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Rally Day

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A Smith tradition since 1876, when it commemorated the birthday of George Washington, Rally Day is highlighted by a festive all-college gathering at which distinguished alumnae are awarded Smith College Medals by the president.

Rally Day 2022

This year’s honorees will be celebrated at Rally Day on Thursday, February 24, 2022. Event details will be posted closer to the date. Afternoon classes are canceled for Rally Day, which marks the first time seniors publicly wear their graduation gowns—along with inventive hats—in keeping with the day’s spirit of Smith pride.

Meet the 2022 Medalists

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Jane Lakes Harman ’66

Global security expert; former U.S. Representative
Jane Harman, distinguished fellow and president emerita of the Wilson Center, is an internationally recognized authority on U.S. and global security issues, foreign relations and lawmaking. Raised in Los Angeles and a public-school graduate, she earned her graduate degree from Harvard Law School and went on to become a nine-term member of Congress, serving for decades on the major security committees in the House of Representatives. Drawing upon a career that has included service as President Carter’s Secretary of the Cabinet and hundreds of diplomatic missions to foreign countries, Harman has held posts on and received awards from nearly a dozen governmental and non-governmental advisory boards and commissions. Harman resigned from Congress in February 2011 to join the Woodrow Wilson Center as its first female director, president and CEO. After leading the Wilson Center for a decade, she retired from that position this past February. Harman is the author of Insanity Defense: Why Our Failure to Confront Hard National Security Problems Makes Us Less Safe, published in May 2021 by St. Martin’s Press. Harman received an honorary degree from Smith in 1994.

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S. Mona Ghosh Sinha ’88

Advocate for gender equality
Mona Ghosh Sinha is a champion for gender equality in business, politics and society. Originally from Kolkata, India, she has parlayed a career in the corporate world to leverage business tools and build sustainable social justice organizations that uplift women’s leadership. Founder of the Feminist Circle Fund and the Asian Women’s Leadership University, Sinha is the board chair of Women Moving Millions and of the ERA Coalition Fund for Women’s Equality. She is an executive producer of “Disclosure,” a documentary film on trans rights. With a focus on strategic planning and governance, she serves on the founding boards of the Smithsonian Women’s American History Museum and the Center for High Impact Philanthropy at the University of Pennsylvania, and is on the advisory boards of Apne Aap International, the Museum of Natural History, Columbia Business School Tamer Center and the Columbia School of Public Health Global Mental Health initiative. A trustee emerita of Smith, she was vice chair of the board of trustees and co-led the $486-million Women for the World campaign. Sinha has been widely honored for her vision and leadership: among others, Columbia Business School—her graduate school alma mater—has recognized her with the Horton Award for Excellence in Social Enterprise.

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Deborah Archer ’93

Civil rights leader; president, American Civil Liberties Union

Deborah N. Archer is president of the American Civil Liberties Union and a leading expert in civil rights, civil liberties and racial justice. A professor of clinical law and co-faculty director of the Center on Race, Inequality and the Law at NYU School of Law, she is an award-winning teacher and legal scholar whose articles have appeared in leading law reviews. Archer is a graduate of Yale Law School, where she was awarded the Charles G. Albom Prize. She previously worked as an attorney with the ACLU and the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc., where she litigated in the areas of voting rights, employment discrimination and school desegregation. A former chair of the American Association of Law Schools’ Section on Civil Rights and the Section on Minority Groups, she previously served as chair of the New York City Civilian Complaint Review Board, the nation’s oldest and largest police oversight agency. Archer has been widely honored by community organizations and legal institutions, including Yale Law School, Columbia Law School and the American Association of Law Schools. 

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Jessie Banhazl ’06

Entrepreneur; founder, Green City Growers

Jessie Banhazl is the founder of Green City Growers, a mission-driven urban farming company transforming underused spaces into biodiverse and productive landscapes. After graduating from Smith with degrees in sociology and studio art, she moved to New York City to begin a career in reality television production. Disillusioned with the entertainment industry, she moved back to Boston in 2008 to establish and run GCG. “I wanted to do work that would have a positive impact on the world,” she has said. Green City Growers re-awakened her passion for food and introduced her to the importance of sustainable farming. In 2019, Banhazl was an agriculture fellow with the Eisenhower Fellowships, traveling throughout Europe to connect with a global network of dynamic change agents committed to creating a more just, peaceful and prosperous world. Green City Growers was acquired in 2021. Banhazl continues to support the company in an advisory capacity. She currently resides in Portland, Maine, and is gearing up to provide technical support to local entrepreneurs with a focus on social impact.



