commencementdahnablackEnergy. Intellectual power. Discipline. Resilience.

Those were the words used by college administrators in describing President Christ and her Smith tenure during a fireside chat in April, hosted by the Student Government Association (SGA).

I would add a few words to the list: humanity, compassion, consideration, and patience.

I was given the opportunity to work directly with President Christ on matters of college policy in my role as SGA president, and saw firsthand her dedication to the student body, her belief in the college’s mission, and always, her willingness to go the extra mile for Smith and its students.

Until I worked with President Christ, I took for granted the way our college functions—the way students are respected and given the tools to make the Smith community their own. She brought a wealth of knowledge and experience to her presidency that she was always willing to share with students. Through my interactions with other students at similar institutions, I realized that the opportunity for students to meet regularly with their college president—as we are invited to do during her weekly open hours—is unique. President Christ fostered an environment on campus in which the students have a voice. In her absence, she sought administrative staff members to meet with us, who share her vision for open dialogue and a strong community.

Last fall, when President Christ heard students were organizing around an issue related to access to education for underrepresented students, she immediately offered her support. She drafted an official email outlining the college’s policy surrounding the issue and highlighted her previous efforts to support underrepresented students seeking an education at Smith. I was amazed by her willingness to help a group of students mobilizing to change college policy, and by her genuine interest in supporting the extramural activities of students to foster community on our campus.

President Christ has represented us well. Many on campus are familiar with the initiatives she promoted during her time here, culminating in the Women for the World Campaign and an inspiring commitment to educating women worldwide. She has spoken on many occasions about the importance of women’s leadership, and has been honored by other institutions for her efforts to increase the role of women in STEM education. However, she does not receive enough recognition for representing the model of leadership she promotes.

I observed President Christ’s leadership style in many meetings regarding college policy, and I learned a lot from her. She leads with a hopeful, calm, and pleasant demeanor. Whether it is in a meeting with the Board of Trustees, the faculty, or students, President Christ treats everyone with respect and honors their opinion. Even during difficult times, President Christ remembers to ask about others’ well-being, and can lighten the darkest of rooms with her humor.

It has been an honor to work with President Christ this year. I am grateful to her for the work she has done to better our community during her tenure. She was an incredible role model for me in my capacity as president of the Student Government Association, and I truly admire her.

Thank you, President Christ.