Biographical / Historical
Alfred H. Bloom was the 13th President of Swarthmore College (1991-2009). One of Swarthmore's longest-serving presidents, he emphasized the importance of intellectual rigor, diversity, and social responsibility on campus, and is best known for revitalizing the Honors Program and eliminating varsity football. A linguistics scholar, Bloom formerly held faculty positions at Swarthmore College and Pitzer College, and resigned from his Swarthmore Presidency to become Vice Chancellor of NYU Abu Dhabi.
Alfred H. Bloom was born in New York City in 1946 and married Peggi Hennigan in 1971. He earned a B.A. in Romance languages and European civilization from Princeton University in 1967, then spent the following two years studying in France on a Fulbright-Hays Fellowship. Upon receiving his Ph.D. in psychology and social relations from Harvard University in 1974, Bloom returned to Swarthmore College, this time as a professor.
Bloom remained on Swarthmore's faculty in linguistics and psychology from 1974 to 1986. During that same period, he served as assistant provost, director of the Linguistics Program, coordinator of a comprehensive review and restructure, and coordinator of Asian Studies. He also authored two books, The Linguistic Shaping of Thought: A Study of the Impact of Language on Thinking in China and the West (1981) and Moral Behavior in Chinese Society (1981) as well as numerous articles. Bloom briefly left Swarthmore to work as professor of psychology and linguistics, executive vice president, and dean of faculty at Pitzer College. In 1991, Bloom returned to Swarthmore as President of the College.
Bloom's tenure as president was among the longest in Swarthmore's history, spanning from 1991 until 2009. In that time, he focused on instilling students with a sense of social responsibility, strengthening the financial aid program, revitalizing the Honors Program, and encouraging diversity and academic excellence on campus. Bloom has been criticized for his decision to end the football program at Swarthmore.
Bloom left Swarthmore College in 2009 to accept a posting as Vice Chancellor of NYU Abu Dhabi.