Letter from President Wiewel, Aug. 30, 2021
Dear students, faculty, staff, alumni, and friends of Lewis & Clark College,
We are excited to start another academic year! The buzz on Palatine Hill is greater than it has been since March of 2019, and it’s wonderful to see so many people again. While things are still far from “normal,” almost all classes are in person, many of us are back at the office, and some of last year’s COVID restrictions are no longer in place (although wearing masks again is a major bummer).
All of you who were here last year contributed to our success in delivering a superb education while limiting COVID cases on campus to 18. You also helped overcome many other challenges, including smoke, heat, and an ice storm! If we didn’t realize it before, we now know we have an amazing capacity to handle change, deal with the unexpected, and adjust as circumstances require. I am so grateful for everyone’s commitment and hard work.
We start this year with very positive news. The School of Law enrolled a large and very high-quality class, raising the median LSAT score by 4 points. The Graduate School of Education and Counseling continues to develop new and exciting programs to serve populations in need. And the College of Arts and Sciences has the largest number of first-year students and BIPOC students ever, as well as the largest total enrollment in the history of the college.
At the same time, the rapid spread of the Delta variant of COVID requires us to remain vigilant if we are to provide a high-quality in-person education, while continuing to keep everyone safe. To achieve this—our number one goal for the year—we will focus on supporting students, faculty, and staff in a manner that allows everyone to do their best work. We are well situated to succeed because nearly all students, faculty, staff, and contractors have been vaccinated. Testing will be readily available, and required weekly for the small number of people who are not vaccinated for medical or religious reasons. In addition, per a mandate from Governor Kate Brown JD ’85, everyone will have to wear masks when indoors or when gathering at outdoor events.
Promoting equity and inclusion
We will also continue to prioritize issues of equity and inclusion. The success of the College of Arts and Sciences in enrolling a larger number of BIPOC students is enhancing the diversity of the student body. We are excited about the launch this summer of our inaugural Racial Justice Internship Program, which provides stipends to students working with local Portland community organizations. And we are hopeful that the large number of personnel searches currently underway will allow us to further diversify our faculty and staff. To be successful, these and other equity and inclusion efforts will require a widely shared and sustained commitment to long-term progress.
On June 17, we kicked off the three-year public phase of our comprehensive philanthropic campaign Exploring for the Global Goodwith the announcement that we have already raised $100 million toward our $155 million goal. I feel confident that we will be within sight of the finish line by the time I leave the presidency at the end of the school year.
The success of the campaign will help us start the renovation of the Templeton Campus Center this winter. The building will be known as the Stephanie J. Fowler Student Center, in honor of the chair of our board of trustees and thanks to the generosity of her husband, Irving Levin. We are also developing plans for the renovation of the Stewart, Akin, and Odell residence halls.
A full agenda for the year
The board of trustees has started the process of finding a new president to succeed me by next summer. While after 43 years in higher education I am ready for a change, I fully intend to make the most of my last year here. Lewis & Clark is on the right course. While many liberal arts colleges are struggling, our combination of an excellent undergraduate liberal arts education and two strong professional schools is working well and remains clearly attractive to many students. Through your work and your support, all of you who are part of our community create and recreate this success every day. It is an honor and pleasure to be here and work with you.