The main event for the weekend is always the opportunity for parents to visit their daughters and to experience Wellesley through their eyes. This weekend is also always full of Wellesley traditions, and people enjoying them.
Every year at this time, our sophomore class plants their class tree—a tradition dating back to the College’s earliest days. This year, we joined the Class of 2018 at Green Beach to plant a lovely magnolia tree. I look forward to seeing the tree in bloom this spring, adding a burst of color to the shores of Lake Waban. The Class of 2018 wasn’t the only one planting trees this weekend. Wellesley welcomed back to campus about 30 members of the Class of 1983, who came together for a mini reunion and replanted their class tree, a sugar maple, which had been compromised over the years. These alumnae made the most of their tree re-planting by dressing up and singing songs out of the Wellesley songbook, as Wellesley women did back when the tradition of Tree Day was first established.
Not far from the Class of 2018’s new magnolia tree, a little farther down on the shoreline, we celebrated the newly renovated Butler Boathouse—renovations that were made possible through the generosity of Alice Lehmann Butler ’53 and her husband, John. Wellesley has a strong tradition of rowing on Lake Waban, a tradition that, like so much of Wellesley, spans generations of students. Rowing has been a part of our culture since the late 1800s (we were the first college in the U.S. to establish a women’s crew team), and, since 1963, our Boathouse has been home to class and dorm crew, another longstanding Wellesley tradition. It is no wonder that rowing in dorm or class crew is on the list of 50 things to do at Wellesley before you graduate!
It also was a great weekend for the Wellesley Blue, including games and alumnae-athlete events on Saturday, and a Blue Nation Fun Run on Sunday.
It was a pleasure to share the past few days with members of Wellesley’s extended family, and to join them in keeping our Wellesley traditions alive and well.
The start of the school year is the best time of year. That’s because with every new class, there are more Wellesley women for the world—more women who will become leaders, more women who will drive change, more women who will make a difference.
I’m not the only one who is excited about the newest members of our sisterhood. All of Wellesley is! I hope you’ll watch this video that our Orientation student leaders recently put together, to see why.
I have enjoyed seeing our first year students—and student leaders wearing their bright orange shirts—on campus this week for Orientation. It was a pleasure to formally greet members of new Class of 2019 earlier this week in Alumnae Hall, and I hope to have the opportunity to meet each of them personally this year—whether out and about, or in the dining halls at lunch, or during my open office hours.
It’s going to be a great year. Welcome, Class of 2019!
I recently had the opportunity to spend time with some of higher education’s future leaders. They are smart, ambitious, and talented. They are committed to their disciplines and to the pursuit of knowledge. And they are Wellesley women (of course!).
More specifically, they are our 16 students who are part of the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship (MMUF) program. MMUF is a highly selective program that supports students from underrepresented populations who wish to go on to earn advanced degrees and teach at the college level. This national program has been in existence since 1988, and Wellesley has participated in it since 1989, having now graduated 109 fellows. The goal of the program is simple: to increase the number of underrepresented faculty at colleges across the country. With generous funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, these fellows are able to work on original research in the humanities and social sciences.
Last week, at this year’s Ruhlman Conference, I enjoyed attending a panel session in which four of our Mellon Mays fellows presented their work. Research included: the ways women of color use online social networks to thrive in the real world; the role of race and religion in college students’ perceptions of mental health; race relations in political protests in this country; and the role of gender and the Brown Berets during the civil rights movement. This past Tuesday, I had the privilege of recognizing our Mellon Mays fellows, as well as their Wellesley faculty and staff mentors, during a reception at my home.
What’s remarkable about the MMUF program is that our students are supported not only by Wellesley faculty and staff who care deeply about them, but by Wellesley faculty who are MMUF alumni themselves.
MMUF is making a quantifiable difference in increasing the diversity of college faculties around the country. It is and will remain an important program to Wellesley and to the future of higher education.
As I tweeted earlier this week, Wellesley truly was not the same without our students over the winter break. As we welcomed you back to campus, we also welcomed the return of our true New England weather. And it made me smile to see that it took practically no time at all before fresh sledding tracks appeared along Severance Hill.
