WGBH Radio Interviewed President Paula Johnson about Her New Role Leading Wellesley

July 18, 2016
Dina Rudick

On a bright summer day on the academic quad, newly arrived President Paula Johnson sat down with WGBH Radio's Kirk Carapezza for an interview about taking on the leadership of Wellesley College. Johnson spoke with WGBH on her first official day as president.

The segment included conversation about how Wellesley is uniquely situated to educate and empower young women; Johnson’s role as a leading figure in improving women's health; and the essential part students can play in helping us recognize "that all forms of diversity are very important to our nation and to our world."   

When the interview turned toward what it means to lead a women's college, President Johnson explained, "For Wellesley, the fact that we are a leading women's college, in many ways, gives us an edge. We have a very clear mission—it’s to educate our young women and to provide an outstanding liberal arts education. But it's also to educate women who are going to make a difference in the world." She said this allows Wellesley to recruit young women who identify with the College"s mission and who "feel passionately about what we do here."

President Johnson also praised the critically important role that college students play in working for increased campus diversity. "It is making us all better," she said, "the fact that we are recognizing what our history brings to the present." Students prompt us to examine how “we come to terms with that history" and to recognize "that all forms of diversity are very important to our nation and to our world." She asked, "How do we, in these microcosms of liberal arts colleges, embody those values? Those are really important discussions, and I think students have pushed us.” She added that students have historically played this role.

In speaking about how her past experiences will inform her leadership, President Johnson said she will "bring my focus on the health and well-being of women to Wellesley," explaining her experience will serve "as a lens" that will help inform the College's approach to educating young women both in the classroom and as preparation for contributing to their individual communities. Her experience also will drive her to ensure "that our young women have a much more holistic view of health and well-being."

The interview, for the On Campus program, was part of their "Leaders in Higher Education" series. President Johnson was also recently featured in a Boston magazine interview and a Boston Globe interview. Additionally, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh declared May 11 Dr. Paula Johnson Day.