Sustainable Affordability

Just before Reunion-Commencement weekend, I discussed changing some of our assumptions for budget planning with the Board of Trustees. This followed several months of discussions with faculty, students and staff on campus. After the February board meeting, I met in an open session with the Wesleyan Student Assembly, as did the treasurer and chair of the faculty in subsequent weeks. I also led a discussion of budget priorities in an affordability meeting with students, and reported on our economic planning to faculty at various meetings. Throughout the year, Joshua Boger and I have been discussing these ideas with alumni groups.

At the Board meeting we discussed planning the 2013-2014 budget with some new assumptions, which are described below. Our goals are to make Wesleyan more sustainable and affordable while maintaining our commitment to providing the very best liberal arts education. In the fall, I will continue discussions with the various members of the Wesleyan family. Together, we will chart a path that creates the conditions that will enable the university to thrive long into the future.

Over the last few years there has been a marked increase in attention given to college affordability. As the cost of higher education (both public and private) has continued to climb, and as the prospects for economic growth continue to dim, many have wondered about the value of an undergraduate degree.

Despite this disquiet about college generally, during this same period the number of students trying to gain admission to Wesleyan has increased dramatically. Thus far this year we’ve accepted fewer than 20% of the students who applied. Our total student charges will increase by 4.5% next year, reaching $58,000, which provides about 74% of the revenue it takes to run Wesleyan. Our financial aid budget is projected to increase by 15%, which means we will be allocating about $50 million to scholarships in 2012-2013.

For years, we have followed this same pattern: tuition increases well above inflation, and financial aid increases that go far beyond that. Although this works well enough for families from the highest and lowest income brackets – the former don’t worry about a budget and the latter don’t have to pay – we’re squeezing out middle and upper-middle class families. Furthermore, this budget model isn’t sustainable.

Over the past 20 years, the percentage of the tuition charges that goes to financial aid has risen steadily. In the past, Wesleyan has dealt with this issue by raising loan requirements (replacing grants with loans), and by taking more money out of the endowment (or just spending gifts rather than directing them to the endowment).

One way to change this dynamic is to cut costs, and we have substantially reduced expenses without undermining the academic core of the institution. In my first year as president in 2007-2008, we canceled almost $200 million in planned capital expenditures. We also made difficult decisions that resulted in $30 million in annual budget savings and increased revenues. We have improved energy efficiency and re-negotiated our health insurance coverage.  We have also reduced our exposure to increases in our debt service costs while developing a program to begin repaying some of the debt the university incurred in the 1990s.

But I have also introduced measures that increase pressure on the operating budget. In 2008, we reduced loans for most students by about a third, which I still believe was the right thing to do given our claim to “meet full need.” And we also began placing a much higher percentage of the money we raised each year into the endowment. Our endowment per student is well below most of our peer schools, and it seemed vital to build Wesleyan’s economic foundation. While we do this, it is also essential to have funds to run a great university right now.

This year I have proposed a plan to trustees and the campus with three new components to make Wesleyan more affordable in ways that can be sustained. The first is to establish a “discount rate” that is as generous as possible, but that is also one we can afford. The discount rate refers to the amount of tuition the university does NOT collect, and it is the key measure for financial aid. For Wesleyan this means just under a third of our tuition charges will go to financial aid. This is approximately the percentage of the budget devoted to aid from 2000-2008.

We remain committed to meeting the full financial need of the students we enroll, and to do so without increasing required student indebtedness.  This may mean that we will have to consider the capacity of some students to pay, as we do now with transfer and international students. We will read all applications without regard for the ability to pay, and we will be need-blind for as many students as possible. Currently we project this to be about 90% of each class (depending on the level of need). We could retain the label “need blind” by raising loan levels or shrinking grant packages – but this is the wrong thing to do. We feel it is crucial for the education of all our students to meet the full need of those who are enrolled without increasing their debt. As we raise more funds for the endowment, we will be able to build a more generous and sustainable financial aid program.

