Expanding access through financial aid is the principal goal of Women for the World: The Campaign for Smith, announced Oct. 13 during a celebration of women’s global leadership. The gala event drew more than 300 alumnae leaders back to campus from positions around the world.
NORTHAMPTON, Mass. — On Saturday, Oct. 13, Smith College announced an ambitious $450 million campaign titled “Women for the World: The Campaign for Smith,” an initiative with the critical goal of increasing access to a Smith education through financial aid.
“With a larger financial aid endowment, we can lower the economic barriers to higher education for middle- and low-income families from around the world,” said Elizabeth Mugar Eveillard, class of 1969, chair of the college’s board of trustees. “That’s a critical step toward making Smith an even more global and diverse campus — and community — than it is today.”
By increasing its endowed financial aid funds by $200 million, the college can invest an additional $10 million annually in direct assistance to students and families. Fifty-seven percent of Smith’s first-year class receives need-based aid, with an average award of $33,000. Twenty-two percent of Smith students are eligible to receive federal Pell grants, making the college a consistently celebrated leader in low-income and first-generation access to education.
“Through more competitive financial aid packages, we can lessen the burden on middle-class families, and recruit greater numbers of outstanding students, both international and domestic,” explained Smith President Carol T. Christ.
Joining Eveillard and Christ on stage for the announcement were honorary campaign co-chairs Jill Ker Conway, who served as Smith’s president from 1975 to 1985, and Rochelle “Shelly” Braff Lazarus, Smith class of 1968, chairman emeritus of Ogilvy & Mather and former chair of the Smith board. Mary Maples Dunn, who served as Smith’s president from 1985–1995, toasted the campaign’s success at the gala, saying, “This is a world that needs the leadership of women and this is what Smith undertakes. So go Smith and go Smithies!”
Alumnae who attended Smith during Conway’s presidency accepted a challenge to raise $1 million for international student aid over the next five months, to be matched two-to-one by Joan Fletcher Lane ’49 who served as board chair during part of Conway’s presidency. The gift recognizes Conway’s pioneering appointment as Smith’s first female president, her worldwide work on behalf of girls and women, and her vital role in expanding Smith’s Ada Comstock Scholars program which enables women beyond the traditional college age to complete their degrees.
Eveillard noted that $200 million has already been raised toward the campaign goal during the leadership or quiet phase, which began July 1, 2009.
Throughout the evening, speakers noted that “Women for the World” underscores the importance that Smith places on meeting the global need for leadership.
“Talented young women are increasingly recognized as the hope of their nations, organizations and families,” said Christ. “It’s a growing consensus among businesses, governments and NGOs around the world that one simple solution to some of our greatest challenges is to educate more young women and empower them to lead change.”
Smith enrolls students from every U.S. state and 64 other countries. Its 47,000 alumnae live and work in every U.S. state and more than 100 countries. Smith is a top producer of Fulbright Fellows; second in the nation among baccalaureate institutions in the number of students studying abroad for a full year; and host to the only accredited engineering program at a U.S. women’s college.
Eveillard noted that a focus on access honors Smith College’s founder, Sophia Smith, who wished for women to have educational opportunities comparable to those offered to men.
“In launching this campaign, we are honoring Sophia Smith and all those trustees, alumnae, parents and volunteers who, over the years, have followed in her footsteps and provided the means for this college to thrive,” she said.
In addition to financial aid, the campaign will focus on a range of investments under the broad theme of reimagining the liberal arts. Campaign funds will support named faculty positions, curricular and research funds, expanded internships in the U.S. and abroad, enhanced opportunities for language study, environmental education, leadership programming, and development of the college’s unique collections and resources, including the Smith College Museum of Art.
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