November 2016 Smithie of the Month: Glenna Hazeltine


Glenna (Susie) Hazeltine, Class of 1966

HOW LONG HAVE YOU LIVED IN PHILADELPHIA?  I have had two sojourns in Philadelphia.  Right after graduation, my newly minted husband and I moved onto UPenn’s campus while he went to Wharton and I taught at the Frankford Friends School. I was – and am – impressed by the Quaker approach to education: academically challenging in an ethical context and culturally rich. We followed his career to Chicago and Houston, and I returned to Philadelphia with my two sons in 1980 so that they could go to Germantown Friends School and I could go to law school.

WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE RESTAURANT IN THE CITY?  During my first experience of Philadelphia, the restaurant revolution hadn’t yet begun, and our favorite then was mom’s home cooking in Lancaster, which was home for us both and to which we returned on weekends.  When I came back in 1980, Commissary Market had just opened and from Commissary many wonderful restaurants emerged.  Today, my absolute favorite is Fiorino’s, an exquisite Italian restaurant in East Falls, to which I can – and do – walk.

WHAT ARE YOU UP TO NOW?  Now, I am multi-tasking.  I continue to work as an attorney, specializing in the civil rights laws applicable to disabled students, representing school districts. Otherwise, I spend as much time as possible visiting my far-flung children and grandchildren.  My older son and daughter-in-law are Foreign Service Officers and have been stationed so far in Serbia, Guatemala, Ecuador, Zambia and France.  I have spent Christmas in most, including one memorable New Year’s on safari along the mighty Zambezi. I will spend this Christmas in Paris.  My younger son and daughter-in-law are both lawyers in Houston, my son the appellate lawyer for Children and Youth while my daughter-in-law represents unaccompanied illegal immigrant children.  They are the parents of my extraordinary (of course!) grandchildren, Oliver, at 7 a thoughtful, insightful dynamo of energy, and Clara, at 4, she who must be obeyed.  I commute to Houston as often as my – and their – schedules permit.  A highlight of my calendar each year is Grandparents’ Day at their school.

WHAT HOUSE DID YOU LIVE IN ON CAMPUS AND WHAT WAS YOUR FAVORITE THING ABOUT IT?   I knew when I toured the College that I wanted to live on the old campus.  My roommate and friend from school days’ mother went to Smith and in support of our preference suggested that we ask for Wesley, which was not listed as a choice at that time and so would likely ensure our placement – and so we did.  As a result, we lived for one year in Wesley and for three years in Haven.  About both and especially Haven, I loved their old world gracious charm and grande dame beauty.  But most of all over the years, I deeply value my talented and seriously wonderful class-and-house mates. A large representation from Haven-Wesley ’66 comes back every five years, and our friendships and support for each other have grown over more than fifty years, a great gift from Smith.

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE SMITH?  I wish I could say it was for high purpose and holy, but it was because my Princeton uncle told me to.  And he was right.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE SMITH TRADITION AND WHY?  Well of course, it is Smith’s history of graduating out-spoken and unafraid, high achieving women.  Once one has had “the Smith experience,” one is no longer “girl,” “woman” “chick” or other, some vulgar, descriptor:  one is a combination of talents and gifts not to be locked within someone else’s gender box.   It makes us annoying in all the right ways.  

Otherwise, my favorite Smith tradition is our life-long friendships, and the reunions and our connections that we pick up again just as if five years had not intervened – never mind 50!  

WHO WAS YOUR FAVORITE PROFESSOR/WHAT WAS YOUR BEST CLASS?  I came to Smith, sure there’d been a mistake, and if they found out I was there, they’d send me home.  I was an English major but never dared approach any one of such venerable and revered personages – until I went back to Smith for an alum event sponsored by government Professor J. Patrick Coby, an enactment (not re-enactment) of Henry VIII’s Reformation Parliament.  It was an exciting and engaging long weekend, most of all for the opportunity to engage with him.  It was a lot of fun.  So much so that an alum’s young daughter who participated applied to Smith early decision.  And went.

As for my best class, I still feel the riveting terror I felt then when Professor Young, a war-injured vet, limped into my first Shakespeare class quietly murmuring, “Now is the winter of our discontent….”

DO YOU HAVE A DEFINING/FAVORITE/MOST MEMORABLE TRANSFORMATIVE SMITH MOMENT?  We came to Smith trailing expectations for women from the’50s and were on campus for the revolutionary ‘60s:  the Vietnam War, draft card and bra-burning, the assasination of JFK, the Civil Rights marches, the murders of Schwerner, Chaney and Goodman, the Black Panthers, the SDS, and the second women’s movement: we experienced a whirlwind of change and emerged into a world that ultimately, finally, learned not to ask us how many words we could type. Smith was a transformative agent for us at a transformative time for the country.

WHAT MAKE A SMITHIE UNIQUE?  Hmmmm:  I think the answer is the Supreme Court’s for pornography:  not sure, but I know it when I see it.  Openness? Authenticity? Intelligent interest and engagement?  …. I remember being on campus as an undergraduate for the return of reunion classes.  Because Haven is close to John M., we had some of the oldest returning women.  While they entertained with stories of what Smith was like at the turn of the century, what they were most interested in was what they were doing now, the book they were reading, their travels, their next adventure….And in us:  what books we were reading, what we were going to do, what our next adventure was to be….

HOW DID YOUR SMITH EXPERIENCE SHAPE YOUR LIFE?  There is little in my life that was not shaped by Smith.  It gave me, to quote Garrison Keillor, the strength to get up and do what needed to be done.  And the confidence that surely a Smith woman could do it.   

I was called this year by an undergraduate to thank me for my donation to Smith, for ensuring Smith’s future.  I told her that I gave, not so much to ensure Smith’s future as to thank Smith for ensuring mine.


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