The second component of our affordability effort will be linking our tuition increases to the rate of inflation. We have already moved into the realm of the country’s most expensive colleges, and this is not a list on which we want to remain. Restraining tuition increases will require us to maintain our search for efficiencies while also investing in educational innovation across the curriculum.

The third component is to emphasize a three-year option for those families seeking a Wesleyan experience in a more economical form. We will help those students who choose to graduate in six semesters get the most out of their time on campus. The three-year option isn’t for everyone, but for those students who are prepared to develop their majors a little sooner, shorten their vacations by participating in our intensive Summer Sessions, and take advantage of the wealth of opportunities on campus, this more economical BA might be of genuine interest.  Allowing for some summer expenses, families would still save about 20% from the total bill for an undergraduate degree.

I am convinced that these measures will enable us to preserve access to Wesleyan for capable, creative students while preserving the essential qualities (great faculty, diverse community, excellent facilities) that these students want. We are justly proud that so many who are so talented want to be part of the Wesleyan educational experience. With thoughtful planning, which will involve continued discussions with students, faculty and alumni, we can ensure that this remains the case for generations to come.

Commencement 2012: What Shall We Do With These Memories?

From my remarks at commencement, May 27, 2012. To read the really important speeches, see:

When most of you began your Wesleyan education in the fall of 2008, the world was in a precarious state. It was an odd time to be investing in the future. But that’s what education is: a hopeful investment in the future. When you began here, America was waging two distant wars, the twisted legacies of a vicious attack on our country that took place when most of you were still in middle school. Today America has ended combat operations in Iraq and announced our intention to withdraw our troops from Afghanistan in the next two years. It is Memorial Day weekend, a time to reflect on the sacrifices that so many have made on behalf of our country, as we also reflect on the civilian lives that have been lost during these conflicts. We remember, but what shall we do with these memories?

In the fall of 2008 our country was headed toward the most significant economic dislocation since the Great Depression. Gigantic financial institutions that had ingeniously found ways to make enormous amounts of money while claiming to have mastered risk with casino-like schemes, were suddenly calling loudly for government help. The entire financial system seemed to be on the brink of collapse, and through a series of measures designed to restore some basic stability to our economic life, the Federal government averted an even greater disaster than the one which has caused millions of Americans to lose their jobs, their homes and their hopes for the future. We can recall those who suffer still in this economy, even as a fortunate few reap huge rewards.  We remember, but what shall we do with these memories?

In what was for most of you your first year at Wesleyan you witnessed a classmate brutally murdered by a man whose mental illness is so severe that he has been judged not responsible for his actions. Not responsible for his actions but easily able to buy a gun while continuing to stalk a woman. We will never forget Johanna’s vulnerability to gun violence; we will not forget that her vulnerability as a woman is not a rarity in America. We remember, but what shall we do with these memories?

For the last four years you have found ways to keep these memories alive while pursuing your education with, as we like to say at Wes, “boldness, rigor and practical idealism.” Allow me a word or two about that boldness. I don’t mean just the ability to dance for hours while roaming the campus in large groups, nor do I mean the chutzpa to buy and then sell the ACB, or to challenge Rosenthal and Roth to a game of hoops. I mean the audacity to write poetry that is as searing as it is heartfelt; to perform classic works of theater or music with a personal reframing that is startling yet faithful; to crunch through terabytes of data to better understand patterns that others have long misunderstood. This is audacity in the service of experience, in the service of learning.

The class of 2012 has often displayed a commitment to rigor that complements this boldness. Whether it be the meticulous efforts to better understand the role of interneurons in seizures; or to analyze representations of trauma in great works of literature; or to study geochemisty and sedimentology through an analysis of local river systems; or to understand the differences between Hegel and Adorno on aesthetics…these all took a commitment to focus and detail, to painstaking analysis and clear communication. There is also, I believe, a form of idealism in this work: the ideal that the experience of learning, the labor of learning, will result in something worth building upon.

