Smith College Rally Day: Honors, Hats and a Secret Revealed
NORTHAMPTON, Mass – For their extraordinary professional achievements and outstanding service to their communities, five alumnae have been named 2010 recipients of the prestigious Smith College Medal.
Established in 1962 to recognize women who exemplify in their lives and work “the true purpose” of a liberal arts education, the honor will be bestowed at Rally Day on Wednesday, February 17, 2010.
The following alumnae will receive awards: Stephanie Kulp Seymour ’62, senior judge; T. Christine Stevens ’70, research mathematician; Sarah E. Thomas ’70, university librarian; Danielle Brian ’85, leader of the Project on Government Oversight; Luma Mufleh ’97, coach of the renowned soccer team, the Fugees.
Rally Day is a time for the Smith community to gather, remember the past, look to the future, and celebrate student life. The occasion marks the first time that seniors publicly wear their gowns along with inventive hats in keeping with the spirited, “rallying” nature of the day.
In addition to the celebrating the medalists, Rally Day has become the occasion that President Carol Christ announces the next commencement speaker.
Stephanie Kulp Seymour, Senior Judge, United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit
Judge Seymour has played a key role in changing the place of women in the federal judiciary. In 1979, she became the first woman judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit. In 1994, she became the first woman chief judge on the Tenth Circuit, serving in that position until 2000. Seymour chaired the Tenth Circuit Task Force on Federal, State and Tribal Relations and served as a member of the Judicial Conference of the United States. She took senior judge status in January 2005.
Seymour is known for her ability to make progressive rulings—those that indicate her devotion to constitutional ideals—in a conservative circuit. In Brown v. Board of Education, a 1992 decision in which the Tenth Circuit ordered a lower court to formulate a remedy that addressed the remaining vestiges of school segregation in Topeka, Kansas, Judge Seymour wrote: “We are mindful of the limited authority and ability of the courts to reshape society, but we possess an abiding respect for the constitutional guarantee of equal protection and the responsibility of the courts to insure that government fulfills its promise to all its citizens.” Other noteworthy rulings include a 1998 decision which held that an employer is liable for a hostile work environment for failing to address sexually harassing conduct by customers and a 2002 decision which held that a prison’s failure to provide kosher meals to Jewish inmates violated the prisoners’ rights.
After graduating from Smith in 1962, magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa, Seymour finished Harvard Law School in 1965—one of only 23 women in a class of 550. Before her appointment to the bench, she had practiced law in Boston, Houston and Tulsa.
T. Christine Stevens, professor of mathematics and computer science
Stevens is professor of mathematics and computer science at Saint Louis University, where she served for five years as department chair. An accomplished research mathematician, she has made unique contributions in mentoring and education. In 1994, she co-created Project NExT (New Experiences in Teaching), a professional development program for those with new and recent doctorates in the mathematical sciences. The program has been called “a gateway through which hundreds of mathematicians have entered the academic profession.” As of August 2009, more than 1,100 people had participated.
Stevens’ early career work as a legislative assistant to New York Congressman Ted Weiss, on issues involving defense, arms control, education, science and technology, convinced her of the utility of mathematical skills in discussions of public policy. From 1987 to 1989, she was a National Science Foundation (NSF) program officer for precollege and undergraduate mathematics education. Stevens has served on the Society of Industrial and Applied Mathematics committees regarding science policy and education. She has chaired the Mathematical Association of America Committee on Science Policy.
After graduating from Smith in 1970, Stevens earned her master’s and doctoral degrees in mathematics at Harvard University. In 1984–85, Stevens was the Congressional Science Fellow. Throughout her career, she has received numerous teaching and service awards.
Sarah E. Thomas, university librarian
In February 2007, Sarah Thomas became the first woman and the first non-British person to assume the post of Bodley’s Librarian and Director of Library Services at Oxford University. In this historic position, she is responsible for the operation of the largest university library system in the United Kingdom and one of the world’s premier research libraries.
