Open Letters from President Johnson

November 22, 2016

What Wellesley Stands For, New York Times Letter to the Editor

November 15, 2016

To the Editor:

Re “Hostile Acts Against Minorities, Often Invoking Trump, Erupt Across U.S.” (news article, Nov. 11):

The fact that The New York Times was able to document so many adverse incidents on school campuses immediately after the election is reason for serious concern. It would be irresponsible to chalk up these troubling confrontations — which have overtones of discrimination and intimidation — to mere clashes of political opinion without full investigation.

And perhaps most important, to dismiss anyone’s reaction to hateful acts as oversensitive political correctness is to be complicit in these acts.

I disagree with your characterization that Wellesley was founded as a safe space. Wellesley’s founding was a revolutionary act inspired by a vision for democracy and equal opportunity for women across all socioeconomic backgrounds, and for more than 100 years, we have fought for women.

At Wellesley, we embrace difference and work to assure that all Wellesley students have an equal opportunity to flourish. We stand for equity and justice, for the pursuit of knowledge that is based in fact, and for civil discourse that is inclusive while challenging in its rigor.

It is incumbent upon President-elect Donald Trump to clearly and forcefully condemn episodes of bias against groups too numerous to name here. Far from playing it safe, Wellesley’s plan is to remain vigilant and redouble our efforts on behalf of women.


President, Wellesley College

Wellesley, Mass.

An Open Letter to Stephen Bannon from the Seven Sisters Presidents

November 21, 2016

Dear Mr. Bannon:

Given your appointment as Senior Counselor by President-elect Donald Trump, a number of your comments have been scrutinized by the press. As has been widely reported, in a 2011 interview with Political Vindication Radio, you disparaged lesbians, feminists and alumnae of the historic Seven Sisters Colleges, all in one statement that we deliberately choose not to repeat here. Other reported comments by you reflect other forms of bias, including racism, anti-Semitism and more. As the leaders of the Seven Sisters Colleges, we take deep exception to these comments and ask that you take a more expansive, informed and tolerant world view in your leadership role.

We are proud of our alumnae and students, who represent the spectrum of sexual orientation, race, class and religion as well as political party. Our alumnae are accomplished leaders in all spheres of public and professional life; they are committed to their work, their families and their countries. Now more than ever, we look to those who would lead the United States of America for a message of inclusion, respect and unity.

Debora Spar
President, Barnard College

Kim Cassidy
President, Bryn Mawr College

Sonya Stephens
Acting President, Mount Holyoke College

Lizabeth Cohen
Dean, The Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University

Kathleen McCartney
President, Smith College

Jonathan Chenette
Interim President, Vassar College

Paula Johnson
President, Wellesley College


Statement in Support of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Program and our Undocumented Immigrant Students

November 22, 2016

The core mission of higher education is the advancement of knowledge, people and society. As educational leaders, we are committed to upholding free inquiry and education in our colleges and universities, and to providing the opportunity for all our students to pursue their learning and life goals.

Since the advent of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in 2012, we have seen the critical benefits of this program for our students, and the highly positive impacts on our institutions and communities. DACA beneficiaries on our campuses have been exemplary student scholars and student leaders, working across campus and in the community. With DACA, our students and alumni have been able to pursue opportunities in business, education, high tech and the nonprofit sector; they have gone to medical school, law school and graduate schools in numerous disciplines. They are actively contributing to their local communities and economies.

To our country’s leaders, we say that DACA should be upheld, continued and expanded. We are prepared to meet with you to present our case. This is both a moral imperative and a national necessity. America needs talent -- and these students, who have been raised and educated in the United States, are already part of our national community. They represent what is best about America, and as scholars and leaders they are essential to the future.

We call on our colleagues and other leaders across the business, civic, religious and nonprofit sectors to join with us in this urgent matter.

