President’s Pen: Summer 2018

Invitation to inauguration

With all the excitement of Commencement and Reunion behind us, it is with great anticipation and resolve that we engage in the deep work of summer, in preparation for the fall and the return of the students. While the rhythm is different — and repairs to the clock in Mary Lyon Hall make the hours seem longer and slower — the work itself is more concentrated and more urgent. Perhaps, for me, this sense of urgency is amplified by this moment, by the sense of entering more fully into the long (laurel) chain of Mount Holyoke’s history as the College’s 19th president.

I have said to many of you, when asked how I feel about this opportunity to serve you and the College, that my first reaction (and perhaps the most enduring one) is a renewed and weightier sense of responsibility: the responsibility to preserve and advance and to protect and promote this extraordinary institution — its excellence, its beauty and its values. To do this, we must indeed work with consequential urgency and with creativity and commitment.Sonya Stephens

Soon you will receive a President’s Report that details the initiatives undertaken to date under the Plan for 2021. With two years of the Plan behind us — and the opportunities of a new horizon created by a new presidency — this is a moment of reflection on all that has been accomplished and an occasion for yet greater ambitions for the College as we deepen our commitment to those institutional priorities. We have invested in academic excellence, recruiting and supporting outstanding faculty, renewing the curriculum and ensuring that our students are well prepared for success after graduation. Ninety-seven percent of recent graduates have held an internship while at Mount Holyoke (and 98 percent of employers said they would consider hiring their interns), more than 92 percent are employed or in graduate school within six months of graduating and — over a 50-year period documented by the National Science Foundation — Mount Holyoke has produced more women with Ph.D.s in science, technology, engineering and mathematics than any of our peer liberal arts colleges. We are creating spaces and opportunities to build on this legacy of success, renewing the sense of community at the heart of the intellectual endeavors and connections of liberal learning in a residential setting and ensuring that a Mount Holyoke education remains global, current, accessible and truly inclusive. The $50 million Community Center, now completed, is the centerpiece for this aspiration, while a $3.5 million state-of-the-art Maker and Innovation Lab under construction this summer will create new learning opportunities across the curriculum and outside of the classroom. Both of these new spaces have been designed to high environmental standards, as we advance the College’s commitment to sustainability with ambitious curricular and facilities goals, including that of carbon neutrality by our bicentennial in 2037.

These initiatives, and many more, contribute to the desirability of the Mount Holyoke experience, with applications and yield up significantly for the class of 2022. Many of you have contributed your time, energy and resources to these priorities, and I am deeply grateful for your loyalty to the College — demonstrated in so many ways — and for the support you have shown me. Alongside that renewed and weightier sense of responsibility, then, I feel honored, privileged and truly joyful to be in this work of advancing Mount Holyoke with you, for our students and for generations to come. We are just getting started.  

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