Trick-or-Treat at the President’s House

I spent a delightful Sunday evening with hundreds of Wellesley students.  They came to the President’s House for Halloween, dressed in costumes of every imaginable type—I saw Cat in the Hat (along with Thing One and Thing Two), Princess Leia, characters from Harry Potter, a Starbucks logo, and even a group that came as a Scrabble game.   The inventiveness of Wellesley students never ceases to amaze me.

As for me, I greeted students dressed as Marie Curie, complete with glowing radioactive test tubes in my pockets.

The house was decorated with cobwebs, skeletons, spiders, flickering lights and many other creepy things, thanks to the help of the College Student Government leaders who not only conceived of the idea but assisted with the decorating.

There were cauldrons of candy, cisterns of hot apple cider, and hundreds of cupcakes.  Everyone had a great time!

Wellesley’s Davis-United World College Scholars

Last night, I was delighted to host at the President’s House a remarkable group of young women—Wellesley’s Davis-United World College Scholars. It was an informal event with no real agenda other than to welcome the new class of Scholars to Wellesley, and to enjoy one another’s company, something that often gets lost in our fast-paced world. It was fun to watch the older students reconnect and to watch the first years being drawn into the fold of what I think of as a sisterhood-within-a-sisterhood at Wellesley.

The Davis-UWC Scholars program provides need-based scholarship grants to students from around the globe, bringing some of the world’s brightest minds to select U.S. colleges and universities. As one of this program’s five founding institutions—along with Colby College, College of the Atlantic, Middlebury College, and Princeton University—Wellesley has educated more than 100 Scholars since 2001, in addition to the 42 students, hailing from 29 countries, who are on campus now.

Our UWC students—past and present—are natural leaders before they even step foot on campus. And at Wellesley, they shine. They add an invaluable dimension to the classroom and to our campus community.

As Nelson Mandela said, “The striking thing about UWC is that they embrace the entire world across all divides of race, history, culture, wealth, religion, economic status and political belief: they are unique and they are conscious of their responsibilities.”

Last spring, many of us on campus were pleased to meet with and thank the supporters of the Davis-UWC program, Shelby and Gale Davis. When Shelby spoke, it was clear to all that this program was something he felt passionate about. Shelby and Gale’s inspiration and philanthropy have made an enormous difference in the lives of a large number of young people all over the world.

Wellesley is fortunate to have so many talented young women with such diverse experiences on our campus. I was honored to spend an evening with some of them.

Nobel Women, Noble Women

I was delighted to learn yesterday that the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded to three women. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Leymah Gbowee, and Tawakkol Karman serve as role models to us all for their leadership in promoting peace and gender equality in Africa and the Arab world.

Awarding the prize to not one but three women sends an important message to the world about the role of women leaders in achieving just, humane, and peaceful societies. It is an illustration of the message that we live by here at Wellesley: that women can and do make a difference in the world.

On Single-Sex Education

Last March, as part of the annual Wellesley Debates, two teams of students debated the merits of single-sex education. It was—and it remains—a timely topic, as a recent New York Times article again reminded us.

The Times article reported on a position paper—“The Psuedoscience of Single Sex Education,” which was published in the magazine Science—the gist of which is that K-12 single-sex education is futile and leads to further stereotyping.

From time to time, I am moved to respond publicly to such reports—especially those that are based on subjective views, rather than scientific data. My response, in the form of a letter to the editor, was printed in today’s New York Times.