Illumination NightOur thoughts go out to all of our friends and colleagues at Sweet Briar College, which announced this week that it will be closing at the end of the academic year.

The news has sparked conversations about the role of women’s colleges today. Rest assured that Smith is strong and, as The Washington Post recently noted, remains one of the most durable brands in higher education today. There is still a powerful societal need for places like Smith that celebrate women’s intellectual pursuits and educate women for leadership. A Smith degree continues to carry tremendous value in the world.

Smith is poised for an exciting future. President Kathleen McCartney has an innovative and ambitious vision that will position the college as the world’s preeminent source of women leaders.

Our many pride points include:

  • Applications to Smith are at an all-time high. This year, Smith received 5,004 applications to the class of 2019, the highest number in our history and a 12 percent increase over last year. We had a record number of early-decision applications and a 17 percent increase in applications from students of color. This remarkable rise speaks directly to Smith’s global reputation and continued relevance as a leader in the education of women.
  • Smith is a national leader in Fulbright success. This year, Smith had 31 Fulbright award finalists from a field of 42 applicants—a remarkable 74 percent success rate in the first round of application review. For the past 10 years, Smith has been a top-producing college for Fulbright fellowships and currently is the leader among top producers in its success rate.
  • About 38 percent of Smith students major in the sciences. That is well above the 19 percent national average. Among liberal arts colleges, Smith is one of the top recipients of National Science Foundation funding. Smith is also home to the Picker Engineering Program, the first engineering program at a U.S. women’s college.
  • Smith’s financial foundation—as well as philanthropic support for the college—is strong. The college’s endowment, at approximately $1.8 billion, is at its highest level since the economic downturn in 2008–09. Our Women for the World campaign has raised more than $330 million toward our $450 million goal. On National Philanthropy Day in November, the Smith Fund raised more than $950,000 from 2,000 donors—a record-breaking one-day total.
  • Smith is a nationally recognized leader in its commitment to access and affordability. About 24 percent of students receive Pell Grants; nearly 20 percent of Smith students are the first in their families to attend college; and recently The New York Times ranked Smith among the top five economically diverse top colleges in the country.
  • Smith women are nationally recognized for their leadership and academic excellence. Tess Grogan ’14 was one of 40 people nationally to receive the prestigious Marshall Scholarship, which provides promising American scholars with funds to study in the United Kingdom. In 2013, Clarke Knight ’14 was named a Rhodes Scholar, the college’s first in 17 years.
  • Women’s colleges, including Smith, remain powerful options for students seeking a high-quality education. The Washington Post recently noted, “Some women’s colleges remain among the most durable brands in higher education, including Smith, Wellesley, Barnard, Bryn Mawr and historically black Spelman.” And The Christian Science Monitor reiterated the relevance of women’s colleges: “Some women’s colleges, such as Smith College, Wellesley College, Barnard College, Bryn Mawr College and historically black Spelman College have continued to flourish as hallmarks of women’s higher education.”

All of us at Smith are grateful for the tremendous support of alumnae from around the world. The enduring connection Smith women have to their college, and to women’s education, is inspiring and affirms Smith’s strength and relevance in the world today.


Jennifer Chrisler ’92
Vice President for Alumnae Relations
Executive Director of the Alumnae Association of Smith College