Mead 207

Message From the President

“You won’t believe what I just saw,” I shouted to my wife on my cell while heading home one evening last spring. “You know the production of As You Like It we saw at the Old Vic in London? Well, I just saw a student production, and it was 10 times better.”

It was, I told everyone, one of the best Shakespeare comedy productions of the perhaps 100 I have seen. One of the leads was acted by the woman on our cover, Caitlin Aase C’12, a New Mexico native who also performed in last fall’s The Veri**on Play. In the latter, Aase’s sister was played by rising senior Kathleen Burke, a two-time winner of Drew’s Oxnam Award for playwriting who hails from Oakland, Calif.

Our theatre arts department, ranked first in popularity nationwide by the Princeton Review, is attracting terrific students from near and far. That has everything to do with a superb faculty, and it helps to have the fine professional company, the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, on our campus. But students are also attracted by the department’s gracious home—the Dorothy Young Center for the Arts.

Dorothy’s passing this spring, at age 103 after a fabulous life on stage, was reported everywhere, along with the note that she had donated, with her characteristic enthusiasm and generosity of spirit, over $13 million for this great building.

My point is that buildings matter. Drew is people first, of course. When I meet alumni, they invariably speak of professors and friends. But buildings bring people together, and that is where great stuff happens.

In June, we begin renovating the University Center so that it will live up to its name, as a “center” both in its role of collecting people for great conversation and informal learning, and as a light-filled space in the middle of campus that will look out upon the Forest, a physical manifestation of Drew’s collective character. Like DoYo, as Dorothy Young’s center is affectionately nicknamed, a revamped UC will have a galvanizing effect on the academic and social quality of our campus.

Over the next four or five years, we also hope to rethink the Hall of Sciences, and this, too, should have a major effect. These new science facilities will mirror and make possible a bold set of ideas about the teaching of science at Drew—profoundly interdisciplinary, with an eye to the public interest.

What really pleases me most is that at Drew we begin with teaching before we go to blueprints. We start by asking what we want to have happen academically and socially, and we take time in getting the answers right. Then and only then do we reach for bricks and mortar.

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