Inclusive Excellence

students chatting in a group sitting on the grass

We believe that each of these two words, inclusion and excellence, implies the other, and both are fundamental to education on our campus.

When every person feels included, we create the conditions that make it possible for all to excel. Inclusive excellence represents the strength of difference and the power this gives us to fulfill Wellesley’s mission to provide an excellent liberal arts education to women who will make a difference in the world.

All students deserve equity in how they are mentored, sponsored, supported, and empowered to experience Wellesley. We are dedicated to ensuring that each of our students is able to take advantage of Wellesley's rich learning and living environment.

—Paula A. Johnson, President of Wellesley College

When Wellesley is truly inclusive, each person believes that they belong, and their traditions, beliefs, and contributions are valued. No matter who you are or when you show up, you are welcome. Students reach out to newcomers to join conversations already underway. Faculty and students collaboratively set norms for learning that foster rigor, vibrancy, and talks that might not otherwise take place. College admissions staff reach out to people and places that can help us become a representative campus.

Inclusive excellence at Wellesley represents our steadfast dedication to equity across race, ethnicity, religion, nationality, ability, sexual orientation, gender identity, or any other category that can be used to divide people. Every individual matters, from our students, to our staff and union staff, to our faculty, alumnae, and families, and the hundreds of people who power our institution every day. Our differences provide dynamism and drive change at Wellesley and throughout the world, while contributing to the stability of our nation’s democracy. Finding solutions to the challenges we face is daunting. We need the talents of every individual to foster equity and progress.

51%
of the class of 2024 identify as students of color, including two or more races
19%
of the class of 2024 will be the first generation in their families to graduate from college
46%
of the class of 2024 speak at least one language other than English at home
58%
of students receive a financial aid award containing grant aid
27%
percentage of staff of color based on headcount in 2020
25%
percentage of tenured and tenure-track faculty of color based on headcount in 2020

Inclusive excellence in action

  • Shaping change from within

    More than 100 faculty and staff have participated in change agent training thanks to funding from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and the Mellon Foundation. The goal is to encourage paradigm shifts and to weave inclusivity into the cultural fabric of Wellesley, creating an environment where all members of the community feel that they belong and have an opportunity to contribute.

    “Being a change agent means being an active participant in fostering positive, systemic change within an organization. It means examining the systems we live and work within, and working together to shift paradigms toward increased inclusivity. In practice, that includes adopting active-listening techniques within the classroom and in departmental meetings, so that space is held for every individual in the room to contribute and be heard.”

    Oscar E. Fernandez
    Class of 1966 Associate Professor of Mathematics
  • Fostering connections across difference

    The Office of Intercultural Education (OICE) offers students opportunities to develop intercultural competence, focusing on education, affirmation, and leadership. OICE helps them acquire the skills, knowledge, and attitude necessary to connect across difference; it also works to ensure that historically marginalized communities are affirmed on campus. OICE encourages conversation and connection among students of all identities, experiences, and backgrounds.

    “My goal is to help instill in students the capacity to create inclusive spaces wherever they find themselves after Wellesley, in whatever field they enter. Wherever their journey takes them, I want them to be able to look around the room and not only consider issues of equity and inclusion, but have the skills and leadership capacity necessary to bring those qualities into being.”

    Inés Maturana Sendoya
    Associate Dean of Students for Inclusion and Engagement
  • Supporting inclusion through data

    The Office of Institutional Research provides the College with institutional and assessment data to ensure that all voices are heard. Academic departments can use these critical tools to better understand the student experience at Wellesley; build a more inclusive curriculum; understand and visualize student progression; and identify opportunities for structural change that can improve students’ educational outcomes and deepen their relationships with faculty mentors.

    “In the Office of Institutional Research, we are using institutional and assessment data to better understand inclusive excellence at Wellesley through a qualitative and quantitative lens. Our iterative, data-informed approach helps senior leadership and department leaders from across the College to better visualize existing gaps in equity, and then create programs and initiatives that address those issues.”

    Pamela Taylor
    Assistant Provost of Institutional Planning and Assessment and Director of Institutional Research
  • Building an inclusive curriculum

    Academic departments at Wellesley are committed to building curriculums that challenge and inspire students of all backgrounds. When students can see themselves in the curriculum, so many possible pathways open up for them, such as majoring in that field, continuing on to graduate school, or applying new skills to other exciting endeavors.

    “My syllabi are always a work in progress. Each time I teach a course, I reexamine the readings, thinking about how I can incorporate new voices and perspectives that will better reflect the diverse identities and interests of the students who join me in the classroom. If philosophy is to concern itself with questions about the nature of reality and how to live a flourishing life, it must concern itself with the particular realities and lives that our students face and live.”

    Erich Hatala Matthes
    Associate Professor of Philosophy; Director, The Camilla Chandler Frost ’47 Center for the Environment

Latest stories

Inclusive excellence can be found within formal and informal structures across Wellesley: in recruitment, hiring, admissions, and financial aid policies and procedures; in classrooms, labs, and academic departments; and across the 180 student-run organizations that foster belongingness, build skills, and add vibrancy across campus.