On November 8, 1837 Mary Lyon, a school teacher and chemist, opened the doors of Mount Holyoke Female Seminary and welcomed her first 80 students. It was the same year that Victoria became the queen of the British Empire, and seminary students paid just $60 a year for tuition, room and board, and fees.
It has been 175 years since that eventful day, and on Thursday, November 8 and Friday, November 9, Mount Holyoke–the oldest women’s college in the country–will mark the occasion with a rich and wonderful array of campuswide events.
At noon on November 8, the campus community will enjoy its traditional Founder’s Day observance by indulging in ice cream at Mary Lyon’s gravesite. At 4 pm, the ringing of the College bells will signal the official kickoff of the 175th celebration. The entire community is invited to gather from 4:15 to 5:15 pm in Chapin Auditorium for a journey through Mount Holyoke’s past and into the future with faculty members Martha Ackmann and Daniel Czitrom, and alumna Sadiqa Basiri Saleem FP’09. MHC President Lynn Pasquerella and several government representatives will also speak, and musical performances and rare video clips uncovered from the College Archives will round out the program. Those who cannot come to campus are invited to join in the festivities on the web through our live stream.
Thursday evening and throughout Friday, the public is welcome to attend events and exhibitions prepared for our 175th anniversary celebration by students, faculty, staff, and alumnae. Each will honor Mount Holyoke’s history, values, and vision, as well as the College’s creativity and passion for teaching and learning. On Friday evening TV journalist Soledad O’Brien, anchor and special correspondent for CNN, will give a keynote address as part of both the 175th celebration and the Black Alumnae Conference.
“I look forward to coming together as a community as we pay tribute to the past and embark on the next chapter in educating women of influence,” said Pasqerella, the 18th president of Mount Holyoke College and an alumna from the class of 1980. “Please join me in being part of Mount Holyoke history!”
Mount Holyoke’s rich history has been chronicled in a special website that features a gallery of Women of Influence, some 100 alumnae who have made their mark in the world. There is also a timeline that places the College’s 175 years in the context of both world and women’s history, as well as memories from alumnae and friends to personalize this record—and to preserve a new era in its legacy of leadership.
175 Years of Women of Influence celebrates courage, commitment, and all the ways that women’s minds—and lives—change the world. Please join us in marking this grand occasion.