I always look forward to Homecoming Family Weekend at Wesleyan. Interesting seminars to stimulate the mind, music and dance to get the bodies moving, and plenty of athletics action in which we see Cardinal pride. The pursuit of excellence and sheer joy shine through. It’s just wonderful to see families from across the years gather together, feeling at home on campus—no matter the years gone by or the changes now underway. This year’s events were more meaningful than ever because during Homecoming we launched our new fundraising initiative: This Is Not a Campaign. This Is Wesleyan.
Why a new fundraising initiative? Three reasons: increased access, learning spaces that encourage dynamic exchanges, and maintaining a thriving on- and off-campus community.
Over the summer Wesleyan very publicly reaffirmed our commitment to creating a diverse learning environment—especially important following the Supreme Court’s decision to end affirmative action. We have ended the small program that gave preferential treatment for “legacy applicants,” and we will remain tireless in recruiting talented, hard-working students from all over the country. We are augmenting our work with veterans’ groups and community-based organizations, and we will continue to offer free college courses in Title 1 high schools. Wesleyan also reaffirmed our commitment to internationalizing the campus; this term we welcomed our inaugural cohort of 13 Wesleyan African Scholars to campus. They represent nine different countries and will add so much to our university. And most recently, we announced that we are replacing loans with grants in financial aid packages. We have benefitted from strong endowment growth over the last decade or so, and we must continue to build this resource for sustainable financial aid. Diversity and access at Wesleyan have never been more important, and that takes financial resources.
Wesleyans love our beautiful, sprawling campus, and we are now in the process of improving some of its core educational facilities. The newly renovated Public Affairs Center will welcome faculty, staff, and students in January, and it is a spectacular space for learning. The neighboring art gallery is a gorgeous upgrade to our ability to display art on campus, and we are all looking forward to its programming. Across Church Street the steel girders of the new life sciences building impressively rise up, promising to be a crossroads of research, teaching, and community. Down the hill and a few blocks north we are transforming an old factory building into an integrated arts space. Studios, classroom, and a new black box theater will help our students create transformative work as they transform themselves. Creative research and teaching have never been more important, and they require financial resources.
Access to education and to great facilities that support learning are the backbone of the Wesleyan experience, but the activities of the community are its flesh and blood. We provide the fuel for our athletes as they strive to excel, for our artists as they perform at a level beyond all expectations, for our students exploring the world through the myriad associations they make while living and learning on campus. We know even more intensely now that these dimensions of in-person education can be life-changing. That all takes financial resources.
And so we say, This Is Not a Campaign. It’s so much more, because This Is Wesleyan. We aspire to so much more. The work we have to do has never been more important. With your support and energy, we will do it!