With regards to practical idealism, too, this class is truly remarkable. So many examples come to mind: Kennedy Odede’s work in education in Kibera, Kenya; or Tasmiha Khan’s project for clean water and sanitation in Khalishpur, Bangladesh; or Raghu Appasani’s efforts to improve mental health treatment in rural India; or Harry Bartle and Maddie Neufield’s collaboration with Middletown Youth Radio, or the scores of tutors at MacDonough, Traverse Square, Green Street and Upward Bound – so many members of the class of 2012 have defied hipster pessimism and irony with their brains and sweat. Along with my colleagues on the Board, faculty and staff, I marvel at your vivacity and your care.

At Wesleyan we believe that this vivacity and care are key to the happiness of a lifetime of learning, commitment and participation. We want you to remember the pleasure of the camaraderie and openness that have characterized the Wesleyan community to which you will always belong. We want you to remember these pleasures, the feelings of freedom and accomplishment, because we believe that these will stimulate you to continue to be bold, to be rigorous, and to nurture your practical idealism. This may not be as easy as you imagine.  From all around you will come calls for a practicality that is not so idealistic — calls to be more serious, more attentive to “the real world.”  Make no mistake: these are really calls for conformity, demands for conventional thinking that, if heeded, will impoverish your, our, economic, cultural and personal lives.

As I say each year, generations of Wesleyan alumni can unite around the rejection of conformity and conventional thinking. Wes alumni have used their education to mold the course of culture themselves lest the future be shaped by those for whom creativity and change, freedom and equality, diversity and tolerance, are much too threatening. Now we alumni are counting on you to join us in helping to shape our culture, so that it will not be shaped by forces of fear and violence. As you shape this future, we are counting on you to remember.

We remember, but what shall we do with these memories? I trust you will gratefully acknowledge those who have sacrificed to nurture you, to guide you, and to protect our freedoms. I trust you will act to reduce violence in the world around us, especially those forms of violence that target the most vulnerable.  I trust that you will practice forms of thinking that create opportunity rather than defend inequality and privilege. I trust you will resist the temptations of conformity even as you reject puerile and narcissistic displays of separateness.

I have this trust because I have seen what you can do. What you can do fills me with hope, fills me with confidence in the investment of education. I know that you will find new ways to build community, to experience the arts, to join personal authenticity with compassionate solidarity. When this happens, you will feel the power and promise of your education. And we, your Wesleyan family, we will be proud of how you keep your education alive by making it effective in the world.

My dear friends and colleagues, four years ago I helped unload your cars here on Andrus field, and as you go off to your exciting pursuits I will be cheering for you back here in Middletown. Come home often to share your news, your memories and your dreams. Thank you and Good luck!

Why Colleges Should Offer a Three Year Option

As I prepare for my commencement speech this year, I remember vividly when I first realized that I could graduate college in three years rather than four. As a freshman, I was certainly in no hurry to leave. Indeed, I loved being in college: I was excited by the combination of freedom and opportunity to work hard on subjects I loved with faculty I admired. I didn’t want to leave – even for vacations!

But I realized that graduating in three years would save my family lots of money. Neither of my parents had attended college, and they had sacrificed for years to send my brother and me to the schools of our choice. My father was a furrier, and my mother had given up a promising singing career to raise us (while earning money selling clothes in our basement). They were proud that they were able to afford good colleges for us, and they would never have asked me to skip a year.

But I was proud, too, and I wanted to show my father that all the studying I had done had paid off in some way. I had accumulated credits through APs and a summer program, and with a little extra effort I could save almost a year of tuition – over $6,000! I loved my alma mater, but it seemed expensive even in the 1970s, and so I became a sophomore during my first year. The campus offered me countless opportunities, and I ran after them: I was president of my (co-ed) fraternity, published fiction, took music lessons, held down more than one job, and sought to excel in my classes. At the time, I thought that given the fact that I was going to be at school for only three years, I’d better take full advantage of everything there that I could.

