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Good News to Share, July 21, 2020

Dear students, staff and faculty:

Despite the many challenges all around us, there is good news to share at Smith. I write now to highlight five recent points of pride.

First, I want to share an update about the library construction. Those of you who visit our campus webcams may have noticed the significant progress on the Neilson Library project. We continue to work toward a completion date in April 2021. One of the most striking elements of Maya Lin’s design is an expansion of views from nearly every space in the building. In the new south addition alone, library users will enjoy a 270-degree view onto campus and the Holyoke Range.

I am thrilled to share some sneak peeks of the library below. As you will see, this building will be a work of art.

Neilson Library under construction

Side view of Neilson Library

Side view of Neilson Library

Overhead view of Neilson Library

Second, I am very grateful to our alums and other friends of the college. Their generosity this year—including $13.7 million in new endowed financial aid funds—helped sustain our annual financial aid budget: this year, nearly $82 million. I am also pleased to share that we received a $10 million gift from the Tammis Day Foundation in honor of Tammis Day AC ’05 and Annie Boutelle, founding director of the Smith College Poetry Center. The gift creates a lasting endowment for the newly renamed Smith College Boutelle-Day Poetry Center, endows a professorship in poetry and provides scholarship aid support for Ada Comstock scholars.

Additionally, more than 700 alums stepped up with gifts to the Emergency Aid for Students Fund totalling $250,000. These funds have and will continue to be directed to those students impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Our alums’ generosity extends beyond philanthropy. The Smith network is one of the most powerful networks in the world, and this year is no exception. When we asked alums to help provide career opportunities for the class of 2020, they answered in force. To date, we have funded more than 100 Praxis internships for the class of 2020 through a partnership between the Office of Alumnae Relations and the Lazarus Center for Career Development. Smithies, as they always have, answered the call on behalf of our students.

Third, I want to thank our juniors and seniors for a proposal that I’m delighted to implement. During our July 9 webinar for current students and families, several students who will not be on campus this fall asked if one of the most joyful Smith experiences could have a spring appearance as well this year. After all, what’s better than having one Mountain Day? Having two Mountain Days! I promise to choose a beautiful day in the fall and in the spring.

Fourth, as you may know from numerous stories in the national news, a team from Smith recently won the CoVent-19 Challenge, organized by anesthesiology residents at Massachusetts General Hospital. More than 200 teams across the country participated in the challenge to design and build a rapidly deployable ventilator—a machine that could save lives and possibly alter the course of the pandemic.

Fifth, I’d like to share a video that Baishakhi Taylor, our new dean of the college and vice president for campus life, recorded as an introduction to the community. Baishakhi started her position on July 1, and I’m thrilled to welcome her as a partner on my Cabinet.

Even in challenging times, Smith community members can find something to celebrate. Thank you to everyone for helping to make this a very good year in so many ways, despite the serious challenges. I wish you all good health this summer.

Warm regards,

Kathleen McCartney