President's Letter, January 2005
Dear friends and colleagues, alumnae/i, and other members of Goucher's extended family,
I know what our seniors this year are thinking: It's hard to believe it's been almost four years since we first arrived here at Goucher.
I'm sure they're also looking back in amazement at all that has happened and all they have accomplished, and looking forward intently and perhaps a little anxiously to what comes next.
I feel much the same way. This is my fourth year at Goucher, too- my senior year, if you will-and though I will not be moving on from Goucher's campus with the seniors when they graduate next spring, I share their sense of disbelief over how fast the time has gone, amazement about all we've managed to do, and eager anticipation of continuing the vital and very satisfying work we have begun.
There is a lot I want to share about what we're currently up to here at Goucher College and what we can all look forward to in the coming days. First, however, I'd like to offer a small note of reassurance to our current students-and their parents-by way of a few stories about the amazing things that have come next for some of the Goucher students who have graduated during my first few years as president.
Making a real difference in the world
I have spoken and written before about a few of the exceptional people I came to know during their very impressive careers as Goucher students. I still hear occasionally from Paul Powell '03, the mathematics major who not only studied in France and Ghana, but also piloted a service-learning program in South Africa-and then, after he graduated, joined Teach for America as a public school educator in a troubled area of Los Angeles. I scan the pages of The Baltimore Sun and The Washington Post intently for further news about Natali Fani, another 2003 graduate (and a member of Goucher's Board of Trustees), who has already made her presence widely known on the legislative scene through her work on behalf of Latino immigrants as a lobbyist with CASA of Maryland.
I need only turn on my television in the evening to see the work of Oliver "OJ" Janney '03, a highly resourceful communication major whose video footage had already been broadcast nationally on America's Most Wanted by the time he was a sophomore, and who landed a job as a staff photographer for Baltimore's top-rated television newscast even before he graduated. (I also see OJ on campus sometimes; he has signed on as an instructor in our Communication and Media Studies Department.) If I want to try to keep up with Maya Dalinsky '03, I'll have to watch for the news out of Europe; the former French major, who studied in Germany and France while she was a student here, will return next spring to work as an assistant to a German politician in the Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange Program. Genevieve Monsees '02 recently returned from overseas. Having earned her master's degree in medical statistics and epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, she's now at Harvard, working on a Ph.D. in molecular and genetic epidemiology.
Students at Goucher often chart unusual courses through their fields of study, graduating with an education that encompasses much more than the degrees on their diplomas might suggest. Jenna Morton-Ranney, for example, graduated in 2003 with a bachelor's degree in political science. In addition to her work in that discipline- which included a semester studying at American University and completing an internship in Washington, DC, through a program offered by our Hughes Field Politics Center-Jenna studied Spanish at the University of Madrid and took several classes at Goucher's Kratz Center for Creative Writing. When she graduated, she headed straight to Chiyoda, Japan, to teach English and work on a novel.
Of course, many of our students go on to graduate school, and their accomplishments are every bit as impressive. Damon Highsmith '03, a management major whom I remember for his outstanding work as a student ambassador for our Office of Admissions, has moved on to the master's program in public policy at Johns Hopkins University. Amy Hauser '03, who performed extensively as a dancer at Goucher while completing research, internships, and her major course work in chemistry, went on to pursue her Ph.D. in biochemistry and molecular and cellular biology at Cornell. We have a former English major at Georgetown; a theatre graduate on her way to the University of Exeter, England; science students everywhere from the University of Maryland Medical School to the University of Southern California and beyond... The list, as always, goes on and on.
Strengthening our community from within
If it sounds like I'm bragging a little bit in talking about these outstanding graduates- well, okay, I suppose I am. I just can't help being proud of the fact that no matter where you go in the world, from Baltimore to Berlin to Chiyoda, Japan, you stand a decent chance of running into a Goucher graduate who's not only enjoying a fascinating life, but also carrying forth the ideals of this institution everywhere he or she goes. And I don't mean this in any sort of evangelical sense. I mean simply that in using their learning to connect with people, educate people, help people in need, and work to improve our communities and our world, these alumnae/i-and countless others-are demonstrating in meaningful and stunningly varied ways the value, promise, and possibility inherent in the education Goucher offers.
