President Alexander Introduces Himself at New Student Convocation 2007 (excerpted from speech to welcome new students, September 6, 2007)
Today is my first opportunity to speak to the Lasell community as President. I want to start by simply saying thank you. Thank you for welcoming Mary Barbara and me into your midst with open arms. In our short time here, we have found Lasell to be a warm, close and caring community that rallies behind people in need and celebrates its victories.
We are honored to be invited to join such a stellar community.
As you have heard, I am Michael Alexander, the 9th and newest president of Lasell College. I grew up in Columbus, Ohio, the oldest of four children. I met Mary Barbara when I was barely 16 and she was 15. We came east to Massachusetts to go to college. Twice we have moved away from Massachusetts and each time gravitated back. We have come to believe Massachusetts is the place we belong. Massachusetts is our home.
I love sports, animals, Italy, Africa, and the Grateful Dead. I also love books. I love the weight of them, the feel of them, the smell of them, and the feeling that I can get lost inside of them; transported to another time and place, delving into a character’s thoughts and personality, forming the basis for my own outlook on life. I read fiction, history, poetry and philosophy, approximately in that order of priority. While I am a student of American literature first and foremost, my favorite book is Dostoevski’s Brothers Karamazov. My favorite children’s book is If I Ran the Zoo, by Dr. Seuss.
I am fascinated by the workings of the cosmos and by the intricacies of the human body. I believe that learning is an every day, every hour, every minute endeavor. And that learning is intrinsic to every thing we do.
I have five cats, five horses, two dogs. I married my high school sweetheart. We have been together 40 years; I am still trying to figure her out.
We have a 23-year-old daughter, Maggie, who lives right down Commonwealth Avenue. My life has led me to this point, here, where I have dedicated myself to lead and care for a community – the Lasell community.
So that is who I am. Now more importantly, who are you? I happen to have some data on that question. You are the 480 first year and transfer students of Lasell College. You come from 16 states and 10 foreign countries. You are 70% female and 30% male. 17% of you have self identified yourselves as minorities or people of color. You are the largest, most diverse, most able class in the history of Lasell College. You comprise 9 Jennifers, 9 Ashleys, 6 Michaels, and 5 Michelles. 185 of you have unique first names, not matched by anyone else among you. A statistical anomaly: Not one of you has the same birthday as me.
Eighty-five percent of you attended public schools. 37 of you reported that you sang in a choral group or choir; 209 participated in community service; 39 served in student government; 69 worked on your high school yearbook. And all of you are excited because you are about to enter a new phase of life during which you will establish an identity for yourselves separate from your families. Like your parents, you are a little anxious because you are going to be more on your own than you ever have before. I suggest you welcome that change, you embrace that anxiety, for it is part of the process that can make what you are about to experience something special.