Our FCNL community has been strengthened over the years thanks to our collaboration with Guilford College, which was founded by the Religious Society of Friends in 1837. Students, staff, and faculty are regularly a part of Spring Lobby Weekend, and there are many fine graduates who have become advocates, governors, and staff members with FCNL.
One such alumnus is Thomas Swindell, FCNL’s associate general secretary for finance and administration. The alumni of Guilford College recently recognized Thomas by awarding him the Young Alumni Achievement Award.
His peers nominated him for this award (which was approved by the president) for his work with the Save Guilford College non-profit and the Black Alumni of Guilford College. The award will be presented at Guilford’s homecoming (pending health restrictions) in October.
“I am inspired by my faith, family, fellow alumni, and the FCNL community to continue offering my support and guidance in the best way possible for the benefit of others.”
“I am inspired by my faith, family, fellow alumni, and the FCNL community to continue offering my support and guidance in the best way possible for the benefit of others,” said Thomas.
Many small liberal arts colleges, like Guilford in Greensboro, NC, have been struggling financially for years. The pandemic only worsened the situation. In October 2020, the Guilford faculty raised the alarm about the financial crisis and shared plans from the then interim-president to cut as much as one-third of the faculty.
The Save Guilford College group was formed with Thomas as the finance lead, serving both on the leadership and envision committees. Their efforts worked. By January 2021, Guilford’s trustees set aside the plans for draconian cuts and the interim president resigned. They selected a new leader who had a different approach to solving Guilford’s problems.
Thomas stepped back from serving in the two committees, opting instead to join the advisory board of Save Guilford College, now a 501(c)3 organization.
Because helping save Guilford couldn’t possibly be enough work for Thomas, he was also invited to be a member of the steering committee of Black Alumni of Guilford College (BAGC).
The group successfully lobbied the college to swiftly grant scholarship awards to students of color who needed funds to enroll and remain at Guilford. They raised almost $17,000 during the BAGC Founders Day to support increased enrollment of students of color at Guilford.
Guilford still has huge challenges ahead. Save Guilford College sums it up: “We remain committed to continuing to support the college and helping it to make the most of this groundswell of positive energy focused on promoting Guilford’s uniquely transformative, Quaker-inspired liberal arts education We do so by seeking to embody the creative problem-solving, call to service, and ethical leadership that we all learned at Guilford.”