25 Ways MHC Made Change in 2014

1. President Pasquerella pledged full tuition to all Frances Perkins Scholars.

Mount Holyoke Library Doors

In January, as part of a conference hosted by the White House on increasing college access for low-income and disadvantaged students, President Pasquerella and eighty-four other college presidents from around the nation pledged their commitment to supporting such opportunities. In particular, Mount Holyoke pledged to give full tuition to all new Frances Perkins Scholars. Read MassLive’s article about President Pasquerella’s initiatives.

2. The College committed to fund one qualified summer internship or research experience for every student through The Lynk experience.

Lynk internships

President Pasquerella announced in February that the College would fund one qualified summer internship or research experience for every student during her sophomore or junior year at Mount Holyoke as part of The Lynk experience.

3. Cat Pruden ’16 won All-American honors.

Cathleen Pruden '16

In March, Cathleen Pruden ’16 garnered National All-America honors after finishing fourth in the 400-individual medley at the NCAA Division III Swimming & Diving Championships. She is the first swimmer in Mount Holyoke history to finish in the top eight and, after Katie Herrold ’00, the second swimmer to earn All-America honors. Congrats Cat!

4. Mount Holyoke sent 14 changemakers to the Clinton Global Initiative University Conference.

Mount Holyoke Students Clinton Global Initiative

Selected for their innovative solutions to global challenges, fourteen Mount Holyoke students attended this year’s Clinton Global Initiatives University conference in March, at which students, university representatives, topic experts, and celebrities came together to discuss and develop solutions in five focus areas: education, environment and climate change, peace and human rights, poverty alleviation, and public health.

5. Mount Holyoke lacrosse team paid it forward.

While waiting in the airport on their way to their annual spring training trip in March, the Mount Holyoke lacrosse team watched as a team from another school left behind a mess of water bottles, sodas, fast food bags, and other trash. Without hesitation, the team cleaned up the trash before boarding their flight. The thoughtful act unexpectedly caught the attention of the CIO of a global insurance firm nearby, who was so impressed that he called Mount Holyoke to sing their praises. Check out the team in the Hampshire Gazette.

6. Cally Guasti ’13 found $40,000 in a couch.

Calli Gusti '13

After spending $20 for a couch at a thrift store, Cally Guasti ’13 (center) and her roommates found $40,000 hidden in it last March. After more digging, the roommates also found the name of the original owner of the couch on an envelope and knew what they had to do. The former owner turned out to be a 91-year-old widow whose children had donated the old couch while she was in the hospital. The roommates found her and returned her money, which turned out to be her life savings. The grateful widow gave them a $1,000 reward in exchange, and the story of the good deed garnered international attention. View the CBS News story.

7. Founders returned for 2014 Hortense Parker Day.

Screen Shot 2014-12-11 at 1.03.08 PM

On March 25, Ahyoung An ’09 and Camila Curtis-Contreras ’09, who—as graduating seniors—organized the College’s inaugural Hortense Parker Celebration—returned to campus to celebrate the fifth anniversary of the event, which is named in honor of the first known woman of color to graduate from Mount Holyoke.

8. Shola Wylie ’15 won the Goldwater Scholarship & Prarthana Bhattarai ’15 won the Davis Peace Prize.

MHC student award winners

In April, Shola Wylie ’15 (left) and Prarthana Bhattarai ’15 won national awards for their scholarship and innovations. A physics major, Wylie was one of 283 students who received a prestigious Barry Goldwater Scholarships, named after the Arizona senator. Bhattarai, a mathematics major from Nepal, is one of 103 winners of the 2014 Davis Projects for Peace, which aims to fund—in amounts up to $10,000—grassroots initiatives that “promote peace address the root causes of conflict.”

9. Field hockey team garnered highest ranking in MHC history.

Field hockey
The field hockey team made it to the second round of the NCAA Tournament in November. The Lyons finished the season ranked #13 in Division III, the program’s highest national ranking in history!

