The lampposts outside Mary Woolley Hall remained lighted all day. But those beacons weren't what led hundreds of alumnae and supporters to South Hadley on a day of driving rains and sharp winds. They came to campus on October 28 to celebrate the kickoff of the Campaign for Mount Holyoke. Endorsed by the trustees in May, this $300 million fundraising effort aims to advance Mount Holyoke's living tradition of excellence--in the words of College founder Mary Lyon, to "accomplish great things." Leslie Anne Miller '73, chair of the board of trustees, and trustee Barbara McClearn Baumann '77 are cochairs of the five-year Campaign.
The daylong program celebrating the launch highlighted Mount Holyoke's international initiatives. At "The Transformative Power of Learning Abroad: Mount Holyoke Students Reflect," Joanne Picard, dean of international studies, detailed the expansive opportunities for study and research abroad and noted the College's goal of providing every student with an international experience. Jale Okay '84, director of international experiential learning, served as moderator for the panel of four students.
Lindsay Hinkle-Johnston '07, a chemistry major and biology minor, described her research as an intern at the world-renowned Institute for Stem Cell Research at the University of Edinburgh. As a result of her internship, Hinkle-Johnson now intends to pursue a joint Ph.D./M.D. degree. Sava Asmelash '07 recounted her year at Oxford University studying globalization and political identity. Megan Martenyi '07 reviewed her research in Durban, South Africa, about the Inanada Seminary, a school for black South African women that was founded in 1869 by Mount Holyoke graduates and remains in operation today. The final panelist was Hilary Robertson '07, who was the Center for Global Initiative's first summer intern at the Beirut Daily Star. Along with publishing nine articles in the Daily Star, Robertson--who had never before been out of the United States--was inspired by the experience to spend a semester studying abroad in Damascus. She's now applying for a position with the United Nations.
Following the panel, the College's board of trustees and the Alumnae Association board, along with members of the Campaign Steering Committee and other invited guests, joined students for lunch at MacGregor, Prospect, and Wilder residence halls. After lunch, guests gathered with the Mount Holyoke community for the dedication of the Dorothy R. and Norman E. McCulloch Center for Global Initiatives. The event featured a distinguished panel of speakers discussing "The Middle East as Global Challenge."
That evening, guests gathered for the official Campaign announcement celebration. At a cocktail hour in the newly renovated Mead Hall, Mary Graham Davis '65, president of the Alumnae Association, pledged the AA's support for the Campaign. Cochair Baumann (above left, pictured with Leslie Miller) also addressed the guests, noting that "giving to Mount Holyoke is giving to people … it's about this community." Rene Davis, director of residential life, offered tours of Mead that featured the renovated student rooms.
While the rain took a hiatus, guests made their way to Chapin Auditorium for dinner. Eleanor Graham Claus '55, chair of the Campaign Steering Committee and former cochair for the College's last comprehensive campaign, served as the evening's mistress of ceremonies. The entertainment included performances by the M & Cs a cappella group; soprano Anjuli Gunaratne '09, who was accompanied on piano by Professor of Music Gary Steigerwalt; and Jhumka, the MHC dance team that fuses South Asian classical, pop, and folk styles with ballet, jazz, and hip-hop.
Before beginning her remarks, Campaign cochair Miller paid tribute to Claus and Harriet Levine Weissman '58, cochairs of the last campaign that raised a record-breaking $257 million. Miller also praised President Joanne V. Creighton's stewardship of "this beloved institution." She then spoke about Mary Lyon's well-formed educational vision. "Instead of launching the seminary with the little cash that she had in hand, she spent years building an endowment. As you know, the endowment that began in her green velvet purse is still with us today. Thanks to generations of faithful friends and alumnae like you, it has continued to grow," Miller said.
Creighton, too, reflected upon Lyon's "compelling dream that has been kept alive by successive groups of committed people." She continued, "This Campaign is all about supporting the superb faculty and students, the cutting-edge programs, the diverse community, the state-of-the-art facilities, the do-something remarkable spirit that are the intrinsic components of institutional excellence. It's about ensuring that this improbable longest-standing, paradigm-setting women's college continues to defy the odds…. No cause is more worthy of our time and energy and dollars. Here we do not underestimate the power of an individual or the power of a small group of committed individuals or the potential of women."
Finally, flanked by the cochairs and the Campaign steering committee, Creighton broke the inspiring news that more than $82 million had been raised to jumpstart the Campaign. After resounding applause, glasses were raised, Mount Holyoke was toasted, and the Alma Mater echoed through Chapin. The Campaign for Mount Holyoke had begun.