Diana Chapman Walsh

President emerita, Wellesley College

Diana Chapman Walsh was the twelfth President of Wellesley College, from 1993 to 2007, and the fourth alumna to head Wellesley, a leading college for women and one of the nation’s top liberal arts colleges. During her tenure, the college undertook a number of successful educational initiatives, including a revision of the curriculum and expanded programs in global education, internships and service learning, and interdisciplinary teaching and learning. The faculty established new majors in environmental studies, quantitative reasoning, cinema and media studies, neurosciences, and astrophysics. Japanese, Arabic and Korean languages were added to the curriculum as well, and a new department of East Asian Languages and Literatures was launched.

Other important innovations included the opening of the Davis Museum and Cultural Center, the establishment of the Religious and Spiritual Life Program, the creation of the Knapp Media and Technology Center and the Knapp Social Science Center, the Newhouse Center for the Humanities, the annual Ruhlman and Tanner conferences, and other initiatives designed to strengthen the quality of campus intellectual life. Many of the college’s administrative structures were strengthened as well.

Also, under her leadership, the trustees approved a comprehensive campus master plan in 1998, the first since 1921, and implemented major landscape restoration projects across the campus. The college raised over $700-million in new gifts during this 14-year period, strengthened the management of the endowment and increased it four-fold, to over $1.6-billion.

In 2000-2001, Wellesley marked its 125th anniversary and launched a five-year $400-million comprehensive campaign, with a series of celebratory programs on the campus and across the country. The Campaign for Wellesley, completed in June 2005, significantly exceeded its goal (raising $472.3-million) and set a new record for liberal arts colleges.

The campaign culminated in the opening of an award-winning 11- acre complex comprising the Wang Campus Center, the Davis parking facility and a surrounding landscape, Alumnae Valley, which, according to the American Society of Landscape Architects (in the 2006 citation for its highest award) “totally transforms the campus and sends a very strong environmental message.”

Before assuming the Wellesley presidency, Dr. Walsh was Florence Sprague Norman and Laura Smart Norman Professor at the Harvard School of Public Health, where she chaired the Department of Health and Social Behavior. She reinvigorated that department and founded the Program on Society and Health there. Prior to joining the Harvard faculty, she was at Boston University, as a University Professor, and Professor of Social and Behavioral Sciences in the School of Public Health.

Diana Chapman Walsh is a 1966 graduate of Wellesley College, where she majored in English. At Boston University, she earned an M.S. degree in journalism (1971) and a Ph.D. in health policy from the University Professors Program (1983). In 1994, she was awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Boston University. She received the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa, from Deree College, the post-secondary division of the American College of Greece, in 1995, from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst in 1999, and from Northeastern University in 2000.

As a Kellogg National Fellow from 1987 to 1990, Walsh traveled throughout the United States and abroad studying workplace democracy and principles of leadership, and writing poetry. She has written, edited and co-edited about 50 articles and fourteen books, including a study of the practice of medicine within corporations, titled Corporate Physicians: Between Medicine and Management, Yale University Press, 1987. She is a co-editor of Society and Health, Oxford University Press, 1995, an analysis of social and cultural determinants of health and illness. Walsh currently serves on the board of Amherst College and the corporation of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation and the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, She was a director of the State Street Corporation from 1999-2007 and chaired the board of the Consortium on Financing Higher Education. She is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and of Phi Beta Kappa.

Diana Chapman Walsh was born and raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and graduated from the Springside School in Chestnut Hill. Her husband, Christopher T. Walsh, is the Hamilton Kuhn Professor in the Department of Molecular Pharmacology and Biological Chemistry at the Harvard Medical School. Their daughter, Allison Walsh Kurian, is a graduate of Stanford University and Harvard Medical School. She completed a residency in internal medicine at the Massachusetts General Hospital in 2002, and, in 2005, a fellowship in oncology at Stanford Medical School, where she is now assistant professor of medicine and health policy.