Wellesley in the World

From the President,

From the President

A couple of summers ago, while I was carrying my Wellesley tote bag in Paris, a young woman came up to me and asked what my connection to Wellesley was. During our brief conversation, I learned that she was coming to the College in the fall. Her excitement about Wellesley—and about her chance meeting with the president—was palpable.

Over the past nine years, I have come to expect such Wellesley “sightings” everywhere I go. That’s because Wellesley is everywhere. With alumnae in 104 countries, Wellesley women make a difference in every corner of the globe—including Antarctica, where an alumna from the class of 2005 worked at the U.S. Antarctic Program’s McMurdo Station last year.

Our international orientation is what helps to keep Wellesley at the forefront of the liberal arts. As more people work cross-nationally, as technology transcends national borders, and as travel becomes easier, global linkages between academic institutions will be increasingly important. They will also be second nature to us. As former United States Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has said, “In the 21st century, a quality education is an international education.”

Wellesley has a deep history of being globally focused—our first international student came to Wellesley from Japan in 1888—and we have long been a forerunner in building partnerships around the world. In 1906, we established one of the earliest programs in this country that enabled Chinese students to study at Wellesley, and we proudly note that Mayling Soong Chiang 1917 (later known as Madame Chiang Kai-shek) and Bing Xin M.A. ’26, one of China’s most celebrated writers of the 20th century, are Wellesley graduates. Today, about 12 percent of our students are international, and we benefit from strong partnerships with the Davis-United World College Scholars Program and the MasterCard Foundation, both of which help bring students from around the world to Wellesley.

‘Over the past nine years, I have come to expect such Wellesley “sightings” everywhere I go. That’s because Wellesley is everywhere.’

We also bring Wellesley to the world, whether through study abroad opportunities—more than half of our students study outside the United States, compared with less than 10 percent of undergraduates nationally—or through faculty-sponsored international programs. Such programs include Wintersession trips this past January to Nicaragua, Germany, and the southern Balkans, as well as our longstanding program at Lake Baikal in Siberia. Today we teach 15 languages, more than any other liberal-arts college in the country. Additionally, as I have previously written in these pages, the Madeleine K. Albright Institute for Global Affairs at Wellesley, which just completed another successful Wintersession program, is a model for a global approach to the liberal arts.

We also bring Wellesley to the world through partnerships that ensure our strong presence across the globe. In 2011, we partnered with the London School of Economics for “London Calling,” the first in a series of global forums to advance women’s leadership. In 2013, we joined with Peking University for a similar purpose. Today, we are planning a collaboration with Ashoka University, a new, selective liberal-arts college in India.

I write this column having just returned from visiting alumnae in London, where there is a strong and loyal Wellesley presence. It was our first city abroad where we launched our Campaign to advance the Wellesley Effect—the positive, lasting effect that Wellesley has on women and, therefore, on the world.

Wellesley has a strong global presence—a presence that is amplified by the many alumnae who live and work abroad, and by our alumnae clubs around the world that connect Wellesley graduates to each other and to the College. I am reassured to know that, no matter where I am in the world, I do not have to go too far before I bump into a smart, dedicated Wellesley woman.

You Might Like
  • The Wellesley Effect
    The lives of six alumnae demonstrate the depth and breadth of the Wellesley Effect—the way four years at the College transforms students, and through their lives after graduation, helps to transform the world.More
  • Lessons From the Nerpa
    The next time you find yourself in search of adventure, consider a trip to Lake Baikal in Russia: a flight to Frankfurt, followed by a transfer to Moscow, and then a red-eye east across the…More