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Office of the President

About John Swallow

John R. Swallow is the 23rd president of Carthage College.John R. Swallow is the 24th president of Carthage College.

A scholar with more than 25 years of teaching, research, and leadership experience at small liberal arts colleges, President Swallow has a deep commitment to innovative education. Since taking office in July 2017, he has developed comprehensive strategies to guide the College’s work on several fronts.

Through his vision, Carthage has implemented a variety of forward-thinking initiatives. He has overseen the launches of The Aspire Program™ for career development, several academic programs that align with student interest, and three new NCAA Division III sports.

President Swallow stood up for cost transparency, going against the grain to implement a tuition reset. Determined to make a Carthage education accessible to the widest possible pool of talented students, he lowered the “sticker price” by 30 percent.

Similarly, he has worked to ensure an equitable and inclusive educational environment. President Swallow convened an advisory board of student, faculty, and staff representatives dedicated to diversity, equity, and inclusion, and directed each department on campus to design and carry out a diversity-focused project. Empowering its passionate alumni network, Carthage has raised millions of dollars in targeted campaigns to support women and students of color.

President Swallow laid out an overarching strategic framework to inform Carthage’s decision-making in the coming years as demographic changes make higher education increasingly competitive. United by the theme “Partnerships for a Rising Tide,” it emphasizes mutually beneficial connections with community partners.

In that collaborative spirit, President Swallow serves on the board of directors for the Kenosha Area Business Alliance, the emerging Performing Arts Center of Kenosha, and a mix of state and national higher education networks. He’s also involved in collaborative efforts to reduce achievement gaps and improve outcomes through the Higher Education Regional Alliance, Higher Expectations for Racine County, and Building Our Future in Kenosha. President Swallow also serves on the board of Agnes Scott College, a women’s college in Decatur, Georgia, that is recognized nationally for innovation, social mobility, and students’ first-year experience.

Enrolling at age 15 in The University of the South — known informally as “Sewanee” for the Tennessee community in which it’s located — President Swallow graduated in 1989 with honors in both English literature and mathematics. He also holds two master’s degrees and a Ph.D. in mathematics, all from Yale University.

The young scholar taught on the faculty at Davidson (North Carolina) College for 17 years, spending sabbatical years in Israel and France. He won the Omicron Delta Kappa Teaching Award in 2010. Previously involved in Sewanee’s governance as an elected trustee and regent, President Swallow joined the administration in 2011 and rose to chief academic and operating officer before accepting the presidency at Carthage.

President Swallow has published articles in The Chronicle of Higher Education, The Huffington Post, Inside Higher Ed, and The Hechinger Report, plus an undergraduate textbook and more than two dozen research articles in mathematics.

His wife, Cameron, has extensive experience as a secondary school math and English teacher. She is a board member for several area not-for-profits and Wisconsin’s state co-coordinator for Braver Angels, a nationwide effort to depolarize political conversation. Mrs. Swallow is part of bluegrass band Flat Creek Highway, which plays at venues across the region.

The couple has two grown children, Bard and Sophie, and a basset hound, Watson.

  • Quick Facts

    • Carthage is named a Best Midwestern College by The Princeton Review (2021), a designation given to only 25 percent of four-year schools.

    • The Tower, Carthage’s newest residence hall, provides some of the best views on campus — if not in the Midwest! In addition to #carthageviews of the lake from seven stories up, residents enjoy suite-style living and two floors of shared campus spaces for gaming, cooking, group meetings, or quiet studying. Learn more about all housing options.

    • You’re going to need brain fuel. Grab a morning coffee and a snack and Starbucks or Einstein Bros. Bagels. Later, meet friends at “The Caf,” where the specials change daily but the staples are constant, or swing through “The Stu” for wings, a burrito, or a sub. A new option, Carthage Cash, even covers some off-campus meals.

    • More than 90% of Carthage alumni report that they have secured a job or are continuing their studies six months after graduation. Visit The Aspire Center.

    • 91% of employers say critical thinking, communication, and problem-solving skills matter more than your major when it comes to career success. Learn more about how the liberal arts prepare you for a successful career.

