On institutional statements from the President

President Holley explains her rationale for limited institutional statements.

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Throughout my career as a leader in higher education, I have limited institutional statements to national or international events with direct impact on campus policies and operations. For example, the United States Supreme Court’s June 2023 decision on affirmative action had a direct impact on Mount Holyoke’s admissions practices, and I issued a brief statement in response.

My position not to make institutional statements about national or international events is based on several considerations. First, I believe that in times of crisis, colleges and universities should immediately and primarily be focused on the care and support of students, faculty and staff. That means supporting our campus community with needed resources such as counseling and community building.

Next, I believe colleges and universities have a unique role to play in difficult times to support students to develop their own well-informed views and empower them to take constructive action. Beyond care and support, campus communities are uniquely positioned to combat misinformation, deepen understanding across differences and develop solutions to the world’s most complex problems. We do this, in part, by offering an extensive curriculum, as well as panels, symposia, guest speakers and other co-curricular programs.

Additionally, it is impossible for my personal views and opinions to represent all of the views of the Mount Holyoke community. In fact, there is no way for a president of a college to speak on behalf of all members of a campus community. A statement highlighting my personal views or sentiments does not meaningfully further our mission. Such statements may shut down discourse or make some in our community feel silenced or marginalized.

I recognize that this approach differs from some other college leaders and may represent change from previous practices. Every leader is charged to make the best decision for the institution they serve. During my tenure, I will remain consistent and always work to champion knowledge, intellectual engagement and compassion in the Mount Holyoke community.

Danielle Holley
October 24, 2023