I’m writing this message on the first “snow day” of this academic year -- and I hope the last one for this semester (we’ll see about that). I retain vivid memories of the start of the 2015 spring semester when we had many snow days over a five-week period, set records for snow totals, and experienced very cold temperatures, just as we were moving the College of Art and Design from Kenmore Square in Boston into the new Lunder Arts Center in Porter Square.
Even as we reflect on the past, we are at our best when looking forward with enthusiasm and commitment. At the one-year anniversary of the College of Art and Design’s move into their new home, this building represents the commitment and generosity of many people in creating an athenaeum of the arts, but it also points to Lesley’s role as a cornerstone of the city of Cambridge’s artistic and cultural life.
Similarly, recent efforts have helped to solidify a future of great educational and social dividends for both our Urban Scholars Initiative and our growing partnership with Bunker Hill Community College. These initiatives support the student diversity we value and continually strive to broaden while providing the opportunity to earn a four-year university degree to deserving students who lack the financial means to obtain it.
But we also realize that extending educational opportunity isn’t the end of the journey: Lesley must nurture the conditions and values typical of our ideal of a truly inclusive community. Through relevant guest speakers, readings, campus discussions and a draft Lesley University Inclusion Plan, we are building on our strengths to promote and safeguard a campus community that reflects the university’s core values.
And while we are committed to addressing the challenges of racism and striving to create a society that reflects genuine racial equality, we know that true inclusion means understanding and working to eliminate many other forms of bias and prejudice, whether that is experienced by fellow citizens because of their religious faith, sexual orientation, gender identity, age or something else.
Attending presentations by various university speakers is an important part of our continuing education, whether it alerts us to greater opportunities for inclusion or challenges our personal perspective about art, creativity, politics or careers.
On Thursday, February 11, MacArthur (Genius) Award winner, and Lesley alumna, Alex Truesdell will be speaking about her work and her award in University Hall at 4 p.m. We will learn how she developed her non-profit business to enable people with various disabilities to more fully participate in daily life in their communities. This is all about inclusion.
On Wednesday, March 2, at 7 p.m. in Washburn Hall on the Brattle Campus, artist Nick Cave, will show and discuss a number of his artistic creations, perhaps stretching any preconceived notions we might have about the limits of art.
What’s the connection between these two talented people? They show us that, talent, commitment and imagination open a world of previously unrealized possibilities. Their achievements are an example, and a challenge, to all of us.