Medal Committee 2021–22

  • Linda Smith Charles ’74, chair
  • Lisa Ilka Abrams ’90
  • Dale Robinson Anglin ’86
  • Imani (Darden) Missouri ’08
  • Nancy Fenn Dietz ’66
  • Keya Koul ’96
  • Patricia Friedman Ribakoff ’80, Board of Trustees representative
  • Dior Vargas ’09
  • Denise Wingate Materre '74, VP for Alumnae Relations
  • Alexandra Keller, Professor of Film & Media Studies and Director of the Kahn Institute
  • Amy Holich Moscaritolo AC’05, Office of Alumnae Relations, ex officio

Awards

Faculty Teaching Awards

Given annually by the Student Government Association, the Faculty Teaching Award recognizes and rewards distinction in teaching and professors’ ability to connect to students, both in and outside of the classroom. The award was established more than 20 years ago as a way for students to thank educators for their support, encouragement and inspiration. Each year students are encouraged to submit nominations to the SGA Curriculum Committee through written and other creative forms of expression.

The Elizabeth B. Wyandt Gavel Award

The Elizabeth B. Wyandt Gavel Award is given annually to Smith staff members “who have given extraordinarily of themselves to the Smith College community as a whole.” Established in 1984, the Wyandt Gavel Award is administered by the Student Government Association, which solicits nominations from students.


Academic Regalia

Following Smith College tradition, graduating students wear academic regalia for the first time at Rally Day, three months before Commencement. A cap, gown, hood and tassel can be purchased for $60 at the Smith College Bookstore; the full amount is due at the time of purchase.

Graduating students are encouraged to purchase regalia before Rally Day. Please call the Smith College Bookstore at 413-585-4140 to order or visit the bookstore website

Those receiving financial aid have the option of participating in the Regalia Loan Program lottery offered through the Student Government Association. All students will be invited to enter the lottery in January and will be notified in early February as to whether they can receive regalia through this program. Only students who receive Smith aid and are verified through Student Financial Services are eligible to enter the lottery. Questions regarding this program should be directed to the SGA office at sga@smith.edu. Loaned regalia must be returned to the SGA Office, Campus Center 106.


Rally Day Traditions and History

The Smith College Medal has been awarded to outstanding alumnae at Rally Day since 1973. The medalists have become an important part of the program, speaking prior to convocation in classes and afterward in conversations with students.

The origins of Rally Day can be traced to a series of annual celebrations of George Washington’s birthday, the first of which was held at Smith College in February 1876. These celebrations evolved from social dinners or receptions into daylong college events. The addition of a “rally” to the day in 1894 was eventually reflected in the name Rally Day, first used in 1906. The celebration is still held annually in February but has evolved from a patriotic commemoration to a convocation.

Over the years, students have sponsored and participated in various activities: rallies, debates, basketball rivalries, dramatic presentations, singing and dancing (at first only square dancing was allowed; the waltz was introduced 20 years later).

The current tradition of sponsoring an event to benefit a charity began in 1918 when the Rally Day Show was held to raise funds for the Smith College Relief Unit serving in World War I France. It was not until 1943 that a woman—Denise H. Davey, vice chair of the Fighting French Relief Committee—was invited to speak at the commemoration exercises. For several years, the president has chosen Rally Day to announce the upcoming commencement speaker.

Dress at Rally Day has evolved as well. In 1944, the senior class began wearing its graduation caps and gowns to the convocation. The day still marks the first time the seniors publicly wear their gowns. In recent years, however, the caps have been replaced by inventive hats of the students’ choosing (and sometimes of their own making), in keeping with the “rallying” and spirited nature of the day.