10. Ali Safran’s ’14 nonprofit celebrated one year of helping sexual assault survivors.

In May, Ali Safran’s ’14 nonprofit Surviving in Numbers celebrated its first anniversary. Established as a way to showcase the prevalence of sexual violence on campuses across the United States, Surviving in Numbers was a small project that quickly grew as it offered a space for survivors to be able to share stories anonymously and without fear of judgment, stigma, or shame. Surviving In Numbers has helped tell the story of 410 survivors, collected 2,200 Tumblr followers, and the website has had visitors from twelve countries. Safran has seen her project displayed on at least eight college campuses, spoken at eleven colleges, and talked with California lawmakers and with US Department of Education representatives.

11. First class of Posse Scholars graduated.

Mount Holyoke Posse Scholars

Twenty-five years ago, Deborah Bial founded the Posse Foundation, which sends and supports “posses”—or teams of students from the same area who give one another support—to attend elite colleges and universities together. Four years ago, Mount Holyoke’s first group of Posse Scholars came to campus from Miami, and this year the eleven students all graduated with the class of 2014 in May. Bial was also this year’s commencement speaker, helping celebrate the successes of all Mount Holyoke scholars. Read the Washington Post’s coverage of Bial’s speech.

12. Women in Public Service Program Institute brought women changemakers to Mount Holyoke.

Mount Holyoke, Simmons, and Smith colleges hosted the 2014 Women in Public Service Project Institute from May 25 through June 6. The event brought together a group of changemaking women from more than twenty nations who received support in their work to rebuild communities torn by war, political violence, and human rights violations. Distinguished women such as Mona Sutphen ’89, Congresswoman Nita Lowey ’59, and Gloria Steinam (Smith ’56) participated in the event.

13. Firstie uncovered a never-before-seen amphipod on geological dig.

Rose Minichiello ’16

When Professor of Geology Mark McMenamin offered Rose Minichiello ’16 the opportunity to volunteer on a geological dig in Nevada’s Shoshone Mountains in June, she decided to take him up on it. And what she found on her first day in the field has cemented her name in the annals of crustacean biology. Minichiello uncovered a specimen of amphipod that scientists had never before seen, and her discovery extended the known geological range of the Amphipoda order by 170 million years. As if that wasn’t exciting enough, the species also bears her name: Rosagammarus minichiellus.

14. Computer science students built robots from scratch.

Lia Poulos

Using 3D-printed parts, found objects, rubber ducks, and colored wire four MHC students worked on robotic prototypes during their ten-week summer positions as computer science research assistants with Professor of Computer Science Audrey St. John. Each student constructed her own robot with the goal that all four would move together like a flock of geese flying in formation. St. John’s research was funded by a five-year, $411,531 CAREER Award from the National Science Foundation that she received last year.

15. Mount Holyoke was again ranked top for “Best Classroom Experience.”

Demonstrating what every Mount Holyoke student already knows, the Princeton Review released this year’s edition of The Best 379 Colleges in August, which listed Mount Holyoke College in the top ten for “best classroom experience.” According to this influential college guide, this ranking is based on students’ answers to several survey questions, including how they rate professors, classroom and lab facilities; the amount of in-class time devoted to discussion; and the percentage of classes they attend. Some 130,000 students at colleges across the United States were surveyed.

16. Living-learning communities debuted to foster mentorship, leadership, and community building.

Living learning communities

Last fall, two living-learning communities debuted to help first-year students adjust to college life and to foster women’s leadership and mentorship capabilities. The First-Year Focus Community includes fifty students and emphasizes academic success, getting adjusted to college life, and other topics that the students choose. Women Inspiring Leadership Development (WILD) consists of twelve seniors who live in Pearsons Annex. All are involved in leadership roles on campus and all mentor first-year students.

17. Matisse came to campus.

Matisse Exhibit at Mount Holyoke

On loan from the collection of the Pierre and Tana Matisse Foundation Collection, forty-five of Henri Matisse’s drawings were on display during the fall semester in the Mount Holyoke College Art Museum. This is the first time many of the pieces have been available for public viewing. The exhibit was selected and installed by Ellsworth Kelly, a renowned painter, sculptor, and printmaker. Read the Boston Globe’s coverage of the exhibit.

18. President Pasquerella announced a new admission policy to admit transgender students.

Lynn Pasquerella Convocation 14

During the opening celebration of the academic year, President Pasquerella announced that the College welcomes applications for its undergraduate program from any qualified student who is female or identifies as a woman. A respected ethicist, Pasquerella sees the new policy as the next step in Mount Holyoke’s historic commitment to human rights and social justice.

