One of Smith’s most enduring and exuberant traditions, Rally Day celebrates the power of the Smith community and the remarkable contributions Smith alums have made to our world. The day is highlighted by a festive all-college gathering at which distinguished alums are awarded Smith College Medals by the president. It is also the first time seniors wear their graduation regalia, often topped with creative hats, as they look ahead to life beyond the Grécourt Gates.
Meet the 2024 Medalists
A groundbreaking attorney, a renowned psychologist who studies the consequences of objectification, a leading climate scientist, and a change-making human rights advocate will all receive the prestigious Smith College Medal at next year’s Rally Day ceremony.
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.
Following Smith College tradition, graduating students wear academic regalia for the first time at Rally Day, three months before Commencement. For Commencement, graduating seniors should come dressed in their full regalia.
The regalia ordering site will be available in coming weeks and a notice will be sent out when available.
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 email@example.com.
Rally Day 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.