Alumnae Letter

Reaffirmation of Mission and Announcing Gender Policy

We are writing with important news. At a meeting on March 4, 2015, the Board of Trustees approved the recommendations of the Trustee Committee on Gender and Wellesley. This Committee was created to make recommendations for College policies and practices in light of society’s evolving understanding of gender, and the implications this change has for Wellesley’s mission to educate women. The recommendations of the Trustee Committee were informed by the findings of the President’s Advisory Committee on Gender and Wellesley constituted by President Bottomly in the early fall of 2014; by inquiry into educational, social, legal, and medical considerations about gender identity; and by extensive conversation and consultation across the community.

These have been important discussions for all members of our community. There are many points of view, and it was essential for all of them to be heard and considered. Many of our alumnae shared their perspectives, describing the transformative effect Wellesley has had on their lives because of our mission. Among alumnae, as elsewhere throughout the community, there were differences of opinion, but always a commitment to Wellesley as a women's college. We are so very thankful for our alumnae: generations of women who care deeply about the College and who are committed to Wellesley's continuing excellence and relevance.

You will not be surprised to learn that throughout its deliberations the Trustee Committee kept Wellesley's mission and identity as a women's college at the forefront of its work. Our founders, Henry and Pauline Durant, understood that educating women confers powerful benefits on society, as well as on individuals. It is clear that the concept of a women's college, and the reasons for having one, are as valid today as they have been at any time in the past. Our ongoing commitment to women continues to inspire and empower each new generation of Wellesley students.

The Trustee Committee observed that every aspect of Wellesley's educational program is, and should continue to be, designed and implemented to serve women and to prepare them to thrive in a complex world. This singular focus on women is a critical part of the Wellesley experience. Further, the Committee affirmed the importance of using language specific to the women we serve, because it encourages Wellesley students to see themselves as protagonists. Therefore, the Board of Trustees decided that in all institutional communications, the College will use female pronouns and the language of sisterhood, both of which powerfully convey important components of our mission and identity.

The Board of Trustees approved the recommendation to clarify the College's admission policy. Wellesley will admit women who are prepared for a rigorous academic environment that challenges them to achieve at their highest potential. Wellesley will consider for admission any applicant who lives as a woman and consistently identifies as a woman. The administration and faculty will develop procedures and guidelines to implement this clarification in time for the next admission cycle.

Finally the Committee observed that Wellesley provides individualized support to every student as a valued part of the College's culture. If, during a student's time at Wellesley, the student no longer identifies as a woman and decides that Wellesley, as a women's college, no longer offers an appropriate educational and social environment, Wellesley will offer guidance and resources to assist in making choices that are best for the student.

We wish to thank all those who participated in our discussions - the President's Advisory Committee and the Trustee Committee, as well as the alumnae, faculty, students, and staff who took the time to express their personal views about this complex issue. It was heartening that, without exception, Wellesley's mission was the foundation of every perspective and discussion. Wellesley and our work are important, never more so than today.