Community Celebrates the Launch of the Campaign for Wellesley

October 26, 2015
An interior photo of the Wellesley fieldhouse decorated for the launch of the Campaign for Wellesley

Wellesley rolled out the blue carpet this weekend to welcome the nearly 600 alumnae, parents, students, faculty, staff, and friends who gathered to celebrate the launch of the Campaign for Wellesley. “In thousands of ways, in every corner of the world, Wellesley is a transformative force for tangible good,” said Wellesley President H. Kim Bottomly. “With the launch of this campaign, we are doing nothing short of challenging ourselves to be at once the premier college for women, and a global center of women’s leadership.”

The weekend, which was filled with panel discussions, speeches, and special presentations, also included the announcement of a visionary gift—Andrew Shennan, provost and dean of the college, announced a $50 million dollar gift given jointly by two alumnae that sets in motion an ambitious College to Career Initiative. Tapping into Wellesley’s network of alumnae, which is widely considered to be the world’s most powerful women’s network, College to Career is a comprehensive reinvention of Wellesley’s career services function; it will reimagine how women are introduced to a world of opportunity during their four years on campus and over the course of their lives.

“In making this gift, these alumnae are expressing—with great conviction—their belief in Wellesley’s mission, and in the imperative of investing in women and women’s education as the surest way to improve the world. The gift represents the strongest possible endorsement of a liberal arts education and its power to prepare our students for any calling that inspires them,” Bottomly said. She added, “The aim is not only to enhance our students’ personal transition from Wellesley to the world, but to transform the very world into which they move.”

The weekend began with a keynote session, anchored by Callie Crossley ‘73 and Robin Sparkman ’91, which demonstrated the power and importance of storytelling. Crossley shared personal reflections on how the Wellesley Effect has shaped her life, and Sparkman moderated a panel discussion with alumnae who discussed the many nuanced meanings of the Wellesley Effect. In one such panel, Vivian Pinn ’62 said, “Without scholarships and financial aid, I never could have come here. Wellesley opened the door to the rest of my life. I’m so grateful for my liberal arts education that prepared me for life—and for living.”

Members of the faculty spoke about the work they are doing to innovate learning in the liberal arts, and how campaign initiatives underway in science and in the arts will strengthen a curriculum that is rich in opportunities for research and experiential learning.  Faculty also discussed the implications of publishing op-eds in major thought leadership outlets to increase the potential of their work to effect change. Students discussed the reasons they think Wellesley offers such an extraordinary learning environment and their appreciation for the value of living and working in a community dedicated to the advancement of women and women’s intellectual development. 

Rocio Ortega ’16, a political science and Latin American studies double major, discussed her journey to Wellesley from Southern California as both a first-generation American and a first-generation college student. She said she found a home away from home with peers on campus and deeply values the connections she’s developing across generations as a part of the Wellesley network. “My story is still being written,” Ortega said. “But I’m so grateful that Wellesley connects students with alumnae of all ages so that we can share our stories with each other.”

On Saturday, alumnae came together for “Lightning Talks On Leadership,” moderated by Cameran Mason ’84, vice president for resources and public affairs, in which alumnae from across the decades each spoke for five minutes on a word or phrase of their choosing that they felt represented an important skill or aspect of leadership. Later, they led discussions on business and finance, the STEM fields, the political arena, and social enterprise and civic engagement, which were open to the campus community and were well attended by students.

Students then joined alumnae for a networking luncheon hosted by Georgia Murphy Johnson ’75, P’03, newly elected president of the Wellesley College Alumnae Association. To conclude the day, Thomas Hodge, professor of Russian, and Stacie Goddard, Jane Bishop '51 associate professor of political science, reprised remarks they’ve shared with recent senior classes offering words of encouragement and inspiration. 

Celebratory events will take place in cities around the country, and throughout the world, marking the launch of the Campaign for Wellesley. Visit the campaign website to learn more.