Wellesley College: Wikis


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Coordinates: 42°17′43″N 71°18′24″W / 42.29528°N 71.30667°W / 42.29528; -71.30667

Wellesley College
Motto Non Ministrari sed Ministrare
Motto in English Not to be ministered unto, but to minister
Established Chartered in 1870; Opened doors in 1875
Type Private
Endowment $1.27 billion[1]
President H. Kim Bottomly
Faculty 347 full- and part-time faculty
Undergraduates Approximately 2,300
Location Wellesley, Massachusetts, USA
Campus Suburban, 450+ acres
Website wellesley.edu

Wellesley College is a women's liberal arts college, in Wellesley, Massachusetts, that opened in 1875, founded by Henry Fowle Durant and his wife Pauline Fowle Durant. According to the 2010 U.S. News and World Report rankings, Wellesley College is the #4 liberal arts college in the United States, tied with Middlebury College, behind Williams, Amherst and Swarthmore. In addition, Forbes' 2008 "America's Best Colleges" ranked Wellesley College as #8.[2] In 2009 Forbes ranked Wellesley College #6, ahead of schools such as Stanford and Yale.[3]



Situated in Wellesley, Massachusetts (12 miles west of Boston), Wellesley College grants four-year baccalaureate degrees and is one of the original Seven Sisters. Approximately 2,300 students attend this highly selective school. Based on rankings by U.S. News & World Report, Wellesley consistently ranks among the top five liberal arts colleges in the United States, and is the highest ranking women's college in this category. The current president of Wellesley College is H. Kim Bottomly, formerly of Yale University.[4] The previous president was Diana Chapman Walsh, class of 1966.

As of June 30, 2008, the endowment for the college was about $1.63 billion. Wellesley has a generous financial aid policy and is one of the most socioeconomically diverse colleges in the country.[citation needed] Fifty-six percent of all students receive financial aid.[5] In February 2008, the College eliminated loans for students from families with incomes under $60,000 (and for international students and Davis Scholars) and lowered loans by a third (to a maximum of $8,600 total over 4 years) to students from families with incomes between $60,000 and $100,000. The maximum loan level for other students on aid is $12,825 total for 4 years. Wellesley is one of few colleges or universities to meet 100% of a student's demonstrated financial need.[6]

Wellesley's last fundraising campaign, in 2005, set a record for liberal arts colleges with a total of $472.3 million, 18.1% more than the goal of $400 million.[citation needed] According to data compiled by The Chronicle of Higher Education, Wellesley’s campaign total is the largest of any liberal arts college.

The college also has a special program for women over age 24, called Davis Scholars.[7] The program allows women who, for various reasons, were unable to start or complete a bachelor's degree at a younger age, to attend Wellesley.

For a long time, Wellesley has produced more women in top positions in Corporate America than any other college or university, according to an article in the New York Times in 1995. They included Lois Juliber, then at Colgate, Marion O. Sandler, then at Golden West Financial, Ellen Marram, then at Seagram's Beverage Group, and Donna Ecton, then at Business Mail Express. Sheila Wellington was, at the time, president of Catalyst, the women's advocacy and research group. Wellesley has also produced more female directors of Fortune 500 companies than any other college in the country.

According to an article by Wall Street Journal, Wellesley also ranks #5 as one of the top liberal arts colleges( #15 as one of the top total undergraduate colleges) for sending more students to the selected 15, elite graduate school programs in medicine (Columbia, Harvard, Johns Hopkins, University of California San Francisco, Yale), law (Chicago, Columbia, Harvard, Michigan and Yale ) and business (Chicago, Harvard, Columbia and Penn's Wharton School). This placed Wellesley right after Columbia, Brown, Pomona, and U of Chicago, soon followed by University of Pennsylvania and Georgetown.

Wellesley College is one of the "Hidden Ivies: Thirty Colleges of Excellence" in a college educational guide published in 2000.

Among those who took the first Massachusetts Teachers Test, 100 percent of Wellesley graduates passed, and Wellesley has been the only undergraduate institution to achieve this.


