common good
Rebecca Katz smiling in a headshot. She has shoulder-length brown hair and is wearing an olive-colored suit jacket.
The Asia Group
Collaborating with other Swatties has been a high point in the work on fighting the coronavirus, says Rebecca Katz ’95, who majored in political science and economics at Swarthmore. Through the COVID-19 Advisory Board, she reconnected with Marcella Nunez-Smith ’96, the committee’s co-chair. She has also worked with Sam Berger ’05, a member of the White House response team, and Kim Crusey ’95, an employee of the Department of Defense — and Katz’s former tennis partner at Swarthmore.

Sharing Expertise in the Fight Against COVID-19

by Kate Campbell
When Georgetown University professor Rebecca Katz ’95 was asked in March 2020 to become a public health adviser to the Biden campaign, she was eager to share her knowledge and experience. As director of the Center for Global Health Science and Security at Georgetown University Medical Center, Katz has spent 20 years working on pandemic preparedness.

“I couldn’t not help when asked,” says Katz, who received a master’s from the Yale School of Public Health in 1998 and a Ph.D. from Princeton in 2005. For 15 years, from 2004 to 2019, she was an expert consultant to the Department of State while building her scholarship, research, and teaching as a faculty member, first at George Washington University, then at Georgetown. “I’ve been very fortunate to be able to work in academia and also contribute directly to the policy process,” she says.

In November, Katz was named to President Joe Biden’s COVID-19 Advisory Board. She continues to support the Biden administration as a senior adviser to Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s team working on the COVID response and global health security and diplomacy.

“I’m honored to be back working with the government and hoping to translate my research and experiences into global health security and diplomacy policy and actions,” says Katz.

“Pandemic preparedness has always been political, but it had never been partisan,” she adds. “I was asked to join the team based on my years of experience focused on public health preparedness, pandemics, and global health security. It’s a way to contribute and help ensure the team would be in a good place at the start of the administration in order to effectively respond to the pandemic.”

The priority continues to be ending COVID-19.

“We must do everything we can to contain the virus and end the pandemic, save lives, and get our society back to normal,” says Katz. “We must focus on the systems that need to be rebuilt and strengthened in order to ‘build back better bio-preparedness.’ It is not either-or. It is both. Now.”

Jason Box receiving a vaccine from a female health care worker. Jason is wearing a Garnet Tennis T-shirt, a garnet-colored Swarthmore hat, and a white facemask with the Swarthmore “S” on it. The woman has on a white lab jacket and medical gloves.
Laurence Kesterson
TAKING A SHOT: The College hosted a series of COVID-19 vaccination clinics this spring, made possible thanks to the efforts of Worth Health Center staff members and others, in partnership with Rite Aid Pharmacy. Hundreds of College community members were vaccinated during the events, including Men’s Tennis Coach Jason Box (left), who received his shot in April during Swarthmore’s first clinic.
common good
A drone shot of Swarthmore’s campus on a sunny day. Parrish Hall is in the center, surrounded by trees with green, yellow, red, and brown leaves.
Natavan Werbock
Swarthmore’s energy plan will help eliminate 98% of on-site and purchased-electricity greenhouse gas emissions.

Roadmap to Zero Carbon

by Roy Greim ’14
In March, Swarthmore’s Board of Managers approved the implementation of a $69 million energy plan, an ambitious environmental vision to help the College eliminate 98% of on-site and purchased-electricity greenhouse gas emissions and reach its carbon-neutrality goal by 2035.

“Swarthmore has long believed in the importance of being responsible stewards for the natural environment,” says President Valerie Smith. “We recognize that the climate crisis is an existential threat, and we must take decisive action now to ensure we are leaving a healthy planet for future generations. This new energy master plan creates conditions that will allow us to fulfill our earlier promise of carbon neutrality by 2035.”

Adopting and implementing the energy plan, known as the “Roadmap to Zero Carbon,” positions Swarthmore as one of the leading higher education institutions in climate and sustainability efforts.

“This is a significant and exciting undertaking for the College — one that serves as an expression of the College’s values and that will result in tangible, measurable results in our community’s efforts to address the global climate crisis,” says Salem Shuchman ’84, chair of the Board of Managers.

“Having a fully comprehensive energy master plan that truly eliminates on-site and purchased-energy greenhouse gas emissions puts Swarthmore among a select few,” adds Sustainability Director Aurora Winslade.

The plan includes an overhaul of the campus heating and cooling infrastructure, which relies on a steam system that was built in 1911 and is powered by fossil fuels. In its place will be a series of geothermal wells deep beneath the campus grounds, with a centralized geo-exchange plant housed in the basement of the Dining and Community Commons, a project made possible by a gift from Rosamund Stone Zander ’64.

“Instead of investing more in a very old and inefficient steam system that uses last century’s technology, we can replace it with a new, highly efficient zero-carbon energy system on campus,” says Andy Feick, associate vice president for sustainable facilities operation and capital planning. (Read a Q&A with Feick on pg. 84.)

Winslade describes the system, similar to one now used to heat and cool PPR Apartments and Whittier Hall, as a kind of “giant rechargeable heat battery.”

The plan enables the College to improve power reliability, making the campus more resilient during power outages. It is the culmination of a multiyear effort that included Capital Planning and Project Management, the Finance and Investment Office, the Office of Sustainability, an external advisory board of experts, students, and faculty and graduates from the Environmental Studies and Engineering departments.

“It is important to us to take this leadership position, because we believe that it’s necessary to show peer institutions that this can be done,” says Feick. “We want them to see that we can support our communities through renewable sources and still have the comfort and programmatic support that we require in order to operate our campuses.”

common good

Campus Quickly

Campus Quickly
Headshot of Ameet Soni. He is wearing glasses and a red and blue plaid button-down shirt.
laurence kesterson

New Associate Dean of the Faculty

Associate Professor and Chair of Computer Science Ameet Soni was named Swarthmore’s next associate dean of the faculty for diversity, recruitment, and retention.

“One of my priorities as associate dean of the faculty is to bolster our mentoring programs for new faculty and to bring to the forefront challenges that face young faculty — particularly those from marginalized and underrepresented backgrounds — such as student debt, income insecurity, and limited access to child care,” says Soni, who has served on the Faculty Committee on Diversity and Excellence and the Ad-Hoc Child Care Committee.

Soni’s new role begins July 1. He succeeds Associate Professor of Statistics Lynne Steuerle Schofield ’99.

President Smith Joins ACE Board

President Valerie Smith was elected to the board of the American Council of Education (ACE), the largest higher education advocacy organization in the country.

“It is a privilege to represent the collaborative, diverse, and intellectually rich Swarthmore community as a board member of the American Council on Education,” says Smith, who will serve through March 2023. “As our nation grapples with the intersecting crises of inequality, racial justice, the financial and public health implications of COVID-19, and the very meaning of democracy itself, the transformative power of education has never been more important. I’m looking forward to serving in this role and advocating on behalf of students and institutions working to make higher education more inclusive and accessible.”

With a mission of mobilizing the higher education community to shape effective public policy and foster innovative, high-quality practices, ACE represents more than 1,700 two- and four-year public and private institutions.

A closeup of three silver organ pipes.
laurence kesterson
Making Beautiful Music Again: Thanks to a yearlong restoration project funded by a 2019 Lang family gift and donor challenge, the centerpiece organ in Lang Concert Hall is ready to show off its pipes once again. Built in the mid-1970s by the Holtkamp Organ Co., the instrument had been unplayable for at least 10 years. Its restoration was part of a full renovation of the 48-year-old Lang Music Building, which was named for the late College benefactor Eugene Lang ’38, H’81. Read more about the organ and watch as Senior Music Lecturer Andrew Hauze ’04 plays:

Mellon Grant for Diversity Program

Swarthmore received an $871,000 Mellon Foundation grant to expand a pilot program on academic leadership with a focus on diversity.

The grant supports the College’s vision for a leadership-development program for faculty in the arts and humanities from underrepresented institutions of higher education. The College will design and implement the program over the next four years, partnering with the University of Pennsylvania in the initial phase of the effort. The program is planned as a series of conferences, workshops, and guest lectures on leadership in the humanities.

common good
A Black cowboy wearing a white shirt and white hat and riding a black horse. Behind them is a mural of Malcolm X painted on the side of a Philadelphia rowhouse.
Legends, a portrait of a Philadelphia Black cowboy by Ron Tarver, associate professor of art.

In Pursuit of Scholarship

Two Swarthmore faculty members received coveted Guggenheim Fellowships, joining just 182 other artists, writers, scholars, and scientists from across the U.S. and Canada this year.
Headshot of Steven Hopkins
Steven Hopkins
Steven P. Hopkins, the Mari S. Michener Professor of Religion, and Ron Tarver, associate professor of art, enter the decorated and diverse ranks of fellows. The Guggenheim Foundation selected the fellows from almost 3,000 applications through a rigorous peer-review process.

For Hopkins, the fellowship will allow him to expand into a book a project he has been developing on lament as an ethical witness to particular love and loss, including female laments in the poetry and prophecies of the English poet William Blake and in early Greek, Greek Christian, Hindu, and Buddhist literature.

Black-and-white headshot of Ron Tarver
Ron Tarver
The fellowship represents the culmination of decades of intense creative work for Tarver, who will use the funding from the fellowship to continue a project based on his father’s photo archive and to produce a book and exhibit on Black Cowboys.

This year’s Guggenheim winners also include Tara Zahra ’98, the Homer J. Livingston Professor of History at the University of Chicago, and Seth Koven ’78, the G.E. Lessing Distinguished Professor of History and Poetics at Rutgers University.


