As chancellor, I’m fortunate to build relationships with many people who are invested in the work of Washington University: students and parents, staff and faculty, neighbors and business leaders, alumni, philanthropists and more. And it’s important to me that all who care about WashU feel as if they belong to our community.
But what does it mean to belong? To me, it means that all members of our community feel that they can contribute in an authentic, rewarding way to the mission of WashU. They can bring their unique background, circumstances, strengths and priorities as they act in service of truth through the formation of leaders, the discovery of knowledge and the treatment of patients for the betterment of our region, our nation and our world.
When we admit students to WashU, we can truly see them thriving here — and not just academically. We envision healthy, rewarding journeys for all students as they discover, create and contribute. And we welcome them exactly as they are.
As part of our strategic vision, “Here and Next,” and its first major initiative, Make Way: Our Student Initiative, we’ve listened and learned about obstacles to belonging for college students, at other institutions and here at WashU, and we aim to remove such roadblocks through a variety of innovative means.—chancellor andrew martin
This summer, for example, we’re looking forward to welcoming some of rural Missouri’s and Illinois’ brightest, most promising high school juniors to the Rural Scholars Academy. At the academy, they will, at no cost to them, receive specialized support for their college application process and learn that they, too, have a place at a world-class university — hopefully ours!
The re-envisioned University College is another great example. Our continuing education division has introduced new degree and certificate programs that will smooth the path to highly relevant careers for adult learners, most of whom are balancing jobs and families, while also providing them opportunities for cultural enrichment and social and professional networking. These students, too, belong at WashU, and they are crucial to our mission.
Our work to create a greater sense of belonging for the diverse people of Washington University is our investment in the future — individual futures, to be sure, but also our collective future. Because when we cultivate a culture of authentic community, one in which individuals are celebrated for who they are and whose gifts are allowed to flourish beyond their perceived limits, we all benefit.
As you read in these pages of the exciting contributions of our community members, remember that all of them first saw themselves belonging here, with us, at WashU.