A Wellesley Kind of Election

The Pendleton East Atrium during election night.

Last Tuesday, on election night, students and faculty of diverse political beliefs came together to watch the returns in Pendleton East, sharing opinions and pizza. Sponsored by the Committee for Political and Legislative Action—the student-run organization that presents issues of local, national, and international importance to the student body in a nonpartisan manner—the Pendleton East Atrium was transformed into a “partisan-free zone,” and banners everywhere proclaimed the transformation.

This fall, CPLA, the Wellesley College Democrats, and the Wellesley College Republicans encouraged and helped eligible students register to vote. These three groups also co-sponsored events this fall for students to watch the presidential debates.

Throughout the fall, I was delighted to see, time and again, how Wellesley came together in nonpartisan ways—to learn about the candidates, to explore the issues at hand, and to get out the vote. Our students showed us how Wellesley continues to be an open, welcoming, and thoughtful community.

It makes me proud to be part of Wellesley.

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!


As Wayne and I walked back to the President’s House from the Chapel last night, each of us carrying a candle, I was struck by the ability of even two small candles to vanquish the darkness. Dispelling this darkness was a theme of the September 11 service that we had just attended in Houghton Chapel.

The service opened with a moving speech by Dean Victor Kazanjian, remembering a Wellesley alum he knew well—one of the many who perished that day. The service was simple and powerful. As I listened to readings and recitations by students—interspersed with selections by the Wellesley College Choir, the Backbay Ringers Handbell Choir, and the Carillon—I recalled, as one does, where I was on September 11, 2001, and all that has happened in the world since then.

I was especially moved by hearing from the many voices of Wellesley last night: the Jewish voice, the Christian voice, the Muslim voice, the Unitarian Universalist voice, the Buddhist voice, the Hindu voice. It is important that all of these voices are heard, and continue to be heard here on campus and in the world.

Then, as the Wellesley College Choir sang “Hope,” all of us in the audience picked up a small candle and formed a large circle inside the Chapel. We held onto those candles as we left.  Walking home, as I looked behind me, I took comfort in seeing the small points of light illuminating the darkness, dispersing all over campus.

A Wellesley Welcome

In about a month, we will welcome our incoming class of 2015 to campus. We already know quite a bit about them—where they are from, what their interests are, why they want to come to Wellesley.  We are looking forward to meeting them in person in August.

In the meantime, the Wellesley community has been sending this incoming class a fabulous Wellesley welcome.  I thought you might enjoy seeing what a number of our students, faculty, and staff have been saying to this new yellow class.

Thinking of Japan

My thoughts this morning continue to be with the members of our broad Wellesley College community who may have been affected in some way by the devastating earthquake and tsunami in the Pacific.

Andy Shennan and I joined the Wellesley College Alumnae Association yesterday in reaching out by email (currently the only reliable means of communication, as one alumna told us) to our alumnae in Japan. As we continue to monitor the news reports, we know that more details and information will emerge in the coming days and weeks. Certainly, events such as this one remind us just how small and interconnected our world is, and how fragile our lives are in it.

Please join me in keeping in your thoughts all those affected by Friday’s events, including our Wellesley students, faculty, staff, and alumnae who have friends or relatives in Japan.

Building Dialogue, Continued

In my first post, I talked about how this blog could help me communicate with faculty, staff, and students. But the fact is, those aren’t the only people who are reading The HKBlog! I found this out recently when an alumna told me she was reading it, too.

What I should have said is that this blog will help me stay connected to the entire Wellesley community—including faculty, staff, and students, of course, but also alumnae, Trustees, parents, and friends.

After all, the Wellesley community extends far beyond the boundaries of the campus.

When I first thought of this blog, I envisioned it as a form of local communication. Not realizing at a visceral level that this blog could be global—and not just local—is, alas, characteristic of generations of a certain age.

Building Dialogue

I was pleased when CIO Ravi Ravishanker told me his plan to unveil a blogging platform to the Wellesley College community.  I had been thinking for some time about how a President’s blog could help me communicate with Wellesley faculty, staff, and students.  I am happy to have a new medium for this kind of dialogue.

This blog will give me the opportunity to tell you about important and/or interesting things that are going on at the College. It will also allow me to tell you about the things that I am thinking about, worrying about, or happy about. I hope that some of you will suggest topics that you would like to see in my blog. Now or in the future, leave me a comment here, or send an email to

I’m looking forward to connecting with the College community in a new and interactive way!