State of the College 2011

August 2011

Dear Wellesley Friends,

The summer is a wonderful time at Wellesley. There is a peaceful serenity that pervades our lovely campus on warm afternoons. Most students have left for summer break, and yet the campus continues to be a special place, with a different rhythm during these months. Our summer science scholars continue their research in the Science Center, a number of students are on campus for summer school, and a contingent of eighth and ninth graders are here for the EXPLO summer camp program. For me, the summer is a time for reflection and planning—reflecting on the successes of the past year and planning for the academic year ahead.

As the fiscal year has recently come to a close, I would like to share some highlights of the past year with you. It was another busy, satisfying, and successful year at the College.

Celebrating Student Successes

Crew ChampionsWe had many opportunities to celebrate the individual and collective accomplishments of our students—both current students and recent graduates. This year, 49 students and alumnae won prestigious national fellowships and scholarships, including 12 National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships, eight Fulbright Awards (both the Fulbright U.S. Student Program and the U.K. Fulbright Summer Institute), two Thomas J. Watson Fellowships, and one Woodrow Wilson-Rockefeller Brothers Fund Fellowship for Aspiring Teachers of Color. Additionally, three seniors rowed Wellesley to third place at the NCAA National Championship crew competitions in May. These students missed Commencement in order to participate. Earlier this spring, Randelle Boots ’13 became a national champion when she won the mile run at the 2011 NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships.

Student experiences this past year spanned the globe—from organizing myriad campus events and activities to the more than 300 students who were awarded Wellesley College–funded internships in 41 countries this year. In May, we saluted the members of the Class of 2011, who are finding their way in the world now as Wellesley alumnae. They have entered that world at an unusually difficult and complicated time. When we surveyed this class in May, we learned that 75 percent of seniors intended to work immediately after graduation, up from 67 percent last year. The most popular fields were business (26.4 percent, up from 25.3 percent last year), education (24.9 percent, up from 16.5 percent last year), and science and technology (10.9 percent, down from 11.4 percent last year).

At the time of the May survey, 49 percent of seniors who planned to work had already found a job or received an offer at such organizations around the world as Goldman Sachs, J.P. Morgan, Microsoft, the Peace Corps, and Teach for America, to name a few. Another 16 percent of the class will go on to graduate or professional school this fall. The law school acceptance rate for Wellesley’s seniors was 95.7 percent. Graduating seniors entering PhD programs have been admitted to such prestigious institutions as Columbia, Harvard, Johns Hopkins, MIT, and Stanford. Additionally, our seniors were also admitted to many medical schools including Harvard, UMass, and the University of Michigan. It is clear that a Wellesley education continues to be most relevant for the 21st century.

The Class of 2015

Looking ahead, as we welcome back our returning students to campus later this month, I will have the great pleasure of greeting the Class of 2015. This class is a strong and diverse group of women. They come from 44 states plus the District of Columbia, and represent 30 nations of citizenship. I look forward to their arrival, along with new transfer students and those entering through the Elizabeth Kaiser Davis Degree Program.

Faculty Accomplishments

We had many reasons to applaud our faculty over the past year. Just this week, The Princeton Review ranked Wellesley as having the best faculty in the country. Certainly, I couldn’t agree more with this assessment!

Pinanski winners 2011 At Commencement, we celebrated the winners of the 2011 Pinanski Prize for Excellence in Teaching: Stacie Goddard (political science), Carlos Ramos (Spanish), and Yui Suzuki (biological sciences). This year, our faculty were the recipients of 30 fellowships and grants, showcasing the depth, breadth, and diversity of our faculty. Some highlights include: a grant from the National Science Foundation to Orit Shaer (computer science), to use reality-based interaction to further genomic exploration; a visiting scholar fellowship from the Russell Sage Foundation to Eric Hilt (economics); an award from the Smith Richardson Foundation to Stacie Goddard (political science) to explore the legitimacy and politics of rising powers; and a grant from the National Institutes of Health to Marc Tetel (neuroscience), to study the mechanisms of steroid action in the brain. In fact, Professor Tetel was one of three neuroscience faculty to win, separately, grants for their research this past year. Additionally, the Wellesley Centers for Women was awarded various research grants this year, including $1.3 million for a five-year study to evaluate an Internet-based depression prevention program for at-risk adolescents.

Six faculty members achieved the career milestone of earning tenure this year. It is important to the College that we retain the very best of our faculty, and we are happy to do that. They are: Rebecca Bedell (art), Bryan Burns (classical studies), Sealing Cheng (women’s and gender studies), Donald Elmore (chemistry), Robin McKnight (economics), and Ismar Volic (math). Later this month, we will welcome 14 new tenure-track faculty to our community. We continue to hire new faculty to replace those who have retired in order to maintain the small-class experience that is one of the hallmarks of a Wellesley education. Our newly hired faculty join us from the fields of art, astronomy, economics, English, environmental science, history, mathematics, neuroscience, philosophy, political science, and psychology.

