We have spent much time this year talking about what it means to be a women’s college in the 21st century, and I am grateful to the many alumnae, students, faculty, and staff who shared their thoughts. I am proud that our board of trustees strongly reaffirmed our mission as a College dedicated to the education of women, while clarifying our admission policy. This decision allows us to remain true to ourselves, and true to the transcendent spirit of Wellesley.
I have written in these pages before about that spirit—the “magic”—that makes the Wellesley experience transformational. A large part of that magic is conjured by our exceptional faculty, who are committed to ensuring our academic excellence. Another large part of it is our incredible students, who dedicate themselves over four years to seizing and making the most of every opportunity available on campus, and off.
But I would add a third component: the social experience of college, or, the fun. Yes, Wellesley is serious, Wellesley is intense, but the Wellesley experience is also great fun. Let us all remember that.
I am not the only one thinking about fun at Wellesley. Last year, Hannah Ruebeck ’16 and Anne Dickinson Meltz ’16 started SMiLES (Spontaneous Moments in the Lives of Everyday Students) to bring some levity (actually, a lot of it) to campus. As Hannah explained, “Our mission has always been to enrich our fellow students’ Wellesley experiences through our key values of community, spontaneity, and the contagious nature of happiness.” Their “lighthearted events with long-term effects,” Anne says, have included a community lunch last fall (festive hats optional), flash mobs, and a treasure hunt in the Science Center.
Our most cherished Wellesley traditions are all rooted in fun: Lake Day, Hooprolling, Stepsinging, and the Scream Tunnel at the Boston Marathon, to name a few. I still have my “Kiss Me, I’m the President” sign that students made for me on my first Marathon Monday—a sign that I love (but have yet to use).
Certain Wellesley rites of passage always make me smile—students sledding down Severance Green in winter, or enjoying the swing on the Chapel Lawn. The swing was reinstalled last year in memory of Kathryn Wasserman Davis ’28, a quintessential Wellesley woman and generous supporter of the College, who often told me that her favorite Wellesley memory was swinging on the chapel lawn. Having now tried it, I agree—it is pure joy!