President's Blog


This weekend was Homecoming/Families Weekend here on campus, and a fine one it was indeed.

The weather was crystalline and mild; this picture taken by Dean Amy Jessen-Marshall gives you a sense of it. The schedule was packed with events, including soccer and field hockey games (which the Vixens played well, although alas didn’t win), a performance (to a packed Babcock) of the King and I, lectures by faculty members Eric Casey (on libraries and archives in the ancient world) and Padmini Coopamah (on China’s interests in Africa), the induction of four impressive alumna athletes into the Athletics and Riding Hall of Fame, a picnic (BBQ pork, macaroni and cheese, corn muffins), a Guion open house hosted by science faculty, a faculty-led “classroom crawl” through newly-renovated classrooms, a networking event hosted by the Black Pearls, the dedication of a refurbished Music Room, hunter trials on the old proving grounds, and probably lots of other things I’m forgetting to mention. Parent and Alumnae leadership volunteers received special updates and training, old friends reconnected, students enjoyed meeting alumnae and one another’s families. A fine time, indeed.

Reflecting on the weekend I found myself thinking about what really makes these occasions so very special. Clearly the beautiful setting and interesting events are important, but in themselves they don’t explain it. After all, on a gorgeous fall weekend in the Blue Ridge there are lots of opportunities to do interesting things in beautiful places.

What alumnae, family members, and students can only do HERE is celebrate connections —  connections forged in and through this place.

Any fine college strives to make its campus an idealistic place — a place where students can experience a bit of the world as they would have it be. Sweet Briar seeks to be a place where ideas are respected, engaged, and lived by; a place where individuals matter and can develop into their own best selves; a place where faculty and students call out the best in each other and in the college. Students who experience that kind of place during their undergraduate years will, I believe, be inspired to work to make the rest of world more like that after they graduate. . . and as the careers of our alumnae amply demonstrate, in fact they do.

When alumnae come back, when parents visit, they are reminded of those ideals. Spending even a short weekend in an environment where the life of the mind is evident, where individuals are valued for their talents and characters, where achievement is nurtured and recognized, where fair play and respect can be assumed — that is, I think, what really makes alumnae and parents most proud of their connection to Sweet Briar. It’s what makes coming home to Sweet Briar truly refreshing.



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