April 22, 2010
Dear Students, Faculty and Staff:
Last year, I appointed a study group to review the admission context and academic policies of the Ada Comstock Scholars Program, one of Smith’s most celebrated programs and a hallmark of the college’s commitment to offering high quality liberal arts education to women of diverse backgrounds.
The impetus for the review was a notable change in enrollment patterns, fueled in large part by growth in the educational opportunities available to women of all ages, resulting in a decline in applications to programs for returning students at residential liberal arts colleges for women, as well as dramatic shifts in the financial aid landscape. Throughout the program’s 35-year history, it has had widely varied enrollments, from 33 to more than 400, with numbers linked strongly to the availability of financial aid.
The members of the study group -- three faculty members, two Ada Comstock Scholars, three administrators -- began their work in the spring of 2009, meeting with many individuals and groups and seeking extensive input from the Ada community, including Adas with children. I am very appreciative of their work, and for the opportunity to share their extremely thoughtful report with you. You can read the full document at www.smith.edu/classdeans/ada.
The recommendations of the study group were unanimous. They focus in three areas:
Adas currently enrolled at Smith will continue under the current policies and requirements. The study group’s academic recommendations will be forwarded to the Committee on Academic Priorities and other relevant committees for their review next year.
Since the inception of the Ada Comstock Scholars Program, Adas have played an important role at Smith and will continue to do so in the future. The program offers a remarkable opportunity to live and learn in the context of high-achieving women, exceptional faculty, and extraordinary academic resources. This report marks an important milestone in affirming the continued strength, distinction, and centrality of the Ada Comstock Scholars Program to the Smith experience.
Carol T. Christ