With the fall semester fully underway I wanted to take time to reflect on some of the good news from the past year and to speak to the positive position of the College going into this new academic year.
I’d like to start with the terrific news that Washington College has again been recognized by two of the nation’s most prestigious college ranking lists. The Princeton Review once again named us to their Best Colleges list, marking the 16th time that we have been recognized in the annual guide. We also earned a #17 rank in the “Professors Get High Marks” category, confirming the high-quality instruction and mentorship students receive from our wonderful faculty.
U.S. News & World Report recently released their 2023 rankings, and I am pleased to share that we are ranked 85th – improving from last year’s #96 position – for National Liberal Arts Colleges. We also ranked 95th in Best Value Schools, and 106th on the Top Performers on Social Mobility list.
It’s a point of pride to once again be included on these lists, which for years have been the gold standard for college rankings. Of course, being named to them only validates what we already know and celebrate, which is that Washington College is an exceptional learning community that challenges and inspires students to discover lives of purpose and passion.
One of my goals upon arriving was to build out the senior leadership team, ensuring that the right level of talent and experience is at the table as we chart our path forward. In that light, I am also pleased to announce that two key Cabinet positions have been filled, as we recently welcomed Vice President for Marketing and Communications Brian Speer and the Vice President for Enrollment Johnnie Johnson. I look forward to receiving their insights as they get more acquainted with our community, and am confident that the College will greatly benefit from their talents and experience as we work to better share our story and all that we have to offer.
With our team re-invigorated and the new semester fully underway, we look now to build on the significant momentum of the previous 12 months, which were punctuated with a wealth of good news stories. Those strides forward included the appointment of Dr. Alisha Knight as the College’s inaugural associate provost for diversity, equity, and inclusion; the launch of a $20M campus improvement project, with a special focus on upgrades to the residential experience, beginning with the full-scale renovations of Reid Hall and Minta Martin Hall; selecting AVI as a new food service partner, for the expansion and improvement of our dining services; the announcement of both Men’s and Women’s Golf to our Athletics program; and receipt of a $5 million gift from the JHC Foundation – one of the largest single gifts in our institution’s history – in support of our Business Management Department, among others.
Those highlights barely scratch the surface of positive news, as there are countless meaningful initiatives, programs, and events taking place on this campus all day, every day, each of which represents its own success story. What all these offerings have in common, however, is that the student experience is at the very heart, and that they provide innovative, transformative opportunities that will prepare Washington College students for successful careers and to be citizen leaders who lead lives of purpose and passion.
As we continue to push forward, thinking and acting boldly as champions of our beloved institution, we can anticipate more good news, more student successes, and more reasons to celebrate. We are only just getting started, and I am truly energized to be launching our strategic visioning process that will become our strategic roadmap for the next five years – a map defined by even greater levels of success and recognition.
In the meantime, there are inspiring classes to look forward to, projects to proudly present, papers to craft, meetings to contribute to, teams to wildly cheer on, and so many fun events to attend. And isn’t it wonderful that we get to be here, participating in all of the various activities that represent the hallmark of a traditional college experience? Though we are undoubtedly still dealing with the pandemic, we are managing it well and I am reminded daily that being together still feels like a privilege, and one that I am exceptionally grateful for.
It feels like pre-pandemic times, only better. There is really nothing better than seeing maroon-clad students grouped together, talking and laughing, and generally enjoying being together. It’s infectious, making those of us who graduated more than a few years (or decades) ago feel re-energized, grateful for the opportunity to learn from these exceptional young adults who ARE the future.
And with our community coming back together, I can see with absolute clarity the underlying strength and sense of purpose that has defined our institution and carried us forward for more than two centuries, as well as the promise that the future holds. Thanks to the resilience of this community and the shared love for Washington College that exists amongst the students, the faculty, the staff, the alumni, the board, our generous donors and other friends, the best is yet to come.