Campus Panorama


The 200th anniversary of Mary Lyon's birth will be celebrated in style, but it will be hard to top her 190th birthday gift: a two-cent U.S. postage stamp.

Celebrations Planned to Commemorate Mary Lyon's 200th Birthday

* Mark your calendars. February 28, 1997 will be more than just another chilly day in another long South Hadley winter. For anyone associated with the College or the legacy that she built, February 28 will represent the 200th anniversary of the birth of Mount Holyoke's founder, Mary Lyon.

Because centennial anniversaries come--let's see--but once every hundred years or so, the College, the Alumnae Association, and the town of Buckland, Massachusetts, are each planning a year-long series of events to commemorate the woman who literally made Mount Holyoke happen.

The College is considering several possibilities, including establishing a new lecture series in Lyon's name, awarding a special honorary degree next spring to celebrate her spirit, and developing an interdepartmental course dedicated to the founder's life and accomplishments. Next year the College will issue a handsome book of photographs capturing the campus and life of Mount Holyoke. It will be enhanced by quotations from Lyon's writings and will feature an introductory essay by Ford Foundation Professor of History Joseph Ellis on Lyon's achievements.

In collaboration with the Women's College Coalition, the College will also unveil a site on the Internet early in 1997 that will offer middle school teachers and students an opportunity to do World Wide Web-based research on Mary Lyon and the founding of the College. The site will deal with Lyon's life, America in the 1830s, and the beginnings of women's higher education in the United States, and will be supplemented with pictures of materials in the College's archives.

The Alumnae Association--which celebrates its 125th year in 1997-- plans to sponsor creation of a one-woman Mary Lyon theatrical representation, to work directly with alumnae clubs to organize Mary Lyon-related activities, and to stage a work by playwright Suzan-Lori Parks '85. The association is also considering an exhibition of nineteenth-century period dress at 1997's reunion weekends.

The town of Buckland, birthplace of Mary Lyon, is also organizing events connected with her 200th. It plans to create special commemorative stamps, organize spelling bee competitions in its schools, hold a July 4 parade with a Mary Lyon theme, and dedicate a popular series of annual chamber music concerts, the Mohawk Trail concerts, to her. The concerts will feature music by Franz Schubert, who was also born in 1797. It was a very good year. -- Kevin McCaffrey

Draft of College's "Plan for 2003" Released for Discussion

* In September, President Creighton unveiled a working draft of the document that will guide the College into the next century. The draft Plan for Mount Holyoke College 2003 reaffirms the College's historic and influential role as a premier liberal arts college for women, and proposes a set of institutional priorities affecting four areas of College life: education, community, resources, and admissions. The plan is being developed, with considerable input from students, faculty, staff, trustees, and alumnae, by the ad hoc Educational Priorities Committee formed late last winter at President Creighton's initiative.

During her remarks at Convocation, Creighton explained that the institutional planning process "let us think together about what we value and what we aspire to be." This fall, the Mount Holyoke community is responding to the evolving draft document in writing and at campus forums. A completed draft is expected by the beginning of second semester, and a final version of the plan should be ready for ratification by the board of trustees in May 1997.

* A massive computer wiring project is paying off for students in several residence halls this fall. Thanks to special fiber-optic cables installed last summer, students in some residence halls can receive telephone, computer, and video signals in their own rooms. When the residential network--or "ResNet"--is finished next year, every MHC student can have her own telephone line and access to cable television, email, and the World Wide Web at her own desk. Using their personal computers and TVs, students can check email, browse the Web, or watch cable TV shows (which will eventually include MHC video channels that might show recorded special events or films assigned for courses). The campus is truly "wired" about the possibilities. Thanks to "ResNet" connections in her room, Margaret Clayton '97 uses her laptop to email friends, faculty, and family; stay in touch with other Indigo Girls fans; look for a graduate school; research Gnostic variations on the Genesis creation story for an independent study project; and update her own World Wide Web pages.
* When Republicans converged on San Diego for their national presidential convention, Amy Schuppert '98 was among them. The international relations major attended the August convention as an alternate delegate, the only woman representing Massachusetts' Second Congressional District, and perhaps the youngest delegate at the convention.

