite simply, abysmal. I was one of the people who ran Amnesty International while I was there. I was “Treasurer” because, of course, it would not have been politically correct to have a President, since that would have implied that we were establishing a hierarchy in a student political organization. Amnesty received financial support from the College, as did most other groups. But I never had any kind of faculty support, or even any interaction with the faculty. I had exactly one conversation with a faculty member about Amnesty, and that was about a parking ticket. I had 2 internships in Washington, DC, fighting the death penalty – one for Amnesty, and one for the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty. I had a stipend from the College (I think it was $400) for the second internship, but other than that, I had no interaction with the College or any faculty regarding those experiences. Never talked to any professors about them. Arranged them myself.

Leadership is about making difficult decisions that affect other people, usually without having enough relevant information. But as a philosophy major, I spent most of my time sitting alone in a room reading books, or sitting alone in a room writing papers. Leaders have to listen well, but discussing philosophy is usually at least as much about arguing as it is about listening. Leaders articulate a specific goal that all members of a team work towards. But sitting in a classroom, each individual student has their own goal, which is usually to do well in the class. The presence of other students enriches the experience, but the individual students are autonomous – you read books alone, you write papers alone, you take tests alone.

Most of that description of how students learn in the liberal arts applies more to the humanities and the social sciences rather than the physical sciences. And there are examples of collaborative learning in the liberal arts. Specifically, I am thrilled that there is now a Film and Media Studies program at Swarthmore. I went to film school at the University of Southern California, which is incredibly collaborative, as is the film industry itself. It was wonderful.

As I wrote above, I’ve noticed a number of positive changes at the College since I graduated. The Lang Center seems like a very positive development, and I’m happy that Joy Charlton (my faculty adviser) is serving as the Executive Director. What I haven’t noticed is a recognition of the extent of the problems.

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Comment on Commitments that Support this Work by Samuel Buchl http://sp.swarthmore.edu/?p=1000#comment-1225 Samuel Buchl Sun, 06 Nov 2011 16:25:52 +0000 http://blogs.swarthmore.edu/sp-pub-devl/?p=1000#comment-1225 As a psychology student who frequents Papazian Hall for office hours, research, and class, I understand why we must examine options for improving our teaching and learning spaces. Papazian could, for example, be larger and better lit, ventilated, and technologically equipped for accommodating classes and new research technologies for professors and students. Even as I desire these improvements, however, I maintain an equal desire to preserve the beautiful outdoor and undeveloped spaces of the campus. Addressing this possible incompatibility of desires, this draft importantly and commendably considers both developing new spaces and substantially renovating existing ones. By renovating the buildings we already have, the College can protect and preserve open outdoor spaces (e.g., Parrish Beach, Mertz Field) and the Crum Woods, demonstrating a forefront commitment to environmental sustainability and the preservation of our intimate learning space. Unfortunately, however, this draft only imagines a future with new spaces, separate from the ones we presently have without addressing several uncertainties: Where will we build these new facilities for science programs, a media commons, and a dining hall? Might renovating and expanding the facilities we already have be a better option? Have we considered renovating within, onto, upward, or even downward instead of demolishing and/or building anew? For this plan to be truly strategic, it must answer these questions and demonstrate the College’s support for sustainability that does not rely on endless physical expansion. Just as the physical human body cannot be indefinitely expanded without creating unhealthy demands on the self and its environment, we must keep in mind that the same holds true for all of the physical spaces in which we reside. Before we expand, we should respect both the buildings and the free space we already have and focus on enriching the environments, interactions, and conversations we've already invested in. We should assess and improve the spaces we already have – including dormitories, academic halls, athletic facilities, and meeting rooms – in order to more fully meet the diverse physical, social, and intellectual needs of all students. And then, if we find that our internal spaces are maximally efficient, that we still must build externally, we should remember that while Swarthmore's being "small" is a matter of relativity, Swarthmore's being "intimate" is not. We can continue to physically grow new buildings (and our student body) and remain “small,” but eventually we will lose the original, intentional intimacy that is, or will have been Swarthmore. As a psychology student who frequents Papazian Hall for office hours, research, and class, I understand why we must examine options for improving our teaching and learning spaces. Papazian could, for example, be larger and better lit, ventilated, and technologically equipped for accommodating classes and new research technologies for professors and students.

