Wednesday, January 23, 2013

2013.01.23 A New President

I should be writing about Barack Obama of whom I feel proud, and his drop dead gorgeous wife Michelle, but right now I’m captured by the new President of Smith College, my alma mater. When I was at Smith there had never been a woman president of this all-women’s college with the woman founder.  What’s with that?

But Smith came through in 1975, fifteen years after I left, and has stayed with women presidents ever since. 

I heard the new President-elect, Kathleen McCartney, speak briefly on a YouTube video sent from the college. She is mild-mannered and soft-spoken. She said she “absolutely loved fund-raising,” which told me a lot and gave me hope for the future— didn’t turn me on much.  She said that Smith would be “bold” going into the future, which did turn me on.

McCartney used a quote from Smith’s founder Sophia Smith. Sophia, Lady Wisdom as her name suggests, said that “Smith College will be “a perennial blessing to the world.”  It was to me, even though I nearly killed myself with my drive to excel—compulsively so. But I did, and now I’m proud.

Then President-elect McCartney said this about her vision for herself as Smith’s next president: “I will be a servant leader.”

I felt an unexpected rush of joy-tears. That is what Jesus is remembered as saying to his followers: “I am among you as one who serves.” 

I don’t imagine Kathleen will be washing any feet as a demo of servant leadership as Jesus did, but I do hope she will be a leader of compassion, vision, and vitality as she serves one of the places that served me as I grew.

(I quipped to a friend that the next US president would probably be a gay man, and the next a Latino man, and the next???  Could we have a woman, please?)