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Princeton Dean Valerie Smith will be Swarthmore’s next president. (Brian Wilson/Office of Communications)
Princeton Dean Valerie Smith will be Swarthmore’s next president. (Brian Wilson/Office of Communications)

Dean of the College VALERIE SMITH was named the 15th president of Swarthmore College on Feb. 21. She will be Swarthmore’s first African American president, as well as its second female president. At Princeton, Smith was also the founding director of the Center for American Studies and is currently the Woodrow Wilson Professor of Literature and a professor of English and African American Studies. She will begin her duties at Swarthmore on July 1. In a Philadephia Inquirer interview, Gil Kemp, chair of Swarthmore’s board of trustees, said of Smith, “I think this is a marvelous fit … Her awareness of our distinctive competence, focus on academic rigor, commitment to the common good — it’s a marvelous confluence.” In an op-ed for CNN.com, New America Foundation Strategist and Senior Fellow PETER W. SINGER ’97 writes about the rise of the robot in modern warfare. As robots become increasingly more automated, he explains, debates over their place in battle have become more complicated. He concludes, however, that “one thing is clear: Like the present, the future of war will be robotic.” Former Tennessee senator BILL FRIST ’74 and former Georgia representative JIM MARSHALL ’72 penned a Washington Post op-ed about their suggested reforms to the Veterans Health Administration. Their piece coincided with the release of a report by the Fixing Veterans Health Care task force, of which Frist and Marshall are co-chairs. MELLODY HOBSON ’91 will be the commencement speaker at the University of Southern California this May. She will be also receiving an honorary degree. According to USC student newspaper the Daily Trojan, Hobson is president and chair of the board of trustees at Ariel Investments, as well as chairwoman of DreamWorks Animation’s board of directors, and director at Starbucks Corporation and Estée Lauder companies. She is married to filmmaker and USC alumnus George Lucas. WHYY’s Marty Moss-Coane spoke with research scholar TIMOTHY SEARCHINGER about the findings of a recent World Resources Institute report for which he was the lead author. The report shows that dedicated use of land to growing biofuel ultimately does more harm than good for the environment and the global food supply.