I have to tell you that you pretty much had me the moment you took off your designer heels—which were sinking into the mire at Boston’s Arnold Arboretum during our photo shoot there—and marched across the soggy ground in your stocking feet. We had messed with your hair, held screens over your head to keep the shadows off your face, and insisted that you smile and then smile some more as the shutter clicked endlessly. And still, you laughed as the spring damp oozed onto your feet—and then invited our whole crew back to your house to eat lunch.
Truth be told, you probably had me the moment you opened your front door early that morning and greeted me so warmly. You wrangled the dog, made coffee, brought down dresses for me to inspect, and asked about Wellesley—all in a seamless flow. You were open and down-to-earth, congenial and curious, and, well, totally presidential all at the same time.
As the day went on, you made a point to interact with every member of our shoot team, including each of us in your warmth. After a late afternoon family photo in your living room—punctuated with laughter over 15-year-old Kate’s stories about raccoons in the yard—we all went home grinning. Believe me: It doesn’t always happen that way.
You learn a lot about a person on a long photo shoot, through changes of clothes, reapplications of makeup, and travel to various venues. Here’s what I learned about you (definitely not in order of importance): First, you are a mean parallel parker, something I discovered as our “presidential motorcade” moved around Boston. As I laughed at my own parking ineptitude, you revealed that your car-maneuvering abilities came from growing up in Brooklyn. And it was clear that a lot of other good things came out of Brooklyn—your love of family, for example.
That day I saw that family is your bedrock, and that you have a lovely one. They have kept you steady through the many demands of your work and community service. I learned that you will be a terrific role model for Wellesley students. You are an affectionate mom who talks about “integrating” career and family instead of “balancing” the two, because a perfectly aligned scale is probably impossible.
I learned that you are gracious, kind, and patient. And most importantly, as we talked about the College and you smiled over the Hooprolling photos coming in over my phone, I saw how incredibly engaged in Wellesley and women’s education you already were, several months before taking office. You already get Wellesley.
Lots of people, I’m sure, are offering advice for your presidency. Let me join the chorus, with some collective wisdom from the magazine staff:
Try the Parmesan-prosciutto scones at El Table. They are tasty. And be warned that the students will likely create and name a sandwich after you.
Learn the Stepsinging songs. They are eccentric, but fun. Just FYI, “the bold, bad man” of the eponymous song, the guy who forever changed Hooprolling in 1939, came from your alma mater. We will try to forgive you for that.
Finally, walk the lake path. On a warm day, you will see turtles basking on logs and students taking in rays in the spoonholders. You will see how beautifully the grounds folks tend the campus. But most of all, you will find a few moments of silence and peace. One of my favorite places to sit along the water—you’ll have to find it yourself—has this inscription: “In stillness is a song.” Yes.
All of us at the magazine wish you the very best as you start your presidency. And by the way, the pictures came out great.