This is precisely what John Franklin Goucher had in mind when he founded this college, and it is precisely what we had in mind in reaffirming and expanding significantly on Goucher's long-cherished ideals of international and intercultural awareness, service to the world, and learning across disciplines through the Strategic Plan we launched in 2002. We want all of our students to graduate ready to embrace the world. We believe the best way to stoke their enthusiasm and help direct their energy is to complement our first-rate academic program with plentiful opportunities for hands-on experience out in the world-and a campus environment that encourages a heightened awareness of the educational opportunities to be found in every aspect of life and every interaction with the people we encounter, on campus and off. And we have already made great progress in ensuring that this institution continues to evolve in the direction of our objectives and ideals. Anyone who has visited Goucher during the past few months can tell you about the changes taking place here. The construction projects that will reshape our campus in support of our Strategic Plan have begun. In September, we celebrated the opening of our new Loop Road, relocated to clear the way for our new library and the larger Athenaeum complex that will house it. Not far from the future site of this facility, we are building a new residence hall that will open in August.
We have designed all of these buildings to reflect in physical terms our thinking about how best to foster the flow of energy, dialogue, and action that animates the daily life of this community. The residence hall will integrate student suites and apartments with wide-open common areas, a classroom, and apartments for visiting scholars. The library will feature spaces that encourage the kinds of interaction spurred by new technological resources and new ways of sharing information. At the Athenaeum, Goucher community members will be able to get together over lunch in a new café, at events in the facility's performance and lecture spaces, and at gatherings both planned and spontaneous in the open-air piazza at its center.
Less visibly--but no less importantly--we continue to work behind the scenes of our academic program, identifying and developing all the connections we can make between courses in different disciplines, between academics and student life, and between classes and co-curricular opportunities in service learning, internships, and study abroad. To our very successful (and ever-expanding) roster of three-week intensive courses abroad, we added this year new courses that take students to Romania to study the art and science of glass; to Granada, Spain, to study astronomy; to the United States-Mexico border to learn about the challenges facing immigrant communities; and to China for an exploration of that country's history, current political and social climate, and prospects for the future.
And we continue to use all of the resources available both within our community and beyond it to take on the most important issues of the day through challenging, provocative, and genuinely incisive public discussions here on campus. I am particularly proud of the intensive examination of American democracy we mounted at the height of the highly charged election season. Following a three-week voter-registration drive, we held two weeks of lectures and discussions featuring the Pulitzer Prize-winning author Taylor Branch, Newsweek's Eleanor Clift, Jamie Gorelick of the 9/11 Commission, representatives from the Stem Cell Research Foundation and the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, a panel of journalists from around the world, and our own Jean Baker, professor of history and acclaimed author of a recent biography of James Buchanan, the fifteenth president of the United States, who led the country into civil war.
An overwhelming show of support
Part of our goal in all that we do is to raise the profile of Goucher College-to reach out to our alumnae/i, the members of the communities around our campus, and our friends and supporters all over the world, inviting them to come and see all the impressive ways this institution is growing and evolving, to take an active role in its day-to-day life, and to help us realize our vision for Goucher's future. I am very pleased and more than a little humbled to report that the response to our invitation has been not only enthusiastic, but also incredibly generous. We recently received three pledges of $2 million from individuals in support of our Strategic Plan and the construction of the Athenaeum. The size of these gifts alone would make them newsworthy enough; they will enable us to move more quickly and make important strides toward our goals. But there is another aspect to them that represents a breakthrough of another sort. They are the largest commitments Goucher College has ever received from living donors rather than bequests, and I hope others will follow the precedent they have set. Planned giving is vitally important to the college, and it speaks volumes for the depth of devotion people feel for Goucher that so many of our alumnae/i remember it in planning their estates. But I also feel very strongly that this institution is worthy of support right now- and to judge by the generosity of our recent donors, I am not alone.
Support on this scale and gifts of this magnitude are absolutely critical to our efforts to attain the objectives of our Strategic Plan. I do not want to give you the impression, however, that smaller expressions of support go unappreciated. Every minute people volunteer for Goucher, every dollar they give, and every other way they participate in the never-ending process of strengthening and improving this community make a difference. I hope you will regard this as an invitation to think about how you can play a part as we continue on from here.
There is still a lot left for us to do, but we have now reached the point where you can see the actual results of our work just by taking a spin along the new Loop Road. I think you can also feel a difference in the atmosphere here at Goucher-a sense of the possibilities we are realizing and the energy we are generating. In my fourth year at Goucher, that feeling is still every bit as thrilling for me as it was when I first arrived. I hope I get plenty of chances to share it with you in the years to come.
Sanford J. Ungar