Campus of Wellesley College as it appeared circa 1880

Founded by Henry and Harriet Welles, the charter for Wellesley College was signed on March 17, 1857 by Massachusetts Governor William Claflin. The original name of the College was the Wellesley Female Seminary, and the renaming to Wellesley College was approved by the Massachusetts legislature on March 7, 1873. Opening day was September 8, 1875.

The first president was Ada Howard. There have been twelve subsequent presidents: Alice Elvira Freeman Palmer, Helen Almira Shafer, Julia Josephine Thomas Irvine, Caroline Hazard, Ellen Fitz Pendleton, Mildred H. McAfee (later Mildred McAfee Horton), Margaret Clapp, Ruth M. Adams, Barbara Wayne Newell, Nannerl Overholser Keohane (later the president of Duke University from 1993–2004), Diana Chapman Walsh and H. Kim Bottomly.

The original architecture of the College consisted of one very large building, College Hall, which was approximately 150 meters in length, and up to five stories in height. The architect was Hammatt Billings. From its completion in 1875 until 1914, it was both a principal academic building and a principal residential building. On March 17, 1914 College Hall was destroyed by fire. The precise cause of the fire was never officially established. The fire was first noticed by students who lived on the fourth floor near the zoology laboratory. It has been suggested that an electrical or chemical accident in this laboratory- specifically, an electrical incubator used in the breeding of beetles- triggered the fire. A group of residence halls, known as the Tower Court complex, are located on top of the hill where the old College Hall once stood. Wellesley is also home to Green Hall, the only building bearing the name of famed miser Hetty Green; Galen L. Stone Tower, in which a 32-bell Carillon is housed, is part of the building.


According to admissions literature, classes at Wellesley average 12 to 24 students per class, and there are approximately 9 students for every faculty member. Wellesley's libraries contain over 1.5 million catalogued books, journals, media recordings, maps, and other items. Wellesley has 30 academic departments, each offering a major, as well as 17 interdepartmental majors and an option for an individual major, designed by the student.[8]

Noted faculty currently at Wellesley include:

  • Karl Case, an economist who researchs real estate and developed the Case-Shiller index with Robert Shiller from Yale.
  • Frank Bidart, a poet, whose work has been nominated for the Pulitzer prize.
  • Jennie Pyers, a psychologist who studied the development of a sign language in Nicaragua.
  • Paul Wink, a clinical psychologist who studied links between gender and character traits.


Tower Court

The college is renowned for the picturesque beauty of its 500 acre (2 km²) campus which includes Lake Waban, evergreen and deciduous woodlands and open meadows. Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr., Boston's preeminent landscape architect at the beginning of the 20th century, described Wellesley's landscape as "not merely beautiful, but with a marked individual character not represented so far as I know on the ground of any other college in the country." [9] He also wrote: I must admit that the exceedingly intricate and complex topography and the peculiarly scattered arrangement of most of the buildings somewhat baffled me. [10] The original master plan for Wellesley's campus landscape was developed by Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr., Arthur Shurcliff, and Ralph Adams Cram in 1921. This landscape-based concept represented a break from the architecturally-defined courtyard and quadrangle campus arrangement that was typical of American campuses at the time. The 720-acre (2.9 km2) site's glaciated topography, a series of meadows, and native plant communities shaped the original layout of the campus, resulting in a campus architecture that is integrated into its landscape. The most recent master plan for Wellesley College was completed in 1998 by Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, Inc. (MVVA). According to the designers, this plan was intended to restore and recapture the original landscape character of the campus that had been partially lost as the campus evolved through the twentieth century.

Student life

Clapp Library

Wellesley's 2,400 students come from more than 62 countries and every U.S. state.

Nearly all students live on campus in one of the 21 residence halls. Some cooperative housing is available. Wellesley offers housing for Davis Scholars as well [2], though not for their children or spouses, which is an issue of constant debate on campus.[11] A June 3, 2008 article in The New York Times discussed the move by women's colleges in the United States to promote their schools in the Middle East. The article noted that in doing so, the schools promote the work of graduates of women's colleges such as Hillary Rodham Clinton, Emily Dickinson, Diane Sawyer, Katharine Hepburn and Madeleine K. Albright. The Dean of Admissions of Bryn Mawr College noted, "We still prepare a disproportionate number of women scientists [...] We’re really about the empowerment of women and enabling women to get a top-notch education." [12]

For more than 30 years, Wellesley has had a cross-registration program with MIT. In recent years, cross-registration opportunities have expanded to include nearby Babson College, Brandeis University, and Olin College of Engineering. To facilitate cross-registration, the College operates a bus, the Wellesley College Exchange Bus, to the MIT campus in Cambridge, Massachusetts as well as a bus to the Olin College campus in Needham, Massachusetts.

