John Scibak

Greetings from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts
September 24, 2010

President Pasquerella, distinguished guests, members of the Mount Holyoke community—as State Representative for South Hadley in the Massachusetts General Court, it is my honor to bring greetings to Mount Holyoke and its eighteenth president on behalf of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. 

In a state renowned for the excellence of its institutions of higher education, Mount Holyoke stands out as a leader. Opening in 1837, it is the oldest college for women both in the United States and in the world, and set in motion an ongoing revolution in the education of women that still resonates. Over the course of its first 173 years, it has been a leader in many areas, including: opening the sciences to women, producing women leaders, drawing students from around the globe, and providing access to students from groups that have traditionally been denied a chance for higher education. 

In a state celebrated around the world as a center of learning, Mount Holyoke has helped set the standard for scholarly excellence. The nearly 6,000 Mount Holyoke alumnae who live in the Bay State are living testimony to the effectiveness of a faculty that excels in that ideal combination of teaching and scholarship that Mount Holyoke exemplifies. Those 6,000 alumnae join with me today in celebrating your new presidency.

And, in a state known for producing poets, political leaders, and medical innovators, Mount Holyoke has produced true luminaries—Emily Dickinson, Frances Perkins, and medical pioneer Dr. Virginia Apgar are just three examples of the extraordinary women who have passed through these halls.

President Pasquerella, it is not only the Commonwealth that greets your new presidency today, but, in particular, the residents of one of the Commonwealth's 351 cities and towns. Before Mount Holyoke Seminary opened its doors, the townspeople of South Hadley opened their arms and their wallets to support Mary Lyon in her efforts to open this historic school. Since that time, the College and the town have grown up together, both stronger because of their interdependency. The town and the Commonwealth both look forward to joining with you as you pursue and exemplify the school's mission of fusing the liberal arts with purposeful engagement in the world.

President Pasquerella, you are the latest in a long line of superb Mount Holyoke presidents. Thirty years ago, this school launched you on a career that has brought you back as its eighteenth president. I have every confidence that you will carry on Mount Holyoke's proud tradition of success. From South Hadley to Boston—and throughout this great state—we salute you and your college on this proud day and look forward to working with you in the months and years ahead. Welcome back.

  (Note: This printed text may vary from the speech delivered.)