Even as I desire these improvements, however, I maintain an equal desire to preserve the beautiful outdoor and undeveloped spaces of the campus. Addressing this possible incompatibility of desires, this draft importantly and commendably considers both developing new spaces and substantially renovating existing ones. By renovating the buildings we already have, the College can protect and preserve open outdoor spaces (e.g., Parrish Beach, Mertz Field) and the Crum Woods, demonstrating a forefront commitment to environmental sustainability and the preservation of our intimate learning space.

Unfortunately, however, this draft only imagines a future with new spaces, separate from the ones we presently have without addressing several uncertainties: Where will we build these new facilities for science programs, a media commons, and a dining hall? Might renovating and expanding the facilities we already have be a better option? Have we considered renovating within, onto, upward, or even downward instead of demolishing and/or building anew? For this plan to be truly strategic, it must answer these questions and demonstrate the College’s support for sustainability that does not rely on endless physical expansion.

Just as the physical human body cannot be indefinitely expanded without creating unhealthy demands on the self and its environment, we must keep in mind that the same holds true for all of the physical spaces in which we reside. Before we expand, we should respect both the buildings and the free space we already have and focus on enriching the environments, interactions, and conversations we’ve already invested in. We should assess and improve the spaces we already have – including dormitories, academic halls, athletic facilities, and meeting rooms – in order to more fully meet the diverse physical, social, and intellectual needs of all students.

And then, if we find that our internal spaces are maximally efficient, that we still must build externally, we should remember that while Swarthmore’s being “small” is a matter of relativity, Swarthmore’s being “intimate” is not. We can continue to physically grow new buildings (and our student body) and remain “small,” but eventually we will lose the original, intentional intimacy that is, or will have been Swarthmore.

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Comment on Implementation and Next Steps by John C. Matter http://sp.swarthmore.edu/?p=1019#comment-1222 John C. Matter Thu, 03 Nov 2011 21:41:22 +0000 http://blogs.swarthmore.edu/sp-pub-devl/?p=1019#comment-1222 (New comment - not a reply) I do not believe this draft strategic plan is ready for Board consideration. My feedback is based on years of experience as a program manager at a national laboratory. The set of next steps should be modified. The draft plan should be revised to include high level priorities before it is sent to the Board. This is a difficult step. It is relatively easy to come up with a wish list of new things to do. The tough part is making choices that are forced by limited resources that every organization has. This process includes establishing prioritization criteria and then applying them to recommendations, which become programs. All recommendations/programs - existing and proposed - should be on the table for prioritization. This includes the possibility of cutting some existing programs. (Hence the difficult part.) Even at this early stage in the planning process, the Board needs this information if they are to make an informed decision about a realistic strategic program that will be implemented successfully. (New comment – not a reply)
I do not believe this draft strategic plan is ready for Board consideration. My feedback is based on years of experience as a program manager at a national laboratory. The set of next steps should be modified. The draft plan should be revised to include high level priorities before it is sent to the Board. This is a difficult step. It is relatively easy to come up with a wish list of new things to do. The tough part is making choices that are forced by limited resources that every organization has. This process includes establishing prioritization criteria and then applying them to recommendations, which become programs. All recommendations/programs – existing and proposed – should be on the table for prioritization. This includes the possibility of cutting some existing programs. (Hence the difficult part.) Even at this early stage in the planning process, the Board needs this information if they are to make an informed decision about a realistic strategic program that will be implemented successfully.

