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2000 Reunion and Commencement Calendar

Smith Announces Plans for May 14 Commencement

At 2 p.m. Sunday, May 14, in the Quadrangle, Smith College will hold its 122nd commencement ceremony, honoring 667 graduating seniors (601 traditional-aged students and 66 Ada Comstock Scholars).

In addition, five individuals will be recognized with honorary doctoral degrees.

Nominated for their achievements as influential professionals, intellectuals, artists, and activists, the honorary degree recipients are commencement speaker and artist Judy Chicago; Ann Brown, chair of the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission; Johnnetta B. Cole, Presidential Distinguished Professor of Anthropology, Women's Studies, and African-American Studies at Emory University; Donald C. Hood, James F. Bender Professor of Psychology at Columbia University; and Mamphela Ramphele, a leading higher education reformer in South Africa.

Commencement speaker Judy Chicago is not only an artist, author, and educator; she is also a pioneer, credited as the founder of the feminist art movement that began in the U.S. in the early 1970s. Chicago helped inspire the movement when she established the Feminist Art Program at the California Institute of the Arts. In 1974, she began the execution of "The Dinner Party," a multimedia project that examined the history of women in Western civilization. The project, which lasted until 1979, was viewed by more than a million people in six countries and had substantial impact within and outside the art community. Chicago is the author of eight books.

Ann Brown was nominated by President Clinton to chair the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), a post she assumed in 1994. A consumer advocate for more than 20 years prior to her appointment, Brown, who says that "maintaining a sense of indignation at consumer injusticewas always a major interest of mine," arrived at the CPSC determined to take all actions necessary to protecting the public. Now serving her second term as CPSC chair, Brown remains committed to consumer safety, targeting the commission's efforts specifically to what she describes as "the most vulnerable in our society-children, the elderly, minority populations, and those with special handicaps." Brown's leadership has been recognized with several prestigious awards, including the "Champion of Safe Kids" award from the National Safe Kids Campaign, the Government Communicator of the Year award, and the Consumer Federation of America's Philip Hart Public Service Award. After attending Smith College from 1955 to 1958, Brown received a bachelor's degree from George Washington University in 1959.

In 1987, Johnnetta B. Cole became the seventh president of Spelman College, the country's oldest historically black four-year college for women, and the first African-American woman to head the college since its founding in 1881. Cole's tenure at Spelman lasted a decade, earning her high praise as an innovative college president, a distinguished teacher, and an inspirational role model for thousands of young women. Now a member of the faculty at Emory University, Cole is the recipient of numerous awards and honors, including a 1998 appointment by President Clinton to an 11-member commission on the celebration of Women in American History and a 1999 appointment to the Governor's Education Reform Study Commission by Georgia Governor Roy E. Barnes. "There's nothing magical about the fact that I always wanted to excel," says Cole, who began her undergraduate studies at Fisk University at age 15. "I knew from the start that because I had two jeopardies--I was black and I was a woman--I'd have to put in extra effort."

Donald C. Hood has served on Columbia University's faculty since 1969. His research is widely credited with shaping the boundary between the basic science of vision and the electrophysiology of retinal diseases. Hood served as vice president for the arts and sciences at Columbia from 1982 to 1987, masterminding a major reorganization of the college's administrative structure. He was a member of the Board of Trustees at Smith College from 1989 through 1999, including eight years as vice-chair.

Since Mamphela Ramphele started her career as a student activist in South Africa's Black Consciousness Movement in the 1970s, she has worked as a medical doctor, a civil rights leader, a community development worker, an academic researcher, and president of the University of Cape Town, South Africa's oldest and best known university. Upon her historic 1996 appointment as Cape Town University's president, Ramphele, the first black woman to hold such a position at a South African university, quickly established herself as one of her country's leading higher education reformers. Guiding the university through its post-apartheid "transformation," aimed at insuring racial and gender equity as well as academic excellence, Ramphele dramatically increased the diversity of the university's student body. Today, a majority of Cape Town's 16,000 students--about 52 percent--are of African, mixed-race, or Asian heritage. Ramphele, who has authored two books, co-authored another and edited two more, has received numerous prestigious national and international awards, including ten honorary doctorates acknowledging her scholarship, her service to the community, her leading role in raising development issues, and her contribution to the struggle against apartheid.

Smith College is consistently ranked among the nation's foremost liberal arts colleges. Enrolling 2,800 students from every state and 50 other countries, Smith is the largest undergraduate women's college in the United States.

April 28, 2000


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