I write this from the Minneapolis airport, as I prepare to head home to Connecticut after a few days of visits in the Midwest. We had around 60 alumni, parents and a few guidance counselors today at lunch, all gathered to meet one another and to hear about what’s happening at Wes. We originally thought we’d have fewer than 20 for this event, and so it was heartening to see the enthusiasm for Wesleyan and the eagerness to discuss its future. I met teachers and business people, child advocates and city planners; many expressed their own surprise at the size of the Wes network in Minnesota.
We talked about some of the attributes that Wesleyan students continue to share over the generations. At my table was Jim Andrus ’66 whose Uncle John Andrus ’33 recently turned 100! John wasn’t able to make it today, but we spoke on the phone about the vitality of the faculty and curriculum, the economic challenges facing the university, and our beloved Alpha Delta Phi. At our lunch reception I talked about how we must strengthen the distinctive aspects of the Wesleyan curriculum, and there was particular excitement about the College of the Environment soon to get underway. In Minneapolis and Chicago (where I had been the day before) the Wesleyan commitment to serving the public good is very much in evidence. Alumni who have made their careers on a variety of paths in the private sector and others who have been involved in education and the professions so often share a commitment to contributing to the public good. Throughout Chicago and Minneapolis I could see that key cultural organizations benefit from the generosity and hard work of Wesleyan alumni. This civic engagement is not politically partisan. It just serves the public good.
In my talks with alumni I also emphasized the difficulties of working within a sustainable economic model, as well as my confidence that we could do so while maintaining a robust financial aid program. The Wesleyan community knows that our scholarship students add value to everyone’s educational experience. We are proud to admit students because of talent, not because of their ability to pay, and alumni and parent support is crucial to that endeavor.
I’ll be glad to get home. Sophie tells me it snowed in Middletown today — here, too. I know that I’ll be bringing back to campus the warm wishes and loyalty of the extended Wesleyan family.