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Speeches & Media

We Set Records, Thanks to You

Campaign strengthens Smith’s core purpose: empowering exceptional women

Kathleen McCartney, Smith Alumnae Quarterly, Spring 2017

I write from a place of profound gratitude.

It seems only appropriate to open this special issue—a celebration of the impact and power of our Women for the World campaign—with this sentiment. I am overwhelmed by the generosity of the 37,250 donors who helped us surpass even our boldest expectations.

$486 million.

That is what we raised over the past seven years, thereby breaking Smith’s own fundraising records as well as those of our sister colleges. Ours is the largest and most successful campaign of a women’s college.

Smith is stronger—and its future more secure—because of the unwavering belief that alumnae, parents and friends of our college have in the value of women’s education and the role Smith plays in producing the artists and activists, thinkers and doers, innovators and entrepreneurs, organizers and leaders the world so desperately needs.

Every area of campus has been touched by the campaign. By raising almost $130 million for overall financial aid, we are making sure that Smith remains accessible to outstanding students, regardless of their economic back-ground. Since the campaign’s beginning in 2009, we have awarded close to $400 million in scholarship support. As a college student who relied on financial aid, I am particularly proud of our success in this area. Indeed, it should make all of us proud. Women helping women—it is what Smith has been all about since our beginning.

The curriculum, too, is growing and changing. New courses in Middle East studies, design thinking, data sciences and film studies are advancing our curriculum to meet the interests of today’s women and address areas of importance in today’s world. Our commitment to transforming the liberal arts for the 21st century will ensure that Smith is the best place for any smart, ambitious woman seeking a high-quality education.

In the years to come, one thing that will distinguish Smith is our ability to connect the curriculum to cocurricular activities. In this complex and ever-changing world, a degree alone is not indicative of a well-rounded college graduate. We need to provide students with unique opportunities to complement their classroom work with real-world experiences. From day one of my presidency, I’ve wanted Smith to be home to a women’s leadership program. This campaign—specifically, an anonymous $10 million gift—is allowing us to develop one. I am confident that the program will be a defining element of the Smith experience; importantly, it will be open to all students from the moment they enroll through their senior year.

Beyond these remarkable advancements and achievements, there were so many personal moments throughout the campaign that moved, inspired and motivated me. One, in particular, stands out. During the first summer of my presidency, I had the privilege of meeting with Viola (Vi) Spinelli ’47, a longtime Smith supporter, to thank her for a gift that then-President Carol Christ had finalized with her. When I arrived at Vi’s home, I told her how I was looking forward to thanking her for a transformational gift. She took my hand, held it and said, “No, thank you. Thank you for this philanthropic opportunity. This is my legacy.” A few years later, we lost Vi; however, just as she had hoped, her legacy lives on in the Spinelli Center for Quantitative Learning, which provides resources for students engaged in quantitative work across the curriculum.

This successful campaign is the result of the dedication and hard work of so many, and I am grateful to each and every volunteer, from club members to Reunion chairs and Smith Fund volunteers. I am also grateful to President Emerita Jill Ker Conway and Shelly Lazarus ’68, chair of the board of trustees from 1998 to 2003, for serving as honorary campaign co-chairs. The campaign was conceived under the leadership of President Carol Christ, who worked tirelessly to fund new initiatives, such as the Lewis Global Studies Center. Elizabeth Mugar Eveillard ’69, former chair of the board of trustees, was both a leader and role model in defining what it means to be a woman for the world; it was my great honor to present her with the John M. Greene Award, one of the college’s most prestigious honors, at our campaign celebration on March 4.

I also want to recognize the hard work of the Campaign Steering Committee. Its 12 members, led by chair April Hoxie Foley ’69, were terrific thought partners who rolled up their sleeves and did the work alongside the Smith development team, led by Beth Raffeld, vice president for development. Beth directed the campaign with energy and vision, forging important partnerships on behalf of Smith.

Women for the World: The Campaign for Smith has brought out the very best in our community. It has reminded us all of the good work we do—from inside classrooms and labs to beyond the Grécourt Gates—to empower exceptional women to lead change.

Our work is important. Our work is neverending. As the campaign powerfully demonstrated, Smith College is a vast and diverse community of women helping women. There is nothing we cannot do together.