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Smith Reunion 2024

More than 2,000 alums gathered on campus for two joyful weekends of Reunion


Published May 29, 2024

Wide-brimmed red hats, exuberance, resilience, and joy. They were all on display in May as more than 2,000 alums gathered on campus over two weekends to celebrate each other, the graduating class of seniors, and the experiences they share as Smithies. Attendance broke records, with alums coming from 43 states and 14 countries.

Campus was abuzz with traditions—Illumination, Ivy Day, and Commencement, the first to be presided over by President Sarah Willie-LeBreton—as well as tours of Neilson Library and the botanic garden, a visit to the Smith historic clothing collection, faculty talks on a variety of topics, a dance party, and special class activities. 

“Reunion is really about connecting back to your core, and your support system, and people that you love.”
Amy O’Neal ’94

In a packed Weinstein Auditorium, Willie-LeBreton warmly welcomed alums back to campus. In her first year as president, she has learned a lot about the power of the Smith experience from talking with alums, she explained. “I always walk away from these meetings feeling particularly energized.” She thanked the audience for the many roles they play as volunteers, student mentors, career advisors, donors to The Smith Fund, and much more. She added, “Everything that you do strengthens this remarkable global community we call Smith.” 

Willie-LeBreton then updated the crowd on campus news, including the incoming class of 2028, developments in meeting Smith’s sustainability goals, and the reimagined career development program, highlighted visibly by the ongoing construction of Kathleen McCartney Hall, which will house the Lazarus Center for Career Development and the Wurtele Center for Leadership. “I invite you to write Smith’s next chapter with me,” she ended. Alums responded with a standing ovation.

“Reunion is like an adult summer camp with smart women.”
Miranda Catsambas ’19

During a panel led by Vice President for Enrollment Joanna May, students wowed alums with stories about their hopes and dreams, life on campus today, favorite Smith traditions (spoiler alert: Mountain Day remains a perennial favorite!), and how professors both challenge and support them. 

Professor of Psychology Benita Jackson, in her talk “Three Toxic Myths About Rest From High-Achievement Culture,” invited alums to dispel the belief that rest is earned, for the weak, and a waste of time (EWW for short), encouraging them instead to embrace rest as a birthright, awesome, and generative (BAG).

“There’s great energy ! We’re all so happy to be here. That’s the best thing.”
Cindy Britten Martin ’74

Associate Professor of Chemistry Andrew Berke spoke about the campus geothermal energy project, which will reduce Smith’s carbon emissions by 90%, allowing Smith to become carbon neutral by 2030. Looking ahead to the project’s completion, Berke, who is the faculty director of Smith’s Center for the Environment, Ecological Design and Sustainability, said, “We have made fossil energy obsolete on campus.” 

Ivy Day and Commencement were glorious, triumphant, and moving. “New graduates and alums, you are all links in a long ivy chain rooted right here in the grounds of this campus,” said Willie-LeBreton to the crowd before her at Ivy Day. “That chain grows stronger with each class that graduates. Go forth from this day, joining the tradition of graduates before you to uplift and nourish our world, even when the path forward is difficult.” You can read full coverage of Commencement in " ‘Priceless Work to Do’: Smith Celebrates the Class of 2024” and watch it on Facebook

Reunion Snapshots

It wouldn’t be a Smith Reunion without a few serendipitous connections, like these:

Beverly Morgan-Welch '74 (left) and Sylvia Lewis '74 pictured in the galleries of A Beacon to the World at SCMA. Photo: Derek Fowles Photography

The 50th Reunion class, the great class of 1974, is proud of many things, notably its activism and the number of Black students in the class, the highest ever at the time. So, it was more than fitting that Sylvia Smith Lewis ’74 was able to give a special tour of works she and her husband, lifelong supporters of Black artists, recently donated to the Smith College Museum of Art (SCMA). A Beacon to the World: Art from the Sylvia Smith Lewis ’74 and Byron E. Lewis Sr. Collection contains works by Richmond Barthé, Romare Bearden, Betty Blayton-Taylor, Fred Brown, Richard J. Watson, and others, and is on view through September 22, 2024. 

Anne D'Innocenzio ’84, an Associated Press reporter and fledgling stand-up comedian, got her classmates chuckling with her Smith-centered then-and-now comedy routine. She also connected with the Lazarus Center and Smith’s new journalism concentration about the growing student interest in journalism. 

Judith Sallet ’59, a retired school teacher on campus to celebrate her 65th Reunion, was able to reunite with an old pupil, President Sarah Willie-LeBreton, who had been a student in Sallet’s 5th grade class. 

Nolwandle Mgoqi ’94, Tandiwe Njobe ’94, and Desiree Lalbeharie ’90 (l to r) in Weinstein Auditorium after the showing of Where I Became.

 A screening and discussion of Where I Became, a documentary film produced by Tandiwe Njobe ’94 and Jane Dawson Shang ’82, was a highlight of Reunion. The film brings to light the incredible and largely unknown story of Smith College’s South African scholarship program through interviews with many of the 16 women who were its beneficiaries. Three of those women were at Reunion to share their stories: Njobe, Desiree Lalbeharie ’90, and Nolwandle Mgoqi ’94. “We hope that the power and positive forces in the film reach people from all over the world,” Njobe said. 

Celebrations Dance Company, founded in the eighties by Suzanne Koga ’84 and Jeanne Samuels ’83 as a space to celebrate diversity of people and movement, is going strong and performed at Reunion. The troupe ended the performance with their traditional closing number, choreographed by Koga and Samuels when they were students, and brought Koga, on campus for her 40th Reunion, up on stage. Koga and the dancers were delighted to meet, cementing more than 40 years of the group’s history and identity.

Suzanne Koga '84 (white shirt, black pants), who co-founded Celebrations Dance Company in the eighties, joins current company members for a joyful meet and greet. Photo: Henry Amistadi

Maro Elliott ’11 contributed reporting.

Candid Moments

Check out some memories from both Reunion weekends.

Class Awards Highlights

Reunion I

  • Most Smith Stars (alums who have given for at least five consecutive years): Class of 1974
  • Most Members in the Friends of Athletics, Botanic Garden, Libraries, and SCMA: Class of 1974
  • Highest Giving Total: Class of 1974
  • Highest Attendance: Class of 1974

Reunion II

  • Most Smith Stars: Class of 1969
  • Grécourt Award (class that added the most new society members since last reunion): Class of 1969
  • Highest Giving Total: Class of 1969
  • Highest Attendance: Class of 1994


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