October 2016 Smithie of the Month: Jennifer Walters


Jennifer Walters, Class of 2005*

*Class Year: I began at Smith as dean of religious life in 2001 and “graduated” in 2016.  It was the best 15 years of college anyone could have.  But I identify with the class of 2005; we went through a lot together.

How long have you lived in Philadelphia? I moved to Ardmore this summer to begin my new position as Dean of the Undergraduate College at Bryn Mawr.

What’s your favorite restaurant in the city? Last month I enjoyed dinner at White Dog Café with my Smith colleague, Jessica Bacal, director of the Wurtele Center for Work and Life.  I am still exploring – and looking forward to dining my way through the city.

What are you up to now? I am developing relationships at Bryn Mawr, and learning how these two important women’s colleges, Bryn Mawr and Smith, while having similar missions have very different campus cultures, assets, and challenges.

What house did you live in on campus and what was your favorite thing about it? I “lived” in the Helen Hills Chapel.  My favorite thing about it is how students came to see it as their sanctuary for conversation, home-cooked meals, and companionship.

What is your favorite Smith tradition and why? My favorite traditions are Otelia Cromwell Day and Julia Child Day – both named after distinguished alumnae.  I love that they capture two spirits of the college, striving for social justice and delighting in the things of ordinary life.

Do you have a defining/favorite/most memorable/transformative Smith moment?  My entire Smith education, all 15 years of it, was transformative.  There were many defining moments, starting with the attack on 9/11 just a few weeks after I arrived. Over the years, we had numerous all-college meetings about difficult and vital issues facing the Smith community and the broader world. I value how we — students, faculty, and staff — grappled with wicked problems and our own messy reactions to them.  This is a real strength of Smith.

How did your Smith experience shape your life?  Nearly all students upon graduation from Smith say that they leave more confident about who they are and what they are capable of.  This is true of me as well.


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