19. Václav Havel Foundation honored Professor Andrew Lass.

Professor Andrew Lass

Forty-one years after being expelled from Czechoslovakia by the communist government, Andrew Lass—Professor of Anthropology on the Ford Foundation—was honored in Prague with the Dagmar and Václav Havel Foundation VIZE 97 Prize on October 5. Since 1999, the award for lifetime achievement has been presented to distinguished scientists and thinkers whose work is concerned with unconventional ways of asking fundamental questions. Read more about Professor Lass’s many accomplishments.

20. Nobel Peace Prize winner Leymah Gbowee kicked off celebrations for the tenth anniversary of the McCulloch Center for Global Initiatives.

Leymah Gbowee

To celebrate the tenth anniversary of the McCulloch Center for Global Initiatives, the College welcomed Nobel Peace Prize recipient Leymah Gbowee as this year’s Carol Hoffmann Collins Global Scholar-in-Residence. On October 27, the Liberian peace activist, trained social worker, public speaker, and women’s rights advocate gave a powerful public lecture entitled “Women’s Leadership: Ending Wars and Building Peace.” She also held workshops for student changemakers.

21. Professor Thomas Wartenberg’s “Philosophy for Children” class featured in documentary.

Each fall, students in Professor Thomas E. Wartenberg’s “Philosophy for Children” class pack up their picture books and bring big ideas to elementary school students in the Pioneer Valley. The class, cotaught by President Pasquerella last year, is the subject of the documentary film Big Ideas for Little Kids: Teaching Philosophy through Picture Books, which premiered on PBS affiliate WGBY Channel 57 in November.

22. Mount Holyoke endowment passed $700 million mark.

Mount Holyoke Endowment

With the help of generous gifts and strategic investment management, the Mount Holyoke College endowment has grown to more than $717 million for the first time. Shannon Gurek, vice president for finance and administration, attributed the milestone to the continued generosity of alumnae and other donors—who contributed $13 million to the endowment in the last fiscal year—and the knowledge and commitment of the investment committee members who oversee the management of the endowment.

23. Students shared summer experiences at LEAP.

LEAP—Learning from Application—is the College’s annual showcase of student summer work, and this year more than 200 students shared their internship and research experiences. Thanks to The Lynk, LEAP saw a larger number and a more diverse crop of presentations than in previous years. Students spoke of their experiences working in a New York City emergency room and a Silicon Valley startup, in urban Shanghai, on Capitol Hill, and in a French chateau.

24. Mount Holyoke and Five College students held walk-outs in solidarity of Ferguson National Call to Action.

Mount Holyoke Ferguson Protests

On December 1, student leaders at Mount Holyoke organized a mass walk-out on campus to protest the decision in the grand jury case that ruled against indicting Ferguson, MO, Officer Darren Wilson in connection with the fatal shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown. Hundreds of students peacefully protested in front of the College, and similar walk-outs were organized at the other local colleges.

25. President Pasquerella announced new access initiatives at White House summit.

White House Summit

President Pasquerella joined President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and more than 400 other college leaders on December 4 to announce new commitments to help students prepare for and graduate from college. Mount Holyoke is in the initial stages of an effort to partner with local community colleges, schools, and community-based organizations and businesses to create a “makerspace,” where girls and women will engage in hands-on experimentation and invention in fields ranging from public health to biotechnology.


5 responses to “25 Ways MHC Made Change in 2014”

  1. Jennifer DeWolf says:

    This article was informative and a good format. I think alumnae need this information often. It will be reflected in their conversations with others who may interest in the college–either for a student or to add a resource.

  2. Harriet Greenberg Berlin-'50 says:

    MHC keeps getting better and better. Thank you Pres. Pasquerella for keeping the college in the forefront of civil liberties and humane principles; thank you faculty for giving so much of yourselves to the students — this is education in the fullest meaning of the word. Thank you students for your seriousness of purpose, your willingness to learn, and the quality of your accomplishments; and thank you graduates who continue Mary Lyon’s example by being women who can change the world.

  3. Alice Andrus says:

    New Year’s Resolution for MHC: More open and frequent communication with alumnae on major issues of importance to the college.

  4. Rachel Vivanco (née Levine) - class of 2009 says:

    This list is remarkable, and makes me so proud to be a MHC grad!

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