Well, I have now been back at my alma mater as its president for five years, and I still find it an amazing place full of opportunities for learning. Recently, I have spoken with the trustees here about measures we can take to make the university more affordable while still ensuring the quality of an education that comes from face-to-face learning with accomplished scholar-teachers. Wesleyan, like many universities, has gotten ever more expensive, and even though we have a robust financial aid program, we know that many families who don’t qualify for large scholarships have great difficulty paying the high tuition we charge. We use these high fees to maintain the quality of our campus and our instruction – and to provide more funds for financial aid.

But in the last year or so, I’ve come to believe that this model is unsustainable. In a new model we are developing we will be committed to spending almost a third of our revenue on scholarships while meeting the financial need of our students without requiring excessive loans. We will also commit to linking tuition increases with inflation, rather than depending on the much higher rates of increase to which Wesleyan (like most colleges and universities) has been accustomed for decades.

We will also make more visible — and provide more support for — the “three year” route that I chose in the mid 1970s. That is, we will help those students who choose to graduate in six semesters (along with some summer work) get the most out of their time on campus. The three-year option isn’t for everyone, but for those students who are prepared to develop their majors a little sooner, shorten their vacations by participating in summer sessions, and take advantage of the wealth of opportunities on campus, this more economical BA might be of genuine interest. In our case, allowing for some summer expenses, families would still save about 20 percent from the total bill for an undergraduate degree. At many private schools that would be around $50,000!

Some have said to me that students think of their undergraduate experience as among the four best years of their lives – so why would they only want three? That’s the question I faced in 1975, and my decision then was that the economic trade-off was worth it. My appreciation for the remarkable experience had at residential liberal arts colleges has only grown since then, but that does not mean that I came to regret my decision. Three marvelous years here were enough to set me squarely on the path of a lifetime of learning.

Again, by no means is the three-year option for everyone. But if we can offer families the same quality undergraduate degree at a significantly reduced total price – and I think we can – why not do it? Our professors will continue to advance their own fields as they mentor young people whose curiosity, idealism and ambition are unleashed. By making this experience a little more accessible, I am betting we will only add to the diversity and quality of the experience for all our undergraduates.

Cross posted from the Washington Post

Making the World More of a Home: Brighter Dawns, Minds and Shining Hope

The campus suddenly seems quiet in this period that is not yet summer but definitely post-semester. Faculty are busy grading, and many staff members are busily preparing for the Reunion and Commencement weekend to come. It’s a time of transition.

Many of our students have already started projects that have taken them far from the campus in Middletown. In no way can one say that these students have lived in a “bubble.” They have founded organizations that are already serving people around the world, and through the Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship, we hope to be able to pass their expertise onto future generations of Wesleyan students.

Last week a group of students who started Brighter Dawns stopped by my office to talk about how their education will proceed once some of the founders have graduated. Brighter Dawns focuses on improving conditions for the very poor in Bangladesh. The organization’s website puts it this way: Our current goal is to make significant progress towards improving health and quality of life for residents of a slum in Ward 12 of Khalishpur, a city in Khulna, Bangladesh, by providing resources and education that spread effective sanitation, disease prevention, treatment during pregnancy and childcare, and other aspects of health in the community. Tasmiha Khan ’12 is the founder and Chief-Inspiration Officer of Brighter Dawns. Along with a stellar group of Wesleyan students, she has already begun to make a positive difference on a most serious issue.

Raghu Kiran Appasani ’12 has also been making an extraordinary contribution to addressing a serious issue through the Minds Foundation. Raghu and his team of Wesleyan students and professionals are dedicated to eliminating the stigma of mental illness in developing countries. They have a broad educational program to help communities understand the nature of mental illness, and they also facilitate access to treatment.

