Family Weekend Town Hall with President Chodosh

Family Weekend 2024.

Allison Aldrich P’24 (left), president of the CMC Parent Network Board, with Jil Stark ’58 GP’11, recipients Bobby and Robin Lee P’24, and President Hiram Chodosh during the presentation of Stark's annual Parent Volunteer Award.

As part of Family Weekend 2024, Allison Aldrich P’24, president of the CMC Parent Network Board, interviewed President Hiram Chodosh during a Town Hall Q&A in Pickford Auditorium. The two discussed a variety of topics, including recent accomplishments related to The Campaign for CMC: Responsible Leadership, The Open Academy, and the College’s ambitious vision for integrated sciences. The following are excerpts from President Chodosh’s responses during their conversation.

On how The Open Academy has made a difference on campus during moments of difficulty and crisis:

“How do we define our Open Academy and the commitments that we want to internalize and infuse into every aspect of student and intellectual life on our campus? It’s the courage to speak up with respect; the openness to listen to a different point of view and to enhance our own understanding of our own (point of view); but also to open up to where we might be wrong. As one of our Ath Fellows said at the time we started the Open Academy, the reason she likes to hear someone else's views? If she is wrong, she doesn’t want to be wrong for a moment more. Most importantly, it’s the intellectual and social skills, the courage and confidence to engage in constructive dialogue to solve problems. Not just to talk and talk, but to reach deeper levels of understanding and to solve problems across controversial lines.

And there’s no one place where that occurs. There’s not a building that says Open Academy: if you want to engage in free expression, viewpoint diversity, and constructive dialogue, go there. No. It’s everywhere. It’s meant to be in every aspect of everything we do. Every moment that we spend with one another. I can tell you from the national work that I’m doing now, that my peers, I believe, are increasingly motivated to also crack this code against big, cultural forces. And I can also tell you that because we started so many years ago and have taken this so seriously—as probably the most important intervention and investment in our mission and this learning environment—we are playing a key role in growing a national commitment to reinforce these values and commitments.”

On the progression of CMC’s integrated sciences vision:

“This Kravis Department of Integrated Sciences is unlike any program anywhere in undergraduate science education. Instead of focusing on disciplines, we’re focusing on big, grand challenges of health, brain, and planet. We will have outstanding computational capabilities that are integrated in a virtuous cycle of reductive, experimental life science and expansive, big systems, data science, and computer science, including AI. We are also integrating policy, business, and ethics into the curriculum, as well as a commitment to learning through research at every point. This is a problem-based curriculum. It’s what we call just-in-time learning, instead of just-in-case. With the Robert Day Sciences Center going up—all the steel will be up in another month—we’re off to the races to open in the fall of 2025.”

On the completion of CMC’s record-breaking Campaign for CMC: Responsible Leadership:

“The most important aspect of campaigns is not just the dollar total. It’s the way that the entire community came together around what we were trying to achieve.

When I started 11 years ago (as president at CMC), we had just come off another very successful campaign. And we said: we still need resources to support our access and affordability objectives for families in the bottom quintile of the U.S. economy, as well as the rest of our families. Let’s go out and raise $100 million for scholarships. That was the first mini-campaign that grew into a much more expansive Opportunity Strategy for all of our students. We dedicated ourselves to expand their horizons.

The Soll Center for Student Opportunity grew out of that effort. All of our student internship programs. The last few years, we’ve been sponsoring about half of our returning student body in the summer with a real focus on rising sophomores and a second focus on rising juniors. … And that’s designed to make them super competitive when they compete on their own.

All of our results in terms of outcomes and post-graduate outcomes reflect a lot of these investments, for all of our students, and especially so for students coming from families not as wealthy or well-to-do, not only through scholarships, but also by reducing costs of the full experience that are at times taken for granted.”

On continuing CMC’s momentum:

The end of our Campaign for CMC: Responsible Leadership “does not mean that we’re resting. It does not mean that we’re stopping. It does not mean that we’re pausing. The only time we put our feet up on the table is when we’re trying to break through some new ceiling. We have a lot to do.

We're still raising money for very important things. ... and that also includes small gifts. This way, everyone owns the strategy. I can also tell you that our largest donors care about the small gifts. They always want to know who else is in. And when I tell them about our parents, when I tell them about our alumni, when I tell them about friends of the College who have no formal relationship to CMC, all those who are giving so generously, that gives everyone the feeling that this is worthy of my continued, large investments. When a lot of people are going in a single direction, they say: 'I want to be a part of sustaining that objective.’”


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