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Adas and Their Children Will Soon Have a New Place to Call Home

By Kristen Cole

This year the Ada Comstock Scholars Program celebrates more than just its 30th anniversary. At the end of November, construction began on a new residence hall designed to accommodate Ada Comstock students with children.

Located behind Talbot House on Prospect Street, the 10-unit building will feature two-bedroom apartments and a central gathering space that overlooks a playground. It was designed with suggestions from women enrolled in the program for nontraditional-aged students.

“This is a very important step for the program,” says Erika Laquer, dean of the Ada Comstock Program. “And for the women who uproot their lives to come here.”

More than half the Ada Comstock Scholars reside close enough to campus to commute, and the rest move to the area and remain here year-round while completing their degrees, says Laquer.


Smith expects construction on the new 11,000-square-foot building to be completed by early summer, allowing Ada Comstock Scholars and their families time to settle in before the start of the academic year.

Designed by Tom Douglas of Northampton and built by Marois Construction of South Hadley, the new housing will feature triple-pane windows and heavily insulated walls for energy efficiency.

The project allows the former Ada Comstock residence at 36 Bedford Terrace to be sold for development as housing to replace the city’s rental stock, part of the college’s commitment to replace units being removed for the new building for the sciences and engineering.

Since its inception 30 years ago, the Ada Comstock Scholars Program has grown from 33 students to an enrollment of more than 230 and has served as a model for similar programs at institutions around the country.



The Ada Comstock Scholars Program was initiated on a trial basis and without a formal title in 1968. In 1974, the college approved a plan that would make the program permanent. Former Smith President Thomas C. Mendenhall suggested that the program be named for 1897 Smith alumna Ada Comstock, who was dean and professor of English at Smith and went on to become dean and later president of Radcliffe. The new Ada Comstock program was established before Jill Ker Conway became Smith’s president in July 1975; however, she later became one of the program’s most ardent supporters.

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