Fall Welcome Letter
Welcome to the 2023–2024 academic year! It's a special pleasure to welcome the incoming Class of 2027 as well as transfer students just arriving on campus. For all returning students, I hope your summers have offered just the right balance of rest and excitement and that you feel restored heading into the fall term.
This is my first time writing to you as Dean of Undergraduate Students, and I am cognizant of the privilege of this opportunity. Eleven years ago, I was new to this campus, with a freshly defended PhD in English and a thousand questions and uncertainties. I had no way of knowing what my time at Caltech would bring, but I knew I had made a choice that would change me and the course of my life going forward.
Being a part of the Caltech community has indeed changed me, in ways that I hope feel familiar to returning students. It has deepened my thinking, but also broadened it. It has rewarded my curiosity, hard work, and intellectual risk-taking and repaid that effort with an incredible community of fellow learners and researchers. My wish for all Techers, new and returning, is that you are able to find "your Caltech"—the people, opportunities, projects, and questions that excite and motivate you. Finding your place, especially in a new place, can be hard. It takes courage to ask for help, make mistakes (and forgive oneself for them), and venture out to the far edges of one's comfort zone. Over time, though, those comfort zones get wider, our compassion for our own and others' mistakes deepens, and we are able to do more, individually and collectively, than we thought possible.
As members of the Caltech community, we are all bound by the Honor Code, which states, "No member of the Caltech Community shall take unfair advantage of any other member of the community." These seventeen words enjoin us to act with integrity and honesty, not just in our classes and labs, but in our houses and in our interactions and activities within and beyond the broader campus, from dining facilities to public spaces. As a scholar of language and political history, I spend a lot of hours thinking about the meaning of the term "community." It is not simply something we find, but something we make through our commitments to each other and what we value. Each year, the Caltech community—staff, students, postdocs, and faculty—renews and remakes itself as new members join our ranks. As you start this new academic year, I encourage you to think about the strengths and experiences you bring to this community and what you would like to find and create within it.
I look forward to seeing familiar faces and getting to know new ones. All of us in the Deans' Office—Interim Dean Lesley Nye; Dean Kristin Weyman; our new Director of Conduct and Community Standards, Maura McDinger; and our administrative staff Beth Larranaga and Sara Loredo—are here to answer your questions about courses, options, advising, and Caltech life. Please feel free to stop by our office on the second floor of the CSS building or reach out to schedule an appointment.
Best wishes for the upcoming year,