An open letter from students (PDF) was conveyed to President Kathleen McCartney by Smith alum Veronica Hernandez ’13. President McCartney sent the following response on June 2.


Dear Veronica,

Thank you for conveying the recent open letter from a group of students and alumnae about Christine Lagarde’s selection and withdrawal as Smith’s commencement speaker. I trust you will share this response with those who signed it.

Over the last several weeks, I have received hundreds of messages from alumnae, parents, faculty, staff and students on this topic, and I am grateful to all who shared their perspectives. Their views, like yours, have informed mine. Members of our community represented a range of strongly held beliefs, which is hardly surprising; reasonable people disagree, especially in a community like ours that values diversity of thought. For this reason, I decided to address this topic in my next Smith Alumnae Quarterly column. As you may know, Ruth Simmons addressed this topic in her commencement address.

Many people have suggested to me that we use next year to have a series of discussions about dealing with differences in thought, and the role of argument, persuasion, debate and protest, in the context of maintaining a strong community. I look forward to working with members of our community on this initiative.


Kathleen McCartney