Honorary Degrees
1918 - Present

Mary Bunting Smith 
Doctor of Humane Letters  1983
Status: conferred

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.

In recognition of the changes in the climate of opportunity for women, changes which she helped to nurture and foster, changes which expect and support intellectual and vocational achievement for women, and changes which have decisively altered the institutions that educate those women, Southern Methodist University is proud to confer upon Mary Bunting Smith the degree Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa.