Held at: Friends Historical Library of Swarthmore College [Contact Us]500 College Avenue, Swarthmore, Pennsylvania 19081
This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Friends Historical Library of Swarthmore College. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.
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Rebecca Chopp was the 14th President of Swarthmore College (2009-2014). She is a well-known scholar of religion and American culture. While at Swarthmore, Chopp researched changing structures and cultures of higher education, the role of liberal arts in a democratic society, and religion and higher education. She resigned from Swarthmore College in 2014 to become the 18th Chancellor of the University of Denver.
Chopp, a native of Kansas, 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. She also holds honorary doctorates in divinity from Lehigh University and Lafayette College. In addition to more than 50 published articles, Chopp wrote or edited five books before coming to Swarthmore, primarily concentrating on the intersections of feminist theory and theology.
From 1982, Chopp briefly worked as Assistant Professor of Theology at the University of Chicago Divinity School. Next, she accepted a posting at Emory University, continuing there for the next 15 years in a variety of faculty and administrative positions culminating as Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs. In 2001 Chopp took a position as Dean and Titus Street Professor of Theology at Yale Divinity School, then moved to Colgate University, where she served as President and Professor of Philosophy and Religion from 2002 to 2009.
The years of Rebecca Chopp's presidency at Swarthmore College, from 2009 to 2014, spanned times of triumph as well as strife. In the wake of the 2008 "Great Recession," Swarthmore College successfully managed to avoid reductions in faculty, staff, or financial aid; and she secured some of the largest donations in the college's history. Chopp also helmed the adoption of a new strategic plan; and she worked to establish the Frank Aydelotte Foundation for the Advancement of the Liberal Arts in 2012. However, Chopp's term also included a period she labeled as "the spring of our discontent." In 2013, a number of Swarthmore students raised serious concerns about the college's handling of sexual assaults reported on campus, alleging violations of Title IX (the federal law that prohibits sex discrimination) and triggering investigations from the U.S. Department of Education. Around the same time, student protests about the college's investment practices, specifically investment in environmentally-destructive fossil fuels, led to confrontations between the student body and the Board of Directors. Additional incidents on campus led to a heightened, politicized atmosphere at the college.
In June of 2014, Chopp announced her resignation from Swarthmore College to accept a posting as chancellor of the University of Denver. She cited personal and professional motivations drawing her to Colorado, affirming that she loved her time at Swarthmore.
One month after Chopp announced her resignation, art history professor and former provost Constance Cain Hungerford stepped in as interim president. Hungerford continued in that role for approximately one year. Valerie Smith, a distinguished scholar of African American literature and culture and Dean of the College at Princeton University, was named the 15th president of Swarthmore College in February 2015.
This collection includes correspondence, speech texts, and other documents from Chopp's time as Swarthmore College President, 2009-2014, and from Interim President Constance Hungerford, 2014-2015.
The collection features print-outs of notes, scripts, and slides for speeches, remarks, and presentations given by Chopp during her presidency at Swarthmore College. These range from speeches for commencements and her own inauguration, to brief remarks and introductions of speakers at various events, to slides from presentations to the faculty, parents council, and other groups. There is also some paper and e-mail correspondence, 2009-2014, that consists primarily of responses to alumni expressing kudos or concerns about developments at the college. Communications with other departments or administrators on campus are absent. Additionally, there is a file of print letters (computer print-out copies, not on letterhead) sent by Chopp, 2012-2014. These letters, which are not arranged chronologically, include notes of appreciation or acknowledgment from Chopp to individuals who were featured in the "Swarthmore College Bulletin," assisted with the college Sesquicentennial celebration events of 2014, or provided other services to the college.
Similar documents from Interim President Constance Hungerford are also in the collection: texts and outlines for speeches and remarks, copies of paper correspondence, and print-outs of email correspondence.
The papers of President Rebecca Chopp and Interim President Constance Hungerford were reviewed by the Secretary of the College and Vice President for Communications in 2015 and selected papers were deposited in the College Archives.
Additional materials were retrieved from inactive records storage in Parrish with the permission of the President's Office, 2016, and added to the collection.
- Universities and colleges -- Pennsylvania -- History -- 21st century
- Universities and colleges -- Administration
- Universities and colleges -- Pennsylvania -- Swarthmore
- Friends Historical Library of Swarthmore College
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- Access Restrictions
This collection is restricted until 2039 and requires the permission of the President of Swarthmore College or the Chairman of the Board of Managers of the College. Contact the repository for details.
- Use Restrictions
Copyright has not been assigned to Friends Historical Library. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted to the Director. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the Friends Historical Library as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by reader.