As we dig out and the semester gets underway, let me share just a few thoughts about the coming semester.
We all know that Wellesley is an amazing place. It is amazing because of the people who are part of this community and because of the opportunities that are available on and off campus. This semester, there once again will be many ways to experience quintessential Wellesley—and I hope you will take advantage of them!
Here’s just a sampling:
- I hope you will spend a few moments—or more!—inside our world-class museum, The Davis, this semester. Among the many fabulous exhibitions on view this semester will be the work of critically acclaimed artist Parviz Tanavoli, who is known as the “father of modern Iranian sculpture.”
- I invite you to join us in celebrating the important role that wellness plays on campus. This week we re-opened a beautifully renovated Field House, one of the many buildings to benefit from our campus renewal projects. New walls, a new roof, and new windows that bring in more natural light have given the Field House new life. It also now features a new Fitness Center overlooking a permanent basketball floor. (Read about the old portable floor’s second life with Amateur Athletic Union basketball tournaments.)
- There will also be opportunities to contribute to the sustainability of campus. The Advisory Committee on Environmental Sustainability is looking for ideas to make Wellesley even more sustainable than it is. (Due to the snow days earlier this week, they will be rescheduling their Idea Fest. Stay tuned!)
- And there’s one more weekend left to catch Wellesley Summer Theatre’s production of Virginia Woolf’s gender-flipping 1928 novel, Orlando.
Last, I want to personally invite you to be in touch and stay in touch with me this semester—whether in person during my Open Office Hours or over lunch when I’m in the dining halls; or over email or on Twitter. I want to know what’s on your mind!
I look forward to this coming semester—it’s going to be another great one!
Today at lunch, I learned something that every student here likely already knows: You can eat ice cream for breakfast, lunch, and dinner if you so choose. (And, that ice cream is delicious atop waffles.)
Thanks to the residents of Stone-Davis Hall for joining me for lunch today, and for the great conversation about a number of important topics—not just ice cream!
I hope to stop by for lunch at other dining halls this year, and look forward to seeing you there. I’ll tweet when and where the day before. Or, check out my Connect with Kim webpage to see where I’m headed next, and for other ways to connect with me in person.
In my Convocation address this week, I stressed the continued importance of being a women’s college today, and the advantages to our students stemming from Wellesley’s historic investment in women. This investment has paid off in generations of inspiring and dynamic Wellesley graduates making a difference in the world. As I said, this is the Wellesley “magic.”
Being at a women’s college matters. Being at Wellesley matters.
As I wrote to our students, faculty, and staff today—to continue to invest intelligently, and to serve all of our students well, it is important that we ask the question: What does it mean to be a woman in the 21st century? It clearly does not mean the same as being a woman in the 19th or even the 20th century – needs have changed, context has changed, expectations have changed, societal practices have changed, even the language has changed.
The broad question has several implications and will serve as the basis this year for a number of important discussions—and as the foundation for meaningful change in several arenas. We as a community will approach these discussions in Wellesley’s usual thoughtful and inclusive way, and in a way that is reflective of our longstanding values, and our mission.
To begin these discussions, the President’s Office will sponsor a range of community events this year (such as lectures, presentations, and panels), to explore what it means to be a women’s college at a time when the definition of gender is becoming more fluid. In addition, recognizing the importance of that fluidity, I will appoint a special advisory group this fall to consider and make specific recommendations to me and to the Board of Trustees on how Wellesley should best move forward on this issue, as an institution and as a community.
Certainly, there are many other implications to the question of what it means to be a woman in the 21st century—such as the one raised by Provost Shennan in his Convocation remarks concerning how to best support today’s liberal arts students in their transition to successful careers, especially in our changing world.
Kudos to this year’s Hooprolling winner, Alex Poon ’14, who carried on the family tradition—32 years ago, Alex’s mother, Helen Poon ’82, was that year’s Hooprolling winner. In fact, Alex used a family hoop that has been used by every member of his family who has gone to Wellesley. All the names of the family members who have used the hoop are written on it, and star is placed next to their name if they win.
