History

“Go Where No One Else Will”

Chemist and educator Mary Lyon founded Mount Holyoke College (then called Mount Holyoke Female Seminary) in 1837, nearly a century before women gained the right to vote. Today, her famous words—"Go where no one else will go, do what no one else will do"—continue to inspire Mount Holyoke students.

As the first of the Seven Sisters—the female equivalent of the once predominantly male Ivy League—Mount Holyoke has led the way in women's education. A model upon which many other women's colleges were patterned, it quickly became synonymous with brilliant teaching and academic excellence. In 1861 the three-year curriculum was expanded to four, and in 1893 the seminary curriculum was phased out and the institution's name was changed to Mount Holyoke College.

A Tradition of Educating Leaders

Throughout the twentieth century, academic programs and physical facilities grew, with the 1960s witnessing the construction of many new academic buildings and residence halls. Mount Holyoke's reputation for excellence grew as well, with many of our notable alumnae breaking new ground in the sciences, the arts, and the women's movement.

Plans for an Unsurpassable Learning Environment

In 1997, under the leadership of president Joanne V. Creighton, the College adopted The Plan for Mount Holyoke 2003, a six-year strategic plan that resulted in a set of innovative programs and advanced facilities for the start of the new century. Following the successful completion of The Plan for 2003, Mount Holyoke embarked on a new set of ambitious goals, set forth in the Plan for Mount Holyoke 2010. The initiatives born from the Plan—some of which are already completed—will ensure that Mount Holyoke will continue to create an unsurpassable learning environment in which women can—and do—excel.

New Leadership

On July 1, 2010, alumna Lynn Pasquerella, a celebrated philosopher and medical ethicist, became the College's 18th president. Pasquerella came to Mount Holyoke from the University of Hartford, where she served as provost and chief academic officer. She has written extensively in the areas of medical ethics, theoretical and applied ethics, metaphysics, public policy, and the philosophy of law. Pasquerella is a passionate advocate for women’s education and is committed to reaching beyond the academy to engage communities—both locally and around the globe—on issues of women’s empowerment.