The College has approximately 180 student organizations, ranging from cultural and political organizations to community service, campus radio, and club sports.

The College also has five dining halls, one each in Pomeroy, Tower Court, Stone-Davis, and Bates halls, and another in the Lulu Chow Wang Campus Center. Additional food options on campus include a convenience store/coffee shop in the Campus Center, a bakery in Claflin Hall, Collins café outside the movie theater, El Table, a sandwich shop located in Founders Hall (an academic building housing many of the humanities classes) that uses many local and organic products, and Cafe Hoop, a coffee shop in the basement of the Campus Center that is known for its late hours and gay-friendly environment. Next to Cafe Hoop is the pub, Punch's Alley, which serves alcohol to those over 21. The pub hosts several parties over the course of the year.

Wellesley College does not have sororities, but instead has societies that are technically social and academic clubs, which includes the Shakespeare Society, Alpha Phi Sigma Lecture Society, Tau Zeta Epsilon Arts and Music Society, and Society Zeta Alpha, the Literary Society. The four societies sponsor many lectures on campus, bring in speakers, and contribute funding to academic departments and organizations that wish to hold lectures. Phi Sigma, Tau Zeta Epsilon, and Zeta Alpha hold a process similar to rushing a sorority that is called "tea-ing." These societies are known on campus as some of the few groups who hold parties on campus.

In addition to the societies, there are some clubs, mostly ethnic-based, which occasionally have parties. The Wellesley College radio station, WZLY 91.5 FM, also throws a few parties every semester. Dyke Ball, one of the most well-attended parties on campus, is a "creative black-tie" event hosted by Spectrum, Wellesley's LGBT organization.


Wellesley College Library

As is the case with many colleges, especially the Seven Sisters, Wellesley College has many traditions, many of them carried over from the late 1800s.

Hoop rolling is also a highly competitive annual tradition at the college dating back to 1895.[13] Each upperclasswoman has a wooden hoop, often passed down to her from her “big sister.” Before graduation, the seniors, wearing their graduation robes, run a short race while rolling their hoops. The winner of the race is said to be the first woman in her class to achieve success however she defines it, though this title has itself changed over the years (in early 1900s, it used to be the first woman to get married, later the first woman to become a CEO [14]). She is also awarded flowers by the college president and tossed into Lake Waban. The tossing of the winner into the lake began several decades ago when a Harvard University male, dressed as a Wellesley student, won the race. When, upon his victory, it was discovered that he wasn’t a Wellesley student, he was thrown into the lake. The night before the race, many “little sisters” will camp out on the racecourse near the Library to save a good starting position for their “big sisters.”

Some other traditions include step-singing, dorm and class crew races, Lake Day, Spring Week, and Marathon Monday. Each graduation class plants a tree during their sophomore year. Class trees, as they are called, can be found all over the campus, marked with each class’ year on a stone at the trees’ base. During sophomore year, students also design and purchase class sweatshirts.

Step-singing is one of the college’s oldest traditions and occurs twice during the year. Each graduation class has their own color (purple, red, green, or yellow). Students dress in their class' color and sing songs on the steps of the chapel. In-between some of the songs, the classes shout cheers that make fun of the other classes.

Each fall, on a date that is not announced until the night before, students celebrate Lake Day. The event consists of fun outdoor activities ranging from fried-dough stands to moonwalks and is deejayed by the college radio station, WZLY. In the past, students skipped classes on Lake Day, but in recent years professors have objected to the practice and hold classes as planned.

