Colgate's Chopp to become president of Swarthmore

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Colgate University President Rebecca Chopp today announced that she will become president of Swarthmore College effective July 1, 2009. Chopp has been president of Colgate since July of 2002.

“Colgate’s world-class faculty, academic programs, and strong sense of community drew me to Colgate seven years ago and it has been an honor to serve as president during a time of remarkable activity, achievement, and progress,” said Chopp. “The decision to leave Colgate was difficult, but I do so with confidence that this university and its people are poised for even greater successes thanks to all of the hard work that has been done and the strong partnerships that have been formed in recent years. Colgate is a truly special place and I will miss it great

As Colgate’s 15th president, Chopp has led the development and implementation of a comprehensive strategic plan that has elevated the university’s academic profile, and positioned Colgate as the nation’s leading liberal arts university. Under Chopp’s leadership, guided by the strategic plan, Colgate established a leading residential education program, amplified the university’s commitment to diversity, elevated arts programming, reaffirmed the university’s commitment to Division I athletics, and expanded Colgate’s connections with the central New York region.

During Chopp’s tenure as president, applications for admission and yield of the best students have risen sharply as have alumni engagement and giving. In just two years since its launch, Colgate’s fundraising campaign has raised more than $300 million for financial aid, academics, facilities, athletics and student life.

“I speak for Colgate’s trustees and, I am sure, the entire Colgate community when I say that we are very grateful to Rebecca for her outstanding service and bold leadership during a time of remarkable progress and accomplishment for Colgate,” said Chris Clifford ’67, chair of Colgate’s Board of Trustees. “Colgate today is in a strong position as we address the opportunities and challenges our institution and our students face in the 21st century. This university is driven by the passion and power of its people and while we are sad to see Rebecca go, our community of trustees, administrators, faculty, staff, students and alumni will ensure we continue to advance as we search for our next president.”

Colgate’s Board of Trustees has selected Board Vice Chair Peg Flanagan ’80 as chair of the presidential search committee, which will be formed in the coming weeks. During the search process, Colgate’s Dean of the Faculty and Provost Lyle Roelofs, who has been at Colgate since 2004, has agreed to serve as interim president.

During Chopp’s tenure, Colgate made great strides defining its unique position as a leading liberal arts university, capturing the spirit and intensity of a large university with the intimate learning environment and traditions of a small liberal arts college. Chopp oversaw the strengthening of academic programs through the development of new interdisciplinary institutes and centers and the 2007 openings of the new Robert H.N. Ho ’56 Interdisciplinary Science Center and the completely renovated Case Library and Geyer Center for Information Technology, which marked the most significant expansion of academic space in the university’s history.

Chopp led the implementation of a new vision for residential education that provides leadership education for students and new programs in the arts, academic teams and wellness. The university’s Division I athletics program has been strengthened and university-community partnerships have continued to thrive as a model for higher education.

All of this was accomplished as Colgate extended its record of consecutive balanced budgets, 45 years, and secured contributions to fund endowments that covered the operating costs of new buildings constructed during her tenure.

Prior to Colgate, Chopp spent 15 years at Emory University, ultimately serving as provost and executive vice president for academic affairs before serving as dean and Titus Street Professor of Theology at the Yale Divinity School.

Chopp received her BA from Kansas Wesleyan University, her MDiv from St. Paul School of Theology and her PhD from the University of Chicago. Chopp is married to Frederick H. Thibodeau. They have three sons.