Dear members of the Sarah Lawrence community,
During these first days of the semester, I’m often asked, “What are you excited about this year?” My answer highlights three things, the first of which is our matter Being human series. If you missed the faculty panel that launched this series, I encourage you to do so Watch it: It’s a great example of what we all know and appreciate at Sarah Lawrence: the many ways our dedicated faculty (who have once again been recognized as best by The Princeton Review) come together to frame an important issue for and with our students.
The other two things that excite me are that there are two very different initiatives coming to fruition, each of which can justify its own purpose. From the president’s office. I want to talk at length about both, because together they represent important aspects of the College’s vision as we look forward to our second century:
- Renovating the Siegel Center, a beloved original century-old building, to meet the needs of our current and future students.
- our Institute for Genomics Education, Workforce, and Leadership, Which will help realize the promise of truly personalized healthcare and access to precision medicine for all people.
What underpins and links these two very different initiatives? Our foundational commitment to the values of diversity, equality, inclusion, belonging and justice.
As higher education increasingly faces polarizing political attacks on those values, Sarah Lawrence stands firm and proud of our commitment to recognizing, engaging with, and valuing difference, and to doing so with a deep understanding of historical inequalities and what is needed to address them. Those disparities. This lens informs our work from the very local level of our students’ daily experiences on campus to the global level of leading the way in meeting the urgent need for a genomics workforce to meet critical societal needs. This is a core value of our mission to prepare our students to succeed in and solve problems in a complex, rapidly evolving world.
Reimagining the Siegel Center
The original Lawrence estate in the center of our campus consisted of three buildings completed in 1915-1916: the family home (Westlands), the gazebo (now the Teahaus), and the gardener’s cottage. Over the course of a century, the Gardener’s Cottage grew in scale and purpose, becoming beloved by generations of students who experienced it very differently: first in 1931 as the infirmary and then 40 years later as ‘the pub’! With the addition of a second pavilion and outdoor deck in 1983, the bar became “Charlie’s Place” (in honor of President Charles DiCarlo) and another expansion was made in 1998 to create the building we know today, the Ruth Leif Siegel Center. (See photo history for the building’s many incarnations.) here.)
The opening of the Barbara Walters Campus Center in 2019 provided an opportunity to revisit the current campus master plan and chart the next chapter for the Siegel Center. Based on architectural advice combined with extensive listening sessions and significant student input, we concluded that a repurposed Siegel Center could provide a unique and much-needed opportunity to celebrate community and relationships, foster a sense of belonging on campus, and cultivate a broad range of diverse experiences and perspectives. We returned to those initial plans last spring and confirmed that the renovated Siegel Center could be an ideal home for our diverse student spaces, including Common ground, LGBTQIA spaceAnd Spiritual space. We are excited about the possibilities of the building’s unique design that provides dedicated spaces for these affinity groups as well as common spaces for all students to promote intersectionality and cross-cultural exchange. These include two kitchens for shared student use (one of which is expected to be Kosher/Halal certified), a dining area for sharing communal meals, lounge spaces for student use, and offices for staff in the areas of diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging.
The project now moves to implementation and I am happy to announce that after a comprehensive selection process we have selected the architecture firm Degsau to undertake the design and construction process, with the goal of opening portions of the renovated Siegel Center in the fall of 2024 and completing it shortly after. Immediate next steps include engaging members of the campus community to inform key decisions regarding space allocation, layout, and configuration, and initial ideas regarding the “look and feel” of the space. Students, wait for an invitation from the Dean of Students on the various ways you can be part of the process. And for those interested in investing in this project – and in the lives of our students – our Development and Alumni Relations team looks forward to conversations about how you can get involved and make an impact in the next chapter of this beloved building.
Institute for Genomics Education, Workforce, and Leadership
The recently announced Genome Education, Workforce, and Leadership Institute is a timely response to a pressing societal issue that our college is uniquely positioned to provide. Sarah Lawrence launched the first master’s degree in human genetics in more than 50 years, creating a new workforce of genetic counsellors. In 1969, the wise move of establishing that Master’s degree and what would become the Joan Marks Postgraduate Program in Human Genetics demonstrated above all the absolute necessity of a humane, ethical, and interdisciplinary intervention in the development and delivery of rapidly evolving scientific research. Medical technology. Sarah Lawrence was, of course, not only the right place be seen Necessity, however Do What was needed to address it.
The current rapid expansion of genomic science and technology once again places Sarah Lawrence in a leadership position in identifying and meeting the need for humane, ethical and interdisciplinary intervention. Diane Baker MS’79, a distinguished alumna of our genetic counseling program and a leader in the field, served as a trusted advisor as we conducted a “listening tour” during which we met dozens of academics, researchers, clinicians, program directors, foundation heads, patient advocates, and industry leaders from across the ecosystem For genomics.
What we heard was a clarion call – a desperate need – for a new workforce that can address the gaps and disparities in personalized healthcare delivery and precision medicine. Not only could Sarah Lawrence leads the way, Sarah Lawrence He should Lead the way in meeting this need.
The Genomics Education, Workforce, and Leadership Institute is Sarah Lawrence’s answer to that call, led by inaugural Director Kelly Steenblock and supported by a group of transformational national leaders who have offered to serve as our external advisory board. We are excited about the life-changing work that will emerge as the Institute builds awareness of the most critical societal needs and workforce gaps in genomics and precision medicine and creates innovative educational programs to facilitate contemporary workforce development in genomics. Tomorrow, we will kick off our virtual webinar series with a panel titled “Delivering Precision Medicine: Is the Genomics Workforce Ready?” We hope you’ll join us! To learn more about the Institute’s work, you can follow its LinkedIn, explore its website, or join its contact list.
We often describe Sarah Lawrence students and alumni as “hyphens” and “both-and” types, meaning that “just one thing” is rarely enough for people who are always interested in discovering new connections, making intersections, and working in the gaps. Every day, appreciate that “both and”: both of them Connect with students one-on-one at beloved and historic campus places And At the same time, we recognize the power of our global reach to make a difference. “Both and” is the gist of what I shared with you in this hyphen From the president’s officeAt the heart of the work we do is to live out our commitment to the values of diversity, equity, inclusion, belonging and justice, for ourselves – and for the world – as we look to our second century. I couldn’t be more excited about this work. I hope and trust you are too!
Christel Collins Judd