Presidents and Chancellors Who Signed (alphabetical by institution)

  • James Mullen, Allegheny College
  • Jeff Abernathy, Alma College
  • Biddy Martin, Amherst College
  • Paul Pribbenow, Augsburg College
  • Leon Botstein, Bard College
  • Debora Spar, Barnard College
  • Clayton Spencer, Bates College
  • Mariko Silver, Bennington College
  • Clayton Rose, Bowdoin College
  • Christina Paxson, Brown University
  • Kimberly Cassidy, Bryn Mawr College
  • Steven Lavine, California Institute of the Arts
  • Chris Kimball, California Lutheran University
  • Mildred García, California State University, Fullerton
  • Barbara Snyder, Case Western Reserve University
  • Brian Casey, Colgate University
  • Sarah Bolton, College of Wooster
  • Katherine Bergeron, Connecticut College
  • Yves Salomon-Fernandez, Cumberland County College
  • Phil Hanlon, Dartmouth College
  • Carol Quillen, Davidson College
  • Claire Sterk, Emory University
  • Daniel Porterfield, Franklin & Marshall College
  • Elizabeth Davis, Furman University
  • John J. DeGioia, Georgetown University
  • Janet Morgan Riggs, Gettysburg College
  • Jose Antonio Bowen, Goucher College
  • Raynard Kington, Grinnell College
  • David Wippman, Hamilton College
  • Drew Faust, Harvard University
  • James Troha, Juniata College
  • Sean Decatur, Kenyon College
  • Teresa Amott, Knox College
  • Randal Wisbey, La Sierra University
  • Jonathan Burke, Laguna College of Art and Design
  • Barry Glassner, Lewis & Clark College
  • Timothy Law Snyder, Loyola Marymount University
  • Brian Linnane, S.J., Loyola University Maryland
  • Brian Rosenberg, Macalester College
  • Lucas Lamadrid, Marymount California University
  • Richard Moran, Menlo College
  • Laurie Patton, Middlebury College
  • Beth Hillman, Mills College
  • Sonya Stephens, Mount Holyoke College
  • Morton Schapiro, Northwestern University
  • Judith Maxwell Greig, Notre Dame de Namur University
  • Marvin Krislov, Oberlin College
  • Jonathan Veitch, Occidental College
  • Lawrence Schall, Oglethorpe University
  • Michael Sorrell, Paul Quinn College
  • Eric Barron, Pennsylvania State University
  • Melvin L. Oliver, Pitzer College
  • David Oxtoby, Pomona College
  • Christopher Eisgruber, Princeton University
  • John Kroger, Reed College
  • David Leebron, Rice University
  • Eugene Cornacchia, Saint Peter's University
  • Michael Engh, Santa Clara University
  • Karen Lawrence, Sarah Lawrence College
  • Lara Tiedens, Scripps College
  • Kathleen McCartney, Smith College
  • Edward B. Burger, Southwestern University
  • Satish K. Tripathi, State University of New York at Buffalo
  • Samuel Stanley, State University of New York at Stony Brook
  • Valerie Smith, Swarthmore College
  • Joanne Berger-Sweeney, Trinity College
  • Danny Anderson, Trinity University
  • Anthony Monaco, Tufts University
  • Ralph Hexter, University of California, Davis
  • Howard Gillman, University of California, Irvine
  • Pradeep Khosla, University of California, San Diego
  • Michael A. Olivas, University of Houston Downtown
  • Bernadette Gray-Little, University of Kansas
  • Devorah Lieberman, University of La Verne
  • Wallace Loh, University of Maryland, College Park
  • Mark Schlissel, University of Michigan
  • Amy Gutmann, University of Pennsylvania
  • Isiaah Crawford, University of Puget Sound
  • Ralph Kuncl, University of Redlands
  • James Harris, University of San Diego
  • Paul Fitzgerald, University of San Francisco
  • Denise Doyle, University of the Incarnate Word
  • Pamela Eibeck, University of the Pacific
  • Stephen Morgan, University of the West
  • Jonathan Chenette, Vassar College
  • Tori Haring-Smith, Washington & Jefferson College
  • Kenneth Ruscio, Washington and Lee University
  • Paula Johnson, Wellesley College
  • Michael Roth, Wesleyan University
  • Sharon Herzberger, Whittier College
  • Stephen Thorsett, Willamette University
  • Adam Falk, Williams College
  • Peter Salovey, Yale University