May 19-22 brought fine weather and 66 members of the class of 56 to college to reconnect and celebrate our 60th.
Some of us arrived in Northampton in late Thursday morning and after checking in at Alumnae House proceeded to Northrop where we settled in and then returned to Alumnae House for lunch with our contacts from the Alumnae Office who provided a helpful preview of the upcoming weekend. In the afternoon, Cinnie Ferris Casner and Jean Bradley Mooney with assistance from our ambassadors set up Headquarters. As always, our ambassadors were impressive current students who gave us endless assistance all weekend as well as insights into the lives of today’s Smith students. By dinner time, most of our officers had arrived and we enjoyed a very noisy social hour followed by dinner in Cutter/Ziskind.
Following breakfast in Lamont, we had our choice of several faculty presentations or a Tour of Ford Hall, which Enid Fern Kaplan and I along with Jean McIntosh Thurston and Helen Hochgraf Baldwin, Charlotte Hine Sobeck (all of us science majors) opted for and we were not disappointed. The chemistry facilities are amazing – all experiments are done under hoods – and the engineering program is outstanding. Later in the morning we attended a student panel where students discussed their research and thesis topics. Others visited the Lyman Plant House or went on the appropriately titled Vigorous Walk around a sustainable campus.
On Friday afternoon ten members of our class visited the Ada and Archibald MacLeish Field Station in Whately. Reid Bartone-Johnson, Manager of the Field Station, gave us a tour of the 243 acre property and the Bechtel Environmental Classroom, which was certified in 2014 as the fifth Living Building in the World! Adjacent to the building are hiking trails, campsites, a fire pit, a young fruit orchard serving as a forest garden and a seed orchard, where eventually blight-resistant chestnut seed will be produced for restoration projects in the Northeast.
By Friday evening most classmates had arrived and we gathered for social hour in the Alumnae House Living Room followed by dinner in Alumnae House Conference Hall. The food was good and the conversation was lively. During dinner the Smiffenpoofs serenaded us.
After breakfast on Saturday morning, we lined up for the Alumnae Parade with our signs (sent in by Sandra Van Fossen), tee shirts, hats and bags, all illustrating our theme of Still Blooming. Mary Samp, Class of ’41, from Cambridge led the parade in a wheelchair accompanied by her son and daughter. It was amazing to us how much closer to the front of the parade our class is. We were clapped through by all of the succeeding classes, some with small children and babies, and it was quite emotional!
The meeting of the Alumnae Association was held on Chapin Lawn Our class won two awards: For the Five Year Total Giving and for the 60th Reunion Five Year Comprehensive Dollars – a record breaker! Many congratulations are due to our Fund Team, Mary Jeanne Anderson Jones, Marjorie Forbes, and Enid Fern Kaplan. Following the mechanics of the Alumnae Association Meeting, President Kathleen McCartney welcomed everyone and thanked us for returning to campus. The student speaker, Carmen Evelina Augusto, Class of 2016 from Mozambique, gave a moving rendition of her journey from Africa to Smith and her four years in Northampton.
Lunch on Saturday was in the Lamont Octagon where we were joined by President Kathleen McCartney and her husband, William Hagen. Kathy asked us “What were your memorable moments at Smith?” and several of our classmates responded with well chosen anecdotes, reminding us of W.H. Auden’s semester on campus, President Wright’s response to the alumna who accused members of the faculty of being Communist sympathizers, and other examples. A brief class meeting was held and the slate of new officers was elected. Then Jean Thurston conducted our memorial, which sadly gets longer with each reunion..
Saturday afternoon, Nell Lake, author of The Caregivers, spoke in the Northrop Living Room to a sizable and appreciative group. And later, Kathleen McCartney spoke on “A Vision for Smith in the 21st Century”. This past year Smith received 5250 applications for admission. There were 16 Fulbright scholars – more than any other liberal arts college in the country. There are two new major areas of concentration: Middle East Studies and Statistical and Data Sciences. The Neilson Library Project is well along in the planning phase with Maya Lin, architect, and Carol Wedge of Shepley Bullfinch, the national design firm which has extensive experience in creating 21st century academic libraries. They expect to complete this project by our next reunion!
Social Hour on Saturday was held in Alumnae House Living Room followed by another fine dinner (chocolate cake!) in Alumnae House Conference Hall. Gloria Steinem via video gave a brief welcome and regret that she could not be with us. After dinner we slowly returned to Northrop House to spend a few minutes chatting before packing for departure the next morning.
Many thanks are due to the current class officers, in- cluding our president Bev Pawson, treasurer (and reunion dinner chair) Lee Born, secretaries Barbara Neal and Charlotte Sobeck, long-serving Bequest chair Sally McDermott, our Fund team and Memorials chair mentioned above and especially the Reunion chairs, Sonny Kaufman and Evie Glickman, for a fine five years and excellent reunion.