Smith College Rally Day to Honor Five Accomplished Alumnae
Five outstanding Smith alumnae have been selected to receive this year's Smith College Medal, which will be awarded at the college's annual Rally Day celebration. The event, which honors distinguished alumnae and faculty, will be held at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 23, in John M. Greene Hall. It is free and open to the public.
Exemplary as professionals and extraordinary in their service to their communities, the Rally Day 2000 honorees were chosen for their demonstration of "the true purpose of a liberal arts educationin [their lives] and service to the community or the college." This year's Smith College Medalists are Helen Edelstein Freedman, a 1963 graduate; Diana Eck, a 1967 graduate; Elisabeth McLane-Bradley, a 1942 graduate; Marilyn Carlson Nelson, a 1961 graduate; and Ruth DeYoung Kohler, a 1963 graduate.
A supreme court justice in the unified court system of New York City, Freedman serves on state committees working on gender bias, jury instruction and alternate dispute resolution. Since 1987, Freedman, who has become known for her skill, intellect and steadfastness in presiding over complex legal cases, has supervised all New York City personal injury asbestos cases. Her work resulted in more than 1,500 depositions, millions of dollars in settlements and judgments, and the formation of the State Mass Tort Litigation Committee. The author of a 1998 book about trial objections, Freedman has also spent the last 15 years using the authority of her office to advocate for homeless families with children.
Eck, a professor of comparative religion at Harvard University, is also a member of the university's Divinity School faculty. An accomplished scholar, Eck has spent much of her professional life studying the religious landscape of India and the United States. Eck is the founder of the Pluralism Project, a nationally renowned program that documents religious pluralism in the light of post-1965 emigration. She is the recipient of many prestigious awards including the National Endowment for the Humanities' National Humanities Medal, which was awarded at a White House ceremony in 1998, the Louisville Grawemeyer Award in Religion, and the Melcher Book Award of the Unitarian Universalist Association.
A lifelong volunteer and a tireless advocate for social justice, McLane-Bradley has dedicated years of energy and effort to the improvement of education, land conservation, housing, and mental health in New Hampshire and Vermont. Working with the Tucker Foundation at Dartmouth College, McLane-Bradley helped establish the first public school ABC (A Better Chance) program in the U.S. Her efforts have also led to the establishment of the Upper Valley Community Foundation and its $20 million endowment.
The chief executive officer of the Minnesota-based Carlson Companies, Nelson is one of the most prominent businesswomen in the country. As head of a $7.8 billion enterprise that includes holdings in a national network of travel agencies, hotels, and restaurants, Nelson is also a dedicated community activist. She chaired Scandinavia Today, a nine-month celebration that brought dignitaries and royalty to Minnesota, as well as Minnesota's Super Bowl '92 task force. Nelson has also served on the national board of the United Way and is on the boards of Exxon and U.S. West Corporations.
Kohler has served as director of the John Michael Kohler Arts Center in Sheboygen, Wisconsin, for the past 28 years. Due to her efforts, the Arts Center-an activist organization dedicated to commissioning, producing and presenting dance, theater, music and photography-is now one of the most highly regarded arts organizations in the United States. The founder of Kohler Company's Arts/Industry Foundation and volunteer president of the Kohler Foundation, Kohler has served on numerous NEA panels and task forces and chaired the Wisconsin Arts Board. In 1997, Kohler was awarded the Wisconsin Governor's Award in Support of the Arts.
The five alumna medalists will be joined by Jill Ker Conway, this year's Rally Day speaker. Conway, who served as Smith College's seventh president (and its first woman president) from 1975 to 1985, is the author of the best-selling memoirs "The Road From Coorain" and "True North." She is a visiting scholar and professor in the Program in Science, Technology, and Society at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Rally Day began in 1876 as a celebration of George Washington's birthday. Over time, it has evolved from a primarily social dinner or reception into a day-long college event, at which seniors are permitted to wear their caps and gowns for the first time. The Smith College medal, given to outstanding alumnae, has been awarded at Rally Day since 1973.
February 11, 2000
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