Enthusiasm and Excellence

I am writing this entry from New York City, where the Wesleyan Alumni Association held a great event last night. There were about 500 people gathered in Gotham Hall to see old friends, make new connections, and to hear about alma mater. It was thrilling for me to see some of my buddies from the mid 1970s, and I met grads from the 1950s through last year. There were also many parents of current Wesleyan students in attendance, and they reported on the experience of their family members. There were teachers and physicians, managers from community organizations and from Wall Street, writers and interactive designers. In my remarks, I spoke about the creative, practical value of the liberal arts today (yes, that again!), but one could see that value oneself just by looking around the room and discovering the kaleidoscope of careers that become possible in life after Wesleyan. Of course, I also emphasized how the health of our university depends on active, loyal alumni. It is especially through alumni support of financial aid that we are able to keep Wesleyan a vibrant, open place where one can pursue one’s passion and aim at excellence. The enthusiasm of last night bodes well for the future!

Speaking of enthusiasm and excellence, I hope we can show spirited support this weekend as the Wesleyan softball team hosts (for the first time ever!) the NESCAC championships. The Wes women have had a great season, and they deserve our cheers. Their first game is on Friday, May 2, at 2:30 pm, and the tournament continues through the weekend.

Meanwhile, the mighty men’s lacrosse team is off to Middlebury for the NESCAC championships this weekend. Coach Raba’s men have fought hard all season, and we wish them well as they carry the Red and Black against some very tough competition. Their first game is on Saturday at 3 pm, and you can watch it on the Web. Check out the links, and the schedule for other athletic events, as our teams continue to compete as we move into the final weekend of classes: http://www.wesleyan.edu/athletics/

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2 thoughts on “Enthusiasm and Excellence

  1. A few thoughts from a fellow blogger:

    “President Roth was a few years behind me at Wesleyan and I suppose one could say, we are both children of the 60s. The one thing we have in common — beside being native Brooklynites — is that neither of us would have likely found their way to Wesleyan just a decade earlier.

    “He joked about his first visit to Wesleyan in 1975. Of course, everyone in Brooklyn thought he was visiting *Wellesley*. Suffice it to say, that he, much like I had a few year before, fell in love with the place: the surprising friendliness; the widespread commitment to serious inquiry of all sorts. And, the playfulness. That was key for me. I’m not sure I would have graduated but for all the people along the way who were willing to “come out and play” with me, on my terms.

    “I think Michael (everyone starts calling him “Michael” within seconds of meeting him) will make a good president. He’s the sixth Wesleyan president it’s been my pleasure to observe up close (starting with Vic Butterfield who was good enough to talk with me for a few moments during his retirement) and the first academic to hold the position in about twelve years.

    “He moved around the podium that had been set up on the makeshift stage and unhooked the microphone. Pretty soon, he was prowling the aisle between the sea of folding chairs before him, talking quite movingly and extemporaneously about Wesleyan’s importance as a progressive institution. He’s obviously a gifted teacher.

    “In fact, he reminded me of no one so much as, Carl Griffin, my late social studies teacher. They were both very handsome, vital, passionate men of good will.

    “But, my sense is that Carl would have been uncomfortable being “president” of anything. In fifty years of teaching, I don’t think he was so much as an assistant principal. I think he would have been uncomfortble asking people to take on the same battles he did. And, his battles were mainly pedagogical in nature. He wanted to teach more than anything else.

    “Michael, OTOH, has something every president I’ve ever met has had to varying degrees: the willingness and ability to instantly size people up. Butterfield had it. Bill Chace [snip] had it. Doug Bennet had to some extent, too.

    “Michael really has it. And, he’s going to need it. Part of his “speech” tonight was about commitment — to need-blind admissions, to the liberal arts, etc.. But, I think, also to something else. I almost can’t put my finger on it. Because to put my finger on it would almost be to betray a confidence. It is that important. And, that fragile.

    “What Michael was saying to us as he roamed up and down the aisle in that voluminous marbled hall, was really in the form of a question. The question was, “Are you with me?””

  2. Keep up the good work, President Roth. I’ve only been here for two years, but the administration on the whole this year seems to be a lot more energetic, vibrant, and open to new ideas than in years past. Even my parents were impressed, and that’s saying a lot.

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