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Mark Your Calendars, New Time for Commencement

It’s been 50 years since Smith College held its Commencement ceremony in the morning, but this year we plan to return to that tradition with the 128th Commencement, scheduled for Sunday, May 21, at 10 a.m. Please plan accordingly.

Smith Appoints New Vice President for Advancement

Patricia “Trish” Jackson, most recently an associate vice president for development at Dartmouth College, became Smith’s vice president for advancement on September 1. A former advancement director at Mount Holyoke College who has led fund-raising efforts in higher education for more than 20 years, Jackson will manage a professional staff and volunteer committees to garner support for Smith from alumnae, friends, corporations and foundations. “I am delighted to return to the Pioneer Valley to join the Smith community,” said Jackson, who succeeds Karin George ’86. “I am particularly excited to have the chance to work with a talented faculty and staff, passionate and involved alumnae and a remarkable leader in Carol Christ.” Jackson earned a bachelor of psychology from Scripps College and a master of business administration from Drucker School of Management at the Claremont Graduate University.

Smith Staff Take on New Roles

President Carol Christ recently appointed Rick Myers, director of budget and financial planning, to the new position of chief planning and budget officer. His new role will allow for a greater emphasis on strategic planning, an area in which the college expects to focus intensively in the coming years. Tamra Bates has been appointed director of the Campus Center; she was formerly the center’s assistant director.

Engineering Accreditation

The Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, Inc. (ABET) recently awarded accreditation to Smith’s pioneering Picker Engineering Program, which was established in 1999 and enrolled the first students in fall 2000. The status is retroactive to include the first two Smith classes that graduated with bachelor of science degrees in engineering, from the nation’s first such program at a women’s college.

The accreditation process provides a structured mechanism to assess and evaluate the quality of academic programs in an effort to help students and parents in making informed choices. In recognition of the importance of accreditation, Smith invited ABET to conduct a program evaluation during the 2004-05 academic year. “Although we expected to receive accreditation, the letter was a joy to read,” said Linda E. Jones, director of the Picker Engineering Program. “It reaffirmed the importance of everything we do in the process of educating students who will go on to make meaningful contributions to society as the leaders of tomorrow.”
Engineering is now one of the most popular majors among entering Smith students. Two new faculty members joined the program this year, and two more will be hired in the near future.

The Five College Path to Buddhist Studies

Students can now earn a Buddhist studies certificate through the Five College Certificate Programs, which provide a directed course of study in various interdisciplinary fields through the resources available at Smith, Mount Holyoke, Amherst and Hampshire colleges and the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Peter Gregory, Jill Ker Conway Professor of Religion and East Asian Studies, explains that the Pioneer Valley of western Massachusetts, in which the Five Colleges are located, is rich with Buddhist groups. “Roughly, within a 20-mile radius of Smith, there are over 40 different Buddhist groups.” Also, according to Five College officials, the area boasts one of the largest concentrations of scholars of Buddhist studies in the United States. Certificate programs are offered in addition to, or in conjunction with, a student’s major.

The Titan Arum, a rare plant also known as the “corpse flower” for its strong odor while flowering, was front-page news in local newspapers as it bloomed in Smith’s Lyman Conservatory for several days in early August. This was the first time the endangered plant has ever flowered in Massachusetts. Photo by Fish/Parham.

Growing Landscape Studies

Thanks to the generous support of Smith alumnae, friends and volunteers, a $1.75 million endowment was established recently for the Landscape Studies Program at Smith, the first liberal arts undergraduate program of its kind in the country. The multidisciplinary program links art, architecture and literary studies with biological sciences, the social sciences and engineering. In its first year as an academic minor, this interdisciplinary study of the environment offers Smith students nearly 50 related courses, a growing number of internships and developing collaborative projects among departments and programs across campus. A national search begins this fall for a full-time faculty member who can further develop the program. According to Anne Leone ’72, professor of French studies and chair of the landscape studies steering committee, the newly established endowment “represents the passionate belief of alumnae, faculty and professionals in the field that Smith is positioned to address these issues better than any place in the United States.”

Did You Know…

The same architectural firm commissioned to design New York’s International Freedom Tower, which will be built on the World Trade Center site, also designed Smith’s own Cutter and Ziskind houses. One of the largest architectural firms in the world, the New York City–based firm of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill created the plans in 1957 for Cutter and Ziskind in the International Style, a modern architectural movement that grew popular in the United States immediately after World War II. Cutter and Ziskind’s style is characterized by geometric and sleek functional lines on a grid pattern and is a distinct departure from the more classical and historical forms of other Smith housing.

Shaping Smith’s Future

What most distinguishes a Smith education? What intellectual abilities should Smith strive to develop in women of the 21st century? As part of Smith’s new strategic planning process, President Carol T. Christ is inviting alumnae to share their thoughts on how the Smith experience influences their lives, work, and values in an effort to learn how we can shape the college’s future so that a Smith education continues to produce generations of remarkable women. In addition to a series of conversations at events over the next 18 months, alumnae can share their ideas at www.smith.edu/future/shaping. In the short time the site has been up, alumnae have already identified several key topics based on the strengths of their education and their later experience in the world. We hope many others will give the college the benefit of their varied experiences.

The French Portrait

A show at the Smith College Museum of Art offers the first United States exploration of the broad scope of French portraiture during the neoclassical era, including painting, drawings, sculpture and miniatures. A painting from the museum’s own collection -- Portrait of a Youth, acquired over 75 years ago and thought to be a work by Théodore Géricault -- inspired the exhibition when the painting was re­attributed to another French painter, Anne-Louis Girodet-Trioson. The show is on view through December 11.

The Plath-Hughes Legacy Continues

For the first time in a single location, original letters, manuscripts and photographs will be displayed from both the Sylvia Plath archive at Smith College and from the Ted Hughes archive at Emory University. The Grolier Club of New York will host the exhibition “No Other Appetite: Sylvia Plath, Ted Hughes and the Blood Jet of Poetry” through November 19. The exhibition, co-curated by Karen Kukil, associate curator of rare books at Smith, and by Emory’s Stephen C. Enniss, also contains personal mementos and notes from the early days of the marriage until well after Sylvia’s death in 1963. For more information visit www.grolierclub.org.

Architecture at Smith Marks Anniversaries

The 2004-05 academic year marked a couple of anniversaries for Smith College architecture classes. Since the introduction in 1904–05 of the first full-fledged course on the history of architecture, Smith has offered such courses for 100 years. In addition to MIT, which is the oldest architectural school in the country, Smith is believed to have continuously taught architecture to women longer than any other institutions in the country. Also of note is the 75-year anniversary for architecture studios, which have been taught here since 1929.

 
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