Kennedy Odede ’12 is the co-founder with Jessica Posner ’09 of Shining Hope for Communities, which has been building the Kibera School for Girls and the Johanna Justin Jinich Community Clinic in Kenya. Many Wesleyan students, faculty, staff and trustees have helped in this effort by working with the children outside of Nairobi or by raising funds for the organization here in the USA. There are many amazing stories that have come from the work of Shining Hope, but the Chair of the Parents Board, Baba Diana, puts it best: “The family that has an educated child…Their home has been built.”

Our students have been building their homes at Wesleyan for many years now, and in so doing they are also building shelters, schools, hospitals, and launch pads for thousands of people all around the world. Through their education, they are making the world more of a home for all of us.

Check Out SWERVED and Good Luck on Finals!

Thanks to the suggestion of some parents, over the weekend I’ve been checking out the wonderful Wesleyan student website, It’s a great collection of creative work in a variety of media. As I explored photography and video and listened to cuts on the “Sound” section, my admiration for our students’ work grew with each click.

We’re now in the final days of the semester, so I’d like to wish all our students the best of luck with finals! I’m looking forward to a fabulous Commencement/Reunion Weekend, as we honor the class of 2012 along with Senator Michael Bennet ’87, Planned Parenthood head Cecile Richards ‘P13, and artist Glenn Ligon ’82. We’ll also be honoring President Douglas Bennet ’59,  P’87, P’94 and his family by re-naming Fauver Frosh Bennet Hall.

I have an extra graduation ceremony to attend this year. I’m proud to be receiving an honorary doctorate from Eastern Connecticut State University this week. I give the Commencement Address tomorrow in Hartford for our state’s public liberal arts university.

Kari and I hope to spend lots of time during the next few months in the Berkshires (where I am supposed to make progress on a book project). Recently, I sat down with the head of our local NPR affiliate for an interview about Wesleyan, Freud, memory and history…

Summertime is almost here…

Making a Difference in the Environment — Natural, Political and Cultural

This evening I read an op-ed piece in the Los Angeles Times describing how efforts to increase forest density have led to a cascade of negative effects on local and regional eco-systems.  Well meaning attempts to “save the trees” have depleted water reserves and changed weather and soil dynamics. “As temperatures rise,” the authors conclude, “too much forest strangles too many watersheds.” Although the op-ed is brief, its arguments are built on serious research and analysis. I was delighted to see that the authors are Helen M. Poulos and Jamie G. Workman, who have been working together at Wesleyan’s College of the Environment. Helen is a post-doctoral fellow and Jamie is a Visiting Professor in the COE’s think tank. Both have been working with students this year on issues concerning water. Indeed this week they are hearing seniors present their own research, work that usually links environmental science with at least one other field. Barry Chernoff, Schumann Professor of Environmental Science and COE founder, conceived of the think tank as place for rigorous critique and generous collaboration. It’s also a place where scholars can think together about how to translate their research into interventions in the public sphere.

This week has also seen scores of media outlets using the data provided by the Wesleyan Media Project. The WMP’s latest report deals with heavy-duty pollution — the sharp rise in negative ads as compared with the 2008 presidential campaign. Project Director and Assistant Professor of Government Erika Franklin Fowler says that in addition to the rise in negative tone, “60 percent of all ads are sponsored by interest groups, which is really, truly a historic number.” Erika leads a team of student researchers in Middletown who code and analyze data from across the country. This research will become ever more important as the campaign churns along.

Maybe I should close with an example of Wesleyan folks attending to more positive aspects of the environment: all writers on campus working to improve the cultural world we breathe. This past weekend, Amy Bloom ’74, Kim-Frank University Writer in Residence, led Foodstock, a celebration of food and writing about it. From all accounts, the participants had an enlightening, nourishing day — and they also collected quite a bit of money and food for the Amazing Grace Food Pantry.

