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.
There was Senior Lunch, a wonderful rite of passage for our graduating class, in which the yellow Class of 2015 was welcomed into the Alumnae Association. Following the time-honored tradition of students selecting a faculty member to speak at the lunch, Stacie
Goddard, the Jane Bishop ’51 Associate Professor of Political Science, drew on international relations theory to provide some wonderful life advice to seniors: all units are sovereign, and none are sovereign over them; you will need allies; and choose your battles carefully.
Just a few days later, we were celebrating our seniors once more at Commencement. It is always a meaningful day, assembled on the Academic Quad and surrounded by family (biological and Wellesley) and friends as we send our graduating class off into the world. Our speaker, author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, told our seniors: “Minister to the world in a way that can change it. Minister radically in a real, active, practical, get-your-hands-dirty way.”
And then, this past weekend, campus was abuzz with alumnae and friends (2,700 of them!) who were here to celebrate Reunion. It was a weekend of reconnecting with old friends, laughter, and traditions such as Stepsinging and the All Class Dance Party.It was also a weekend to recognize alumnae who have dedicated themselves to Wellesley. Congratulations to Shirley Young ’55, who received this year’s Syrena Stackpole award! As one alumna said to me last weekend, “the Wellesley spirit was contagious.”
No matter if they graduated in 1940 or 2015, it was clear that the core of what it means to be a Wellesley woman endures.
I love Wellesley traditions. This morning, members of the golden Class of 2015 joined generations of Wellesley women before them by rolling their hoops down Tupelo Lane for the chance to win some serious bragging rights. The winner is said to be the first in her class to be successful—however she defines success.
Sophia Garcia ’15 not only crossed the (yellow) finish line first, she was a great sport as her classmates threw her into Lake Waban on such a chilly spring morning.
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.
I love Wellesley traditions. I love that we have so many of them, including the ones that generations of Wellesley women have experienced, serving as a rite of passage for new students. I also enjoy the traditions that have emerged more recently. This past weekend, as part of Family and Friends Weekend and Homecoming, I got to enjoy both the old and the new.
The first—one of our more recent traditions—was the parade of “floats” (or, golf carts). Beginning over by the East Side residence halls and following College Road up and around to the Athletic Fields, the Blue Nation Parade showed the creativity of the students who decorated the floats. The parade added some lively color to campus, despite the overcast sky.
Shortly after the parade, I participated in one of Wellesley’s oldest traditions—sophomore tree planting. This tradition is almost as old as the College, as it dates back to 1877 when our founder, Henry Durant, wanted Wellesley students to have “… a tree, whose growth they could watch, as it watched theirs, all through the four college years—a tree in which, on every future visit, they would recognize a long-acquainted friend.” Since then, hundreds of trees have been planted. And hundreds of Wellesley classes, upon returning to campus years after graduating, have sought out their class tree—taking note of how it is doing, how it has grown, and how it complements the beauty of our campus. This year’s sophomore class planted a lovely dogwood near Hay Amphitheater.
This past weekend, it was a privilege to welcome Wellesley family and friends to campus, and to welcome back alumnae for Homecoming. I hope our visitors enjoyed these Wellesley traditions as much as I did.
I may be biased, but you would be hard-pressed to find a better location to watch the Boston Marathon than from Wellesley’s Scream Tunnel. Just as the runners come up the hill, passing the College’s athletic fields, they are greeted by cheering students with festive and witty signs, and the offer of a kiss to those who need a little encouragement. In my first year here, students presented me with a sign that read, “Kiss Me, I’m the President”—a sign I have not yet used. It’s a fun day and a fun Wellesley tradition! I always enjoy it.
Here is just a taste of Monday’s Scream Tunnel.