One of the most popular traditions is the celebration of Marathon Monday which occurs on Patriots Day each spring, and is highlighted by the Boston Marathon. The marathon course passes the college, which marks its halfway point. Students line up along the street with posters and cheer for the runners. Since they are so loud, the students have created what is widely known as the "Wellesley Scream Tunnel."

Spring Week, held in April, is a week-long series of concerts sponsored by SBOG (Schneider Board of Governors).

Since 1970 three alumnae are honored at the Alumnae Achievement Awards every February for outstanding achievements in their respective fields.

Ruhlman and Tanner Conferences, supported by Wellesley alumni, are held every year for students to share their learning experience within the college community. Classes are usually canceled on these days. Tanner Conference is held in the fall to celebrate outside-the-classroom education, including internships and summer or winter session research projects. Ruhlman, in the spring, is a chance for students to present projects they’ve been working on in courses or independent research during the year. Both conferences encompass panels, readings, and multimedia projects.

Before finals, Wellesley has Midnight Breakfast every semester where students can take a break and eat late-night munchies with other fellow classmates that will be staying up late studying for exams, and dormitories supplied snacks and drinks for students until Spring 2009, when the Midnight Breakfast was moved to the student center to reduce costs.

Wellesley in popular culture


  • In John Irving's novel The World According to Garp, the protagonist's mother, Jenny Fields, attended Wellesley but dropped out in an act of rebellion against her upper-class parents.
  • In Francisco Goldman's novel The Long Night of White Chickens, the character Flor de Mayo Puac, a Guatemalan orphan who is adopted by a Jewish/Guatemalan family living in Massachusetts, graduates from Wellesley.
  • It's allegedly the inspiration for Beardsley Women's College in Vladimir Nabokov's novel Lolita.[citation needed]
  • In Flannery O'Conner's short story "Revelation", Mary Grace is a student of Wellesley College.
  • In Rishi Reddi's short story collection, entitled Karma and Other Short Stories, a character has her heart broken while walking around Lake Waban of Wellesley College.
  • In J.D. Salinger's short story "The Laughing Man," Mary Hudson attends Wellesley College.
  • In Alfred Uhry's "The Last Night of Ballyhoo", Jewish daughter Sunny Feitag attends Wellesley College.
  • In Robert A. Heinlein's novel Double Star Penelope Russell is recorded in her boss Bonforte's Farleyfile (database) as holding a BA from Wellesley College.


  • Wellesley is the college in which the 2003 film Mona Lisa Smile was set; some of the outdoor scenes were filmed on campus.
  • Mentioned in the movie Girl, Interrupted as the school Winona Ryder's character's former classmate will be attending instead of Radcliffe.
  • Mentioned in the movie Slap Her, She's French in which a 'full ride' scholarship to Wellesley College for a broadcasting major is offered to the competing contestants (though, in fact, Wellesley does not have such a major, since it is a liberal arts college [8]
  • Sigourney Weaver's character in the movie Working Girl, Katherine Parker, is a graduate of Wellesley.
  • Kim Novak's character (a witch) from the 1958 film Bell, Book and Candle claimed to be responsible for the "terrible thunder-storms" at Wellesley College while Gillian Holroyd and Merle Kittridge were students.
  • The school is also mentioned in the film Wonder Boys by the father in law of Professor Grady Tripp. Tripp's estranged wife attended the college.
  • In the film "Smart People" one of the main characters wears his dead sister-in-law’s Wellesley college sweatshirt.
  • In Just Married, Brittany Murphy's character Sarah was a Wellesley graduate with an Art History degree.



Wellesley is the site of the Exploration Summer Programs' Intermediate Program. It is also the site of the Wellesley Composers Conference, held annually for two weeks during the summer and led by Mario Davidovsky.

Notable alumnae and faculty

A number of Wellesley alumnae have gone on to become notable in their respective fields. For example:

Notable former faculty members include Alasdair MacIntyre,Tom Lehrer, Vladimir Nabokov, Richard Rorty, Jorge Guillén, David Ferry, Emily Greene Balch, Alice Walker and Claude Vigée, Robert Pinsky.