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Comment on Principle 2. Swarthmore cultivates an intentional, substantive community in order to shape engaged and thoughtful leaders who will contribute to a more just, civil, and inclusive world. by Ben Goossen http://sp.swarthmore.edu/?p=982#comment-1211 Ben Goossen Sun, 30 Oct 2011 14:23:29 +0000 http://blogs.swarthmore.edu/sp-pub-devl/?p=982#comment-1211 Explicit reference to Quakerism should be included in this section of the Strategic Plan. The teachings and beliefs of our Hicksite founders are the direct roots of Swarthmore’s wonderful blend of individualism, liberal arts and social activism, and they should not be ignored. In this draft and in recent years more broadly, Swarthmore has far undersold its ties to the Society of Friends. Whether because of external pressures to conform to rising secularism in the collegiate world or because of internal needs to diversify the student body, Swarthmore has reduced much of its rich past to token references on campus tours. This must change. Understanding and even embracing Quakerism is neither at odds with maintaining Swarthmore’s academic prestige, nor a threat to the diversity of its student body. Swarthmore College should be unabashed in its Quaker values. It should oppose violence in all forms, whether from international conflict or structural oppression. It should take a strong vocal stance on issues of immigration, the environment and war. The college commands influence and respect in the national academic sphere, and it should throw its weight behind peace witness. Change will never occur if traditionally activist colleges like Swarthmore remain silent. Starting with the Strategic Plan, Swarthmore should make a bold public commitment to peace witness and Quaker values. Recent speakers on Quaker activism and the newly launched Global Nonviolent Action Database are certainly steps in the right direction. The establishment of the Young Friends Group also plays an important role. But more needs to be done. The college should begin holding campus-wide debates and forums on issues of peace and conflict, as well as times of silent worship and reflection. The Swarthmore College Peace Collection, internationally renowned among scholars and activists, should be moved from its undignified location in McCabe basement. Further, I would suggest the establishment of a Quaker Affairs Advisor at Swarthmore, modeled on a similar existing position at Haverford. Such a person could be in charge of developing, sponsoring and promoting events at Swarthmore relating to peace activism and Quakerism. The Quaker Advisor could also be in charge of several student workers who would deal with literature production, event coordination and alumni and public relations. A larger role for Quakerism at Swarthmore is important for two reasons. First, it will continue to set Swarthmore apart from other liberal arts schools around the country, giving it a strong ethical mission grounded in historic Quaker values. Second, it will more consciously attract students whose values are aligned with this mission. Swarthmore can build a community of students from all backgrounds who strongly identify with peace, individual activism and the liberal arts. I believe that to a large degree, the student body already reflects these values. However, I also believe that the administration and most students consider the role of the college to be primarily academic, while values and activism are only secondarily important. This dynamic should be reversed. Explicit reference to Quakerism should be included in this section of the Strategic Plan. The teachings and beliefs of our Hicksite founders are the direct roots of Swarthmore’s wonderful blend of individualism, liberal arts and social activism, and they should not be ignored.

In this draft and in recent years more broadly, Swarthmore has far undersold its ties to the Society of Friends. Whether because of external pressures to conform to rising secularism in the collegiate world or because of internal needs to diversify the student body, Swarthmore has reduced much of its rich past to token references on campus tours.

This must change. Understanding and even embracing Quakerism is neither at odds with maintaining Swarthmore’s academic prestige, nor a threat to the diversity of its student body.

Swarthmore College should be unabashed in its Quaker values. It should oppose violence in all forms, whether from international conflict or structural oppression. It should take a strong vocal stance on issues of immigration, the environment and war. The college commands influence and respect in the national academic sphere, and it should throw its weight behind peace witness. Change will never occur if traditionally activist colleges like Swarthmore remain silent.

Starting with the Strategic Plan, Swarthmore should make a bold public commitment to peace witness and Quaker values. Recent speakers on Quaker activism and the newly launched Global Nonviolent Action Database are certainly steps in the right direction. The establishment of the Young Friends Group also plays an important role. But more needs to be done.

The college should begin holding campus-wide debates and forums on issues of peace and conflict, as well as times of silent worship and reflection. The Swarthmore College Peace Collection, internationally renowned among scholars and activists, should be moved from its undignified location in McCabe basement.

Further, I would suggest the establishment of a Quaker Affairs Advisor at Swarthmore, modeled on a similar existing position at Haverford. Such a person could be in charge of developing, sponsoring and promoting events at Swarthmore relating to peace activism and Quakerism. The Quaker Advisor could also be in charge of several student workers who would deal with literature production, event coordination and alumni and public relations.

A larger role for Quakerism at Swarthmore is important for two reasons. First, it will continue to set Swarthmore apart from other liberal arts schools around the country, giving it a strong ethical mission grounded in historic Quaker values. Second, it will more consciously attract students whose values are aligned with this mission.

Swarthmore can build a community of students from all backgrounds who strongly identify with peace, individual activism and the liberal arts. I believe that to a large degree, the student body already reflects these values. However, I also believe that the administration and most students consider the role of the college to be primarily academic, while values and activism are only secondarily important. This dynamic should be reversed.