Now a Department, Spanish Delivering nuanced Student Experiences

by Ryan Dougherty
When Associate Professor Luciano Martínez announced in spring 2019 that Spanish was becoming its own department at Swarthmore, it was met with a mix of delight and surprise.

“Many of our students grew up in bilingual homes, and others have been studying Spanish since childhood,” says Martínez. “Spanish is not ‘foreign’ to them: It is part of their lives. That is why it was so personal for many of them. It was a very joyous moment.”

Adds Salima Bourguiba ’19, who majored in economics and Spanish: “It truly never occurred to me that it wasn’t already a department, because it always felt like one.”

As the Spanish program grew within the Modern Languages and Literature Department, it became increasingly difficult to manage. Martínez, now chair of the new department, and María-Luisa Guardiola, professor of Spanish, worked for many years to establish Spanish as a department — improving learning goals and assessment, honing the structure of the curriculum, finding smarter models of teaching intensive Spanish language courses, and more.

There’s been a sharp increase in students combining Spanish with another major, such as biology or engineering. The department aims for students to be able to communicate fluently in Spanish, with a nuanced understanding of the literatures and cultures of Spain, Latin America and the Caribbean, and Latinos in the U.S., says Martínez. The goal is a vibrant community of Spanish learners and speakers on campus.

common good
Headshot of Atinuke Lardner, smiling.
Laurence Kesterson
Atinuke Lardner ’22 says partnering with Laura Markowitz ’85 as a beta reader helped her to learn about “effective pedagogical writing techniques.”
Headshot of Ryan Arazi, smiling with palm trees in the background.
courtesy of ryan arazi ’21
“I feel like a more well-informed citizen with a deeper understanding of the economic underpinnings of points of view that are not my own,” says Ryan Arazi ’21.


by Ryan Dougherty
The global pandemic disrupted but did not deter Swarthmore’s popular Extern Program over the past year. The Career Services office pivoted to a program of virtual micro-internships, connecting 79 students with alumni across an array of fields last summer, and an additional 98 students this winter and spring.

“The students pursued incredibly diverse projects, reflecting the myriad ways alumni make an impact in the world,” says Nancy Burkett, director of Career Services, whose team began developing the new SwatWorks program last year amid disruptions to students’ summer plans caused by COVID-19.

Just as in past years, students worked closely with alumni partners to gain a glimpse of professions that interest them. They still gleaned career insights and developed professional skills, but this year students were also able to complete substantive projects.

Thanks to the Advancement Office, the alumni and parent councils, alumni affinity groups, and former extern sponsors, students had a wide swath of opportunities, and with the support of alumni donors, they even received funding for undertaking projects.

For their micro-internships, Ryan Arazi ’21 and Atinuke Lardner ’22 each partnered with Laura Markowitz ’85, serving as beta readers for a textbook she’s writing for Voices on the Economy (VOTE).

“The work was a cutting-edge introduction to economics that emphasized the importance of learning multiple viewpoints in order to enhance how our democracy functions,” says Arazi, a peace & conflict studies major from Staten Island, N.Y. “After reading the textbook and adding my own comments to it, I feel like a more well-informed citizen with a deeper understanding of the economic underpinnings of points of view that are not my own.”

“I completed practice exercises and interpreted graphics as if I were a student, all while learning about effective pedagogical writing techniques,” adds Lardner, a political science, philosophy, and economics special major from South Orange, N.J. “I thoroughly enjoyed this project and am grateful to Laura.”

Career Services plans to relaunch the SwatWorks program in the 2021–22 academic year and invites ideas for micro-internships.

Meaningful Mentorships

The Lang Center for Civic & Social Responsibility has named Mark Hanis ’05 and Pukar Malla ’02 — alumni with a track record of successful innovation — as its Lang Senior Fellows.

As senior fellows, Hanis and Malla will engage students as mentors, internship hosts, and co-instructors or guest lecturers in Swarthmore courses during the 2021 calendar year.

“We are always grateful for the robust engagement of Swarthmore College alumni, but are especially thrilled to have two social innovators actively supporting current Swarthmore students in both curricular and co-curricular ways,” says Jennifer Magee, senior associate director of the Lang Center.

A social entrepreneur, Hanis is the co-founder of two startups: Inclusive America, a nonprofit that aims to increase diversity, equity, and inclusion in government, and Progressive Shopper, a technology company that harnesses conscious consumption. He is also an associate fellow at the European campus of the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.

Malla is a community organizer, leadership coach, and policy entrepreneur who has been leading with a vision of an enterprising Nepal. He spearheads the Daayitwa Campaign, which promotes youth employment in Nepal through collaboration among four startups that he co-founded: Daayitwa, Governance Lab, Nepal Leadership Academy, and Nepal Rising.