On March 6, the Smith College Board of Trustees awarded Eric Reeves, professor of English language and literature, an honorary degree for his tireless efforts to bring attention to the genocide in Darfur. For more than a decade, Reeves has integrated advocacy with his academic work, often taking unpaid leaves to visit Sudan and write about the human suffering he witnessed. Samantha Power, a genocide expert at Harvard, once told USA Today, “Not a single person in the world has done as much for Darfur as Eric Reeves.” Prior to the honorary degree ceremony, Rebecca Hamilton, a representative from the International Criminal Court, paid tribute to Reeves, saying, “All of us in the advocacy community are more effective, smarter, and better advocates because of him.” For his part, Reeves, who has been on the Smith faculty for 28 years, said the degree holds special meaning. “It is a kind of ratification of my work,” he said. “It is Smith saying to me, ‘We know where you’ve been.’” For more, go to http://www.smith.edu/newsoffice/releases/reevesfollowup.html.

Cynthia Wade ’89 has been called an “unflinching filmmaker who tackles tough topics.” From now on, she can add “Oscar winner” to that description. Before a worldwide audience of nearly 32 million people, Wade accepted the Oscar on February 24 for Best Short Documentary Subject. Her winning film, Freeheld, chronicles the story of the late Laurel Hester, a veteran detective lieutenant in Ocean County, New Jersey, who, after being diagnosed with terminal cancer, struggled with elected county officials to transfer her pension to her domestic partner, Stacie Andree, an option for heterosexual couples living together. In her acceptance speech, Wade said that Hester had hoped that her fight against discrimination would ultimately make a difference for same-sex couples.

The five alumnae on stage at Sage Hall during Rally Day on February 20 had years of experience and wisdom to share with seniors in the audience, who were dressed for the first time in their graduation robes. Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin ’84, for example, related the challenges she faced as the first out lesbian in Congress. Her lesson: don’t be afraid to be the “first.” Meanwhile, Irene Cebula Baird ’45, a social justice advocate, recounted her work with female prisoners, telling students that sometimes the best thing to do to help people is simply to listen. “That’s my vocation,” she said, “to be someone who listens and cares.” In addition to Baldwin and Baird, other alumnae receiving Smith Medals for their accomplishments were Rev. Anne Clayton Brower ’60, an internationally known authority in skeletal radiology and first woman to chair a medical school radiology department; Lella Gandini AC ’78, a leader and proponent of early childhood education and the first Ada Comstock Scholar to receive the Smith Medal; and Catherine Turner Hunt ’77, president of the American Chemical Society. For more on this year's Rally Day convocation, go to http://saqonline.smith.edu/article.epl?issue_id=21&article_id=2177

The Alumnae Association of Smith College has a new strategic plan that builds on the success of its previous five-year plan, which ended last year. Findings from several months’ worth of research and analysis of survey data led the association staff and board of directors to focus on four key areas: innovation, connection, leadership, and resources. Charlotte G. Kea ’82, president of the AASC board of directors, said the new plan ensures that the association continues to meet the needs of its diverse alumnae. “We want to offer new and creative ways for connecting alumnae to Smith and each other,” she said. To read the association’s strategic plan, visit http://alumnae.smith.edu/strategic_plan/index.php. For an interview with Charlotte Kea, go to http://saqonline.smith.edu/article.epl?issue_id=21&article_id=2136.

Self-confidence, leadership abilities, and civic engagement are all byproducts of an all-women’s education, according to a study published March 3 by the Women’s College Coalition. The survey, conducted by Hardwick Day, covered women from 44 of the existing women’s colleges in classes from 1970 to 1997. Key findings indicate that alumnae of women’s colleges find lasting value in their education. They report more experience in making in-class presentations and that they are more likely to gain leadership experience in student government and campus media. Small classes and personal interaction with professors were also cited as benefits. More than 95 percent of women’s college alumnae believe the financial investment in their education was worthwhile and that the intellectual and personal capacities they gained are still extremely important to them. The full study is available as a PDF at http://womenscolleges.org/news/what-matters.htm.

On Saturday, April 12, nearly 250 students will present their scholarly work during the seventh annual “Celebrating Collaborations: Students and Faculty Working Together.” Attend one or all four sessions of student presentations in the sciences, humanities, and performing arts, beginning at 8:30 a.m. and 10:45 a.m., 1:30 p.m. and 2:45 p.m. in various campus locations. More information/schedule: http://www.smith.edu/collaborations/

Two National Lacrosse Hall of Famers, Gloria Heath ’43 and Agnes Bixler Kurtz ’62, spoke on campus last fall about how their athletic pursuits at Smith gave them a head start on success in their professional lives. They spoke of the perseverance and determination they learned on the playing field, and how they learned to value the importance of working together with other women. Did playing sports at Smith affect how you approached your career? Click here to tell us about your experiences. Your response will appear on the Alumnae Association Web site.

Students Nancy Morse ’52 and Nancy Kugel ’51 exchange money at the Student Bank. Courtesy of Smith College Archives
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