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Tufts alumna apppointed Smith College president

Published: Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Updated: Tuesday, October 29, 2013 01:10

  Trustee of Tufts Kathleen McCartney (J ’77) was formally inaugurated as Smith College’s 11th president during ceremonies that took place on Oct. 19.

McCartney, who until recently served as dean of the Harvard Graduate School of Education, credits her undergraduate time at Tufts as playing a role in leading her to the new position. 

After working in her academic advisor Brenda Steinberg’s child development laboratory at Tufts, McCartney was encouraged to apply to doctoral programs in psychology. 

“I don’t think I would have had the courage to apply without [Steinberg’s] encouragement and support,” McCartney told the Daily in an email. “Her advice set in motion a chain of events that led directly to this position at Smith. I found my passion at Tufts, and that is what a good liberal arts education should provide.” 

McCartney comes to Smith with a background in education, according to the Smith College website. After receiving both her master’s degree and doctorate from Yale University, McCartney joined the faculty at Harvard as an assistant professor of psychology in 1982. 

She was then tenured at the University of New Hampshire as an assistant professor of psychology, as well as director of the Child Study and Development Center. In 2000, McCartney returned to Harvard as a professor in early childhood development. 

McCartney’s research has focused on childcare and early childhood life, and she has written more than 150 articles and book chapters on childcare. At Harvard, McCartney created a strategic plan that lead to the creation of two new degree programs — the doctorate in education leadership and a new faculty Ph.D. in education. 

University President Anthony Monaco, who explained that McCartney was on the Presidential Search Committee that selected him, expressed excitement over the selection of McCartney to lead Smith College. 

“She brings to the role a tremendous commitment to students, as well as keen insight into the challenges and opportunities facing higher education today,” Monaco told the Daily in an email. “I had the privilege of formally representing Tufts at her formal inauguration last weekend, and it was clear that the Smith community has responded enthusiastically to her warmth and dedication.” 

Former University President Larry Bacow, who worked with McCartney at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, was also happy to see McCartney in her new role. 

“[McCartney] has been nothing short of spectacular, launching new programs that cross disciplinary and school boundaries, raising resources and recruiting first rate colleagues,” Bacow said. 

The inauguration concludes a nearly year-long presidential search that began last January. The Smith Board of Trustees appointed a 12-person search committee to identify and suggest candidates to succeed former Smith College President Carol Christ, who retired in June 2013. 

Elizabeth Mugar Eveillard, chair of the Smith College Board of Trustees, believes that McCartney is an excellent fit for Smith College. 

“We sought a president who could powerfully articulate the college’s mission of educating women for leadership,” Eveillard told the Daily. “As we came to know Kathy through the search process and engaged with those who know her accomplishments and personal qualities, we came to understand that she brings all of that and more.”

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