- Smith in 2020: Innovative But Tradition-Minded
- By John Sippel
- Ruth Bader Ginsburg Receives
First Sophia Smith Award
- WNBA Notes Smith's Role in Women's
- Plath Beyond the Plinth
- Smithellanea: Dodging Flak from Click and Clack
- Fearless in trekking new intellectual realms. Thoroughly international
in its student body, faculty and curriculum. Deeply supportive of social
diversity. Supremely conducive to rigorous, creative thought and the toppling
of walls between academic disciplines. Endlessly resourceful in bringing
a proud tradition and standard of scholarship to bear in exciting new contexts.
The finest liberal arts college in the country.
- Smith College can and should be all of these things a quarter century
from now, according to "Envisioning Our Future," a draft report
prepared by the steering committee for the college's self-study project
called Smith 2020. The project, an offshoot of the preparation done for
the decennial reaccreditation review that Smith is undergoing this fall,
aims to ensure that the college embarks on the next several decades with
full deliberation, strength, and sense of mission. The report is the result
of many months of work by the committee, which was chaired by President
Ruth J. Simmons. It outlines a long list of recommended initiatives drawn
from some 200 ideas submitted by Smith faculty, students and staff.
- Asked what the college should strive to be in the year 2020, the Smith
community responded with a broad range of comments and proposals. The committee
grouped these ideas in a way "that seemed to offer the greatest promise
of relevance and the greatest potential for success."
- The steering committee saw as one of its primary responsibilities the
safeguarding of the "position of enviable strength" it feels
Smith now enjoys. In assessing possible threats to that standing, the group
"could find no present nor imminent danger that fundamentally threatens
the future well-being of the college," and was therefore in the happy
position of being "able to focus its attention on areas of promise
and potential that could be built on the substantial strengths already
- The committee's report includes a number of proposals on faculty development
and campus life, but overwhelmingly concentrates on curriculum. The curriculum
review touches on women in science and technology; Smith's commitment to
international scholarship; new kinds of student internships; cross-discipline
learning; essential skills for the next century; graduate education; and
- Early in this long section the committee urges the college to hone
its ability to rapidly introduce course work in emerging fields, including
some of the interdisciplinary sciences that are beginning to have such
a decisive impact in medicine and elsewhere. The committee also endorses
several dozen curricular initiatives, the most dramatic of which include
a study on the establishment of an undergraduate engineering program at
Smith; new programs to promote scientific, quantitative and computer literacy;
a host of proposals for encouraging more study abroad, more international
students at Smith, and a more consistently international perspective in
curricula; the building of bridges between disciplines by way of an interdisciplinary
institute that would bring together a diverse array of visiting scholars,
public figures, critics, writers, performers and scientists; and a new
endowment to support the growth and greater use of the Sophia Smith Collection.
- The second major section of the report deals with faculty excellence
and breadth. It endorses an enhanced visiting scholars' program, the review
and possible reconfiguration of faculty workloads, and expanded technical
and technological support for teaching and research.
- The report's third and final section deals with Smith as a scholarly
community. It includes proposals on residential life, campus social life,
facilities for nonresident students, seminars for first-year students (see
story, page 8), student business services, spiritual life, athletics and
fitness. It also calls for measures to build student leadership skills
and encourage greater social and educational diversity in campus life.
- The faculty reviewed preliminary drafts of the steering committee's
report in the spring, and this fall will offer specific responses to some
of the report's recommendations. The report will go on to be evaluated
by appropriate campus committees and the board of trustees.
- "The goal of this report was to outline broadly the areas which,
taken together, the committee thought offered the greatest promise to enhance
the overall quality of education offered at Smith," the steering committee
notes in its conclusion. "However, given the breadth of these endeavors,
this report can only serve to introduce and outline the rich opportunities
that lie ahead."