President Rivera spending time with alumni and friends during a March spring break road trip in Arizona with the Macalester Golf Team.

Some of my favorite Macalester moments happen when I step out from behind the president’s desk and participate actively in campus life. Our students, faculty, and staff know that I love to drop in for lunch at Café Mac, show up at student capstone presentations, cheer on our Scots at sporting events, and attend faculty lectures and student performances. Being present for these activities allows me to support the incredible work happening on campus and to marvel at our community’s many talents. Even as I jog around our campus on a Sunday afternoon, I’m reminded: this is a special place.

This year (unlike the previous two), I also have been able to travel extensively and meet more alumni, parents, and friends of the college in person. Being on the road has allowed me to understand the global Mac community in a new way. I’ve experienced firsthand how the Macalester spirit extends way beyond our campus boundaries. I see it when I find myself in a sea of blue and orange at an “away” baseball game in Phoenix. I feel it viscerally when I hear Macalester’s Pipe Band (including my spouse) compete at the Highland Games in Waukesha. I’ve experienced it in action at gatherings all over the world: at a restaurant in London, on a pickleball court in Boston, with a Presbyterian church choir in Havana.

When I’m with Mac people, I feel the college’s unique spirit—and it energizes me to no end.

There is an incredible diversity of perspectives within our alumni community, across the generations and many eras of the college’s history. Yet, in all of the conversations I’ve had and stories I’ve heard, what stands out to me most is the fabric that unites us because we share Macalester in common. It’s woven of certain threads: an orientation toward optimism, the courage to dream, a shared belief in a future that’s better than the past, and the sense that it’s our responsibility to help build it.

The values that first brought alumni to Macalester as students—who, during their time on campus, form a community of learners determined to create a more just and peaceful world— continue to shape their work and inform their worldviews years, even decades, after graduation. I see evidence of this across the wide range of career paths and initiatives our alumni undertake. (See for yourself in the Class Notes section of this magazine!)

I’m also inspired by how Mac alumni across the globe seek out opportunities to engage with the current campus community, and with one another, to give back. They host events in their cities, connect with faculty to participate in a class by Zoom, contribute to the Mac Fund, and serve on the Alumni Board, on Reunion committees, and in other groups—all to support the college’s mission and people.

Soon, we will have a Commencement celebration, at which we’ll send the Class of 2023 off into the next big chapter of their lives. They will embark on adventures near and far, across the country and around the world. Some will find homes in the Twin Cities, close enough to meet for coffee with a faculty mentor, give an informational interview to a student, attend a theater performance, or watch a game in the stadium. For many others, Mac will become more distant, at least in physical proximity.

But I’ve learned that geographic separation needn’t diminish our connections. It’s become easier to stay in touch across the miles. And there’s no limit to new relationships that can be formed within our global Mac community—virtually and in person, whether you graduated last year or fifty years ago. I urge all alumni to lean on and lean in to this Mac community. Of course, that includes a close circle of college friends and mentors. But it can be so much more than that. The Mac community—loved ones, acquaintances, people you haven’t met yet, all of it—is yours for the rest of your life.

So, reach out to someone on MacConnect, join a Mac book club, attend an alumni gathering in your city. These experiences will connect you, teach you, challenge you, and energize you. (Who knows? I’ve even heard of Mac love stories that began years after graduation!) As I’ve seen over and over while on the road this year, these connections will bring you joy and foster hope in the future we’re building together.

Dr. Suzanne M. Rivera is president of Macalester College.

April 28 2023

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