Former prime minister of Pakistan Benazir Bhutto, tennis great Venus Williams, and former president of Ireland Mary Robinson are three of the remarkable and accomplished women known worldwide who have visited Mary Baldwin University as Smyth Leadership Lecturers through the generosity of H. Gordon and Mary Beth Smyth. In 2008–09, every Mary Baldwin student will feel the impact of the Smyth’s gift in a different, and perhaps more meaningful, way.
As we all begin to face the challenges of the current national economic situation, the Smyths have thoughtfully redirected their lecture series gift to benefit all students at Mary Baldwin. For the spring semester, the couple will fund a 10% Textbook Initiative, making it possible for all textbook purchases through the campus bookstore to be discounted by 10% for the spring 2009 semester. Every student will be eligible.
The college is a longtime benefactor of gifts from Mary Beth Smyth, Mary Baldwin class of 1947, and her husband, Gordon. They started the leadership lecture in 1997 to introduce the Mary Baldwin community to female leaders from around the world and they fund an annual math and science scholarship for individual students. Their interest in Mary Baldwin students goes well beyond funding. They often meet, get to know, and stay in touch with the students who receive their scholarships. Not surprisingly, Mary Beth Smyth believes the students are part of their extended family.
“We feel connected to students and know that textbook costs are always rising for them,” Gordon Smyth said. “We hope everyone can take advantage of our gift this year in a very tangible way.”
Mary Baldwin President Pamela Fox explained the gift in a letter to students and their families: “We are so grateful for the Smyths’ continued support of our students and our community. We hope to hold the Smyth Leadership Lecture again in the fall of 2009.”
Some who received Dr. Fox’s message responded immediately with words of thanks.
“What a creative gift idea and gesture for the students and their families! The Smyth’s dedication to Mary Baldwin is inspirational. I hope the student body recognizes this and we all show our appreciation,” said Maryanne Bragg, mother of senior Alanna Bragg.