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Comment on Recommendation 4. Swarthmore should encourage and support faculty excellence, embracing exceptional teaching and active scholarship and artistic production throughout an individual’s career. by Josh Hallquist http://sp.swarthmore.edu/?p=992#comment-1207 Josh Hallquist Fri, 28 Oct 2011 03:24:02 +0000 http://blogs.swarthmore.edu/sp-pub-devl/?p=992#comment-1207 "We strive to give all students strong models of accomplishment, reflecting our nation and our world, and we know that individuals with different racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic identities enrich our community. " I would like to see this expanded to include diversity in terms of sexual orientation as well as gender identity - it benefits queer-identified students (and everyone really) of Swarthmore to work with queer-identified mentors in the faculty and staff. Their contributions as queer individuals cannot be overlooked. It seems like a simple oversight to exclude this but given the general lack of recognition of the contributions of queer individuals, I am a little concerned this is a larger issue with the current draft. “We strive to give all students strong models of accomplishment, reflecting our nation and our world, and we know that individuals with different racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic identities enrich our community. ”

I would like to see this expanded to include diversity in terms of sexual orientation as well as gender identity – it benefits queer-identified students (and everyone really) of Swarthmore to work with queer-identified mentors in the faculty and staff. Their contributions as queer individuals cannot be overlooked.

It seems like a simple oversight to exclude this but given the general lack of recognition of the contributions of queer individuals, I am a little concerned this is a larger issue with the current draft.

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Comment on Principle 4: Swarthmore strives to enroll students who will thrive intellectually, socially, and personally while helping enrich our community. We value access as an individual opportunity for students and as an institutional responsibility to educate students who—collectively—represent the world. by Marcus Ford http://sp.swarthmore.edu/?p=978#comment-1206 Marcus Ford Thu, 27 Oct 2011 21:15:05 +0000 http://blogs.swarthmore.edu/sp-pub-devl/?p=978#comment-1206 The authors of the draft obviously took painstaking effort to define diversity with an inclusive and extensive vocabulary. I'm surprised to see no mention of diverse sexual orientations or gender variance. Having lived in Pennsylvania for my entire life, I can confidently wager that Swarthmore College is one of the most accepting places in the state for non-straight and non-cisgender people. My state is much less progressive that I wish it were on these topics, and I think that Swarthmore should proudly affirm its leading position as a bastion of acceptance and equality. The Swarthmore community constantly edges new frontiers of intellectualism and social justice. Swarthmore's most dignifying aspects are reflected in this draft's devotion to gender balance, racial diversity, socioeconomic diversity, et cetera. However, there is more that needs to be said. The authors of the draft obviously took painstaking effort to define diversity with an inclusive and extensive vocabulary. I’m surprised to see no mention of diverse sexual orientations or gender variance. Having lived in Pennsylvania for my entire life, I can confidently wager that Swarthmore College is one of the most accepting places in the state for non-straight and non-cisgender people. My state is much less progressive that I wish it were on these topics, and I think that Swarthmore should proudly affirm its leading position as a bastion of acceptance and equality.

The Swarthmore community constantly edges new frontiers of intellectualism and social justice. Swarthmore’s most dignifying aspects are reflected in this draft’s devotion to gender balance, racial diversity, socioeconomic diversity, et cetera. However, there is more that needs to be said.

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Comment on Principle 3. Swarthmore recognizes that the faculty is critical to ensuring the excellence of the academic program. Our professors should be dedicated to teaching undergraduates while pursuing research, scholarly writing, and creative production in the arts. by Brent Stanfield http://sp.swarthmore.edu/?p=980#comment-1204 Brent Stanfield Thu, 27 Oct 2011 17:42:09 +0000 http://blogs.swarthmore.edu/sp-pub-devl/?p=980#comment-1204 While teaching and doing research are important jobs for faculty, it must not be forgotten that it is also critical for faculty to mentor students, and I saw nothing of the sort mentioned. While teaching and doing research are important jobs for faculty, it must not be forgotten that it is also critical for faculty to mentor students, and I saw nothing of the sort mentioned.

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Comment on Strategic Directions for Swarthmore College by John Halbert http://sp.swarthmore.edu/?page_id=1383#comment-1198 John Halbert Tue, 25 Oct 2011 16:40:14 +0000 http://sp.swarthmore.edu/?page_id=1383#comment-1198 An Institute for the Liberal Arts sounds like it might be a good idea - I'm certainly in favor of thinking about how technology has changed education - but I'm a little worried about another opportunity for Swarthmore students and faculty to take themselves too seriously. And pat themselves on the back while doing so. An Institute for the Liberal Arts sounds like it might be a good idea – I’m certainly in favor of thinking about how technology has changed education – but I’m a little worried about another opportunity for Swarthmore students and faculty to take themselves too seriously. And pat themselves on the back while doing so.