* The controversial U.S. News & World Report annual rankings of colleges and universities (in which MHC repeated its 1995 stand at number nineteen among 160 national liberal arts colleges) were joined this year by new entries in the ratings and rankings fray. One was Time magazine's The Best College for You, in which MHC had the lead photograph and was included in two prominent lists: "beautiful campuses" and "happy campers." According to Time, MHC students ranked themselves as "ecstatically happy."

* More than $21.5 million was given to the College this year, in what director of development MaryAnne Young '81 calls "the largest cash total fundraising year ever, including campaigns." This total exceeds last year's $19.4 million figure by 11 percent. The Alumnae Fund accounted for about one-quarter of the whole, with $5.5 million given by 49 percent of all living graduates.

* When Rebecca Van De Water '00 began her studies this September, she carried on a family tradition of attending MHC that stretches back seven generations beginning with her great great great grandmother, Charlotte Mann Paine, class of 1850. Van De Water's great great great aunt, grandmother, great aunt, and two cousins also graduated from the College. And she is just one of forty-five women in the class of 2000 with alumnae connections. Twelve first-year students have alumnae sisters, seven followed their mothers here, and six have grandmothers who studied here. There are seven aunts, nineteen cousins, and twenty-one other relatives--ranging from stepmothers to great great aunts--who paved the way to MHC for these students. Though Rebecca Van De Water '00 has family ties to Mount Holyoke stretching back seven generations, she swears she fell in love with the College all on her own.
* Like four lanes of traffic merging on a fast-moving highway, the MHC library, Electronic Services, the Language Resource Center, and Computing and Information Systems (CIS) combined and reorganized their staffs' duties. The new organization is called Library, Information, and Technology Services (nicknamed "LITS") and reflects the way the realms of printed and digital information are drawing closer together.

* The Five College Women's Studies Research Center has always welcomed nonacademics as well as professors among its resident researchers. Now the MHC-based center has a new program specifically for nonfaculty community members who want to research women's issues. The first "Community Associates" are working with faculty partners on topics from "The Impact of Welfare Reform on Teen Parents in Rural Communities" to "Resilient Women Overcoming Adversity."

* The September issue of the German fashion and culture magazine marie claire featured a multipage, glossy profile of women's colleges in the U.S. and focuses on MHC as well as Smith and Wellesley. Under the heading "Lernziel: Superwoman," or "Learning Objective: Superwoman," is the message that prestigious women's colleges are turning out leaders. Multiple photos of our campus and students are shown, along with a picture of Mary Lyon. The article includes photos of Deborah Wild '97 at WMHC and Anna Morawiec '96, now on a Fulbright in Cracow, Poland.

Actress Anna Deavere Smith * As the posters promised, audiences saw "a pregnant, Panamanian, Korean, Jewish, white, truck-driving ex-gang member building bridges across race in America." Actor, playwright, and Stanford University arts professor Anna Deavere Smith transformed herself into wildly different characters during her September 20 lecture/performance. It was the first in a series of campus inclusiveness programs, and lived up to its New Yorker billing as "one of the most sophisticated dialogues about race in contemporary America."

* "First daughter" Chelsea Clinton and her mother, Hillary Rodham Clinton, visited New England in August to tour colleges Chelsea is considering attending next year. One MHC employee says he spotted the pair on campus. Chelsea Clinton had received an introductory brochure about MHC, and was sent the main admissions publications package, the "viewbox," shortly after her area visit.

* A portrait of Lucy Stone, suffragist, abolitionist, feminist, and 1839 MHC alumna, will soon hang in the Massachusetts State House in Boston, giving new meaning to the catch phrase "A woman's place is in the house ... and the senate." Currently none of the sixty-seven portraits on display is a woman's portrait, but Stone and six other female leaders will change all that.

* Children of MHC community members will have a new place to play and learn by summer 1997, after a three-section childcare center is built behind Gorse Child Study Center. The independently operated center will provide care for up to ninety-one local youngsters from six weeks old through grade three.

* Student politicos were busy this fall attending rallies, carrying signs, leafleting, encouraging voter turnout, and otherwise promoting their candidates of choice in local, regional, and national elections. Right up to election day, both MHC Democrats president Claire Kennedy-Wilkins '98 and College Republicans acting chair Rachel Kerestes '99 expected their respective group's presidential candidate to prevail.

Student "elephants" and "donkeys" were active in local and national elections this fall, registering new voters and campaigning for their candidates. On November 5, they held an all-campus party to watch the election returns.

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