Haverford Says “Welcome to Campus” Along Armat Avenue

Improved landscaping, an accessible walkway, and dark-sky-friendly lighting have transformed the College’s border along Ardmore’s historically Black neighborhood.

Haverford has long welcomed neighbors to explore its verdant arboretum campus, and meeting people from all walks of life who accompany their pooches on strolls along the nature trail or seek a quiet space in Lutnick Library to get some overdue work done is part of the daily rhythm of life at the College. 

But until 2022, one section of campus did not send a “welcome” message. For many who live in Ardmore’s historically Black neighborhood, a long stretch of green chain-link fence running along Armat Avenue at the eastern edge of campus felt like a barrier intended to keep them out. 

Since then, an initiative to revitalize the entrance and create new and lasting connections with the surrounding community has revitalized the College’s presence along that stretch of campus. Eric Hartman, director of the Center for Peace and Global Citizenship, and Professor of Religion Molly Farneth played pivotal roles in highlighting the need for change. 

Farneth notes that this particular area was perceived as “less welcoming and less beautiful” and lacked ADA accessibility since visitors were required to navigate several steps up through the chain-link gate. To address the concerns of community members, Farneth created “Religious Organizing for Racial Justice,” a course centered on the history and practice of community engagement and interreligious organizing.

An accessible walkway now stretches from Armat Avenue to College Lane.

After working closely with community members for a semester, Farneth’s students presented a plan to replace the chain-link with open split-rail fencing, an accessible entrance ramp, and improved landscaping to President Wendy Raymond and Dean of the College John McKnight. Those suggestions were realized and recently enhanced by the installation of a bold red “visitors welcome” sign, a new paved walkway running to Cadbury House, a rain garden, and a second, ADA-accessible entrance. 

“It was really transformative to be a part of a learning community that extends far beyond the confines of the classroom. The physical change is wonderful, and it’s connected to this change in how we think about the boundaries in our educational model — where we learn, what we learn, and from whom we learn — and I’m really excited about that,” says Farneth.

In April, the College installed new dark-sky-friendly pathway lighting at the entrance, part of a larger initiative to replace all outdoor fixtures with more environmentally friendly options. The project arose from a Plenary resolution introduced by Sadie Kenyon-Dean ’20

Dark-sky-friendly lighting “not only enhances campus aesthetics but also mitigates light pollution, benefiting both critters and human critters alike,” says Chief of Staff Jesse Lytle, who also serves as Haverford’s chief sustainability officer. Following Commencement, the College will swap out additional fixtures near Lloyd Hall, Founders Hall, and the Dining Center. 

The new lighting and the work along Armat Avenue align with the central pillars of Haverford 2030, the College’s strategic plan, which aims to shape a campus that is both accessible and sustainable. 

“Investing the time upfront to set good standards is crucial. It’s about more than just getting the job done. It’s an investment that pays off in the long run, both in terms of tangible outcomes and in fostering a sense of belonging in our community,” says Lytle.