Center for Work and Life Renamed for Notable Alumna
NORTHAMPTON, Mass.— A new $5 million gift to the Smith College Center for Work and Life from alumna Margaret Von Blon Wurtele and her husband, Angus, provides vital support for the center’s mission and programming, aimed toward helping students think purposefully about their own definitions of a rewarding life.
With that generous support in mind, the college has renamed the Wurtele Center for Work and Life this month, honoring Margaret Wurtele, a member of the Class of 1967, and her husband. The couple has historical ties to Smith College. Not only is Margaret an alumna, but both she and her husband are children of alumnae, and they have a daughter who attended the college.
The Wurteles’ gift to the center, which began just three years ago, values the center’s programming around the notion that a "life lived well" is not necessarily all about doing academic work or building a high-powered career. Instead, it is about making purposeful choices, as often as possible, at the junctures and cross-points of life and work.
The center’s focus resonates with Margaret Wurtele, author of two books on the theme of critically considering life paths. “Touching the Edge: A Mother’s Spiritual Path from Loss to Life” and “Taking Root: A Spiritual Memoir” are among her titles.
“Reflection intensifies experience, gives it depth and resonance,” Wurtele wrote. “It lifts the raw material of our lives briefly out of time and space, holds it in suspension, and exposes it to a kind of eternal light.”
Programming of the Wurtele Center for Work and Life includes “Passport to Life at Smith” and “Passport to Life after Smith,” workshops on practical skills associated with negotiating both transitions. Throughout the year, the center brings speakers, panels and workshops to campus. This year, Smith collaborated with Mount Holyoke College to offer a day-long workshop on negotiating skills. And, a popular returning speaker, educator and author Rachel Simmons, conducts the workshop “Leadership for Rebels.”
The Wurteles divide their time between homes in Wayzata, Minn., and St. Helena, Calif.