- Smith College
] The campus was planned and planted in the 1890s as a
botanical gardenand arboretum, designed by Frederick Law Olmsted. The campus landscape now encompasses convert|147|acre|km2|1 and includes more than 1,200 varieties of trees and shrubs.
Smith has been led by 10 presidents and 2 acting presidents. For the 1975 centennial, the college inaugurated its first woman president,
Jill Ker Conway, who came to Smith from Australiaby way of Harvard and the University of Toronto. Since President Conway's term, all Smith presidents have been women, with the exception of John M. Connolly's one-year term as acting president in the interim after President Simmons left to lead Brown University.
Laurenus Clark Seelye1875 - 1910
Marion LeRoy Burton1910-1917
William Allan Neilson1917 - 1939
Elizabeth Cutter Morrow1939-1940 (acting president)
Herbert Davis1940 - 1949
Benjamin Fletcher Wright1949 - 1959
*Thomas Corwin Mendenhall 1959 - 1975
Jill Ker Conway1975 - 1985
Mary Maples Dunn1985 - 1995
Ruth Simmons1995 - 2001
John M. Connolly2001 - 2002 (acting president)
Carol T. Christ2002 - present
Smith College has 275 professors in 37 academic departments and programs, for a faculty:student ratio of 1:9. It is the first and only women's college in the United States to grant its own undergraduate degrees in
engineering. The Picker Engineering Program offers a single Bachelor of Sciencein engineering science, combining the fundamentals of multiple engineering disciplines. Picker students who maintain an overall GPA of 3.5 and a GPA of 3.5 within the major are automatically admitted to graduate study in engineering at Dartmouth College, Johns Hopkins University, Tufts University, and the University of Michigan.
Smith recently joined the SAT optional movement for undergraduate admission. [http://www.masslive.com/metrowest/republican/index.ssf?/base/news-14/1211786427249410.xml&coll=1]
Ada ComstockScholars Program is a bachelor's degreeprogram for non-traditional students.
Smith also has special one-year graduate programs for international students. One such program, the
American StudiesDiploma Program, was founded by Daniel Aaron during the early 1960s, the height of the Cold War, to serve as a counterweight of international misunderstanding and violence. Students can design specialized majors and minors with the approval of the college and related departments. Individuals may also enroll as nondegree students by registering for one or more courses.
Smith runs its own junior year abroad (JYA) programs in four European cities:
Paris, Hamburg, Florenceand Geneva. These programs are notable for requiring all studies to be conducted in the language of the host country (with both Paris and Geneva programs conducted in French). In some cases students live in homestays with local families. Nearly half of Smith's juniors study overseas, either through Smith JYA programs or at more than 40 other locations around the world.
Junior math majors from other undergraduate institutions are invited to study at Smith College for one year through the
Center for Women in Mathematics. Established in the fall of 2007 by Professors Ruth Haasand Jim Henle, the program aims to allow young women to improve their mathematical abilities through classwork, research and involvement in a department centered on women. The Center also offers a post-baccalaureate year of math study to women who either did not major in mathematics as undergraduates or whose mathematics major was not strong. [ [http://www.math.buffalo.edu/mad/NAM/newsletter/NAM38.1.pdf "Smith College Women in Mathematics Program" National Association of Mathematicians, Spring 2007] , Accessed 3 September 2008]
Graduate degrees and study options
Smith's graduate programs are open to both men and women. Each year approximately 100 men and women pursue advanced graduate work at Smith.
The Smith College master of social work (M.S.W.) degree is nationally recognized for its specialization in clinical social work and puts a heavy emphasis on direct field work practice. The program is accredited by the
Council on Social Work Education. The school also offers a Ph.D. program designed to prepare MSWs for leadership positions in clinical research education and practice.
The college has a limited number of other programs leading to Ph.D.s, and is part of a cooperative doctoral program co-administered by
Amherst College, Hampshire College, Mount Holyoke Collegeand the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
With 2,800 students, Smith is one of the nation's largest women's colleges, and the first to start an engineering program. It is part of the Five Colleges consortium with nearby Mount Holyoke, Amherst, Hampshire and UMass Amherst. The facilities, particularly the cottage-style houses where students live in groups of 13 to 80, are so attractive that visitors originally preferring a coed college often change their minds. "Smith kind of won me over," says Katie Green, who thought she would go to a school with men. "When else in your life can you get the experience of being surrounded by smart, motivated young women who really care about what they're doing?"
