The Rites of Spring at Manhattanville College – The Inauguration Of Dr. Molly Easo Smith

April 7th, 2010 was a very important day at my alma mater, Manhattanville College. There was a celebration of the Inauguration of Dr. Molly Easo Smith, the 11th President. There was a ceremony in The Chapel with a reception following in The Castle with several of the former Presidents in attendance. The Faculty attended in full Academia Regalia. There were also representative dignitaries from 50 Colleges.

“Dr. Molly Easo Smith, a teacher and scholar of Shakespeare and Renaissance drama, comes to Manhattanville as the College’s eleventh president after a long and distinguished career as a faculty member, scholar, and administrator. Born in Chennai (formerly Madras), India, Dr. Smith graduated from Ethiraj Women’s College and Madras Christian College in the University of Madras, with BA and MA degrees in English, respectively, and from Auburn University with a Ph.D. in English Literature in 1988. She has lived and worked in several states in the United States as well as in Scotland, where she taught Shakespeare and Renaissance Drama at the University of Aberdeen. Dr. Smith has published two books on Shakespeare and his contemporaries as well as several essays on Renaissance drama and literature. Recently, she embarked on a journey of reflection by writing short stories based on her childhood in the southern Indian states of Tamil Nadu and Kerala.”

To end this special day, there were many activities in The Berman Student Center named after the former College President, Richard Berman, who served from 1995-2009.

There was the Opening of the Exhibit in The Arthur M. Berger Art Gallery named “Patterned Tactics” – Sculpture and Painting. The artists are both on the faculty of Chester College of New England in Chester, New Hampshire. Christina Pitsch, the sculptor in the exhibit, drew her inspiration from both the biker culture and how it related to the herd mentality of deer. Deer roam my property in Katonah throughout the year but to see them captured in clear vinyl with supports of Plexiglas and cast resin antlers and hoofs which had an almost Steuben Crystal like quality was very intriguing. She cut and sewed the pieces together after making a pattern of fabric. She truly captured their proportions and gentle stances in this most unique medium.

Her colleague, Megan McNaught, had large canvases and worked in both charcoal and paint with her geometric net-like patterns. Her receding perspective gave the accurate hard lines a softness. One work with tall rectangular shapes reminded me of a cityscape at twilight. I could see these wonderful large pieces of painting and sculpture gracing a reception area in an office setting or in a contemporary home. Maybe I should have them at my next Real Estate Open House!

Following the opening there was a multicultural dance exhibit in the open space of The Berman Center which boasts a wall of windows that offer the most spectacular view of the beloved Castle and Chapel. Some of the cultures represented were Celtic Step Dancing, Hawaiian, and Indian. The Manhattanville site, former estate of New York Herald Tribune publisher and Ambassador to England, Whitelaw Reid was once considered as the possible home of The United Nations before it became Manhattanville College of the Sacred Heart in 1952. It has always boasted a strong International student body.

I had a lovely chat with the new President, Dr. Smith, who I had thought left prematurely but then shortly returned. The explanation given by a faculty member was that after such a long day she just had to get out of those high heels! A woman after my own heart!



I wish her the best in her term as College President and will always have a place in my heart for Manhattanville College.

Karen Benvin Ransom was the recipient of the Castle Award from Manhattanville College in 1989 for her Entrepreneurial Achievements.

Posted By:  Karen Benvin Ransom

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