Happy first day of classes

Interim President Beverly Daniel Tatum writes to thank everyone for the hard work and great team effort that has characterized the opening of the academic year.

Dear colleagues,

Today is the first day of classes for the fall semester, and I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for the hard work and great team effort that has characterized the opening of school this year. Though rain has delayed our opening Convocation, we still have much to celebrate about the opening of school. We welcomed approximately 590 new students to Mount Holyoke College this weekend, with one of the smoothest opening weekends I have seen. Many parents were very complimentary about the organized approach to Move-in, the universally helpful and friendly attitude of the faculty and staff they met, the enthusiasm of our student orientation leaders, and the quality of the information they received in the orientation sessions. To quote one father from Brazil, “I know my daughter will be in good hands here. I can go home with a happy heart!” I know how hard our enrollment management team in Admissions and Student Financial Services has worked to bring in this class of students – on target with the number, and of great quality – in an economic climate that has made that task more daunting than ever. Congratulations to you on a job well done! And, congratulations to our Development team for the great success of the “Meet the Moment” fundraising effort that made more scholarships available for this entering class!

I also know how hard the Division of Student Life team worked to coordinate the many aspects of the orientation experience, ranging from the early arrival of many student athletes and international students and all of the housing assignments to the honor code ceremony and many things in between. Thanks, too, go to the Division of Student Success team and the Office of Disability Services for working in coordination with many across campus to be sure necessary accommodations were made for students who needed them. Thanks to the Office of the President staff for making sure I was in all the right places at the right time with the preparation I needed, and ensuring a warm welcome to parents and students who attended the various receptions we hosted at the President’s house. At the reception I hosted for families, I heard sincere expressions of gratitude for the attention paid to important details needed to make the transition to college a smooth one. Thanks as well to the many faculty advisors and First-Year Seminar instructors who stand ready to help our newest students get started on the right path. It was so impressive to see how many faculty attended the advising retreat, the chairs meeting and the faculty development sessions organized by our new Provost and Dean of Faculty Lisa Sullivan and her team, and how enthusiastic everyone was about preparing for our students. Special thanks are also due to our DEI team under the leadership of Kijua Sanders-McMurtry for lending their expertise to the faculty development sessions. The deep commitment to inclusive excellence in teaching and advising at Mount Holyoke is inspiring.

As our response to COVID shifts from a pandemic to an endemic response, the use of verified at-home testing as a prerequisite for checking in on Move-in Day proved to be an excellent strategy. Those students who needed to test on-site were able to do so without delay, and the very few who tested positive were able to be quickly isolated. The support of Health Services and the work of the COVID Health and Safety Committee in preparing for the opening of school is greatly appreciated.

The support of our LITS team was essential throughout, not only providing the necessary technological support for so much of the Move-In process, but also extending great hospitality at the library — engaging new students in a library scavenger hunt and handing out late-night cookies for their first M&Cs on Sunday night. Quite a few of the faculty and staff working this past weekend were experiencing their first Move-In and Orientation weekend. I want to appreciate our Human Resources team for helping us bring new employees to Mount Holyoke, particularly at a time when the labor market is tight and positions hard to fill. Given that many offices are still experiencing staff vacancies, it is especially meaningful that there were so many cheerful volunteers from many different campus offices, offering assistance all across the campus. I noticed that among the volunteers were quite a few of our alums, ready and willing to share their experiences with our newest students. That intergenerational alum connection is very meaningful. Thanks to all those alums for their participation this weekend, and again, special thanks to every one of our volunteers!

At a time when safety concerns are heightened across the country, the sense of security conveyed by our Public Safety and Service team was helpful to parents as they prepared to part from their loved ones. Thanks to our Marketing and Communications team for their continued work to prepare the campus with vibrant signage and to capture important moments for future storytelling on our website and elsewhere.

The picture-perfect weather on Move-in Day was accentuated by the well-maintained beauty of our campus. Good food in a lovely setting combined with good weather was the perfect combination for many! Kudos to our Facilities, Dining and Event Services teams!

From the many packages that were processed by Auxiliary Services and all the behind-the-scenes paperwork processed in Financial Services to the distribution of “first-year plants” by the Greenhouse team to the work by the Office of the Registrar to be sure class enrollments and room assignments were ready for today, the web of connection and cooperation that makes Mount Holyoke great was visible to all this weekend.

We are off to such a great start! Thank you all for working so well together to make it so!

Best wishes,

Beverly Daniel Tatum
Interim President