Lynn Pasquerella '80 hit the ground running Thursday morning, starting her first day as the 18th president of Mount Holyoke College with a 7:30 am meeting with facilities management staff. And, although she expects to spend much of her first few days in her new office, she also plans to become a familiar face on campus.
"I'm looking forward to walking around campus, meeting people, and learning what they're doing and what's important to them," said Pasquerella. "I want to be able to identify the common objectives we can work on and find ways to support our excellent faculty and our wonderful staff and students."
All of the campus community was greeted early Thursday morning with an email from Pasquerella. In it in she thanked people for their warm welcome, reported on her recent activities and future plans, and described recently finding a box of Mount Holyoke memorabilia that brought her back to her student days.
"I thought about how, in my wildest dreams, I never could have imagined this day," she wrote. "I want you to know how truly privileged I feel to be able to serve as your president."
Since her appointment last October, Pasquerella said, she has "traveled from coast to coast" to meet with trustees, alumnae, prospective students, parents, and friends of the College.
"We have such a compelling story to tell, and I am always eager to talk about Mount Holyoke and the extraordinary strengths upon which we can draw in moving forward," she said. She's also met with representatives from higher education, public administrators, and local business leaders, and she has been serving on the Economic Advisory Council for Holyoke's Mayor Elaine Pluta FP '95.
"This has been extremely helpful to me in gaining insight on the economic and other challenges in the region," said the president. "I'm looking forward to continuing this and becoming involved with the people of South Hadley and--because of my work in medical ethics--the region's hospitals."
Pasquerella has also taken on two major media projects that evolved from an interview with Alan Chartock, president of Northeast Public Radio/WAMC, shortly after she was chosen to be Mount Holyoke's president. Chartock invited her to become a regular commentator on medical ethics for the station’s Health Show, and on July 6 she will begin hosting a new radio series titled The Academic Minute. This collaboration between the College and WAMC is designed to introduce listeners to cutting-edge research and scholarship being carried out in U.S. colleges and universities through a series of brief segments that will each feature a professor talking about his or her work.
"I just finished taping 200 of these segments, five featuring Mount Holyoke faculty," said Pasquerella. The series will be offered in syndication to radio stations throughout the country.
Looking forward, the president's summer calendar is already full. In mid-July, she will take part in the weeklong Harvard Institute for New Presidents. In mid-August she'll lead a research team from MHC, Brown University, the University of Rhode Island, and the University of Hartford to Kenya to partner with the Africa Center for Engineering Social Solutions in working to deliver simple engineering solutions for clean water, sustainable agriculture, and entrepreneurship for women in Kenya’s West Lake District. Pasquerella obtained a grant from Newman’s Own to support Mount Holyoke's involvement in the project, including an internship for MHC student Hilda Barasa '12, who is already in Kenya.
For members of the Mount Holyoke community who don't meet the new president while strolling across Skinner Green or around Lower Lake, she will host open office hours every weekday from 3 to 4:30 pm on the second floor of Mary Lyon Hall.
"I am very much looking forward to the days ahead and to working with each and every one of you to move Mount Holyoke to new heights," she said.