To: The Wellesley College Community
From: President Paula A. Johnson
Re: Advancing Career Education and Elevating Wellesley in the World
Date: November 13, 2023
I am writing to update the community on our work to elevate and amplify Wellesley’s global impact, to recognize the transformational role that two distinguished alumnae—Lulu Chow Wang ’66 and Susan L. Wagner ’82—have played in this area, and to honor their vision, dedication, and philanthropic leadership.
Lulu and Sue have been instrumental in advancing career education at Wellesley and championing Wellesley’s role in the world. Their remarkable $50 million joint gift supporting these areas as part of the Wellesley Effect Campaign remains the largest in the College’s history. This gift opens new doors for Wellesley students and, at the same time, increases our institutional capacity to advance the cause of women’s leadership and expanded opportunity for all women. Lulu and Sue have served as trusted counselors, inspirational ambassadors, and dedicated College citizens who have been consistent catalysts for change. Through their service to the College and their long list of personal achievements, they have modeled for Wellesley students what it means to be a leader, a mentor, and a pathbreaker.
The power of Career Education
Eight years after we announced their gift to reinvent career education at Wellesley, the power of that investment is ever more apparent. Under the leadership of Christine Cruzvergara, the inaugural executive director, and Jen Pollard, the current executive director and associate provost, the Career Education program has touched the lives of virtually every Wellesley student, with nearly 100% of each graduating class having actively engaged in our “4-in-4” model.
Our holistic model of Career Education is built upon four major areas of development across the undergraduate years. Prior to graduation, all Wellesley students engage in thoughtful self-assessment and career exploration; develop a personal advisory board and diverse network of mentors; take part in multiple hands-on learning activities, like internships, research, and civic engagement; and grow career competencies related to their career action plan. The critical work of Jen, her team, and our faculty advisory committee helps our students explore and reflect on how they want to use their liberal arts experience to launch meaningful careers and purposeful lives.
Overall, the model’s success has been dramatic. Student engagement with Career Education grew from 1,900 appointments during the 2015−2016 academic year to nearly 7,000 by 2022−2023. Thanks to the global Wellesley network, over 9,000 alums have provided our students with mentorship, internships, and countless workshops, panels, and programs. This has helped make possible record career outcomes rates: 98% of the class of 2021 and 97% of the class of 2022 were employed, in graduate school, participating in a service program, or enrolled in the military within six months of graduation.
In honor of Lulu’s support of Career Education over the years, I am pleased to announce the naming of the Lulu Chow Wang ’66 Center for Career Education, which will be led by the Lulu Chow Wang ’66 Executive Director of Career Education. In doing so, we recognize the many ways Lulu has invested her time, energy, and indomitable spirit in ensuring Wellesley students have the best possible resources for success—and for making a difference in whatever path they choose.
Elevating Wellesley’s role in global engagement
In addition to providing foundational support to Career Education by endowing the Susan L. Wagner ’82 Career Advising Program, Sue’s generosity is making possible a bold new effort to advance systemic change in the world. Guided by her vision, this approach will amplify the College’s impact in key areas to more broadly and more powerfully advocate for women’s education, opportunity, and empowerment—unlocking the potential and promise that strengthen communities everywhere.
I am pleased to announce the naming of the Susan L. Wagner ’82 Centers for Wellesley in the World. This is in honor of all Sue has done to help shape the College’s vision for Wellesley in the World (WITW), including her two terms as a member of the board of trustees, during which she established and served as the first chair of the WITW committee, helping to build the strong foundation for these efforts called for in our strategic plan.
The Wagner Centers will maximize the strengths of our flagship programs—the Wellesley Centers for Women, the Madeleine Korbel Albright Institute for Global Affairs, and future initiatives that deepen our global engagement—by uniting them under one umbrella. This new structure will support innovative educational programs and research opportunities for students and sustain a vibrant research community on campus that cuts across departments and disciplines. At the same time, it will provide enhanced opportunities for faculty and the centers’ researchers to contribute vigorously to debate in the public square, both in the U.S. and globally.
The Wagner Centers will strengthen Wellesley’s global impact through external-facing partnerships and programming developed by departments, scholars, researchers, and artists across the College. The potential for new synergy and collaboration will transform how we engage with leaders from all sectors and elevate our role as a global catalyst for progress and solutions, especially on critical issues of the day related to women, democracy, and gender equity.
Provost and Lia Gelin Poorvu ’56 Dean of the College Andy Shennan and Tara Murphy, vice president of communications, public affairs, and global engagement, will co-lead the Wagner Centers in this inaugural year. Upon his retirement in June 2024, Andy’s successor as provost will assume co-leadership. We will launch a national search for an executive director for Wellesley in the World, a critical position Sue has generously endowed and one that, according to her wishes, will bear my name once I have concluded my tenure as president. As I announced previously, Stacie Goddard, Betty Freyhof Johnson ’44 Professor of Political Science, has stepped into the new role of associate provost for Wellesley in the World to help integrate the faculty’s research and scholarship into this important work on an institutional level. Faculty and administrators are also making progress on multiple committees, including the board’s Wellesley in the World committee and a faculty-staff advisory committee working with the provost and the associate provost.
We have more to do, but at this moment one thing is clear: Together, we have positioned Wellesley for a new era. We will elevate Wellesley’s impact in the world by supporting the career aspirations of our students and alumnae, and by strengthening our institutional role to drive meaningful progress for women everywhere.