On Wednesday, May 9 student writing prize winners will read from their poetry and prose at Russell House, starting at 8:00 pm. The student writers who will be reading this evening,  in the this order (thanks to Anne Greene for the information):

Marina Reza ’13 (Herbert Lee Connelly nonfiction award co-winner, along with Jessica Jordan ’13 , who’s abroad)

Katherine Gibbel ’15 (Sarah Hannah Prize, poetry)

Aditi Kini ’13  (Horgan Prize, fiction)

Corey Dethier ’12  (Sophie Reed Prize, poetry)

Anna Swartz ’13  (Wesleyan Fiction Award)

I’m sure that this will be a contribution to our cultural environment that our writers will sustain!

Community Health Center: 40 Years Fighting for the Right to Quality Health Care

Last night Kari and I attended a celebration of the Community Health Center’s 40th anniversary, which was also an opportunity to marvel at the organization’s new building in Middletown’s North End at 675 Main Street. The facility is super-green, with a wonderful rooftop garden that will be a place where local schoolchildren can learn about taking care of plants (and themselves). Most important, the new building will help CHC continue to provide quality care to patients who don’t have the resources to pay for it.

Throughout the evening we met many Wesleyan alumni who have been active participants in the CHC. One of the most famous of those in attendance was John Hickenlooper ’74, Governor of Colorado, to whom Wes presented  an MA in 1980 and an honorary doctorate in 2010.

In the early years, John was shoulder to shoulder with the founder and CEO of CHC, Mark Masselli, who along with wife and KidCity founder, Jennifer Alexander ’88, received an honorary degree in 2009. Mark and Jen are now Wesleyan parents (P’15, P ’16), and so our connections continue to grow.

It was a great night to celebrate an organization that began with basic community organizing, developed into a free clinic, and which now serves more than 130,000 residents in Connecticut. As Mark puts it: “In the early ’70s, we were a group of Middletown activists and students from Wesleyan University, and we were inspired by the idea that ‘heath care is a right, not a privilege’.  It was a time when social change was sweeping the country, and we were part of that — the fact that we were able to grow from those early years as a free clinic to the CHC of today is due to the tremendous support and encouragement we received from the community. We always had some older and wiser folks helping us build an organization for the long-term.”

Congratulations to Mark and his great team! They offer a great model for providing health care, and a model for getting things done with powerful community partnerships. I am so proud that Wesleyan is one of those partners!!

Beyond Information Transfer: An Initiation into Lifelong Learning

Early May usually brings an unusually large number of press reports about higher education. Many high school seniors have just made their decisions about where they will be going to college, and those preparing to graduate from universities across the country are confronting transitions into an increasingly unwelcoming economy. Recently, there have been dozens of stories about whether those college years were worth the investment of time and money. Are American colleges and universities doing enough to prepare their graduates for the competitive world beyond the campus?

In this first week of May there were two stories that caught my eye. The first was on NPR, a media outlet usually pretty friendly to higher education. I know that many of its listeners, and almost all of its reporters, have benefited from broad educational experiences. The reporter on a recent story about liberal arts colleges, though, was wondering if we can still afford a wide-ranging, liberal education in our hyper-competitive world. Liberal arts schools, she said, “have long had a rap of being a kind of luxury, where learning is for learning’s sake, and not because understanding Aristotle will come in handy on the job one day. But economic pressures and changes in the world of higher education have now put them more on the defensive than ever.”

The reporter on the story is Tovia Smith, herself a graduate of Tufts University, a fine liberal arts school. Smith has covered or produced stories on an amazing range of topics,  from race relations to orphanages, from Clinton’s impeachment to Massachusetts prisons, “as well as regular features on cooking and movies.” I took this list from the NPR website, which also tells us that Smith taught journalism in Africa. Has learning for learning’s sake been a luxury for her, I wondered, or is it an integral part of her career and her life? She sure seems to have benefited from her Tufts education.

