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Don’t just follow best practices. Create them too. That’s the innovative mindset John Swallow has baked into the culture as president of Carthage College. It’s more than an aversion to conformity. Swallow knows higher education needs bold institutions like Carthage to signal others when it’s time to stop zigging and start zagging.
“What sets our college apart? Our clear-eyed sense of the future. Our confidence in recognizing opportunities. And our creativity in capitalizing on them,” Swallow says. “We keep our plans short-term, our thinking responsive, and our teams ready to knock it out of the park.”
Swallow credits Carthage faculty, staff and students for constantly looking ahead to the next curve. This ongoing evolution is punctuated by big strides. In 2019, the college lowered tuition by 30% and launched The Aspire Program for all students, which connects their interests and values to career paths. In 2020, Carthage joined the Moon Shot for Equity and committed to wipe out equity gaps by 2030. This year, faculty and staff announced a new major in engineering science and a coed varsity esports team. The college even chose a new team name (Go Firebirds!) and redesigned the commencement ceremony to tailor it for individual families.
Swallow takes enormous pride in success stories like 2018 Carthage graduate Erin Magennis. A Milwaukee-based tech founder and community organizer, her diverse projects range from a cryptocurrency platform to holistic wellness.
The campus location, along Lake Michigan just south of Milwaukee, is a major draw in recruiting. Combined with the spirit of innovation, it facilitates new connections like Bucks President Peter Feigin, who’s helping to keep Carthage’s new sports management graduate track current.
“Carthage is on the move,” Swallow says. “My job is to build the environment, the connections and the resources to support our people. And then the magic happens.”