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Comment on Strategic Directions for Swarthmore College by Charles C. Torrey http://sp.swarthmore.edu/?page_id=1383#comment-1189 Charles C. Torrey Sun, 23 Oct 2011 11:41:42 +0000 http://sp.swarthmore.edu/?page_id=1383#comment-1189 Yes about excessive fluff. How about a summary of the above "Summary"? And yes about a moratorium on more buildings. It was the landscape that first drew me to Swarthmore, and it's what remains of the landscape that brings me back occasionally. Yes about excessive fluff. How about a summary of the above “Summary”? And yes about a moratorium on more buildings. It was the landscape that first drew me to Swarthmore, and it’s what remains of the landscape that brings me back occasionally.

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Comment on Strategic Directions for Swarthmore College by Patti Bressman http://sp.swarthmore.edu/?page_id=1383#comment-1182 Patti Bressman Fri, 21 Oct 2011 13:22:40 +0000 http://sp.swarthmore.edu/?page_id=1383#comment-1182 Strategic Directions asks: "Even more fundamentally, how will knowledge, teaching, and learning evolve in a rapidly changing—and shrinking—world? Swarthmore graduates will always need good writing, research, and analytical skills, but as lifelong learners in the 21st century, they will employ these competencies in a much different knowledge environment. How, then, will the intellectual attributes of a liberally educated individual be instilled in future Swarthmoreans?" The answer to this question must contain an imperative where all students graduate with a clear understanding of cause-and-effect relationships and the complex interconnections between the economy, our social systems, and the environment. And they have developed the knowledge, skills and habits of mind to act mindfully. Professors can weave this theme, of Education for Sustainability, through all majors so that our lifelong learners can be lifelong LEADERS who work collaboratively, ethically AND effectively for the “greater good” and a more sustainable future. Strategic Directions asks: “Even more fundamentally, how will knowledge, teaching, and learning evolve in a rapidly changing—and shrinking—world? Swarthmore graduates will always need good writing, research, and analytical skills, but as lifelong learners in the 21st century, they will employ these competencies in a much different knowledge environment. How, then, will the intellectual attributes of a liberally educated individual be instilled in future Swarthmoreans?”

The answer to this question must contain an imperative where all students graduate with a clear understanding of cause-and-effect relationships and the complex interconnections between the economy, our social systems, and the environment. And they have developed the knowledge, skills and habits of mind to act mindfully. Professors can weave this theme, of Education for Sustainability, through all majors so that our lifelong learners can be lifelong LEADERS who work collaboratively, ethically AND effectively for the “greater good” and a more sustainable future.

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Comment on Strategic Directions for Swarthmore College by margaret stone http://sp.swarthmore.edu/?page_id=1383#comment-1181 margaret stone Thu, 20 Oct 2011 19:32:22 +0000 http://sp.swarthmore.edu/?page_id=1383#comment-1181 I agree with above comments that the plan summary has too much fluff in it. Likewise, it lacks substance. I also believe that the plan fails to address the massive changes in education via the internet and other technologies that have some critics predicting the end of the expensive college education. Likewise, the increasing importance of community colleges, with transfers to four-year institutions. Nor do I see the plan take a look at the rate of increase in the cost of education compared to general inflation in the economy. I agree that the college should not grow in size, either in terms of student body, or in terms of number of buildings. I agree with above comments that the plan summary has too much fluff in it. Likewise, it lacks substance. I also believe that the plan fails to address the massive changes in education via the internet and other technologies that have some critics predicting the end of the expensive college education. Likewise, the increasing importance of community colleges, with transfers to four-year institutions. Nor do I see the plan take a look at the rate of increase in the cost of education compared to general inflation in the economy. I agree that the college should not grow in size, either in terms of student body, or in terms of number of buildings.

