Dear Drew University,
There are a lot of things that make me proud to call you my Alma Mater. Some things are serious – the amazing professors and their willingness to really be close to and get to know their students, the gorgeous tree-laden campus that looks beautiful in any type of weather (except for maybe when you’re the RA on duty during a hurricane, #beentheredonethat) while others are amusing – emails about bears on campus and rabid deer, crazy squirrels (amirite?) and of course the non-animal related things like sledding on Tipple Pond and Sloppy Saturday (okay, maybe I’m not so proud of that one.)
I could never quite put my finger on it, but there’s something about you that just draws people in. You were my number one choice when I was applying to colleges, and that was before I’d even visited campus. The moment I stepped foot onto 36 Madison Avenue, I knew I had found my perfect match. I felt like I was where I belonged. I enrolled that day, and I hadn’t even heard back from all the schools I’d applied to yet.
My journey at Drew was marked by a lot of good and bad times, but mostly good. I went from being a member of the Orientation Committee to having a 3 year stint as an RA in the Suites (amazing that I still love you so much, right?) I found amazing friends (read: family) and had some truly hilarious, crazy, amazing, beautiful times, whether they were due to my fellow ResLife staff, my ridiculous, trouble-making (but perfect) residents, or my supportive and challenging professors. It’s been almost two years since I graduated, and I still think about you every day in some capacity. It’s hard not to. Sometimes I laugh so hard thinking about all of the memories I have that I can’t even get the words out to express what’s so funny. On the flip side, sometimes I tear up thinking about you, too.
Two years ago, right around the time I was still grasping the concept that I would soon walk across the steps of Mead Hall to receive the placeholder envelope that did not actually contain my diploma (because let’s be real here, people, nobody ever actually gets handed their diploma on graduation day), our university president at the time, Robert Weisbuch, announced that he would be stepping down from his post as president. This was big news to everyone, but what was even bigger news was who our lovely little college in the woods’ new president would be in the interim — Dr. Vivian Bull. That’s right readers; a woman. The first woman, in fact, in the school’s now 147-year history, but of course this was only temporary until a new president was found. For the last two years, everybody in the Drew family both on-campus and off, including students, staff, professors, and alumni, were wondering the same thing: who would be the next president?
Today our community finally got an answer to that question when it was officially announced that the the 12th president of the university will be MaryAnn Baenninger (currently the president of the College of Saint Benedict in Minnesota.) Baenninger will be your first full-term female president. Ever. This is huge. She will take on the role of president on July 21st and will hopefully bring new, insightful changes to your already wonderful campus. She did just that during her time at the College of Saint Benedict — according to the announcement, she “has been credited with building out the school’s study abroad programs, attracting international students and supporting undergraduate research. She also won praise for diversifying the student body and more than doubling the school’s endowment.” You’ve not only taken on a woman as your next president, but you’ve taken on a woman with an amazing track record and the highest of hopes. What could be better?
As I said at the beginning, there are a lot of things that make me proud to call you my Alma Mater, my campus, my school, and my home (because you always will be,) and I truly believe that everything and everyone contributed equally to the wonderful experience that I had as a student, and to the person I am today. This announcement doesn’t change anything, but it is definitely the cherry on top. So thank you, Drew U, for being everything I ever wanted — a great education, an incredible life experience, a hub full of wonderful people, and an institution that not only accepts change, but embraces it.