THE PRESIDENT’S VIEW – FALL 2016
Fall has arrived on the Hill, and the campus is buzzing with activity as we welcome one of the largest incoming classes in our history. By the time you read this, we will have kicked off our Year of Leadership, the third of five bicentennial themes leading up to our 200th anniversary in 2019. I hope many of you will be able to attend one or more of the bicentennial events we have planned around the country in the year ahead. The excitement is building for 2019, and I would like everyone in the Norwich family to play a role in that celebration.
This issue of the Record focuses on Norwich women leaders—past, present, and emerging. Twentieth-century feminist Charlotte Whitton (1896–1975) said, “Whatever women do, they must do twice as well as men to be thought half as good.” The first female mayor of a major Canadian city (Ottawa), Whitton was commenting on the patriarchal world she lived in—one in which women held scant few leadership positions. Although her life ended just as the women’s movement was gaining momentum, Whitton would be gratified at the progress her gender has made.
Conversely, the members of the Class of 2020 who arrived on the Hill last month are living in a quite different world—one in which women increasingly play important leadership roles in business, politics, and the military. As I write this, the CEOs of PepsiCo, Yahoo, and General Motors are all women. Worldwide, the number of female heads of state has soared: Today, 22 countries are led by women, including India, Chile, South Korea, Ireland, Germany, Argentina, and Brazil, to name a few. Here in the U.S., leadership opportunities for women in our Armed Forces have never been greater: The positions of superintendent of the United States Air Force Academy, commandant of West Point, and commander of the United States Northern Command are currently all held by women.
From its founding until 1961, Norwich was an all-male, all-military institution. In that year, Jane Wehe Bonnette was hired to teach math and computer science and run the computer lab. In the five and a half decades since Professor Bonnette’s arrival, more and more women have played critical leadership roles at Norwich. Our first woman trustee, Sue Adams Boyer, came on board in 1975. She was followed by Trustee Emerita Virginia Watkin, who served for 13 years, and the late Colonel Betty Branch, a 30-year Army veteran who served on the board for 19 years. These pioneers blazed a trail for the outstanding women trustees who have come after.
Today, 62 percent of our university’s assistant and associate vice presidents, and 42 percent of our undergraduate academic deans, department chairs, and directors are female. And 40 percent of my cabinet, including CFO and Treasurer Lauren Wobby ’84, are women. Erin Gats ’17, featured on our cover, is this year’s NUCC Regimental Commander and the fifth woman to hold the rank of cadet colonel. Gats stands on the shoulders of 118 past regimental commanders who have upheld Norwich’s tradition of preparing citizen-soldiers to serve our country in both the public and private sectors.
As you read this issue, I encourage you to think about the women who have had a positive influence on your life; and, if they are still living, thank them for their leadership.
Richard W. Schneider
RADM, USCGR (Ret.)