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Comment on Strategic Directions for Swarthmore College by John Harbeson http://sp.swarthmore.edu/?page_id=1383#comment-1180 John Harbeson Thu, 20 Oct 2011 15:47:56 +0000 http://sp.swarthmore.edu/?page_id=1383#comment-1180 The Plan well summarizes what I think we all love and hold dear about Swarthmore. I do think, however, that the overall celebratory tone of the Plan may tend to gloss over some hard issues, some crossroads ahead, which the College will need to address head-on in some way. Two of these stand out. 1. The Plan notes that Swarthmore style liberal arts education has been increasingly subject to criticism on grounds of efficacy and relevance. But the Plan does not address specifically the nature of those critiques, apart from financial cost, or how the College proposes to respond to, neutralize, overcome those critiques. Those of us in the academy ourselves have seen constant pressures in the direction of diluting or marginalizing liberal arts education. The proposed Institute is a great idea, but I think the Plan needs to address these critiques more directly than it does. By extension, the Plan seems not to acknowledge the possibility that important tradeoffs, or forks in the road, will need to be addressed, what those might be, and how the College witll undertake to address them 2. The 500 pound guerilla in the room, unacknowledged in the Plan, is the issue of size. The Plan acknowledges that Swarthmore remains one of the smallest of the liberal arts colleges, but nowhere does it address the pros and cons of the present size nor, I think, an implicit assumption that the College will continue to grow. Nor does it acknowledge or address some of the important implications of a likely continued increase in size. a. What are the costs to the College already of having no place outside of, perhaps, the gym where the entire College community can gather? What are the financial and physical appearance implications of having to build a new dining facility that can accommodate the whole community more easily. b. As an academic I wholeheartedly support the apparent commitment to reduce faculty course loads to two a semester rather than five for the year. The College can do no other if it truly wants faculty to achieve eminence as scholars as well as teachers. However, that decision drives a decision not only to hire more faculty but to increase the size of the student body so all those faculty have enough students to justify their presence on the campus. That in turn raises the issue of curricular priorities, what tradeoffs may be necessary, what the implications of a larger student body and faculty might be, inter alia, for the Honors Program. There is a clear upward bound escalator in which curricular diversity and faculty enlargement drive each other in the direction of a larger student body, the trade offs and pros and cons of which are not addressed directly,and they should be The Plan well summarizes what I think we all love and hold dear about Swarthmore. I do think, however, that the overall celebratory tone of the Plan may tend to gloss over some hard issues, some crossroads ahead, which the College will need to address head-on in some way. Two of these stand out.

1. The Plan notes that Swarthmore style liberal arts education has been increasingly
subject to criticism on grounds of efficacy and relevance. But the Plan does not address specifically the nature of those critiques, apart from financial cost, or how the College proposes to respond to, neutralize, overcome those critiques. Those of us in the academy ourselves have seen constant pressures in the direction of diluting or marginalizing liberal arts education. The proposed Institute is a great idea, but I think the Plan needs to address these critiques more directly than it does.
By extension, the Plan seems not to acknowledge the possibility that important tradeoffs, or forks in the road, will need to be addressed, what those might be, and how the College witll undertake to address them

2. The 500 pound guerilla in the room, unacknowledged in the Plan, is the issue of size. The Plan acknowledges that Swarthmore remains one of the smallest of the liberal arts colleges, but nowhere does it address the pros and cons of the present size nor, I think, an implicit assumption that the College will continue to grow. Nor does it acknowledge or address some of the important implications of a likely continued increase in size.

a. What are the costs to the College already of having no place outside of, perhaps, the gym where the entire College community can gather? What are the financial and physical appearance implications of having to build a new dining facility that can accommodate the whole community more easily.
b. As an academic I wholeheartedly support the apparent commitment to reduce
faculty course loads to two a semester rather than five for the year. The College can do no other if it truly wants faculty to achieve eminence as scholars as well as teachers. However, that decision drives a decision not only to hire more faculty but to increase the size of the student body so all those faculty have enough students to justify their presence on the campus. That in turn raises the issue of curricular priorities, what tradeoffs may be necessary, what the implications of a larger student body and faculty might be, inter alia, for the Honors Program. There is a clear upward bound escalator in which curricular diversity and faculty enlargement drive each other in the direction of a larger student body, the trade offs and pros and cons of which are not addressed directly,and they should be

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Comment on Strategic Directions for Swarthmore College by Matthew Turner http://sp.swarthmore.edu/?page_id=1383#comment-1179 Matthew Turner Thu, 20 Oct 2011 01:14:24 +0000 http://sp.swarthmore.edu/?page_id=1383#comment-1179 @David Randall '93 -- "You have about three pages of substance in a twelve-page document; boil it down to that length. If a Swarthmore education doesn’t prepare you to write clearly and concisely, what good is it?" haha I'm going to start saying this to my teachers when they assign too much reading D: @David Randall ’93 — “You have about three pages of substance in a twelve-page document; boil it down to that length. If a Swarthmore education doesn’t prepare you to write clearly and concisely, what good is it?”

