Community Letter

H. Kim Bottomly's letter to the community

I write to inform you of my decision to step down from the presidency of Wellesley College in July 2016. I informed the trustees of my decision earlier today.

There will never be an easy time to leave such a wonderful place as Wellesley, but this is the right time for me. With robust financial and intellectual resources in place, and with efforts to renew our celebrated campus well underway, the College is strongly positioned to move forward. I am confident that Wellesley will continue to build on this base to achieve all the goals and aspirations of this remarkable college.

I will forever cherish my time at Wellesley and will always remain a proud member of this community that has come to mean so much to me. As I have told every graduating class, one never really leaves; Wellesley is always a part of who you are.

Since my arrival in 2007, our community has risen to major challenges—securing our financial footing after the historic recession of 2008 and embracing the complexities of diversity, academic freedom, and civil discourse. In an era of economic constraint, we have inaugurated ambitious plans and initiatives that have fortified Wellesley’s foundational strengths as a great liberal arts college and the world’s leading women’s college and that will position the College for leadership in the years ahead.  

We can all take pride in what we have accomplished together. We have made significant enhancements to the first-year academic experience, extended our ties to the international community, and expanded research opportunities for students and faculty in our academic centers. In 2009, the Madeleine Korbel Albright ’59 Institute for Global Affairs was established at Wellesley, and serves as an acclaimed center of pedagogical innovation. We have begun a historic effort to renew and rebuild our beloved campus buildings—over 60 percent of which have not had a major renovation in more than 50 years. We have also greatly improved Wellesley’s technological capability, supported dynamic programming in the Davis Museum, and initiated important experiments with online learning. We pioneered a three-college collaboration with Olin and Babson, implemented new sustainability initiatives, and founded a quantitative analysis institute.

As a community, we have stood together through very challenging economic times. We have restructured the College’s finances to focus on our priorities, and we are now poised to launch the public phase of a highly successful comprehensive campaign that will support the next chapter in Wellesley’s extraordinary history. Our endowment—having more than recovered from the recession—now stands above $1.8 billion, and I will strive to further enhance our economic foundation over the course of the next 14 months. 

During these years, Wellesley has seen an unprecedented rise in admission applications, accompanied by a substantial increase in selectivity. Our alumnae participation rate has been steadily rising—and last year hit the highest rate in over a decade—while we have also increased Wellesley’s visibility and reputation around the world.

Wayne and I look forward to thanking each of you personally in the coming year for all that you have done to help us and to help Wellesley over these nine years. We look forward to celebrating with you all that we have accomplished together.