Around Campus

Over the last academic year, we dedicated two special spaces on campus—the newly named Diana Chapman Walsh Alumnae Hall in the fall and the Whitin Observatory in the spring. The renovation of both buildings illustrates how Wellesley has been able to preserve its history while re-envisioning the space needs for liberal arts education in the 21st century. This principle will guide our thinking about future campus building projects. Small planning groups on campus currently are addressing building needs for several critical areas: arts and media; language and area studies; science and the environment; the student residential experience; and fitness/sports/wellness programs. You will continue to hear more about these exciting projects in the months and years to come.

I am delighted that current Trustee Laura Daignault Gates ’72 was elected this spring to serve as Chair of Wellesley’s Board of Trustees. She began her term on July 1, succeeding Alecia DeCoudreaux ’76. Laura served as President of the Alumnae Association from 2006-2009 and has held leadership positions within the Alumnae Association for over 30 years. Professionally, Laura served as principal of McKinsey & Company, Inc., and has worked as an administrator at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago and the Gibbes Museum of Art in Charleston, S.C. In addition to her service to Wellesley, she is also Director of the Historic Charleston Foundation and Chair of the Coastal Conservation League.

We celebrated some special milestones this past year that added to the vibrancy of our intellectual community—the 10th anniversary of the Tanner Conference and the 15th anniversary of the Ruhlman Conference. In the fall, more than 300 students presented their off-campus learning experiences at Tanner, demonstrating the important relationship between the liberal arts and students’ role in an increasingly diverse world. In the spring, another 300 students participated in Ruhlman—a day that celebrates student achievement through research as well as the important collaboration between students and faculty. To celebrate, alumnae from the first conference in 1997 came back to take part in a wonderful panel discussion about their Ruhlman experience.

Wellesley also hosted several distinguished guests who participated in important fora this past year. In January, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright ’59 was on campus for the second Albright Institute for Global Affairs, and in April, she returned for a panel discussion with former Ambassador Nicholas Burns, on “Revolt and Repression in the Middle East.” Also in April, former U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan Anne Patterson ’71 and Maleeha Lodhi, former Pakistani Ambassador to the U.S., engaged in an important dialogue on international relations during Wellesley’s annual Wilson Lecture. These events were popular with the students who packed the room on both occasions and asked many penetrating questions afterwards.

At the Davis Museum, we were fortunate to have a fabulous line-up of exhibitions this past year, including El Anatsui’s “When I Last Wrote to You About Africa,” and Francis Alys’s “The Moment Where Sculpture Happens.” Both were well attended and garnered significant national media attention. We are fortunate to have an art museum, which is not only directly and intensively involved in the education of our students, but is also able to assemble such impressive exhibitions. This past year, the Davis was rated No. 6 in a ranking of the 15 Most Impressive College Museums.

Healthy Financial Management

I am pleased to report that Wellesley remains financially strong. This was made possible by thoughtful financial planning and management on campus. While budgeting wisely, we have kept our focus on one primary goal: ensuring that Wellesley will continue to be what it always has been. Our priority continues to be preserving and enhancing our educational program while maintaining our historic principle that every woman who belongs at Wellesley will receive the financial aid necessary to be here. While the College continues to feel the impact of the global economic crisis—and will for the next few years—Wellesley is strong and well positioned for continued success.

Wellesley also remains strong because of the generosity of alumnae, friends, and parents. This ongoing commitment enabled us to have a banner year in terms of overall dollars raised as well as the percent of alumnae and parents who gave. New gifts and pledges totaled just under $40 million, an increase of 24 percent over last year. The Annual Giving Office exceeded its goal by raising $10.1 million this year, which is $80,000 ahead of last year. Alumnae participation reached 46.6 percent, an impressive increase over last year’s 45 percent participation rate. This increase is due in large part to alumnae who graduated within the last 10 years; their aggregate participation rate was just under 37 percent, compared to 30 percent last year. Special recognition goes to the Class of 2009, which had a most impressive participation rate of 43 percent, up from 27.6 percent last year.

Thank you all for your support of the College, and for continuing to believe in the value of women’s education and the importance of the liberal arts. Certainly, one of the College’s strongest assets is the vitality of our community, of which you are an important member. Wellesley remains an exceptional liberal arts institution because of you.

Best wishes for a wonderful summer.


H. Kim Bottomly