On June 1, 2021, Julia Jasken, PhD, celebrated her first day as McDaniel College’s tenth President.
President Jasken was welcomed to her new office with number ten balloons, commemorating her as McDaniel’s tenth president, as well as a reception of faculty and staff members featuring green and gold cookies and the Green Terror.
An email was sent to all McDaniel students containing a welcome message and video from Jasken herself.
“It is an incredible honor to begin my first day as McDaniel College’s 10th President. I am humbled to join a distinguished line of presidents who have so capable led our beloved college, and today I am excited to begin this next chapter with all of you,” she wrote.
President Jasken started her special video message by greeting the McDaniel and Westminster community from Hoover Library, one of her favorite spots on campus.
Jasken notes that she never expected to someday move into administration when she first came to McDaniel, let alone becoming the next president.
“Yet somehow the unexpected trajectory seems appropriate to the moment, an example of the wide lens of opportunities that become available to those who have developed the habits of mind that lie at the heart of a liberal arts education,” she said.
Jasken mentioned the arrival of several new members to the senior leadership team this summer, as well as the start of the college’s next strategic plan, which will officially launch this fall.
She also acknowledged the campus life staff, members of faculty, the admissions team, and alumni, for their efforts to support the College during the covid-19 pandemic.
“As travel begins to open up in the coming months, I look forward to the opportunity to meet with our alumni in person across the country and thank you personally for your generosity of spirit, time, talent, and treasure,” she said.
Despite thanking many pieces of the McDaniel community, she did not shy away from celebrating the students on The Hill.
“Students, your perspectives and engagement are critical to our ability to continue to offer high quality educational experiences designed to help you develop your unique potentials with reason, imagination, and human concern,” Jasken said.
A few months after the initial excitement of her first day died down, Jasken still had time to ease into her new role as president. The close proximity of her house to her new office certainly helped with that transition.
“It’s an easy three minute walk to the office, so that’s a positive,” said Jasken.
In addition to moving into a new office, Jasken and her family also moved into the president’s house across from Alumni Hall in July.
“It’s been exciting! We’re still digging our way through all the boxes. Our dog, Kira, is really loving the campus… we go on walks and she’s loving saying hello. She likes that there are lots of walking routes on campus,” said Jasken.
In an era slightly less burdened by covid-19, there is certainly a desire to make up for lost time.
“I always enjoyed connecting with people and socializing before, but I think there’s something more special when we’ve all gone through that period of loss, 18 months of our engagement and connection with one another…it takes its toll,” said Jasken
In efforts to amend this, Jasken was involved all over campus this summer, particularly with the rising first-year students participating in McDaniel Local.
“It’s been fun for me to say to them that they’re kind of the inaugural class. We’re both learning how to live on campus together…that’s going to be a special group,” said Jasken.
Jasken also got to have lunch with some of the undergraduate research students and learn about what they worked on over the summer months.
“It’s neat to see! I’ve had a chance to talk to them about their research, but I hope to actually visit their labs soon,” said Jasken.
In addition to visiting with McDaniel Local and summer research students, Jasken also worked with staff to plan special events throughout the summer and fall for members of the community, including the outdoor movie night during orientation, and she looks forward to welcoming back many campus employees who have been working virtually over the past few months.
According to Jasken, this summer was great for community building amongst faculty and staff. June 1 was the first day faculty members started to come back to campus for the first time in a year and a half.
“We’ve had a lot of opportunities to get together as a community. So many of our employees have been spending the majority of their workdays working remotely… it’s been great for me to meet with each division and have some opportunities to socialize and let them know how much I appreciate the work that they’re done,” said Jasken.
“There’s been lots of change, but it’s been a really positive experience,” said Jasken.
Jasken welcomes all students to connect with her anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit her student office hours during the first and third Thursday of every month from 3-4 p.m. during the fall and spring semesters.