Skip to main content

Smith College Receives Largest Gift in Its History, October 7, 2020

Dear students, faculty, staff and alums:

I write with extraordinary news.

Earlier this month, an alumna who wishes to remain anonymous made a transformational gift of $50 million to Smith College through a private foundation. This is the largest gift from an individual donor in Smith’s history. I could not be more grateful for this alumna’s generosity, vision and belief in the power of a Smith education.

This remarkable gift to our endowment will support two critical priorities for Smith. The alumna has designated $40 million for student financial aid and $10 million to re-envision our career development programs. Her investment in the college will allow us to make a giant stride in equalizing the Smith experience for students from low- and middle-income backgrounds.

In making her gift, the alumna shared with me, “Smith had a meaningful impact on my life, both personally and professionally, and I feel an obligation to pay it back.”

In my inaugural address to the Smith community, I quoted the sociologist and activist W.E.B. Du Bois: “Of all the civil rights for which the world has struggled … the right to learn is undoubtedly the most fundamental.” We can be proud that education access has been a core value of Smith College since its inception. 

Importantly, this gift brings us closer to fulfilling our dream of “need-blind” admissions— that is, the ability to admit qualified students without regard to family circumstances. It is my deepest wish that this alumna’s generosity will inspire others to help the college reach this goal. Please join me in gratitude as we, the Smith community, celebrate the life-changing opportunities this gift will provide for generations to come. 


Kathleen McCartney