Screenwriter and Obie Award-winning playwright Suzan-Lori Parks '85, who has tackled subjects ranging from racism to sexual hypocrisy in her avant-garde plays, was the commencement speaker at Mount Holyoke's 164th commencement May 27. Parks received an honorary doctor of arts degree. Also receiving honorary degrees were director of the National Science Foundation and biologist Rita Rossi Colwell, graphic designer Susan D. Kare '75, humanitarian taxi driver Om Dutta Sharma, Brown University president Ruth Simmons, and mathematician Jean E. Taylor '66.
The Davis Educational Foundation, established by Stanton and Elisabeth Davis, awarded the Harriet L. and Paul M. Weissman Center for Leadership's Speaking, Arguing, and Writing Program a $329,340 grant that will be paid over three years. The grant will support the speaking- and writing-related portion of a new curriculum designed to enhance the first-year experience at the College. This initiative was recommended by the Committee on the First Two Years, a special committee made up of faculty, administrators, and students, that began its work in 1999.
Novelist and critic Susan Sontag was on campus April 12 to read from her novel In America and to conduct a seminar for students. She also discussed her recent work with faculty members participating in the seminar Writing Beyond the Academy. Sontag's visit was sponsored by the Weissman Center for Leadership and the Office of the President and was part of the Mary Lyon Lecture Series.
The March 12 issue of Time magazine featured a cover package of stories on the ongoing national reassessment of the SAT, titled "The SATs: Why Some Colleges Are Junking Them." One article, "Flying Without the Test," looked at the first year of Mount Holyoke's SAT-optional policy and the effect of the new policy on the admission process.
National Public Radio affiliate WFCR launched its series of fortieth-anniversary events at Mount Holyoke with "An Evening with Bob Edwards" March 15. Edwards is host of NPR's Morning Edition.
More than one hundred alumnae and friends returned to campus for the dedication and celebration of the newly renovated Pratt Hall March 2-3. March 31 saw two ground breakings, signaling the start of construction and renovation for the new science center and the art building and museum projects.
On March 8 and 9, the Weissman Center for Leadership, the Frances Perkins Program, and the Alumnae Association at Mount Holyoke College presented Frances Perkins and Her Legacies: Labor, Women, and the Unfinished Business of the New Deal. The symposium provided a forum for discussing the impact of Perkins (Mount Holyoke class of 1902) and her legacies on current debates about welfare reform, health care, Social Security, and working women.
For the third year in a row, the College has had a record-breaking year for applications. The total number of applications was up from 2,614 to 2,881, an increase of more than 10 percent over last year.