President's Introduction
Speaker Pamela Daniels
122nd Commencement Exercises
Wellesley College
May 26, 2000

Diana Chapman Walsh
Wellesley College

Over the years, Wellesley College has had some riveting Commencement speakers. The Class of 2000 has upheld the tradition. We always work hard to find a person of character and intelligence to speak to the graduating seniors and to the wider community, someone we admire greatly and someone with the wisdom and insight to bring the seniors words of inspiration as they make a transition one makes only once in a lifetime. A special moment such as this deserves a special person to mark it. When we look for this person, every year, we look far, wide, long and hard. We did that this year, and we decided that the person who had the most to say to our community and to the Class of 2000 on this special occasion was sitting right down the hall.

Pamela Daniels has been a class dean at Wellesley College since 1981. Every third year, since then, she has started with a new sophomore class, supported them through a thicket of decisions and challenges, celebrated their successes, encouraged them always to be true to themselves, and, ultimately, led them down the aisle to pick up their diplomas. Every Dean Daniels senior who traverses this stage walks in the company of her abiding admiration; she watches each and every one of you with such a deep sense of awe at the great promise you bring to this world.

After her senior class graduates -- and you are her sixth--she shakes off the sense of loss at their departure, returns to the third floor of Green Hall and prepares to welcome the incoming sophomores. This year, when she walks back down the aisle with the Class of 2000, there will be no new class awaiting her. She will leave with you as she begins what the rest of the world refers to as "retirement", but what Pamela calls her "long-deferred sabbatical".

Pamela Daniels graduated from Wellesley in 1959, receiving her degree with honors in political science. She was a Durant Scholar and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. After a year of study and travel in India and Southeast Asia, Pamela went on to earn a Master of Arts in political science from Harvard University in 1963. From 1962 to 1970, she was a teaching fellow at Harvard, first in the Government Department and then in Erik Erikson's undergraduate social science course on the human life cycle.

Before becoming a class dean, Pamela Daniels was a research associate at Wellesley's Center for Research on Women for five years and she lectured for one year in our Psychology Department. In 1983 and '84, she taught a course on the life cycle as part of the Writing Program. She is co-editor of a feminist anthology entitled Working it Out; a collection of personal essays on work and women's identity. She's co-author, as well, of a book on family and career timing patterns, Sooner or Later: The Timing of Parenthood in Adult Lives.

That tells you what she has done, and it's quite impressive. But what's most precious about Pamela is who she is, as all of us who have worked with or been "deaned" by her know so well. Last Saturday afternoon, the ballroom of Alumnae Hall was filled with her admirers: students, faculty, staff, friends and colleagues who came back to Wellesley from all over the world to speak to her of the enduring effect she has had on their lives -- such a powerful effect on so many lives. We are so lucky that Pamela agreed to share one more part of herself with all of us at this her last Commencement.

With great pleasure and gratitude, I present to you, Pamela Daniels.

[View speech here.]


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Betsy Lawson
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Last Modified: May 26, 2000
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