News in Brief : 09/20

President Johnson condemns DACA announcement

On Sept. 5, President Johnson released an official statement in opposition of

President Trump’s intention to rescind Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). In her message to the Wellesley community, President Johnson emphasized themes of unity and solidarity and pledged the College’s support to all those affected. The College’s Working Group on the Effects of Immigration Policy on the Wellesley Community, which was created earlier this year in response to the first executive travel ban, continues to assemble resources and aid students affected by changing immigration and refugee policies. “As an institution of higher education, one founded on the values of social justice and equal opportunity, Wellesley is committed to the principle that colleges and universities should be diverse and open communities where students feel safe and supported so that they may achieve their highest potential,” President Johnson said in her statement.

Wendy Judge Paulson (’69) donates $7 million to establish ecological initiative at Wellesley

On Sept. 11, over 100 students, alums, faculty and staff gathered to celebrate Wellesley College’s first-ever Sustainability Day. The celebration marked the launching of the Paulson Ecology of Place Initiative, a five-year effort to transform the college’s relationship with its landscape. Paulson, a conservation activist, donated $7 million to start the initiative, which aims to increase appreciation and engagement with the Wellesley campus and create more ecologically literate citizens. Wellesley College is among many colleges nationwide that have made commitments to sustainable living practices. Read more at–wendy-judge-paulson-donates-7m-to-ecological-initiative.  

Wellesley welcomes first General Counsel

This school year, Karen Petrulakis joins Wellesley as the College’s first General Counsel.

In her new role, Karen is responsible for overseeing the College’s legal strategies and will provide legal advice to the Board of Trustees, the Senior Leadership Team and President Johnson.

Karen comes to Wellesley after a six-year tenure at the University of California Office of the General Counsel. Her selection marked the end of a national search to fill the role, led by a committee of Wellesley administrators, faculty and friends of the College.

Professor Richard French reaches milestone as NASA’s Cassini mission concludes

Sept. 15 marked the conclusion of NASA’s Cassini mission, one of the most ambitious and successful efforts in planetary space exploration. Cassini, a robotic spacecraft, orbited Saturn for 13 years, collecting data on the Saturnian system and Saturn’s largest moon, Titan. The information it collected has far exceeded original expectations, ranging from Saturn’s gravitational and magnetic fields to its ring mass and atmosphere composition. Since 1990, Professor French, a Louise Sherwood McDowell and Sarah Frances Whiting Professor of Astrophysics and Professor of Astronomy, has been studying Saturn as a leading member of the mission. He served as principal investigator for Cassini’s Radio Science Subsystem team, a research team that included 260 scientists from 17 countries. Read more at

Wellesley welcomes first transgender students, signaling that women’s colleges are becoming more welcoming to transgender students

Wellesley College admitted transgender women this year for the first time in its 147-year history. This move reflects a transformation that is taking place at a number of women’s colleges. Since 2014, at least eight women’s colleges have moved to allow trans women, including Smith, Bryn Mawr and Barnard. Colleges of all types, whether public or private, co-educational  or single-sex, have faced increasing pressure to meet the needs of transgender students, who make up about 0.7% of the nation’s youth. Some schools have responded by offering gender-neutral bathrooms, medical insurance that covers hormone treatments and letting students choose their gender pronouns. Opposition to the admissions change argues that it undermines the institutional mission to empower women. Read more about one transgender student’s story at

HoloMuse, a Wellesley-developed app, brings the museum into the classroom

Orit Shaer, Class of 1966 Associate Professor of Computer Science, and her team in Wellesley’s Human Computer Interaction Laboratory have developed an app, HoloMuse, that allows students to virtually examine artifacts and objects. Wearing the Microsoft HoloLens—computing equipment worn around the user’s head that projects a 3D hologram into the physical environment—and using hand gestures, the wearer can grasp a holographic “object” and manipulate it. This technology is especially relevant in object-based learning for disciplines that use physical artifacts such as anthropology, archeology, art history and Classics. According to the the Wellesley website, Elizabeth Minor ’03, Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in Anthropology at Wellesley, says, “Emerging technologies like augmented reality and 3D printing offer exciting new ways to bring ancient material into the classroom, from every corner of the world.” Read more at  

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