Thomas’ interest in libraries began as a student working at Neilson Library. After graduating from Smith in 1970 with a major in German, Thomas earned a master’s in library science at Simmons and a doctorate in German literature at Johns Hopkins. In a career spanning nearly four decades, Thomas has catalogued books in Harvard’s Widener Library, taught German at Johns Hopkins, coordinated research libraries in California and directed a collaborative cataloguing initiative at the Library of Congress. From 1996 to 2006, she was University Librarian at Cornell with responsibility for 19 campus libraries. The American Library Association (ALA) recognized Thomas’ distinguished service to her profession in 2007 by awarding her its highest honor, the Melvil Dewey Medal. The ALA award committee cited her “extraordinary leadership in the advancement of research libraries in general, and cataloging and bibliographic practices and standards in particular, both nationally and internationally.”
Thomas joined the executive committee of the Friends of the Smith College Libraries in 1994 and served as chair of the Friends from 2001 to 2007. She also served Smith as a member of the Board of Counselors from 2001 to 2004.
Danielle Brian, executive director of the Project on Government Oversight
Since 1993, Brian has been executive director of the Project On Government Oversight (POGO), a politically independent, nonprofit watchdog organization. There she has been responsible for investigations that have led to major reforms and cuts in wasteful spending in such areas as oil industry fraud on government land, drug industry influence on health policy, government secrecy, nuclear security, and defense contractor waste and fraud.
Praised for her “take-no-prisoners” approach to exposing fraud, waste and corruption among government agencies and contractors, Brian works with whistleblowers and government insiders, Capitol Hill decision-makers, agency policymakers and the media. She has also worked to fortify government oversight systems through training congressional staff in oversight techniques and bolstering the federal Inspectors General. She frequently testifies before Congress and appears on and is regularly quoted in national media outlets.
In 2006, Ms. Brian was inducted into the Freedom of Information Act Hall of Fame; and in 2008, Ethisphere magazine ranked her among the top 100 most influential people in business ethics. A tireless advocate, Brian also serves on the boards of Taxpayers for Common Sense and The Center for Legal Empowerment, Accountability, and Reform. She also serves on the board of the Loudoun Ballet Company.
After graduating from Smith with a degree in government in 1985, Brian earned her master’s degree in international relations from the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University.
Luma Mufleh, coach
Mufleh has devoted herself to assisting refugee populations integrate into American society through her work as soccer coach and founder of Fugees Family, Inc. She began her work with refugees when she stumbled across a group of boys playing soccer in the streets of Clarkston, Georgia, and asked to join them. As a lifelong soccer player and experienced coach, Mufleh formed the Fugees—short for “refugees”—a soccer team for whom she became coach, counselor, academic tutor and role model.
Fugees’ players hail from 25 different countries, including Afghanistan, Sudan and Burma, and represent numerous cultures and religions. In less than a decade, her project has grown from one group of twenty boys to four boys’ teams with over 80 participants. To join the team, each student must sign a contract committing to team standards of conduct, and agree to attend after-school tutoring sessions. Mufleh’s efforts to help the children have gone well beyond the team. In 2006 Mufleh founded the non-profit organization Fugees Family, Inc. to better serve the needs of the refugee community. In addition to soccer, the Fugees Family now runs a middle school, an academic summer camp and college counseling sessions. Now in its fourth year, the Fugees Family organization continues to receive national support and recognition. Mufleh and the team have been featured in the New York Times, The Today Show, ESPN, CNN, NPR, and Sports Illustrated. This year, the story of the team was featured in the book “Outcasts United,” by Warren St. John.
Originally from Amman, Jordan, Mufleh came to this country to attend Smith College, and graduated in 1997.
Smith College educates women of promise for lives of distinction. One of the largest women’s colleges in the United States, Smith enrolls 2,800 students from nearly every state and 62 other countries.