After years of delay due to a global pandemic, Anne Houtman was inaugurated as the 20th president—and first woman president—of Earlham College on Friday, Oct. 14, 2022.
The ceremony’s delay, however, gave her the opportunity describe both her vision for the future and also how she has already implemented her plans for Earlham’s long-term success since arriving in 2019.
“Higher education is experiencing challenging times,” Houtman said of the declining college-going rate across the nation during a 90-minute ceremony on Earlham’s campus.
“What is sad about that is there are ample studies to show that college graduates are happier and make more money than non-graduates,” she said. “On top of that, college graduates pay more taxes, vote at a higher rate, are twice as likely to volunteer and are almost four times as likely to donate to charity. So higher education is both a clear private good as a well a powerful public good. College lifts up its students, it lifts up their families and it lifts up their communities.”
Houtman’s strategic priorities have taken aim at increasing access to an Earlham education through curricular innovation, new scholarships and the development of a summer pre-college experience for high school students.
“Widening the path means reaching out to more students, and more diverse students, who are ready for the unique living and learning opportunity that Earlham offers.”
Earlham’s efforts to “widen the path” have resulted in a compelling value proposition for students in Earlham’s own backyard, including the INspire Earlham program, a tuition waiver for Indiana students from low- and moderate-income backgrounds, and the Heartland Scholarship, which is an additional $2,000 annual scholarship for all students living within a three-hour drive of campus. New academic programs have been launched or are in the works to meet the interests of today’s students, including engineering, business, accounting, and four new concentrations in computer science.
“I believe strongly that we grow where we are planted,” Houtman said. “Our roots are deep in Indiana, in Richmond and Wayne County. We need to ensure that Earlham is a good neighbor in welcoming and educating students in our own backyard. At the same time, we must maintain our national and international reputation as a leading liberal arts college.”
Houtman also announced the public launch of For Good: The Campaign for Earlham College. This $85 million comprehensive campaign will support the long-term sustainability of Houtman’s institutional priorities, along with increasing enrollment, enriching the student experience and expanding the College’s signature student success initiative, the Epic Journey. The Epic Journey combines Earlham’s national reputation for excellence in classroom teaching with access to funding for students to participate in research, internships, global study, or other career-discerning experiences before graduation.
“We have been educating students from across the country and around the world for a very long time,” Houtman said. “After this period of unprecedented societal upheaval, we are uniquely prepared to educate a generation that demands more of a college education than a good job and a big paycheck. We help students become who they want to become–someone who changes the world.”