September 24, 2010
See the video.
It is a great honor to welcome President Pasquerella on behalf of the Five College Consortium. It is one of the oldest and strongest in the country, today serving 35,000 students and 2,500 faculty each year. It continues to grow and thrive and has been a model for others.
President Pasquerella enters a long tradition of cooperation which began before Hampshire College, my home institution, existed. Initially it was a four college collaboration among Mount Holyoke, Smith, and Amherst and the University of Massachusetts. Then, in 1966, they collectively conceived Hampshire College and in 1970, created Five Colleges, Inc. They knew that together the consortium could provide greater academic and intellectual opportunities for students and faculty than any one of the institutions alone could offer.
As a professor at Hampshire College for the past 25 years, I have directly experienced the benefits of this amazing and dynamic partnership. My students have access to an array of courses, to libraries, and to a rich intellectual life. Faculty have significant resources such as the Five College Women’s Studies Research Center, which is here at Mount Holyoke and is now a community of over 300 scholars and community advocates.
President Pasquerella’s leadership, energy, and wisdom are especially welcomed now as the consortium is in the process of adopting and will be implementing a strategic plan for the next ten years.
On the more personal side, I am honored to welcome Lynn because, although we do not know each other, I feel a strong kinship with her.
She and I are both the first in our families to attend college, giving us a deep appreciation for the transformative aspects of education. I was greatly moved by what she said when she was appointed to the presidency of MHC: “I look forward to joining the MHC community in pursuit of promoting the freedom that lies at the heart of women’s education.”
We both earned our Ph.D.s in philosophy at Brown University. Delving deeply into her résumé, I dare say that I am one of the only people here today who knows that her article, “Chisholm’s Intentional Criterion of Property Identity,” is about metaphysics, not real estate.
We are both advocates and activists for women’s human rights and for social justice. Lynn is a devoted advocate for women’s education and empowerment globally. She is committed to expanding access to education to change the lives of women around the world.
Finally, we are both Hampshire College parents—her son is a current student.
What are the odds that two of the five presidents in the consortium would share so much?
In closing and in keeping with the theme of philosophy, I turned to Plato’s image of the Philosopher King who, because of his wisdom, rationality, and clarity of thought, was destined to rule the ideal state. Plato did not envision Philosopher Queens. But the world has changed, and I want us to appreciate the role that MHC and other women’s educational institutions, Lynn Pasquerella herself, and others here today have played in making that change. Thinking about Queens led me to Lewis Carroll for inspiration:
“There is no use trying, said Alice; one can’t believe impossible things. I dare say you haven’t had much practice, said the Queen. When I was your age, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”
Lynn, I and the others at Five Colleges, Inc. look forward together to believing and doing the possible and the impossible! Welcome!