    • Lots of schools wear the four-year label. Carthage stands behind it. More than 90% of Carthage graduates earn their degrees in four years. Learn more

    • Oscars. Emmys. Tonys. Golden Globes. The playwrights we’ve brought in have them. Each year, the Carthage Theatre Department commissions an original script by a renowned playwright for its New Play Initiative. Carthage students then work with the writer to stage it. 

    • Carthage has ranked as a top Fulbright producer for four of the past five years. Read about Carthage Fulbright winners.

    • Things look new at Carthage because they are. Our science center, student union, athletic and recreation center, and numerous residence halls have all been constructed or newly renovated in the last 15 years.

    • Carthage offers majors, minors, and concentrations in more than 50 areas of study, from marketing to neuroscience, nursing to music theatre.

    • Our Summer Undergraduate Research Experience offers select students a research budget, one-on-one mentoring with a professor, and 10 weeks of analyzing, deciphering — and getting paid.

    • So the lake is kind of a focal point, but there’s a lot more to love about our campus — like the fact that our more than 80-acre campus is also an arboretum and wildlife sanctuary. Focused on keeping campus lush forever, we plant between 50 and 75 new trees every year from a variety of species.

    • Carthage was founded in 1847. That’s more than 170 years of leaders, makers, and go-getters going out and going forth. Read more about Carthage’s rich history.

    • More than 90 percent of students receive financial aid. Carthage awards more than $20 million in scholarship and grant assistance. That includes $5.5 million in competitive scholarships in business, mathematics, science, languages, the fine arts, leadership, and overall academic strength. Learn what’s available.

    • Abraham Lincoln was an early Trustee of the College, and U.S. Secretary of State John Hay was a Carthage alum. The two still have a proud place on our campus. Spend some time with them in our Sesquicentennial Plaza. On warm days you’ll find professors leading their classes here.

    • Come to Carthage; hear yourself think — think … think …
      Legend has it that Sesquicentennial Plaza holds a perfect echo. Just stand with both your feet on the “1847,” face Straz, and start talking. “You’re the only one who can hear you, but you’ll be crystal clear,” promises English and theatre alumna Mikaley Osley.

    • Our Great Lake provides Carthage students with some amazing views. Think classes on the beach, lake views from the lab, and sunrises from your dorm room. “I love waking up in the morning with the sun shining off the lake. Nothing compares to the view in the morning,” recalls biology and neuroscience major Ann O’Leary.

    • Carthage awards up to 35 Presidential Scholarships each year, which range from $25,000 up to full tuition. Learn more.

    • For a full decade, NASA has selected Carthage students to conduct research aboard its zero-gravity aircraft. Lately, the stakes have risen. A team of underclassmen is grinding to prepare a tiny but powerful Earth-imaging satellite for launch to the International Space Station. Learn more about the space sciences at Carthage

    • Carthage is the only college or university in the Midwest where every freshman takes a full-year sequence of foundational texts of the Western intellectual tradition. Learn about Intellectual Foundations.

    • With a student-faculty ratio of 13:1, your professors will know who you are. They will also know who you want to be — and how to get you there. Meet our faculty.

    • There are more than 130 student organizations on campus, from Amnesty International to Fencing to Frisbee, Chem Club to Stand Up Comedy. See how easy it is to get involved.

    • True story: There are more than 27 art galleries, a dozen museums, and nine theatres within 25 miles of Carthage. Some highlights: The nationally recognized Racine Art Museum, the world-renowned Art Institute of Chicago, and the Milwaukee Art Museum. Learn more about our location.

    • What’s better than one professor? Two professors. What’s better than two professors? Two professors from totally different fields teaching a single class. There’s debate. Discussion. Differing perspectives. This is where the magic happens. That’s why every student takes a Carthage Symposium.

    • You can’t hide here — not with only 17 other students in the classroom with you. That’s going to be rough some mornings. But later, when you’re able to argue your point of view thoughtfully, express your opinions succinctly, and meet challenges head-on, without fear … Yep, you’ll thank us.

    • Carthage is ranked in the Top 5 in the country for student participation in short-term study abroad. Every J-Term, hundreds of students travel all over the world on faculty-led study tours. Imagine a month in Sweden, Rome, Cuba, Senegal, India, Japan …