Dear Salem Friends,
In January of 2019, I took a chance and came to Salem alongside two other candidates to interview for the position of Interim Vice President of Academic and Student Affairs. I knew little about the College—and less about the Academy. Who knew that I would eventually be exiting as Interim President of Salem Academy and College so many months—now years—later? Who knew what a chance you would take on this interim?
I am glad we took a chance on each other.
Together, we have faced challenges and turned them into hope. The environment of both independent schools and colleges is a difficult one. It has been for some time. Salem’s leadership saw that and knew change was an absolute necessity. They knew—as you know—that hope requires vision and action. That was true before a global pandemic, before renewed tensions around racial injustice, and before economic crisis faced us. It remains true.
The environment of both independent schools and colleges is both local and global, both high touch and high tech, and more. To be both/and is critical and as Academy and College, you taught me that in new ways.
Education, in my view, is a public good. And so, the work of Academy and College ought to, directly or indirectly, change the world for the better. And those of us with a vocation in education must do so in two ways—both by changing individual lives as yours were changed during your time at Salem and by leading as an institution. Salem certainly led across its nearly 250 years—beginning with the risky choice to educate women. Salem continues to lead by embracing rather than fearing change, recognizing rather than avoiding Salem’s historic role in injustice, and working diligently and ferociously toward a better Salem.
As a favorite poet of mine (Jane Hirshfield) has said, “Zen pretty much comes down to three things—everything changes; everything is connected; pay attention.” The same, in my experience, might be said of education at its best.
It has been a privilege to join you for a bit of your journey. I wish for each of you—and for Salem—a delightful 250th—and a future that makes you proud.