A Welcome to the New Academic Year from President Judd

Ninety-one years ago at this time, Sarah Lawrence College was preparing to welcome its very first class of students. The faculty and staff of the newly chartered college shared an exciting vision for launching an innovative and distinctive model of education. As the president of the College, I am pleased to affirm that the promise of a Sarah Lawrence education has only been deepened and enhanced in the intervening nine decades and we are excited to welcome students, new and continuing, to the campus at the end of the month as we begin the new academic year.

We know well the value of our educational model and our foundational commitment to the liberal arts, but it is always nice to see others take note, as in the Princeton Review’s recently released 384 Best Colleges, which identified the SLC classroom experience as the best in the nation – for the second time in the past three years. Also gratifying is the continued recognition in the same publication of SLC faculty as among the very best professors in the country.

This fall, we welcome the Class of 2022, one of our largest classes ever. They are joined by an increasing proportion of continuing students who wish to live on campus. These are both good developments that also bring challenges, and we have planned accordingly over the summer to meet them; it is fair to expect that we are going to be a full and lively campus this fall.

Along with the Class of 2022, we also welcome to campus six new, full-time faculty in the fields of Neurobiology, Philosophy, Writing, Art History, and Medieval Literature. Our study abroad programs now include offerings in Britain, France, Cuba, Italy, Japan, Africa, and China. Beginning in Spring 2019, we are launching Cinema Sarah Lawrence, an intensive semester experience in film and filmmaking. Studying and working on location in Nantucket, MA, students will delve into their craft and participate directly in pre- and full-production of a feature film, earning both academic and professional film credit.

Over the summer, we have continued to make important improvements to academic support services and technologies, and we have welcomed a new associate dean in the Dean of Studies office and a pre-health advisor in career planning. The library has expanded its electronic database and e-book collection and has new online resources that will provide students with on-demand access to more than 26,000 films and videos. Librarian-directed workshops in information literacy and electronic citation management have been expanded. And the newly renovated College Archives has re-opened with modern climate control for archival materials and a reading room that can accommodate up to 10 students or researchers at a time. To keep pace with the ever-growing need for and reliance on high-speed online services for academic and social engagement, the College last year doubled the speed of its connection to the Internet and over the summer installed new, higher-speed access points throughout Hill House and improved network redundancy to provide students with an enhanced online, wireless experience across campus.

I suspect that students returning to campus will be amazed to see that the enormous hole in the ground and mountain of dirt and rock adjacent to Andrews Annex they left last May has now been transformed into the foundations and steel columns of the Barbara Walters Campus Center, just one year away from completion. We very much look forward to the new possibilities the Center will create in the heart of campus for year-round, campus-wide events, providing a new hub for student clubs and organizations and offering a new home for café-style food service. The amphitheater project between the Performing Arts Center and the “new dorms” is also well underway. This adaptive reuse of a historic open-air, marble amphitheater is a gift to the College fully funded by alumna Josie Merck. The amphitheater will be completed midway through the fall semester, available for outdoor performances and gatherings in the spring semester.

As we ended last year, campus discussions were focused on two central values for the Sarah Lawrence community: a commitment to inclusive excellence and to a collaborative community. As part of this work, the Archives has made a range of materials about the history of diversity, protest, and activism at SLC available online. We are also introducing new points of contact in offices across campus to improve student-staff interaction. And we will continue the work begun through our inaugural year events on “Democracy and Education” with a focus on “Difference in Dialogue.” In addition to curricular and cocurricular events, the series will offer three presidential panels including DeRay Mckesson (Black Lives Matter activist) and Sanford Ungar (director of the Free Speech Project at Georgetown University) probing the bounds of free speech; a panel of college and university presidents discussing inclusive excellence and campus climate; and a forum on religious pluralism that will bring together divergent perspectives on the intersection of religious belief and democratic ideals. Look for more details on these and other events in the weeks to come. We are also delighted to launch a new mini music residency program honoring beloved faculty member Jean Wentworth, which will bring professional ensembles to campus each semester to visit classes across the curriculum and give public performances.

Looking ahead in the semester, we will enjoy the second iteration of “Celebrate Sarah Lawrence,” a showcase of student work and performances, scheduled this year to coincide with Family Weekend. For a taste of the event from last year, watch a recap online.

All that is to say that we have an exciting semester ahead of us! I look forward to welcoming you personally to campus in the coming days. New students and parents will find me working with the Green Team during move-in as well as offering a more formal welcome during orientation events. I will join returning students at individual class meetings scheduled during the first week. Over the course of the year, I look forward to spending time with students formally and informally, around the fire pit and over s’mores at the President’s House, at lunch in Bates, and at performances, readings, athletic events, and much more.



Cristle Collins Judd

About Sarah Lawrence College

Founded in 1926, Sarah Lawrence is a prestigious, coeducational liberal arts college that consistently ranks among the leading liberal arts colleges in the country. Sarah Lawrence is known for its pioneering approach to education, rich history of impassioned intellectual and civic engagement, and vibrant, successful alumni. In close proximity to the unparalleled offerings of New York City, the historic campus is home to an intellectually curious and diverse community.