MHC Moment: July 2012

A Global Campus

recent trip through Asia was launched in Nanjing, China, home to Ginling College, our hosts for this year’s Women’s Education Worldwide gathering. I have noted throughout my time as president that Mount Holyoke alumnae are everywhere, and this was certainly true in Asia. In fact, Matilda Calder Thurston, class of 1896, served as Ginling’s first president from 1913 to 1928, bringing Mary Lyon’s vision to China many years before this visit.

Being among my women’s college colleagues from regions of the world where access to educational opportunity for women remains a challenge is a powerful reminder of Mount Holyoke’s roots and purpose. We have long served aspiring women leaders and scholars, providing access to educational excellence for women of all socioeconomic means, and, for much of our history, women of any nationality.

An increasing number of college-bound Chinese students are attending colleges and universities outside of China. For some U.S. institutions, the very first individuals or student cohorts from China have entered their classrooms in recent years. By contrast, Mount Holyoke has a long and proud history of welcoming Chinese students. The Complementary Program Development staff members will tap this experience when they launch a program this summer for the benefit of young Chinese women who aspire to attend highly selective U.S. colleges and universities like Mount Holyoke.

The Women’s Academy for International Leadership Development will introduce participants to American-style courses, college application processes, and campus environments, ensuring that these young women can both gain entrance to and have the experience to thrive in institutions of their choosing. Of course we hope a number of them will choose Mount Holyoke when it is time to enter college.

These potential students will have a strong and present network to support them in their studies both on-campus and at home. The alumnae communities who greeted me—and prospective students and their families—at receptions throughout Asia remain deeply committed to Mount Holyoke and to the liberal education they acquired here. Though their presence in South Hadley spans decades and generations, they greet one another as old friends.

I was particularly honored to present Jean Ting Margolis ’47 with a plaque in recognition of her aunt, Dr. Me-Iung Ting ’18. It is believed that Jean’s aunt was Mount Holyoke’s first student from China. Members of the class of 1947, Jean’s class, greeted me before I officially began my presidency, and their stories of studying in the midst of war and living pioneering lives as women in that time have stayed with me. Jean came by her own spirit of adventure quite naturally, given her aunt’s example.

In a message following our time together in Shanghai, Jean wrote, “My aunt Dr. Me-Iung Ting, class of ’18, adopted me. She was defiant of the ancient Chinese traditional thinking that only men can accomplish great things. Her teaching was similar to MHC founder Mary Lyon’s belief that women can accomplish great things also.” Through her aunt’s encouragement and support, Jean found the courage to attend Mount Holyoke. She describes herself as arriving “lonely and frightened,” but she was quickly embraced by new friends and teachers who believed in her potential.

Now, Jean and so many other alumnae around the world encourage young women in their home countries to consider Mount Holyoke. Their presence as students strengthened our community when being a global campus was unusual—even rare, and the recognition we have received as the best institution in the nation for international students is recognition we share with our international graduates across the generations. It is my profound privilege to travel the world and thank many of you in person. I hope all of you see your contributions in the college Mount Holyoke has become today. We are better for your commitment and support.

–President Pasquerella ’80

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