Update from the Hill

December 5, 2007

Winter has come to Minnesota, and with it the end of the fall semester. Students are resting up from Christmas Festival, preparing final papers and projects, studying for exams, and looking forward to holidays at home. Many Oles will be studying off campus during Interim, and for those students the rhythms associated with the end of the semester find their counterpoint in the excitement of a new adventure just ahead.

We have had a good semester. The selection of two St. Olaf seniors, Ishanaa Rambachan and Nicole Novak, as Rhodes Scholars represents a wonderful opportunity for these two talented and accomplished young women. The rigorous Rhodes selection process also provides independent affirmation of what we have long known about the quality of St. Olaf students and the quality of the experience they have at the college. In fact, since 1996 no liberal arts college in America has produced more Rhodes scholars than St. Olaf. This is a distinction we prize.

Christmas Festival is always an exciting time at St. Olaf. Once again 12,000 students, parents and alumni attended one of the four performances on campus. In a bold innovation, this was the first year that St. Olaf also offered a live simulcast of the Sunday afternoon performance of the Christmas Festival to viewers all across America. Reports are still coming in from the nearly 200 theaters around the country that hosted the simulcast, but we believe that between 7,000 and 8,000 viewers were also able to experience Christmas Festival in this way. We are pleased that the message of Christmas Festival — a message of peace, love and hope that is so important for our time — was able to reach so many people.

The college selection process for high school seniors is in full swing across America and at our college. The enrollment team is currently evaluating early decision applications. Next they will evaluate early action applications, which were due Dec. 1, followed by those applications that we receive in the regular admissions cycle. By all measures, the profile of students applying to the college this year exceeds our hopes and aspirations for the Class of 2012. Keep in mind that the national decision day for accepted students is May 1, 2008, so the final composition of the Class of 2012 will not be known for some time. Nevertheless, we are already looking forward to the arrival of the new class next fall.

Gifts to Partners, St. Olaf’s annual fund, from alumni, parents, and friends of the college, support our annual budget and thus enable us to provide the St. Olaf experience to our students. Good news: the amount given and pledged thus far is up 32 percent over this same date last year, while the percent of alumni participating in Partners is up 41 percent over this same date last year. These are very encouraging trends, but it is still early in our fiscal year, which runs July to June. Many people choose to make their Partners gifts now, at the end of the calendar year, and I invite you to consider making your gift now. These are good days at St. Olaf, and we have the opportunity and challenge now to build on our strengths to secure an ever brighter future for our college. Your support will help us to do just that.

In the meantime, on behalf of St. Olaf College, I wish you and yours a blessed holiday season and look forward to seeing you in the New Year.

David R. Anderson ’74