Diana Chapman Walsh

Doctor of Humane Letters

Diana Chapman Walsh was the 12th president of Wellesley College, serving from 1993 to 2007, a period of campus renewal and educational innovation, including a revision of the curriculum and expanded programs in global education, internships and service learning and interdisciplinary teaching and learning. Walsh evolved a distinctive style of reflective leadership rooted in a network of resilient partnerships and anchored in the belief that trustworthy leadership starts from within.

Before assuming the Wellesley presidency, Walsh was the Norman Professor at the Harvard School of Public Health, where she chaired the Department of Health and Social Behavior. She reinvigorated that department and founded its Program on Society and Health. Prior to joining the Harvard faculty, she was at Boston University as a University Professor, professor of social and behavioral sciences in the School of Public Health and associate director of the Health Policy Institute.

A 1966 graduate of Wellesley and an English major, Walsh earned an M.S. degree in journalism from BU in 1971 and a Ph.D. in health policy from BU’s University Professors Program in 1983. As a Kellogg National Fellow from 1987 to 1990,Walsh traveled through the United States and abroad, studying workplace democracy and principles of leadership, as well as writing poetry. She has written, edited and co-edited some 60 articles and book chapters, 13 policy monographs and a study of the practice of medicine within corporations titled Corporate Physicians: Between Medicine and Management. She also co-edited Society and Health, an analysis of social and cultural determinants of health and illness.

Walsh currently serves on the governing boards of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, the Kaiser Family Foundation, the Institute for Healthcare Improvement and the Mind and Life Institute and on national advisory boards. She was a director of the State Street Corporation from 1999 to 2007 and a trustee of Amherst College from 1998 to 2010. A member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, she writes, speaks and consults on higher education and leadership, among other subjects.


audioHear Conversations with Honored Guests, talks given by the honorary degree recipients.

Read the transcription of Diana Chapman Walsh's talk here