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Shhhh, it’s a secret…
Mary Gilmore Smith (’29, G’38) will be 100 years old on Nov. 2. University College (UC) will honor her with a SURPRISE reception on Thursday, Nov. 1, at Drumlins Country Club. If you know or worked with her and would like to attend this celebration, contact Michele Pirro at 443-5000 for details on being a guest of UC.
Smith’s life is still in full swing as she prepares to turn 100. She still tutors weekly at the Learning Place, is active in her Plymouth Church community, devoted to Eta Pi Upsilon’s determination to help women studying part time get their degrees through their scholarship fund, and an eager attendee at UC convocations and special events.
In 1938, Smith became a pioneer in women’s education when she was hired as the first vocational counselor of women at SU while serving as assistant dean of summer sessions. She later played important roles in the College of Home Economics (an early predecessor of what is now the College of Human Services and Health Professions) and at UC, retiring from the University in 1972.
In 1942, she was made an honorary member of Eta Pi Upsilon, the oldest senior women’s honorary society in the United States, founded at SU in 1898. She was inducted in recognition of her scholarship, leadership, service and loyalty to the University.
Smith served as president of the SU Alumnae Association in the 1950s. When the Eta Pi board was debating what to do with the initial endowment gift from the Class of ’23 in the 1960s, Smith proposed and fought hard to have it endow a scholarship fund to benefit women working toward their SU degrees part time through University College. She recognized this student population as among the most precarious on campus.
Smith not only succeeded, but has been the fund’s longest-giving and largest annual donor. Characteristically self-deprecating, Smith says: “I never did what I did to get any credit. I did it because I wanted to help women get out of difficult circumstances.”
When it came to choosing a way to recognize Smith, it was clear that more than anything else, she would appreciate donations to the endowment fund and the reassurance that the fund will continue to grow. Those who would like donate in her honor should make checks payable to Syracuse University and send contributions to the attention of Wendy Harris at University College, 700 University Place. Or call 443-5000 to make alternate arrangements. The total will be announced at the event on Nov. 1.