Jane Chace Carroll ’53
This evening, when we celebrate that which is best about Smith, I want to take the opportunity to recognize an individual whose quiet and yet powerful leadership has, in so many ways, led to our gathering here tonight.
Since 1980, Smith College has bestowed the John M. Greene Award upon those individuals who have rendered service to the college “beyond the call of duty” and who personify the Smith motto, “To virtue, knowledge.”
It is my distinct pleasure to present this award—Smith’s highest recognition of service—to an alumna whose leadership and dedication have marked a period of extraordinary expansion of our campus. I am speaking, of course, of Jane Chace Carroll, class of 1953, trustee emerita, former chair of the buildings and grounds committee of the board, longtime member of the Museum Visiting Committee...and an unequalled friend to Smith College.
Jane’s 10-year service on the Board of Trustees began in 1998. As chair of buildings and grounds, she played a direct and formative role in no fewer than seven major new or renovated buildings that define our beautiful campus today:
- The Campus Center
- The Brown Fine Arts Center
- The Lyman Conservatory renovation
- The Olin Fitness Center
- The Center for Early Childhood Education, at Fort Hill
- Conway House
And of course Ford Hall.
I won’t make Jane take credit for the parking garage nor the temporary engineering building—the so-called Green Monster—although both were realized during her board tenure. Jane has a fine and sophisticated aesthetic sensibility—but she is also capable of great pragmatism.
When I was first appointed to the Smith presidency, I was told that the role of the board of trustees was “to help the president succeed.” I could have no better partner in that effort than Jane. Jane was an ideal board member—engaged, steady, thoughtful, generous as a host and supporter, and always focused on the big picture. When she spoke, it was with clarity and concision; without fanfare, her insights always moved the conversation forward. She has a particularly keen eye for selecting architects, a decision that can bring a lesser board to blows. The campus you see today bears her stamp in innumerable ways.
Jane’s Smith ties are many and deep. Her mother, Beatrice Oenslager Chace ’28, instilled in her a lifelong interest in the fine and performing arts, and in architecture. Her aunt, Eliot Chace Brady, was a member of the class of 1929. Her sister, Eliot Chace Nolen ’54, is a longtime supporter and friend to Smith. Jane’s stepdaughter, Judith Isham Carroll ’74, and daughter-in-law Whitney Ann Fite Clay ’86, are also part of the Smith family. Together, Jane, Eliot, and their brother Malcolm “Kim” Chace share a passion for bringing the arts to the public; they have been described as “among the most knowledgeable and generous contributors in America today.”
In Jane’s 12 years on the Museum Visiting committee, Smith has had the benefit of her deep knowledge of the operations of museums and their cultural roles and significance. In her counsel and her philanthropy she is governed not by ego but by a genuine interest in understanding the needs and goals of an institution and helping to advance them.
I’m pretty sure that Smith is first in Jane’s heart, but we’ve had to share her with other organizations interested in enlightened governance, among them the Rhode Island School of Design and the RISD Museum; the New York City Ballet; the New York Studio School; and the Orthopaedic Scientific Research Foundation. She is a lecturer, docent and member of the executive committee of volunteers at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where she also serves on the visiting committee for modern art. In 2004, the Council for Advancement and Support of Education named Jane a “Distinguished Friend of Education.”
In celebration of her dedicated, wise and enlightened service, to the arts, to higher education, and most of all to Smith, please join me in congratulating John M. Greene Award recipient Jane Chace Carroll.
Cornelia Mendenhall Small ’66
Chair, Board of Trustees
October 16, 2009