I sit here now mid-winter writing to you, knowing I will not see this letter in print until the spring. While I usually have no problems with words this, my last letter as your president, is difficult to write.
It has, of course, been an honor to serve you and our RSC Alumnae Association. I knew it would be and nothing in the last four years has changed my mind. We have accomplished the goals I set out at the start of my term: continued strong work with the Alumnae Admissions Program; renewed emphasis on the vital importance of alumnae financial support for Sage and recognition and development of multiple ways alumnae can positively impact the current student experience at Sage; and a strong relationship with the College leadership, based on mutual respect and commitment to the future. Our Board has grown and matured, with more clearly defined roles and responsibilities, strengthened orientation, and a more vital, active committee structure. All that work is good, and meaningful, but what has really been rewarding and fun, what has inspired me and made it all possible, is all of you.
Leafing through the four years of Connections I have at home, I saw, once again, the exciting things that RSC alumnae are doing – in business, in science, in theatre and the arts, in health and human services, in publishing and education, at work and at home, as professionals and as volunteers, in this country and around the world. How proud I am to be a Russell Sage College graduate and how fortunate to be in the company of so many women of influence, for you are the ones who make our Association what it is.
I have been involved with the Board of Directors of the RSCAA for 19 years. During that span of time, I have come to know sister alumnae from the 1920s through today. Some I have met casually, at alumnae events, others I have worked with intensively for many years on Association projects, and count among my dearest friends. We have laughed together, cried together, had disagreements and reconciliations, what a wonderful, irreplaceable experience! Regardless of age or background, each of you has shared marvelous stories and memories about your time at Sage, stories of students, faculty and administrators who helped shape your lives, as each of you has helped shaped mine.
So many of you are energetic volunteers for Sage, as part of the AAP, as class agents, reunion volunteers, chapter or regional organizers and hostesses, as Sage Trustees, as members of the RSCAA Board of Directors for one term or many terms – I am grateful to all of you for everything you do for Russell Sage every day. You all know who you are, and I hope you know how much pleasure working with you has brought to me. You are the ones who have made possible any successes I have enjoyed as your president.
I will leave my position on June 30 knowing that our Board of Directors and our Association are in good hands. Holly Dorman ’74, our president-elect, and her leadership team will keep us moving forward and will bring new energy and new ideas to our work. Of course, I will not disappear. As I have told our graduates each year at Baccalaureate, faculty and administrators come and go, but we alumnae are part of Russell Sage forever. That “forever” is a heavy responsibility. It means we have an obligation to avoid only looking back; instead we must fully face the future.
I never thought I would find a reason to quote President Lewis Froman, but here goes. At Russell Sage’s 50th anniversary celebration in 1966, President Froman said: “What the Sage of 50 years hence will be is unknown. Only one thing is certain. It is likely to be as vastly different from the Sage of today as today’s Sage is from that of 50 years ago.”
About that, Lewis Froman was correct. Sage in the future will be different than the Sage each of us knew as students. Nonetheless, I firmly believe Sage will still produce powerful women, who will be strong, positive influences in the lives of others, women who will be, know and do.
Let me leave you with words from Margaret Olivia Slocum Sage’s letter to the first graduates of Russell Sage. “May you and all future graduates of the Russell Sage College, be a great power for good in the reconstruction work of the world soon to begin. My best wishes to you, now and always.”
Mary Ann Oppenheimer ’67
President, Russell Sage College Alumnae Association