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John Swallow inaugurated as Carthage president

April 23, 2018

Jeff Hamar ’80 (right), first vice chair of the Board of Trustees, conducts the investiture of ...Jeff Hamar ’80 (right), first vice chair of the Board of Trustees, conducts the investiture of John R. Swallow as Carthage's 23rd president.

Pledging to fulfill the duties of his office “faithfully and with great enthusiasm,” John R. Swallow was formally installed as Carthage president in an inauguration ceremony Saturday, April 21, at A. F. Siebert Chapel.

In his inaugural address, President Swallow compared Carthage’s ongoing mission to an expedition. Though “fraught with uncertainty” because of a looming shortage of high school students, growing distrust of higher education, and other factors, that expedition is all the more essential in these times, he explained.

President Swallow emphasized that Carthage is uniquely positioned to thrive in the face of these challenges. He pointed to the College’s history of bold moves, from enrolling female and African American students ahead of the curve to its prescient early 1960s move from rural Illinois to Kenosha.

Both dedicating himself fully to that expedition and urging others to join it, President Swallow said Carthage is committed to meet the needs of the wider community.

“We will prepare students not only for their lifetimes, but for the lifetimes of all those with whom they will come into contact,” he said.

The remarks came shortly after his formal investiture as president. Jeff Hamar ’80, first vice chair of the Board of Trustees, presented him the traditional presidential medallion.

President Swallow is the 23rd person to hold the office in Carthage’s 171-year history. Former presidents Gregory Woodward and F. Gregory Campbell were among the distinguished guests who joined faculty, staff, students and their families, trustees, delegates from more than 30 U.S. colleges and universities, and other supporters in the audience.

John M. McCardell Jr., vice chancellor at The University of the South, offers his remarks at the Inauguration of Carthage President John R. Swallow on April 21, 2018.John M. McCardell Jr., vice chancellor at The University of the South, offers his remarks at the Inauguration of Carthage President John R. Swallow on April 21, 2018.President Swallow took office in July with more than two decades of teaching and leadership experience at small, private liberal arts colleges. Previously the chief academic and operating officer for The University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee, he oversaw strides in curriculum, fundraising, equity and inclusion, enrollment, student life, faculty and staff development, and strategic planning.

That university’s vice chancellor, John M. McCardell Jr., heartily endorsed President Swallow in his inaugural remarks, calling him a leader with “unflappable competence.” Mr. McCardell also gave a withering critique of the periodically reappearing charge that holistic education is on its last legs.

“The liberal arts college has proved to be remarkably resilient and remarkably adaptable,” he said. “You have chosen a leader who understands that.”

President Swallow’s wife, Cameron, and several other family members joined him for the ceremony. Mr. McCardell complimented the couple for exemplifying service.

“John and Cameron don’t simply mouth the words of ‘community,’” he said. “They live them.”

Other speakers included Mr. Hamar, who chaired the presidential search committee; Ellena Ignacio ’18, president of Student Government; Professor Leslie Cameron, chair of the Psychological Science Department; and trustee Hoyt Harper II ’77.

The ceremony was one of several events held during the inaugural weekend, celebrating the link between Carthage’s storied past and its promising future. Besides Mr. McCardell, President Swallow’s guests included these former colleagues:

  • Adam Ross, novelist and editor of The Sewanee Review, who joined President Swallow and Carthage students for a discussion of the experimental novel “Lincoln in the Bardo.”
  • Tim Chartier, a professor of mathematics and computer science at Davidson College in North Carolina, exhibited his unique talents during his visit. He and his wife, Tanya, who trained under Marcel Marceau, merged mime and mathematical principles in a public “Mime-matics” show. Mr. Chartier also spoke about sports analytics at a local high school.
  • John Kuykendall, president emeritus at Davidson, whose speech at a dinner following the ceremony balanced humor with insight.
  • John Wertheimer, a Davidson history professor, who composed a Carthage-themed song for the occasion. He provided accompaniment on guitar while President Swallow, Cameron, and their children, Bard and Sophie, sang “Together” at the Saturday evening dinner.

President Swallow began his term by connecting with many alumni and students, while immersing himself in the College’s history. Recently elected vice chair of the Kenosha Area Business Alliance board of directors, he has worked to expand the College’s impact in the Kenosha and Racine communities. He also presided over the planning phase of a comprehensive career development program for all Carthage students.

Special guest John Wertheimer, left, provides accompaniment while John, Cameron, Bard, and Sophie...Special guest John Wertheimer, left, provides accompaniment while John, Cameron, Bard, and Sophie Swallow sing “Together” at the inaugural dinner April 21, 2018.