Mary Bunting Smith
Doctor of Humane Letters 1983
Eminent educator, scientist, and feminist, Mary Bunting Smith was the first academician of national prominence to identify a problem we have all come to recognize. More than two decades ago she called that problem "a national climate of unexpectation," which produces "the waste of highly talented educated womanpower." But contrary to the prevailing climate, her own life has demonstrated the highest expectations fulfilled. After distinguished work as a microbiologist at Yale and as Dean of Douglass College, she served as President of Radcliffe College for twelve years. Under her leadership, Radcliffe became a pioneer in higher education in the development of innovative programs enabling women to return to school. In 1960, she established The Institute for Independent Study at Radcliffe which provided financial support and "a room of one's own" so that women might continue artistic or scholarly work interrupted by marriage. Renamed the Mary Ingraham Bunting Institute in 1978, the Institute is now one of the largest centers in the nation awarding postdoctoral fellowships to women scholars, scientists, artists and writers. As a member of a number of prestigious scientific organizations, including the Atomic Energy Commission, she worked for programs to encourage women to enter scientific fields traditionally considered beyond women's sphere.