November 7, 2014
Dear Students, Faculty, Staff, Parents and Alumnae:
Smith College was founded in 1875 to provide women an education equal in quality and rigor to that available to men. This mission is at the core of our work today and remains as vital as when Sophia Smith endowed the college that bears her name.
Along with many of its peers, Smith is studying the question of what it means to be a woman—and a women’s college—at a time when concepts of gender are evolving. These questions have a particular resonance for institutions like Smith that were founded in the context of binary—female and male—definitions of gender. In recent months, Mills, Mount Holyoke and Simmons colleges have announced new admission policies welcoming applications from students with a range of gender identities. Other women’s colleges are actively examining the issue.
The college is forming an Admission Policy Study Group, comprising faculty, students, staff and alumnae, to review Smith’s admission policy. Our current policy requires that the application and supporting documents from each prospective student consistently reflect her identity as a woman. The full policy can be found at www.smith.edu/diversity/gender.php.
Over the course of this academic year, the study group, which will be co-chaired by Daphne Lamothe, associate professor of Afro-American studies, and Audrey Smith, vice president for enrollment, will be consulting experts and research in relevant fields and seeking input from individuals and groups in the Smith community. Members of the Smith community are encouraged to share their perspectives with the study group via this web form. The study group will make a recommendation to the Board of Admission and to the faculty.
Given the centrality of this issue to Smith’s mission, and the questions raised about what it means to be a women’s college today, the Board of Trustees is studying the topic carefully, in parallel with and informed by the campus conversations as well as the perspectives of alumnae, parents and friends of Smith around the world. Ultimately, the board will decide any change in admission policy.
We take up this important work steadfast in Smith’s mission and history as a women’s college, resolute in the college’s core values of equity and empowerment for women. Throughout, we are committed to a thoughtful, inclusive study process that weighs the voices and views of all members of the Smith community.
Elizabeth Eveillard ’69
Chair, Board of Trustees