A Weekend Among Friends

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.

sophomore treeOne 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.



Rooted at Wellesley

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.

Congratulations, Class of 2013!

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.

A Green Evening and a Big Reveal

Senior Soiree photo smallIt is a busy and exciting time on campus. Last night, I joined our Green Class of 2013 at Senior Soiree, the first of many festive occasions to celebrate our seniors this spring. Senior Soiree is an opportunity for the class to come together to promote and drum up support for the Senior Class Gift, and it is the moment, in keeping with Wellesley tradition, that the senior class officers announce the Commencement speaker—a well-kept secret until then!

As you may have heard, Valerie Jarrett,  senior advisor to President Barack Obama and chair of the White House Council on Women and Girls, will be our 2013 Commencement Speaker. As an influential leader in public service, she is a fabulous choice by the students. I look forward to welcoming her to campus at the end of May.



Postcard from Japan

The cover of the postcard from students who studied in Kyoto during Wintersession.

It is no secret that Wellesley offers students many opportunities for global study, travel, and exploration. I recently received a postcard that reminded me of the transformative experiences that such opportunities provide. Postmarked in Kyoto, Japan, the postcard was sent by Wellesley students and their professor, who were just finishing up a successful Wintersession course there.

This past January, Jim Kodera, professor of religion, traveled with 11 students to Kyoto for a hands-on course focused on the religion and culture of the city. Students explored topics such as Shinto and Buddhism in traditional Japanese art and culture; Shinto and Japan’s appreciation of nature; the history of religion and nationalism in Japan; and religion in contemporary Japanese society and politics. While working on their research projects, our Wellesley students collaborated with students from Doshisha University and had a great get together with Wellesley alumnae in Tokyo.

I was delighted to read the sentiments that the students expressed in the postcard. They described their time in Japan as amazing, valuable, and inspiring. When they returned to Wellesley, I know these students brought a wealth of new inspiration and perspectives to the classroom, thanks to their transformative Kyoto experience.


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.

The Voice of the People

On Monday, Wellesley and the League of Women Voters co-sponsored a debate between Republican Sean Bielat and Democrat Joe Kennedy, the candidates running for the Massachusetts 4th Congressional District seat. It was an honor to host the two candidates and to welcome a wonderful cross-section of students and others from around the district. Wellesley livestreamed the debate on our website for those who could not attend.

One of our own students, Gabrielle Linnell, attended the debate and has written a thoughtful commentary in The Huffington Post about her experience. It is students like Gabrielle—and all those who sat in the front of the auditorium in Alumnae Hall—who give us hope for the future.

Making a Difference

Here we are with the mother gibbon at the Stoneham Zoo

I had the pleasure of attending a one-year-old’s birthday party this morning. It wasn’t an ordinary party, though. Nor was it an ordinary one-year-old. As part of A Day to Make a Difference, I joined Wellesley students and alumnae at the Stoneham Zoo, where Paddy, a white-cheeked gibbon, turned one. We were there helping out with the party.

I also had an opportunity to stop by the Greater Boston Food Bank, where Wellesley women were busy inspecting, sorting, and repacking food in the product recovery warehouse. In fact, those who worked the morning shift organized 4,500 lbs. of food, or enough for 3,000 meals.

A Day to Make a Difference is always a fun and meaningful day that exemplifies Wellesley’s rich tradition of service. I was proud that so many in our community participated in this important day.

Celebrating Our Davis-UWC Students

Several times a year, I join our Davis United World College Scholars for various events in which we share stories and laughs. Last week, this special group—I like to think of them as a sisterhood within a sisterhood—gathered for a lunch at Slater International Center.

We celebrated our Davis-UWC students, especially those who will be graduating in just a few weeks, and we welcomed to campus Phil Geier, who is the executive director of the Davis-UWC Scholars Program.

Wellesley is proud to be one the five founding colleges of the Davis-UWC Scholars Program, which provides need-based scholarships to students around the world, enabling some of the brightest, most capable students to come to Wellesley and other selected U.S. colleges.


Hoop Rolling 2012

It was an early morning-- but a fun morning-- for the red Class of 2012, who participated in the time-honored tradition of hoop rolling. Congratulations to winner Morgan McKinney '12!