It is with great pleasure and deeply felt honor that I write to you in this, my first column as president of Wellesley College.
I want to begin by conveying my profound gratitude to the search committee and the trustees for choosing me to lead this remarkable institution, and to the entire Wellesley community for welcoming me with such warmth and generosity. I also want to thank H. Kim Bottomly for her leadership. Over the past nine years, Wellesley has expanded its reach around the world, reaffirmed its commitment to women’s education, begun renewal of its beautiful campus, and engaged with difficult questions around race and equity. I am eager to work with our faculty, students, staff, and alumnae to build on this amazingly strong foundation.
Throughout my career as a physician, my work has focused not just on women’s health, but on women’s lives. The Connors Center for Women’s Health and Gender Biology trains physicians and scientists to look beyond one part of the body and to consider the whole woman in both research and care, and to consider what will improve her health and well being. I have found it immensely rewarding both to work with individual patients, and to change the system in which we live in order for women to lead healthier lives. For a person who is committed to helping women lead their best possible lives, what better place to continue that work than at Wellesley? I am thrilled to take on Wellesley’s mission as my own: to provide an excellent liberal-arts education for women who will make a difference in the world.
Before my appointment was announced, I was already familiar with the transformative educational experience that happens here. I am fortunate to have an alumna mother-in-law, Phyllis Rosenthal Sands ’46. Wellesley holds a treasured place in her personal history, and the experience she had at the College has echoed throughout her life, in the lives of her children (my husband even spent a semester at Wellesley on exchange from Amherst), and in the friendships she still holds dear.
Just last month, I accompanied Phyllis to her 70th reunion and was able to attend a panel discussion with presidents Bottomly, Diana Chapman Walsh ’66, and Nan Overholser Keohane ’61. It was so powerful and moving to be with them and to hear their wisdom. I will carry that experience with me into my presidency, and their reflections will help to shape my own perspectives on leadership.
On campus in June, and at alumnae events I’ve attended over the past few months, several themes have emerged. I have heard again and again the deep appreciation alumnae have for the impact Wellesley has had on their lives—whether they graduated a few years ago and are finding their way in the world, or have just celebrated their 70th reunion. But as much as they cherish their memories of the College, they are focused on moving Wellesley into the future and have exciting ideas about how to do so. It is also clear that the alumnae are uncommonly connected to each other, and to the College. Finally, they are focused on not only their own lives and work, but on the contributions that they can make to society at large. Non Ministrari sed Ministrare is not just the College’s motto—for our alumnae, it is a way of life.
I have also been delighted to learn about the many beautiful corners of campus and unique traditions, old and new, that make Wellesley special. Thank you to all of you who shared your “Wellesley favorites” with me on social media or in emails or letters. I have saved every one. I am excited to learn about the fascinating work our students are doing on and off campus through the Ruhlman and Tanner conferences and the Albright Institute, and I cannot wait to see how the class of ’17 transforms the campus for their senior prank. I’m looking forward to cheering for the Blue, and I am eager to observe the heavens through the Whitin Observatory’s Fitz/Clark 12-inch refractor telescope.
These places and traditions—and most of all, the shared vision of creating a better world for women, and for all people—bind the Wellesley community together. I am overjoyed to be part of the sisterhood, and look forward to working with you as I guide Wellesley into the future, steered by this shared vision.