Laurenus Clark Seelye, 1875–1910
The new college prospered under its first president, Laurenus Clark Seelye, who insisted that a truly liberal education was fostered by a broad curriculum of the humanities, the fine arts and the natural and social sciences.
Marion LeRoy Burton, 1910–1917
Marion LeRoy Burton was a gifted public speaker with an acute business sense. As president he helped the college raise the amazing sum of $1,000,000—a huge endowment campaign for any college at that time.
William Allan Neilson, 1917–1939
President William Allan Neilson transformed the college from a high-minded but provincial community in the hinterland of Massachusetts into a cosmopolitan center constantly animated by ideas from abroad.
Herbert Davis, 1940–1949
Herbert Davis reaffirmed the contributions that a liberal arts college could make to a troubled world, reflecting his belief that serious study was a way of confronting the global threat to civilization posed by World War II.
Benjamin Fletcher Wright, 1949–1959
Benjamin Fletcher Wright defended his faculty members’ right to political and intellectual independence during the McCarthy era, a time of widespread suspicion of any writing or teaching that might seem left of center.
Thomas Corwin Mendenhall, 1959–1975
President Thomas Corwin Mendenhall saw the college through profound social and cultural changes with wisdom, tact and humor. Smith emerged from the 1960s with an active, practical sense of social responsibility.
Jill Ker Conway, 1975–1985
Smith’s first woman president, Jill Ker Conway, was a charismatic and energetic leader with a commitment to women’s colleges and an undiminished dedication to a liberal arts education in contemporary society.
Mary Maples Dunn, 1985–1995
President Mary Maples Dunn committed the college to diversity, increased course offerings in non-Western cultures, supported socially responsible investments, and introduced technological advances including e-mail and voicemail to the campus.
Ruth Simmons, 1995–2001
President Ruth Simmons galvanized the campus through an ambitious collegewide self-study process that resulted in a number of landmark initiatives, including Praxis, the Poetry Center and the Picker Engineering Program.
Carol T. Christ, 2002–2013
President Carol T. Christ launched an energetic program of outreach, innovation and long-range planning to determine the distinctive intellectual traditions of the Smith curriculum and areas on which to build.