haha I’m going to start saying this to my teachers when they assign too much reading D:

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Comment on Strategic Directions for Swarthmore College by Carol Osler http://sp.swarthmore.edu/?page_id=1383#comment-1178 Carol Osler Wed, 19 Oct 2011 14:06:25 +0000 http://sp.swarthmore.edu/?page_id=1383#comment-1178 "Strategic Directions" seems to be missing a crucial piece. It says a lot about how Swarthmore will continue to do what it has always done, and includes many pleasant descriptions of the College today. It says little, however, about a long list of well-known, ever-intensifying threats to our traditional model of higher education (see, for example, http://milproj.dc.umich.edu/pdfs/2011/2011-UIUC_Address.pdf). These threats include (i) internet learning, (ii) declining public research funds, and (iii) a cost ceiling (what will pay for continued cost increases, now that parents and students are maxing out on what they can contribute and the gov't is maxed out on debt?). Existential issues are exciting to consider and one might have expected them to be front and center. Instead, their treatment is compressed into a few vague paragraphs on pages 9-10: "We live in challenging and exciting times for higher education .... Many questions lie ahead: What will student demographics be like in 2030? Is our business model sustainable? Can financial aid keep pace with need?... In making the case for the liberal arts, Swarthmore should convene others to analyze future trends and best practices." That is, "Strategic Directions" seems to kick the strategic-direction can down the road. Is Swarthmore largely immune from these difficulties due to its immense endowment, strong alumni involvement, and huge applicant pool? This would be reassuring. Or was there just no consensus on What To Do? This would not be reassuring .... “Strategic Directions” seems to be missing a crucial piece. It says a lot about how Swarthmore will continue to do what it has always done, and includes many pleasant descriptions of the College today. It says little, however, about a long list of well-known, ever-intensifying threats to our traditional model of higher education (see, for example, http://milproj.dc.umich.edu/pdfs/2011/2011-UIUC_Address.pdf). These threats include (i) internet learning, (ii) declining public research funds, and (iii) a cost ceiling (what will pay for continued cost increases, now that parents and students are maxing out on what they can contribute and the gov’t is maxed out on debt?).
Existential issues are exciting to consider and one might have expected them to be front and center. Instead, their treatment is compressed into a few vague paragraphs on pages 9-10: “We live in challenging and exciting times for higher education …. Many questions lie ahead: What will student demographics be like in 2030? Is our business model sustainable? Can financial aid keep pace with need?… In making the case for the liberal arts, Swarthmore should convene others to analyze future trends and best practices.” That is, “Strategic Directions” seems to kick the strategic-direction can down the road.
Is Swarthmore largely immune from these difficulties due to its immense endowment, strong alumni involvement, and huge applicant pool? This would be reassuring. Or was there just no consensus on What To Do? This would not be reassuring ….

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Comment on Strategic Directions for Swarthmore College by David Randall http://sp.swarthmore.edu/?page_id=1383#comment-1176 David Randall Wed, 19 Oct 2011 04:14:48 +0000 http://sp.swarthmore.edu/?page_id=1383#comment-1176 You have about three pages of substance in a twelve-page document; boil it down to that length. If a Swarthmore education doesn't prepare you to write clearly and concisely, what good is it? You have about three pages of substance in a twelve-page document; boil it down to that length. If a Swarthmore education doesn’t prepare you to write clearly and concisely, what good is it?

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Comment on Strategic Directions for Swarthmore College by Joan Hart http://sp.swarthmore.edu/?page_id=1383#comment-1175 Joan Hart Wed, 19 Oct 2011 03:17:12 +0000 http://sp.swarthmore.edu/?page_id=1383#comment-1175 Looks to be a useful plan. Having been a psych major, improving the physical plant for psych would certainly have been desirable many moons ago and no doubt in the present. I did not find this write-up to be conducive to appreciating the full plan nor its full implications for curricular or other changes. Clarity is a real virtue! Good luck! Looks to be a useful plan. Having been a psych major, improving the physical plant for psych would certainly have been desirable many moons ago and no doubt in the present. I did not find this write-up to be conducive to appreciating the full plan nor its full implications for curricular or other changes. Clarity is a real virtue! Good luck!

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