  1. ^ As of June 30, 2009. "U.S. and Canadian Institutions Listed by Fiscal Year 2009 Endowment Market Value and Percentage Change in Endowment Market Value from FY 2008 to FY 2009" (PDF). 2009 NACUBO-Commonfund Study of Endowments. National Association of College and University Business Officers. http://www.nacubo.org/Documents/research/2009_NCSE_Public_Tables_Endowment_Market_Values.pdf. Retrieved March 16, 2010. 
  2. ^ "America's Best Colleges". Forbes.com. 2008-08-13. http://www.forbes.com/2008/08/13/best-colleges-ratings-oped-college08-cx_ha_mn_de_0813best_land.html. Retrieved 2010-02-21. 
  3. ^ "America's Best Colleges". Forbes.com. http://www.forbes.com/lists/2009/94/colleges-09_Americas-Best-Colleges_Rank.html. Retrieved 2010-02-21. 
  4. ^ "Kim Bottomly Named Wellesley's 13th President". Wellesley.edu. 2007-05-10. http://www.wellesley.edu/PublicAffairs/Releases/2007/051007.html. Retrieved 2010-02-21. 
  5. ^ "Microsoft Word - Check out the Financial Aid Facts Dec 09.doc" (PDF). http://www.wellesley.edu/SFS/FinAidFacts.pdf. Retrieved 2010-02-21. 
  6. ^ "Understanding Financial Aid". Wellesley.edu. 2007-07-30. http://www.wellesley.edu/sfs/UnderstandingFinAid.html. Retrieved 2010-02-21. 
  7. ^ "Wellesley College, Nontraditional Student Website: Davis Degree Program". Wellesley.edu. 2006-05-24. http://www.wellesley.edu/NSP/davisProgram.html. Retrieved 2010-02-21. 
  8. ^ a b "Wellesley College :: Academic Departments, Majors, Programs & Listings". Wellesley.edu. http://www.wellesley.edu/Academic/departments.html. Retrieved 2010-02-21. 
  9. ^ "Historical Maps". Wellesley.edu. http://www.wellesley.edu/Welcome/HistoricalMaps/maps_main.html. Retrieved 2010-02-21. 
  10. ^ Campbell, Robert (2005-11-13). "Campbell, Robert, "Center of Attention on a Centerless Campus," Boston Globe, November 2005". Boston.com. http://www.boston.com/ae/theater_arts/articles/2005/11/13/center_of_attention_on_a_centerless_campus/. Retrieved 2010-02-21. 
  11. ^ Farrell, Elizabeth F. (2006-05-26). "A Pregnant Cause - Student Affairs - The Chronicle of Higher Education". Chronicle.com. http://chronicle.com/free/v52/i38/38a04001.htm. Retrieved 2010-02-21. 
  12. ^ ‘Sisters’ Colleges See a Bounty in the Middle East
  13. ^ Susan Wang Wins Wellesley's 114th Annual Hoop Rolling Contest http://www.wellesley.edu/PublicAffairs/Releases/2009/042509.html
  14. ^ "All About Hooprolling". Wellesley.edu. http://www.wellesley.edu/Welcome/Traditions/hooprolling.html. Retrieved 2010-02-21. 
  15. ^ [1]
  16. ^ Posted by Lauren at February 26, 2006 06:33 PM: (2003-02-19). "Seven Sisters". The Electric Tao. http://www.electrictao.net/archives/000007.shtml. Retrieved 2010-02-21. 
  17. ^ "The L Word Recaps 4.12 "Long Time Coming"". AfterEllen.com. 2007-03-26. http://www.afterellen.com/TV/thelword/recaps/4/12?page=0%2C3. Retrieved 2010-02-21. 
  18. ^ "宋美齡英文最新傳記面世". Mirror Books. http://www.mirrorbooks.com/news/html/41/n-5441.html. 
  19. ^ Chira, Susan. "HARRIET ADAMS DIES; NANCY DREW AUTHOR WROTE 200 NOVELS", The New York Times, March 29, 1982. Accessed October 7, 2007. "Mrs. Adams was born in Newark, and was graduated from Wellesley College in 1914."
  20. ^ "ORWH Staff". Orwh.od.nih.gov. http://orwh.od.nih.gov/about/staff.html. Retrieved 2010-02-21. 


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