Such an exciting week at Wesleyan as we welcome members of the Class of 2026 and help them launch their college journeys. Meeting new people from around the world, discovering new perspectives, and hearing about experiences so different from their own—this is just the beginning. Every year I hear from students who get to know people they never would have expected to meet and others who discover folks who share so many of their interests.
In these first weeks of the semester, people will notice there is a lot of old-fashioned construction on campus. You can’t miss the work on the Public Affairs Center and the new art gallery next to Olin Library, but you might not know that underneath there are new pipes that will dramatically increase our energy efficiency. Up at Long Lane (behind the softball field), you can see the new building for the Neighborhood Preschool, and before long we hope to begin construction on the new Life Sciences Building. Read more about this work in The Connection.
But for most students, new or old, it’s not the buildings that matter most at the beginning of the semester. It’s the opportunity to learn by forming new friendships and indulging their curiosity through the breadth of Wesleyan’s open curriculum. There are so many exciting things to study and people to learn from that I hesitate to highlight any in particular, but here are some that students might not discover immediately on their own as they launch their academic careers:
- Stephen C. Angle and Jim Cavallaro: Human Rights Advocacy Minor
- Erika Franklin Fowler: Wesleyan Media Project
- Martha S. Gilmore: Planetary Science (Venus missions)
- Sonali Chakravarti at Allbritton: Public participation in legal institutions
- Amy B. Bloom and the Shapiro Writing Center: Distinguished Writers in Residence
- Jennifer Tucker: Center for the Study of Guns and Society
- Demetrius L. Eudell: Carceral Connecticut Project
- Tracy Heather Strain and Randall M. MacLowry: Wesleyan Documentary Project
- Clifton Nathaniel Watson: E2020 and Civic Engagement
Students beginning their college careers this fall are doing so at a time of great turbulence in the world. From the brutal invasion of Ukraine to the ongoing climate crisis, from the lingering COVID-19 pandemic to the threats against democracy…. These are very demanding times. Reading the news, I am often filled with despair at the challenges that face us. But when I meet the students beginning their journeys at Wesleyan, I can’t help but feel more hopeful. By learning to work together, we have a chance to defend democracy, promote public health, and create culture peace not culture war. We can reject the polarization that often stymies our political system and embrace discovery in an atmosphere of intellectual diversity and compassionate solidarity. Pragmatic liberal education brings joyful resolve into our lives at Wesleyan and far beyond the campus.
Best wishes for the start of the semester!