Congrats to Alex and to all the seniors who carried on this Wellesley tradition this morning.
The glorious fall weather was picture-perfect this past weekend, as I welcomed to campus Wellesley parents, grandparents, siblings, alumnae, and friends for Family and Friends Weekend and Homecoming.
One of the highlights of the weekend, as always, was celebrating one of Wellesley’s oldest traditions: sophomore tree planting. On Saturday, more than 150 students and their families gathered on the Academic Quad to dedicate the Quercus Rubra, or Red Oak, that the Class of 2016 had chosen as their tree.
At the Wellesley Debates this past weekend, Paulina Perlin ’16, Prerana Nanda ’14, Simone Thibodeau ’14, and Mariya Getsova ’15 debated the topic “The structure of the higher education system in the United States is not consistent with democratic values,” while Sophia Mo ’14 moderated. As always, the students did an excellent job of presenting arguments for or against the motion. The before- and after-balloting indicated that those debating against the motion swayed the audience with their arguments.
For me, the weekend is also a wonderful show of our school pride during our many athletic contests. I was happy to cheer on the Blue as they took on Cedar Crest in soccer, winning 9-0. Congratulations also to the residents of Pomeroy, who had the most Superfans at that game.
Family and Friends weekend was enhanced this year by Pam Melroy’s wonderful talk on Saturday night: From Wellesley to the International Space Station. A Wellesley alumna (class of 1983), and an astronaut who has logged over 900 hours in space, Pam Melroy was only the second woman to command a space shuttle. I am grateful to Pam, who also is a Wellesley Trustee, for returning to Wellesley to speak to students and their families about her experiences. She is always enlightening and engaging and, despite her profession, very much down to earth.
My thanks go to all of the students, families, faculty, staff, and alumnae who made the weekend such a success.
It was a pleasure to officially welcome to campus today our newest members of the Wellesley community, the Green Class of 2017, and their families.
As part of Orientation, I joined Provost Andy Shennan and Dean of Students Debra DeMeis in a panel discussion, moderated by College Government President Joy Das ’14, about the liberal arts, about what students can expect in and out of the classroom, and about the Wellesley community—both the community on campus and the community of Wellesley women around the world. Our hope is that today’s discussion, and all of the Orientation activities planned this week, will help students begin to feel connected, and rooted, to this campus. (This year’s Orientation theme is From Roots to Branches, inspired, in part, by the Class of 2017 class color.)
While we all had some thoughts and reflections for the first year students and their parents, perhaps the best advice came from Joy Das, who said to the students, “It doesn’t matter what your age is, who you look like, where you come from, or what your high school experience is… Everyone at this college—faculty, students, staff, and administration—believes you can succeed here. So just work hard, and remember that your acceptance to Wellesley College is a sign of the faith.”
Today’s Orientation, and the activities for the rest of the week, were planned by the Office of the First Year Dean, many in the Student Life Division, and Student Orientation Coordinators Patrice Caldwell ’14 and Melissa Zambrana ’14.
Welcome again, Class of 2017! We are lucky to have you here.
What a fabulous day for the members of the green Class of 2013 and their families! I am proud of our newest class of alumnae and all they have accomplished so far, and know that they will continue to make Wellesley proud in the years ahead.
The Class of 2013 will never forget this day. I know I won’t. (And not just because we all melted under our academic regalia, thanks to the 90-degree weather!) The day will long remain in our memories because it represents Wellesley at its best—coming together as a community to celebrate our students for their achievements and recognize our faculty whose work over the last four years has contributed to the education of this class.
It was also wonderful to have Valerie Jarrett, a senior advisor to President Obama, join us today as our Commencement speaker. Though she isn’t a Wellesley woman, she embraced the College as her own, with her most salient remarks. “Our country needs you,” she said. “In fact, the world needs all you have to offer. Our challenges are great, but so too are the opportunities for the positive change that you will create, if you remember not to be ministered unto, but to minister.”
Congratulations, Class of 2013! Enjoy this moment and come back to visit often.