Liz Cochary Gross '79

Funding Innovation

Liz Cochary Gross '79

"I played guitar at Mount Holyoke and  sometimes performed at restaurants and bars.

Once I walked into a place that was a little shaky and asked if they’d ever hire a folksinger. The owner replied, “Who is he?” I remember thinking, “How weird.”

Then I said, “It’s me.” And that was because of Mount Holyoke.

Coming here gives you so much inner strength—even though you may not realize it until later."

When Liz Cochary Gross ’79, Ph.D. looks back on her decision to attend Mount Holyoke, she remembers that the single-sex issue wasn’t a factor. “I liked the Pioneer Valley and Mount Holyoke appealed to me in many ways. I just didn’t think that the women’s college aspect mattered,” she said.

But while spending junior year on exchange at a coed school, Cochary Gross—a biochemistry major—began recognizing that women’s colleges were very different.

“I returned senior year with a new love for Mount Holyoke. Still, it wasn’t until I entered graduate school in the sciences that I fully grasped how much it had mattered to attend a women’s college.”

From 2006 through 2013, Cochary Gross has volunteered for The Campaign for Mount Holyoke as vice chair of the Boston Major Gifts Committee and a member of the Campaign Steering Committee. During the Campaign, she and her husband, Phillip Gross, endowed the Science Center directorship and invested in the sciences to ensure that students and faculty have cutting-edge research capabilities.

They also funded new online tools to enhance student advising and better integrate curriculum to career preparation. One component is the e-portfolio, a platform that students use to capture, translate, and present their experiences in the field, in internships, and in the classroom. Students, faculty, and staff all will access this component, along with a new e-portal and databases. The College plans to have the state-of-the-art system ready for the arrival of the class of 2018.

“We wanted our gift to add something to set Mount Holyoke apart. When I heard about these tools, I thought, ‘This is innovative.’ ”

With two of her four children now in college, Cochary Gross is keenly aware of how every school today strives to offer internships and connect students with professional preparation. “That practical experience is so important,” said Gross. “And Mount Holyoke is doing great things. But I want it to keep getting better; that’s why I support the College. I want Mount Holyoke to be better than all its competitors.”