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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.
Anne Angen Gershon ’60
Infectious disease specialist
Anne Gershon, M.D., has been professor of pediatrics at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons since 1986, conducting research on epidemiology, diagnosis, immunology, latency, prevention and treatment of varicella and zoster. Her studies on the safety and efficacy of the varicella vaccine were critical to the vaccine’s licensure in the U.S. A member of several significant committees—including the Committee on Infectious Diseases of the American Academy of Pediatrics (“Red Book” Committee) and the Committee on Immunization Practices of the Centers for Disease Control—Gershon served as president of Infectious Diseases Society of America in 2008–09. The author of more than 350 publications and editor of 14 books, she has received many professional awards, including the Scientific Achievement Award of the Varicella-Zoster Research Foundation and the Gold Medal Award from the Sabin Vaccine Institute for VZV research in 2013. Gershon received an honorary degree from Smith in 1993.
Mitsuru ‘Claire’ Chino ’88
President and CEO of ITOCHU International Inc. and managing executive officer of ITOCHU Corporation
The youngest and first female executive officer of any major Japanese trading company, Mitsuru “Claire” Chino leads ITOCHU International Inc., the North American flagship of ITOCHU Corporation, a leading trading company. Chino joined the Fortune Global 500 company in 2000 and has been a champion for women’s causes there; among her achievements, she helped to start a corporate diversity program within ITOCHU in 2004. Prior to joining ITOCHU, she was a partner at an international law firm. Chino has been widely honored for her work: the World Economic Forum named her a Young Global Leader, Yale University named her a Yale World Fellow, and she has received awards from Asia Society and the U.S. Japan Leadership Program. In 2018, she received the eighth annual Warren M. Christopher International Lawyer of the Year Award from the California Lawyers Association. She earned her J. D. degree at Cornell Law School, where she serves on the advisory board.
Clare Coleman ’92
Family planning and reproductive health leader
Since 2009, Clare Coleman has been president & CEO of National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association, a membership organization for health providers and administrators. She is the first NFPRHA executive leader with a direct service delivery background, along with substantial expertise in policy; she previously served as CEO of Planned Parenthood Mid-Hudson Valley (N.Y.) and worked for members of the U.S. House of Representatives, including Rep. Nita Lowey and Sen. Chuck Schumer. In addition to her decade-plus on the Hill, Coleman was the lead lobbyist for Planned Parenthood Federation during the abortion-ban fights in the 1990s. She also directed a federal research project on the public health impact of terrorist attacks and other catastrophes for the New York University School of Medicine.
Kimberly Drew ’12
Writer, curator and activist
Writer, curator and activist Kimberly Drew first experienced the art world as an intern for Thelma Golden ’87 at The Studio Museum in Harlem. Her time there inspired her to start the Tumblr blog Black Contemporary Art, sparking her interest in social media. Drew’s writing has appeared in Vanity Fair, Vogue, Teen Vogue and Elle. She is the author of international bestseller This Is What I Know About Art and an upcoming book, Black Futures, which she is co-editing with Jenna Wortham. Drew is @museummammy on Instagram and Twitter.
Medal Committee 2019–20
- Linda Smith Charles ’74, chair
- Lisa Ilka Abrams ’90
- Dale Robinson Anglin ’86
- Imani Darden ’08
- Nancy Fenn Dietz ’66
- Keya Koul ’96
- Patricia Friedman Ribakaff ’80, Board of Trustees representative
- Dior Vargas ’09
- Denise Wingate Materre '74, VP for Alumnae Relations
- Andrea Hairston ’74, Louise Wolff Kahn Professor of Theatre and Professor of Africana Studies, faculty representative
- Stacie Hagenbaugh, Director, Lazarus Center for Career Development, ex officio
- Amy Holich Moscaritolo AC’05, Office of Alumnae Relations, ex officio
Faculty Teaching Awards
These awards are given annually by the Student Government Association to faculty members to honor their dedication to excellent teaching. The award was established 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 spirit of the Faculty Teaching Award is to recognize and reward distinction in teaching and professors’ ability to connect to students, both in and outside of the classroom.
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.
Following Smith College tradition, seniors 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, starting February 1, 2021; the full amount is due at the time of purchase.
Seniors are encouraged to purchase regalia before Rally Day, held virtually this year on February 18, 2021. Please call the Smith College Bookstore at 413-585-4140 to order or visit the bookstore website. Students can purchase regalia in-store when it is open in accordance with Smith’s COVID plan. The store can ship regalia to students living off campus.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.