The second story that drew my attention was the announcement that Harvard and MIT were joining forces to offer “free online, college-level courses under a joint superbrand known as edX.” This is a great opening of access to the wealth of learning these universities possess. Both schools are among the most selective in the United States, and this venture means “Anyone with an Internet connection anywhere in the world can have access,’’ as Harvard president Drew Faust put it. The Cambridge powerhouses are inviting other schools to add their course materials to the platform they are developing, which will also allow researchers to study how students best learn online.

Where does this leave residential liberal arts schools? Nobody knows for sure how the availability of online courses will affect students’ interest in physically coming to a college to learn in a campus setting. Interest in attending MIT and Stanford has only grown as these universities have made course materials available online, and there is no sign that this new edX venture will reduce the desire to study in Cambridge, Massachusetts. That’s why the analogy between higher education and the newspaper business, drawn in this morning’s New York Times by the liberally educated David Brooks, doesn’t work. Nobody rushes out to buy the Times because they experienced it online.

Why is there still such a strong desire to be part of a diverse campus community when one can access content (often for free) in one’s own way at one’s own pace? It’s because a campus community still functions as a powerful catalyst for lifelong learning – and the ability to keep learning over a lifetime has never been so essential as it is today. Liberal arts education no longer draws on the cultivated homogeneity of a country club (or of the boardroom). Today selective schools create communities in which people learn from their differences while forming new modes of commonality. We don’t do this to be politically correct. We do it to prepare students to become lifelong learners who can navigate in and contribute to a heterogeneous world after graduation.

Our campuses should maximize each undergraduate’s ability to go beyond his or her comfort zone to learn from the most unexpected sources. By contrast, in the carefully curated online communities we create, we can reduce chances of surprise encounters, we can distance ourselves from sources with which we are unfamiliar. Our social networks are virtual, gated communities. We just filter out (or “unfriend”) the points of view we don’t want to hear. Our campuses, on the other hand, should be places where diversity leads to learning as our students come to see differences among people as a deep resource for solving problems and seeking opportunities. Online education can complement this educational environment very well. But it does not replace the need for it.

It’s early May, and as we prepare to welcome the class of 2016 and congratulate the grads of 2012, we should remember that their broadly-based, reflexive education is much more than information transfer. That kind of exchange can be done very well online. Our education, our immersion in communities of learning, is an initiation into a lifetime of learning, of solving problems, of creating opportunities, of experiencing the pleasures of the arts — and of participating in the public sphere.

Lifelong learning isn’t a luxury, although it does require investment. The investment enables our graduates to engage more fully with the world around them and exercise their responsibilities as citizens, to become shapers of the economy and culture of the future rather than be just spectators – or victims.

Women of Power, Influence…and Speed on the Water

Since I teach a course called The Past on Film each spring, I find two films this week deserve special mention. The first is My Neighbor, My Killer, which is screening at the Powell Family Screening Room at the Film Studies Center at 5:oo pm on Tuesday, May 1. This is an account of transitional justice practices in the wake of the attempted genocide in Rwanda. Director Anne Aghion will be at the screening and will take questions afterwards. The second film is Miss Representation, which is being screened by  Rho Epsilon Pi and the Peer Health Advocates on Thursday, May 3rd in Shanklin 107 at 8 p.m. According to the film’s website, the documentary explores how the media’s misrepresentations of women have led to the under-representation of women in positions of power and influence.

Speaking of women in positions of power and influence…. hats off to the the Wesleyan women’s crew team, which has had a remarkable season this year. Having defeated Trinity last weekend for the first time in many years, the Wes boats take to the water next weekend in the New England Rowing Championships. The first varsity 8 boat is comprised of:  Avery Mushinski ’15, Lucy Finn ’14, Kayla Cloud ’14, Clare Doyle ’14, Greer Dent ’12, Margo Tercek ’13, Robin Cotter ’13, Emily Sinkler ’14, and cox Ari Rudess ’15. Power Women!