Posted on January 31, 2011
Welcome back, students. Looking around the snow-covered campus, it may be hard to believe that the spring semester has begun. We will have to wait a bit for actual spring weather, but the campus seems warmer already, thanks in part to your return. I also have to credit the extraordinary effort that buildings and grounds staff put forth in clearing the campus walkways and parking lots.
Last week, I was traveling the West Coast on Wheaton business, so I missed the “Snow Day,” but I enjoyed watching it, and hearing about it, from a distance. Kudos to Associate Deans Kate McCaffrey and Vereene Parnell for helping to coordinate these activities and making the most of a wintry day. In my opinion, it’s moments like these that make a community.
Dean Lee Williams emailed me a story about students going the “extra mile” that I would like to share. She wrote:
Due to a scheduling snafu, no referees showed up for the women's basketball game v. Smith, and it was cancelled. The halftime activity was supposed to be a Special Olympics group, "Heller's Angels," playing on the court. The team from Smith left, but Wheaton's women stuck around for 45 minutes and did drills with Heller's Angels, which was a pretty classy thing to do. Someone made a video of it, which you might enjoy seeing:
The game with Smith was rescheduled..., by the way, and Wheaton beat them, despite being the underdogs. Go Lyons!"
We can all cheer about the ending of that story. However, the team’s willingness to get involved with others is what I really appreciate. That attitude helps to make the college community strong and vibrant. No matter whether you are a student, a faculty member or a staff member, the Wheaton campus needs your active participation.
One way to start participating more fully in campus life is to plan on attending some of the many events scheduled for this semester. To name just a few: Mae Jemison, M.D., a former NASA astronaut and the first African American woman to travel in space, will visit campus as a Jane E. Ruby Humanities lecturer on Feb. 24. The distinguished education scholar and consultant Peggy McIntosh, former associate director of the Wellesley Centers for Women, will receive the Otis Social Justice Award and give a public lecture on March 1. The artist D.J. Spooky will perform with the Great Woods Chamber Orchestra on March 10. More information on these events, and many others, are available on the web.
You also can take pride in the accomplishments of faculty and staff. During winter break, I received good news on a variety of fronts that illustrate the many ways in which Wheaton is a leader. For example, Lisa Gavigan ‘84, the center’s senior associate director of career services, wrote an article about the way in which the college helps students learn from internships and other field-based experiences in the latest issue of Peer Review, a magazine published by AAC&U. Just last week, at the association’s annual meeting, the strong partnership between the library’s Research and Instruction staff and our faculty was held out as an example for other colleges to emulate.
I also am pleased to report that the Summer Institute for Literary and Cultural Studies (SILCS), which was founded through the leadership of Professor of English Paula Krebs, has received renewed funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Now in its fourth year, SILCS brings talented college juniors and seniors, especially those from ethnic or racial groups that are underrepresented in the field of English studies, to Wheaton for a four-week, expenses-paid summer institute.
In other news, you probably have already noticed that the cold weather hasn’t slowed progress on construction of the Mars Center for Science and Technology. Workers are currently enclosing the building and installing interior utilities, such as electrical conduit and HVAC ductwork. By early February, the southern face of the building’s exterior wall will be complete; before winter is out, much of the activity will be focused on building out the inside of the facility. The college also installed new furniture for the lounges and common spaces in lower campus residence halls. This is part of a larger, two-year project to improve the Meadows complex, which began last summer and will be complete by next fall.
I could go on quite a bit longer about all the good things happening on campus as well as the events we can look forward to in the months ahead. However, I’ll leave some of those details for another day.
I look forward to talking to you as the semester unfolds (as well as to better weather).