Colors and mascot
Smith College does not have college colors in the usual sense. Its official color is white, trimmed with gold, but the official college logo is currently blue and yellow (a previous logo was burgundy and white). NCAA athletic teams have competed in blue and white (or blue and yellow, in the case of the soccer, crew, swimming, and squash teams) uniforms since the 1970s, and selected Pioneers as the official name and mascot in 1986. Popular club sports are free to choose their own colors and mascot; both Rugby and Fencing have chosen red and black.
Smith has a rotating system of class colors dating back to the 1880s, when intramural athletics and other campus competitions were usually held by class. Today, class colors are yellow, red, blue and green, with incoming first-year classes assigned the color of the previous year's graduating class; their color then "follows" them through to graduation. Alumnae classes, particularly at reunion, continue to identify with and use their class color thereafter.
Smith requires all first-year undergraduate students, as well as most other undergraduates, to live in on-campus houses. This policy is intended to add to the camaraderie and social cohesion of its students. Unlike most institutions of its type, Smith College does not have dorms, but rather 36 separate houses, built in the style that was popular during the time they were constructed. (A popular rumor perpetuated by students is that Sophia Smith stated in her will that each house be constructed in the style of the period; this is, however, only an urban legend.) The campus also boasts a botanic garden that includes a Japanese tea house, a variety of specialty gardens including a rock garden, and historic glass greenhouses dating back to 1895. It is rumored that the staircase in Chapin House was the inspiration for the one in Tara in "
Gone with the Wind". ( Margaret Mitchellwent to Smith for one year.)
A novelty of Smith's homelike atmosphere is the continuing popularity of Sophia Smith's recipe for molasses cookies. These are often served at the traditional Friday afternoon tea held in each house, where students, faculty and staff members and alumnae socialize.
Smith has a "substantial lesbian population." [ [http://www.nytimes.com/2006/09/14/fashion/14guide.html?ei=5070&en=18b6394ffb87904f&ex=1158897600&emc=eta1&adxnnlx=1158506844-itHuIFBUwQhVQ4rUA2sNBg&pagewanted=all Is This Campus Gay-Friendly? - New York Times ] ] Smith offers "panel discussions and seminars for lesbian, bisexual, and transgender students on subjects such as coming out as transgender at work." [April 8, 2007 article, Boston Globe, http://www.boston.com/news/globe/magazine/articles/2007/04/08/when_she_graduates_as_he/] In 2003, Smith students voted to remove pronouns from the language of the Student Government Association constitution, in order to make that document inclusive of transgendered students who don't identify with the female pronouns "she" and "her." [ [http://www.smith.edu/oid/gender_faq.php Smith College: Office of Institutional Diversity ] ]
Academic year events
"Convocation" signals the start of the fall semester. For some students, the annual, often rowdy, event is an occasion for celebration and an opportunity for creative attire (or as little attire as they can get away with.) House communities develop imaginative themes for group fashion, and Smith seniors put special touches on favorite hats to create their own unique "senior hats," to be worn for the first time at Convocation.
Mountain Day is a tradition borrowed from Mount Holyoke College and is observed early in the fall semester. The President of the College selects a crisp, sunny, beautiful autumn day when the leaves are in full color, and announces the cancellation of classes by having bells rung on campus at 7:00 AM on the chosen day. The eager anticipation of Mountain Day leads to intense speculation and an abnormally high interest in meteorology by students in the weeks leading up to the surprise announcement. Traditional observance of Mountain Day by students might involve
New Englandroad trips or outdoor pursuits, and college dining services provides box lunches to be taken off-campus. (Other students take the opportunity to catch up on their sleep!) Otelia CromwellDay, named for Smith's first African-American alumna, began in 1989 to provide students with an in-depth program specifically addressing issues of racism and diversity. Afternoon classes are cancelled, and students are invited to participate in lectures, workshops, symposia and cultural events centered around a different theme each year.
In February 1876, the College began an annual observance of
George Washington's birthday. In 1894, a rally became part of the day's events, and the focus of the celebration became primarily patriotic rather than exclusively social—though always with a women's college twist. Students that year staged a mock debate on the subject, "Does Higher Education Unfit a Man for Domestic Life?" In 1906 the celebration was first referred to as Rally Day (although the name was not used officially by the College until 1992). In 1944, seniors made Rally Day the first public wearing of their graduation caps and gowns; since then, mortarboards have been replaced by wacky, often homemade hats. Today, the Rally Day Convocation is centered around a historical theme, and features a distinguished keynote speaker and the awarding of Smith College Medals to accomplished alumnae.
