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Swarthmore Arrogance

This comes in response to the Bulletin’s request for confirmation that I wish to continue to receive it. The answer on reflection is yes—for the sake of people remembered. Very occasionally, there is an article that interests me to keep. But as I am going to venture on criticism, this letter is addressed to the editors.

The new format seems good, and the color graphics (the cover in particular) touch a high standard. Having published two books about art, my eye is ‘into’ such things. As to the content, my view is that you probably do about as well as possible under the eyes of your masters.

During my first freshman week at Swarthmore, Dean Hunt said to me: “The Quakers pray on their knees on Sundays and on their neighbors the rest of the week.” This was delivered with the convert’s edge of self-satisfaction. It proved a true bill for my experience then and since.

My breath has always been taken away by Swarthmore arrogance. It is there still in every Bulletin To prepare this letter, I began to list instances in the present Bulletin Soon my list went off the bottom of the page. So I will cite just one early example. To answer the letter proposing to increase endowment spending, Vice President for Finance and Treasurer Suzanne Welsh reports that the financial managers “take a very long-term view of its endowment.” Well, wouldn’t we all like that luxury for ourselves? This “answer” is in reality no answer at all—merely a dismissal of all the points your correspondent makes. Arrogance.

My time at Swarthmore yielded a few fine teachers and teaching. Amongst such teachers there was never much arrogance. But they were even then a minority. My impression is that since then things have worsened, culminating in the present administration.

You will be under much pressure to continue the thunderous Swarthmore self-praise. So perhaps this letter is no more than a notice that it is not universally welcomed. (The Yale publications, for instance, seemed to get on very well without such.)

Whatever the answer, if you continue to send the Bulletin I will continue to receive it, read it, and extract what I can.

Jerrold Northrop Moore ’55
Broadway, Worcestershire, England

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