Wellesley Celebrates the Inauguration of Paula A. Johnson

September 30, 2016

Today, the Wellesley community and hundreds of distinguished guests come together to celebrate the inauguration of Paula A. Johnson as Wellesley’s 14th president. The theme is “intersections,” because as President Johnson has said, when we connect as individuals and as a community, we discover new insights, create new knowledge, and generate new opportunities.

As this new chapter in Wellesley’s history begins, we celebrate both the rich diversity of our vibrant community and the multi- and interdisciplinary approach to teaching and learning that has always been a hallmark of our exceptional educational experience. We also look forward to exciting possibilities as Wellesley continues to prepare women leaders to transform and heal the world.

The ceremony begins at 2:00 PM on Severance Green. Seating for guests opens at 1:00 PM. Inauguration will also be streamed live. Follow along with the program.

Chairs line the inauguration tent

Today’s ceremony, which will take place under this tent on Severance Green, is filled with symbolism dating back to 1899, when Caroline Hazard, Wellesley’s fifth president, was the first to have a formal inauguration. Photo: Erik Jacobs

Dr. Johnson arriving at Alumnae Hall

Dr. Paula Johnson arrives Thursday to Alumnae Hall for Intersections: A Faculty Symposium, where Wellesley faculty shared scholarly, creative, and investigative work to celebrate the ways in which the liberal arts encourage the sparking of ideas across disciplines and generate action in the larger world. Photo: Erik Jacobs

Carol Dougherty

The symposium consisted of two panels: “Creating New Futures” and “Feminisms across Time and Space.” Photo: Richard Howard

Robe hanging in the president's office

Yesterday, President Paula Johnson’s regalia hung in her office. This afternoon, the robe will take center stage when she accepts the three keys to the College—representing domestic life, intellectual life, and spiritual life—that are given to each Wellesley president. Photo: Erik Jacobs

alumnae panelists on stage

Today’s festivities began with Connections: An Alumnae Panel, held in Alumnae Hall, where speakers ranging from the Class of 1950 to the Class of 2012 discussed their lived experiences of feminism and the challenges that feminists (and all women) still face. Photo: Richard Howard

students processing

The inauguration ceremony began with a procession that included students representing their class years and colors. Photo: Richard Howard


The Buddhist, Jewish, Catholic, Unitarian Universalist, Muslim, Protestant, and Hindu chaplains delivered the invocation. Photo: Richard Howard

Elizabeth Warren

Senator Elizabeth Warren delivered greetings on behalf of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Photo: Richard Howard

Drew Faust

President of Harvard University Drew Faust brought greetings on behalf of institutions of higher learning. Photo: Richard Howard

Kathleen McCartney

President of Smith College Kathleen McCartney shared greetings on behalf of institutions of higher learning dedicated to educating women. Photo: Richard Howard

Vivian Pinn

Dr. Vivian Pinn ’62 conveyed greetings on behalf of the community of scientists dedicated to women’s health. Photo: Richard Howard


During the ceremony, the choir sang Lift Every Voice and Sing, ‘Tis a Gift to Be Simple, To Alma Mater, Wellesley’s Daughters, and America the Beautiful. Photo: Richard Howard

President Johnson and Provost Shennan

President Paula Johnson received the charter, seal, and keys to the College. Photo: Richard Howard

President Johnson Dancing with Students

The night ended with Soiree: A Dance Party where the Wellesley community came together to celebrate and dance. Photo: Erik Jacobs

Four Wellesley Presidents

Three past Wellesley presidents attended the ceremony: Diana Chapman Walsh '66, Nannerl Overholser Keohane '61, and Barbara W. Newell. Photo: Erik Jacobs