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Our Donors & Their Impact

Students studying in the Ford Hall atrium

Smith donors support the campus in many ways. Here’s how alumnae, parents, students and other friends are strengthening the college.


Why I Give

Nealie Small

“When I learned of the plan to reimagine Neilson, I was immediately excited. Modern libraries are changing so quickly. Students study differently; faculty conduct research in different ways than they did 10 or 20 years ago; there are greater expectations of what a contemporary library should provide for the community. This renovation of Neilson gives us an incredible opportunity to think big and to create a Neilson that celebrates the power of what Smith does best: educate women for leadership.”

Cornelia (Nealie) Mendenhall Small ’66 (left) with Madeleine Fackler '80, Co-Chairs, President’s Library Roundtable

Nealie Small


Former Athlete Helps Build Smith Athletics Program

Lisa Black ’81 learned the importance of investment early on. Growing up, she and her siblings were given shares of stock by their parents and grandparents, but the “real gift”, she says, was that “we learned about investments and the importance of giving back.” Recently she has invested in Smith College through a generous gift establishing the Smith Athletics Program Endowment Fund.

Steady Giving to the Smith Fund Pays Off for Everyone

“Smith has provided me with lifelong friendships. We are all connected and cherish the experiences we shared at Smith and beyond. In fact, during my 15-year reunion in May 2017, my classmates elected me to serve as class president,” says N’Goundo Magassa ’02.

"Since I am the first person in my family to go to college and I received financial assistance to attend Smith, I truly believe it is important that I contribute to the fundraising efforts and help the college support other students who are attending Smith. This is what inspires me to give," she says.

Bequest Provides Scholarships for Generations to Come

As a philosophy major, Elissa (Lisa) Getto ’69 had no idea that her education was preparing her for a rich series of careers as an educator, musician and ultimately president of such renowned performing arts centers as Florida’s Ruth Eckerd Hall; Stamford, Connecticut’s, Palace Theater; and Virginia’s Wolf Trap.

Now Lisa is giving back by leaving a bequest to the college in her estate.

New Scholarship Supports Refugee Students

In the early 1940s, Marianne Olds ’47 spent nearly a year moving with her father from port to port across Europe trying to escape Nazi rule. She arrived as a student at Smith in 1943, accepted as part of the college’s refugee admission program.

Now, seven decades later, Jacqueline Olds is celebrating her mother’s legacy with the establishment of the Marianne Ejier Olds ’47 Scholarship Fund, which will support the education of students who are U.S. permanent residents with refugee or asylum status, undocumented students and international students at Smith.

A Visionary Gift for Leadership

A visionary $10 million gift from Margaret Wurtele ’67 and her late husband Angus Wurtele is enabling Smith College to create the Wurtele Center for Leadership.

The new center unites several existing programs—the Center for Work and Life, the Phoebe Reese Lewis Leadership Program and the BOLD Scholars—under a single umbrella.

When fully realized, the Wurtele Center will offer courses, workshops, a speaker series and a multi-year program called the Wurtele Fellows.

Jill Ker Conway Center Sparks Innovation, Entrepreneurship

A new center with a familiar Smith College name greeted students returning to campus this fall. Named for Smith’s first woman president, the Jill Ker Conway Innovation & Entrepreneurship Center builds on the great work done over the past 15 years through Smith’s successful Center for Women and Financial Independence.

President Kathleen McCartney said she was delighted that an anonymous donor who provided a $5 million gift for the center wanted the effort to bear Jill Ker Conway’s name and inspire others.

A Special Building On Campus Gets a Makeover

An iconic view of the Smith campus is about to get even better.

Renovations under way at the Crew House dance studio on the banks of Paradise Pond will open up the vista and make the building accessible to all members of the college community.

The Crew House project was supported by a $1 million gift from Sharonjean Moser Leeds ’67 and her husband Rick, in honor of her 50th reunion this spring.

Smith’s Successful Campaign: $486 Million is Largest Ever for Women’s College

Smith College President Kathleen McCartney has announced the successful culmination of Smith’s Women for the World campaign, which raised $486 million for the college’s key priorities.

The $486 million total represents the largest and most successful campaign ever undertaken by a women’s college.

“At its heart, this campaign was all about women—their education, their leadership, their history and their future,” said McCartney.

A New Name, New Resources: The Jandon Center for Community Engagement

Jane Grossman Cecil ’50 was a tireless advocate for education. A history major at Smith, she became a leading philanthropist, particularly interested, she once said, in “programs that create action and solve society’s challenges related to education.”

With her husband, Don, a retired investment company executive, Cecil spent decades working to expand educational and cultural opportunities for young people. Married for 62 years, the Cecils established the Jandon Scholars Program, which in 16 years already has helped more than 200 students from Westchester County achieve their college dreams.

When Jane Grossman Cecil died last summer following a short illness, her husband decided to honor her memory with a $3.5-million gift to Smith’s Center for Community Collaborations.