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Resolve, Resiliency, and Hope

The past two years have been hard - but also magical.

 

Our students often ask if we can stop talking about the pandemic. Their desire to move on is understandable: COVID-19 has impacted nearly every aspect of their lives, including their time here at Northfield Mount Hermon. For many of our alumni, it would be difficult to imagine learning and living on campus as we have asked our students to over the last two-and-a-half years. It has been hard. And, at times, it has been magical. 

In this issue of the newly revamped NMH Magazine, we follow our students’ lead and shift our focus from the COVID realities we all must navigate to the magic of NMH that defines us even in the most challenging of times. I invite you to consider the profound opportunity that our students and employees embrace daily amid the hills of our campus. I ask you to reflect on the lifelong impact of your NMH education and the totality of your experience here. And I call on you to consider how you can join us to advance our school’s mission — to empower students to act with humanity and purpose — in the days to come.

The decisions we’ve made might rival, in pace and consequence, those made in our earliest days, when D.L. Moody put his dream into action.

In the spring of 2020, we made a series of institutional decisions to ensure that NMH would not simply survive the yet-unknown challenges of the pandemic but would, in fact, thrive. These decisions reflected our commitment to our mission and to meeting students where they are in their journeys to become their best selves. 

The decisions we made would, I imagine, rival, in pace and in consequence, those made in our earliest days, when D.L. Moody put his dream into action and opened the doors of Northfield Seminary for Young Ladies in 1879, just a few short months after committing to move ahead. While there are many stories we could share about what we’ve accomplished over the last two-and-a-half years, I want to offer insight into a few that reflect our commitment to our mission and to thriving today and in the years to come. 

We shifted resources rapidly to help teachers, coaches, and advisors connect with their students. Within a few weeks, we found ways to bring NMH remotely to students around the world, while launching plans to ensure that we could welcome students back to campus as soon as possible. These parallel commitments allowed us to deliver a robust, in-person experience all of last year and, for those who could not be on campus, the virtual NMH Lab Program. While COVID still requires occasional operational shifts, I am incredibly proud of the ways we adapted to enable our students to continue to experience so many of the best qualities of NMH.

We prioritized investments to increase access. In the last three budgets, financial aid has increased 25%. In addition, the school has limited tuition increases to among the most modest in school history (ranging from 1% to 2.5%). These investments would not be possible if not for strategic operational decisions, stewardship of existing resources, and growth in the NMH Fund, from $3.4 million in FY ’19 to nearly $5 million in FY ’21.

We moved forward with critical campus projects. In January 2020, our board authorized construction of the Gilder Center. Then the pandemic hit, and projects around the world stopped. But we remained committed to the Gilder Center, and, with an updated design that reflected our program’s needs, offered long-term flexibility, and honored architectural legacies from both the Northfield and Mount Hermon campuses, we broke ground in the summer of 2020. Gilder opened, on schedule and under budget, in October 2021. We also opened the Draper Riverhouse, renovated Grandin and James Gym, opened the Calagione Fitness Center, made improvements to McCollum Hockey Rink and several dorms, and broke ground on a new multi-sport and wrestling center. These investments have been funded principally through designated gifts and budgeted capital expenditures.

We approved and launched a Strategic Framework to guide our decisions for the next three to five years. Friends and colleagues asked a reasonable question: Who launches a strategic plan in the midst of a pandemic? Our answer: NMH does. Our decision to move forward underscores our belief that now is precisely the time to demonstrate NMH’s leadership. The Framework, explored in detail in these pages, provides a road map as we transform our program, invest in our people, and steward our resources in remarkable ways. Most important, the Framework reflects our mission and our values of inclusivity, learning for life, and service. 

We have been busy at Northfield Mount Hermon. I am proud of the work we have done. I am humbled by the resolve, resiliency, and hopefulness demonstrated every day by our students and employees. And I am inspired by the aspirations captured in our Strategic Framework. Even as we thrive, we understand that we face profound challenges in this country and around the world, and we embrace our responsibility to equip our students with the skills and knowledge to serve and lead with humanity and purpose. NMH graduates are problem solvers. We are community leaders and servants. Together, we are changing the world. [NMH]

 

PHOTO: JOANNA CHATTMAN