Looking to the Year Ahead

It’s late August, and students around the country are packing suitcases, organizing books and music, and figuring out how to say goodbye to friends and family as they get set to head off to their respective college campuses. Here at Wesleyan some of our student residential life staff members are already back and attending training sessions to put in place plans for the year ahead. Soon the international students will arrive, followed by fall athletes and then the Class of 2014. The campus comes back to life in stages, it seems, and with each new group I get those back-to-school butterflies and sense of excitement. I also realize that I’d better finish tinkering with my syllabus and get those lectures together for The Modern and the Postmodern!

I recently met with the Cabinet to discuss our goals for the coming year, and I was so impressed by the energy and ambition of the group. We heard two presentations, the first from Sonia Manjon, whose new title is Vice President for Institutional Partnerships and Chief Diversity Officer. Sonia described a program called Making Excellence Inclusive that has been developed by the American Association of Colleges and Universities. We discussed how important it is to go beyond rhetoric to build sustainable programs that treat the  diversity  of our communities as an educational asset. Difference, she stressed, is not a problem to be fixed but a resource on which we can draw. I look forward to working with Sonia, faculty, students, staff and alumni to continue building a vibrant, dynamic learning community from our multiplicity of perspectives and experiences.

Interim Provost Rob Rosenthal made a presentation on the “engaged university” in which he described the multiple layers of positive interactions we can create on campus and the relationships we can build between our university and the other communities in which we participate. As a faculty member, Rob has been a pioneer in campus-community partnerships, and along with several colleagues has worked tirelessly to embed civic engagement within the curriculum. We were all energized by thinking of ways we can develop our engaged university, whether that be through “action teaching,” new courses, partnerships, or other programs.

It’s late August, and we’re getting ready for a great year!

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