Investing in Children and the 100th Anniversary of Wellesley’s Child Study Center

It was a pleasure to welcome to campus Carolyn Miles, president and CEO of Save the Children. Last night Ms. Miles, the first woman to lead the global charity that serves over 125 million children in need in the U.S. and around the world, delivered the 2013 Wilson Lecture.

She stressed that early childhood education is the key to opening up important opportunities for children—opportunities that have the potential to lift children out of poverty and free them to make important contributions to the world that benefit us all. Investing in children, Ms. Miles said, is not only the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do—investing in children can change the world.

This year’s Wilson Lecture was a wonderful and fitting way to honor and celebrate the 100th anniversary of Wellesley’s Child Study Center. I am proud to have on our campus one of the oldest laboratory schools in this country, a place where young children can learn and develop, and where Wellesley students and faculty can engage in meaningful and important research.

The Wilson Lecture is a central part of our intellectual community—indeed, it is one of the highlights of the academic year at Wellesley.  I am delighted that Carolyn Miles could lead us in conversation about this most worthy topic.

The 2012 Wilson Lecture: A Great Conversation

In my Convocation address earlier this month, I challenged Wellesley students, faculty, and staff to engage in great conversations—conversations that promote the exchange and exploration of ideas and the philosophies underlying those ideas.

This week, we had a wonderful opportunity to do just that when journalist, scholar, and political commentator E. J. Dionne delivered the 2012 Wilson Lecture. Dionne’s lecture, “Our Divided Political Heart and the Election of 2012,” addressed the tensions between Americans’ love for individual freedom versus our desire for community and the many manifestations of this tension: e.g., government versus the marketplace, local versus national.

Whether or not one shared Dionne’s politics or beliefs, last night’s lecture—and, specifically, the Q&A session after the lecture—was an opportunity to engage in the type of great conversation that I spoke of at Convocation. Members of the audience didn’t always agree with Dionne. Indeed, he welcomed—and even seemed to enjoy—dissenting points of view. It is clear that everyone left the lecture with a broader view of American politics. And that, I believe, is what makes the Wilson Lecture, and engaging in great conversations, so powerful.

There’s Only One Wellesley

Last night, I had the pleasure of attending the College’s annual Wilson Lecture—one of our most important intellectual events of the year—where Maleeha Lodhi, former Pakistani Ambassador to the United States and Britain, and Anne Patterson ’71, former U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan, engaged in a dialogue about diplomacy, foreign relations, and their experiences in Pakistan.  During the question and answer period, several questions came from students who identified themselves as new members of the Class of 2015.  These women were at Wellesley for our annual Spring Open Campus, where we try to convince some 800 admitted students and their families that Wellesley is the place for them.

I always wonder at what moment an admitted student decides that Wellesley is the right fit. Is it as soon as she steps on campus? Is it in conversation with a student? An alum?

In fact, earlier that afternoon, our admitted students had an opportunity to connect with alumnae during a panel held in the Diana Chapman Walsh Alumnae Hall.  I was able to drop in briefly and I heard panelist Crystal Fleming ’04 sum up her feelings for her alma mater: “There are a lot of great colleges,” she said, “but there’s only one Wellesley.”

For the students and families who attended Spring Open Campus, I hope you’ll agree.