In a few short months, I will be stepping down as the eighteenth president of Mount Holyoke College to begin a new charge as head of the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U). To say these final days in South Hadley are bittersweet is an understatement, indeed.
I am grateful that I will bring so much of the College with me to my work in Washington, DC. Mount Holyoke has long been a leader in liberal education, encouraging our students to absorb all they can from the arts, philosophy, science, and languages in order to meet the challenges of the twenty-first century. I believe a life deeply rooted in the full expanse of what it means to be human is a life that is abundant and consequential. I also believe it is imperative to open doors of excellence in higher education to all students, regardless of their socioeconomic backgrounds. Serving as president of AAC&U allows me to bring my passion for both liberal learning and access in higher education to more than 1,300 member institutions around the country. I am proud of the work we have done together at Mount Holyoke, and I am eager to apply our successes to the many challenges facing higher education today.
Across the country and around the world, I have witnessed the Mount Holyoke connection as a powerful circuit of unending energy.
Lynn Pasquerella ’80
There is so much I will miss about Mount Holyoke. I will miss field hockey matches, music performances, autumn walks around Upper Lake, the utter joy of Mountain Day, and the enthusiasm at convocation. I will also miss going over to the Village Commons, ducking inside to see what’s new at the Odyssey Bookshop or indulging in my Tailgate Picnic guilty pleasure: a loaded baked potato (without bacon, of course). And I will miss entering the library—as I did today—simply to take in the luminous beams of light that radiate from countless windows.
One thing I know now that I did not fully understand when I began serving as college president is how connected we all truly are. Time after time, I have been impressed by the ways alumnae reach out to one other, even to those they never knew as classmates. Someone is new in town and needs introductions—Mount Holyoke alumnae are there. Someone has a health emergency—Mount Holyoke alumnae are at the hospital or texting from another state. Across the country and around the world, I have witnessed the Mount Holyoke connection as a powerful circuit of unending energy—an astonishing renewable resource.
Nearly four decades ago when I first set foot on campus as a young student, I thought every Mount Holyoke experience dazzled because I had never experienced it before. I was wrong. Mount Holyoke still shines for me every single day. In the brilliant accomplishments of our students, in the incandescent connections among alumnae, and in all those library windows that illuminate our best selves—Mount Holyoke is a beacon of possibility.
Of everything I treasure about Mary Lyon’s audacious experiment, it is that light I hold dearest. I shall keep it with me every day—a reminder that Mount Holyoke forever shall be.
—By President Lynn Pasquerella ’80
This article appeared in the spring 2016 issue of the Alumnae Quarterly.
April 13, 2016