Alum Employees Play Major Role at Haverford

When I was a senior shortly after the Civil War, a friend of mine said, “Maybe someday you’ll come back and work here.”  I told him that was the last thing I’d ever do.  I should have known better–and that’s not just hindsight after 37 years of employment at Haverford. Lots of alums do return to work at their alma mater. Haverford’s current count is 31 (19 full-time), most prominently of course President Steve Emerson ’74.

Alums on the faculty and in the administration of small liberal arts colleges are nothing new. In the 20th century,  four  Haverford presidents, William Wistar Comfort 1894, Felix Morley 1915, Hugh Borton ’26 and Tom Kessinger ’63/65, earned diplomas here while five others (Isaac Sharpless, Gilbert White, Jack Coleman, Robert Stevens and Tom Tritton) emerged from other undergraduate backgrounds.

Other alums such as triple-threat (VP, prof, 1st Director of Admission) Arch MacIntosh ’22; Mac’s successor in Admissions, Bill Ambler ’45, of the bright blue eyes and (for many) irresistible magnetism drawing them to attend Haverford; and Vice-President but oh-so-much-more Steve Cary ’37 likely shaped the College more than any others over half a century or more.

Among faculty, folks like Rufus Jones 1885 (philosophy), Francis B. Gummere 1872 (English), Henry J. Cadbury 1903 (Biblical literature) Levi Arnold Post 1911 (classics), Harry Pfund ’22 (German), William B . Meldrum ’42 (chemistry), Jack Lester ’37 (English), Holland Hunter ’43 (economics), John Cary ’45 (German/humanities), and John Davison ’51 (music) were among the glories of their times for many of their Haverford students.

Back in the day, most liberal arts college faculties included large contingents of alumni. In 1930, for example, 36% of Haverford’s faculty had received diplomas here. By 1950, the percentage of alumni faculty was down to 30% and dropped steadily through the decades since with 17% in 1960, 10% in 1970, 8% in 1980, 4% in 1990, and only 2.1% in 2000.  Genus Haverfordiensis seemed on its way to extinction as faculty at alma mater. However, while it’s too early to proclaim a trend, the 2009-10 catalog shows twice as high a percentage of faculty Fords as in 2000, 4.2%, holding forth in the classroom or lab.

Today’s students benefit from profs Ken Koltun-Fromm ’88 (religion), Andrea Morris ’91 (biology), Theresa Tensuan-Eli ’89 (English), Stephon Alexander ’93 (physics), and visitors Neal Grabell ’77 and David Lippel ’94, ably assisted by Magill Library mainstay Michael Persick ’88.

The recent appointment of Colin Bathory ’99 as Haverford’s first alum to serve as men’s lacrosse head coach highlights athletics as another traditional area for alumni returnees. Director of Athletics Wendy Smith ’87 (former women’s soccer coach) and highly-successful softball coach Jen Ward ’04 are full-time athletic staff while part-time assistant coaches include Ken  Norris ’73 (men’s tennis), Dan Crowley ’90 and Tim McLean ’06 (baseball), Vanesssa Pena ’09 (fencing) and a legion of former proteges of Tom Donnelly and Fran Rizzo helping with the men’s and women’s track and cross-country programs, including Doug Mason ’81, Bob Hasson ’82, JB Haglund ’02, Kate Reese ’06 and Jossi Fritz-Mauer ’06. Jody Mayer ’05 eased new women’s lacrosse coach Julie Shaner Young’s transition from the Ivy League (Princeton grad, Penn  coach) to Division III last year last year and is on hand again for the coming spring.

Admission Offices everywhere hire grads as integral parts of their staffs since they can hit the ground running conveying information about their college. We don’t know how Haverford missed Dean of Admission and Financial Aid Jess Lord, worthy successor to Bill Ambler, since he attended Westtown School as so many Fords have, but somehow he ended up as a Brown undergrad. Jess has more than redeemed himself, currently employing former Honor Council chair Mary (Green) Maier ’05 and Joe Coish ’06 to recruit future Fords.

Who better to warm the cockles of alumni hearts (and loosen up their pursestrings) than grads like Director of Leadership Gifts Ann West Figuredo ’84 (also sister, wife and mom of Haverfordians) and Associate Director–Major Gifts Lisa Piraino ’04 or to tell the alums and the world about campus doings than Director of College Communications Chris Mills ’82?

The exciting new academic centers on campus found chief administrators among the alumni pool, Parker Snowe ’79 at the Center for Peace and Global Citizenship and James Weissinger ’06 at the Hurford Humanities Center. Newly-minted BA Chaz Thomas ’09 is an invaluable research aide to Provost Linda Bell.

And we hope none of our students ever gets hurt, but if they do, they’re in good Haverfordian hands with Orthopedic Consultant Dr. Lawrence Miller ’75.

Those great folks working here with degrees from colleges throughout the world and the USA have brought all sorts of exciting ideas and innovations to the old place, but, as Daniel Webster said of Dartmouth in a famous Supreme Court case, “It is only a small college but there are those of us who love it.” It’s gratifying that so many of us get to use that affection every day right at its source!

–Greg Kannerstein ’63


1 Comment

  1. You also forgot Emily Higgs ’08, the newly appointed Quaker Affairs Program Coordinator.

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