The Student Philanthropy Committee's December 2014 PhilanthroTea with Dianne Doherty '59
Ever since Mary Lyon founded Mount Holyoke in 1837, it has attracted a community of dynamic leaders looking to use their passion to make a positive impact on the world, from the first generations of missionaries and teachers to our current students. The Student Philanthropy Committee (SPC) was formed to allow students to come together to discuss ideas of philanthropy and its impact, as well as the significant role of philanthropy in Mount Holyoke's history and future. In honor of Mary Lyon's 219th birthday, here is a special post by the chair of the SPC celebrating Mary Lyon and the tradition of philanthropy that she inspired.
Philanthropy at Mount Holyoke: Then, Now, and Forever
by Elana Tsogt-Erdene '17
Philanthropy (noun) is defined as “the desire to promote the welfare of others, expressed especially by the generous donation of money to good causes,” but I think for Mount Holyoke, the etymological definition of “the love of humanity, in the sense of caring, nourishing, developing, and enhancing what it means to be human” is a better fit.
Founded in 1837 by Mary Lyon as an institution of higher education for women, Mount Holyoke College could not have opened its doors without a wide base of financial support from both prominent men who backed her revolutionary ideas and the local women’s sewing circles that donated the quilts and bedding. After leaving her job as assistant principal of the Ipswich Female Seminary, Mary Lyon traveled thousands of miles with her green velvet bag to raise funds and support, driven by her dream of opening an institution of higher education for women. After three years of her tireless efforts, the Mount Holyoke Female Seminary opened its doors, offering both a rigorous curriculum equivalent to those at men’s colleges and a low tuition to make education affordable for students from modest backgrounds.
To this day, her philanthropic efforts and beliefs still reflect in the Mount Holyoke mission of educating talented students from all backgrounds through an intensive liberal education, preparing them for thoughtful and purposeful engagement in the world.