Rally Day is observed in the Spring; an all-college gathering honors distinguished alumnae, and a musical is held depicting life at Smith.
Reunions and Commencement events
The Alumnae Association of Smith College hosts official class reunions every five years, plus a special two-year reunion. All alumnae from all classes are welcome to return in any year; "off-year" alumnae attend campus-wide events as the "Class of 1776."
Traditional reunion and Commencement events are linked, and celebrate the close ties between Smith's alumnae and its graduating seniors and their families. At the conclusion of final exams, most underclasswomen leave the campus, while seniors remain in their houses for a week to celebrate and prepare for Commencement. Alumnae arrive for reunions later in the week, and many alumnae arrange for official accommodations in the campus houses, right alongside senior residents.
Ivy Day, the day before Commencement, is the high point of reunion and a significant event for seniors as well. Junior ushers lead a parade through campus, carrying vines of ivy to be planted by the departing seniors as a symbol of their lifelong connection to the college. Alumnae (and, often, their children), dressed in white and wearing sashes in their class color, line up in reverse order by class along both sides of the route. Seniors line up nearest the end of the parade route, wearing traditional white outfits and each carrying a single red rose. All cheer each alumnae class as it marches past, then fall in to join the end of the parade. Many alumnae classes carry signs with humorous poems or slogans, or hold balloons or wear hats in their class color. Ivy Day festivities conclude in the Quad, where the seniors plant their ivy and speakers address alumnae on the progress of fundraising and the state of the college.
Illumination Night, beginning at dusk on the Saturday evening before Commencement, is a celebration of the campus and a send-off of sorts for graduating seniors. Throughout central campus, electric street lights are replaced for one night by multicolored Japanese-style paper lanterns, lit with real candles. These hang on both sides of every walking path and cast a soft glow over the buildings and lawns. Student acapella singing groups and improv comedy troupes roam the campus, stopping occasionally to entertain the crowds. A jazz band, hired by the college, turns the science buildings' courtyard into a dance floor. Seniors, alumnae, faculty and their families spend the evening on walking tours of the illuminated campus and Botanic Gardens. The major official event of the night is the Senior Step Sing: seniors gather on the steps of Neilson Library, where they are serenaded by members of the Sophomore Push committee, then are physically pushed off the stairs and "into the real world."
Until the early 1990s, all alumnae reunions were held during Commencement weekend. However, as the number of returning alumnae grew beyond the capacity of the campus, reunions were split into Reunion I/Commencement Weekend and Reunion II, held the following weekend. "Significant" reunions (50-, 25- and 10- year, but also 2-year) and the earliest reunion classes (65-year and prior) are assigned to Reunion I; other reunions (5-, 15-, 20-, 30-year, and so on) are assigned to Reunion II.
Smith has numerous folk tales and ghost stories surrounding the campus and historical events.
One such tale holds that Sessions House is inhabited by the ghost of Lucy Hunt, who died of a broken heart after being separated from her lover, General Burgoyne.
Another tale tells of a girl who haunts the basement of one of the houses near the river, after a tunnel which led down to the pond collapsed as she was sneaking out to meet a lover.
Yet another tale describes the accidental death of a girl who sneaked out her bedroom window to meet a boyfriend, somehow fell into a hollow column supporting the portico of her dorm, and suffocated.
One campus legend surrounds the 'whispering woman' who makes circuit calls to students' dorm rooms and calls each room one by one down the entire hall. Students sometimes exploit this legend and pull pranks on their unwitting friends by calling them and talking in a gravelly mysterious voice.
A number of Smith alumnae have gone on to become notable in their respective fields and endeavors. Some examples include:
General Counselof Pennsylvania
Tammy Baldwin, Congresswoman, D-Wisconsin
*Barbara Bush, former First Lady of the
Julia Child, chef and author
Barbara Cooney, author and award-winning illustrator
Margaret Edson, award-winning playwright
Julie Nixon Eisenhower, former First daughter
Betty Friedan, feminist, activist, author
Thelma Golden, artist
Jane Lakes Harman, Congresswoman, D-California
Molly Ivins, columnist and author
Yolanda King, actress, activist daughter of Martin Luther King, Jr.and Coretta Scott King
Carol Herselle Krinsky, architectural historian
Madeleine L'Engle, award-winning author
Catharine MacKinnon, feminist, activist, lawyer
Ann M. Martin, author
Margaret Mitchell, award-winning author
Sylvia Plath, poet and author
Nancy Reagan, former First Lady of the United States
Sherry Rehman, Minister of Information, Pakistan
Martha Southgate, award-winning novelist
Gloria Steinem, feminist, activist, journalist
Niki Tsongas, Congresswoman, D-Massachusetts
Cynthia Voigt, award-winning author
Virginia Euwer Wolff, award-winning author
Jane Yolen, award-winning author
Victoria Chan-Palay, life scientist and Olympic swimmer
Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, journalist, documentary fim-maker
In 2006, 17 Smith graduates won Fulbright fellowships for international graduate study. The Alumnae Association of Smith College considers all former students to be members, whether they graduated or not, and does not generally differentiate between graduates and non-graduates when identifying Smith alumnae.
mith in popular culture
* The 1966 movie "
Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" and the 1993 movie "Malice" were both filmed on the Smith campus. The character Joanna Kramer, played by Meryl Streep in the 1979 film " Kramer vs. Kramer" is a Smith College graduate.
I'm Spelling as Fast as I Can": an episode of " The Simpsons" where Lisa Simpsonis tempted by the Siren-like representatives of the Seven Sisters (and George Plimpton), who offer a scholarship to the Sister school of her choice (and a George Plimpton hot plate) if she will throw a Spelling Bee.
Running With Scissors": This memoir by Augusten Burroughsdetails how the author and his foster-sister, Natalie, used to take walks on the campus.
Dr. Cristina Yang, a surgical resident played by Sandra Ohon " Grey's Anatomy," graduated from Smith College with degrees in French Literature and Chemistry.
Ainsley Hayes(played by Emily Procter), the conservative lawyer hired to work in the White House Counsel's Office on The West Wing, graduated from Smith.
Questionable Contentmentions Smith College (usually referred to as "Smif" in the comic) as the place where one of the main characters, Marten, is employed as library staff, and one of the minor characters, Ellen, studies marine biology. Jeph Jacques, the author, went to Hampshire College, one of the neighboring schools.
*In an episode of
Mad About YouPaul's sister and her girlfriend are referred to as "The Fighting Lesbians." Paul ( Paul Reiser) replies, "No, that would be the name of the Smith College Ice Hockey Team."
*The fictional Catamount College in the novella Beasts by
Joyce Carol Oatesis based on Smith College.
*Emily Gilmore in the show "
Gilmore Girls" went to Smith and majored in History.
*In the movie '
The Nanny Diaries' Mrs. X is a Smith alumna.
*The title character in "
Butch Jamie" is a Smith alum. Jamie is a butch lesbian actress who gets cast as a man in a film; in order to keep up her gender-bending charade, he/she manages to convince his love interest that the college allowed him to attend as a man due to the fact that the name Jamie can be either male of female. Three Smith alums worked on the film, including writer/director/actor Michelle Ehlen.
The Rum Diary" by Hunter S. Thompsonthe character Chenault went to Smith College.
*Charlotte York in the show Sex and the City is a Smith College graduate.
* In the 1954 film "White Christmas," two of the lead characters reference Smith:
Bob Wallace: You don't expect me to get serious with the kind of characters you and Rita have been throwing at me, do you?
Phil Davis: Well, there have been some nice girls, too, you know.
Bob Wallace: Oh yeah, yeah. Like that nuclear scientist we just met out in the hall.
Phil Davis: All right, they didn't go to college. They didn't go to Smith.
Bob Wallace: Go to Smith? She couldn't even spell it.
* Horowitz, Helen Lefkowitz. [http://books.google.com/books?vid=ISBN0870238698&id=Z3qWLyDZ8PsC&pg=PP1&lpg=PP1&ots=xMmu_yuuHV&dq=alma+mater&sig=N7RcPpZKbQvPM1m5ohSuIcu_KxU#PPP1,M1 "Alma Mater: Design and Experience in the Women's Colleges from Their Nineteenth-Century Beginnings to the 1930s"] , Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1993 (2nd edition).
* [http://www.smith.edu/ Smith College]
* [http://www.smith.edu/newssmith NewsSmith, Smith's newsletter]
* [http://www.smithsophian.com/ The "Sophian"] - Smith's student newspaper
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