About Rally Day
For their extraordinary professional achievements and outstanding service to their communities, four alumnae have been named 2014 recipients of the prestigious Smith College Medal. The honor was bestowed at Rally Day on Wednesday, February 19.
Susan Hiller ’61, artist
Susan Hiller is one of the most influential artists of her generation. Trained as an anthropologist as well as an artist, she uses cultural artifacts—from postcards to narratives of near-death experiences—to explore aspects of the subconscious, the supernatural and the paranormal. The results are groundbreaking works that combine multimedia technology, sound, imagery and the written word. For close to 40 years, Hiller has been in London, out in front of trends that would later shape the art world. Her 1983 work, “Belshazzar’s Feast/The Writing on Your Wall,” which simulates a live television broadcast in a cozy living room, was the first large-scale installation acquired by the Tate gallery to use video at its core. Her works have been acquired by many other museums and foundations, including the Smith College Museum of Art, and she has received numerous art fellowships and accolades, including a Guggenheim Fellowship and a National Art Foundation Fellowship. She has taught at the Slade School of Fine Art and served as distinguished visiting professor at California State University, Long Beach; visiting arts council chair at the University of California, Los Angeles; and as Baltic Professor of Contemporary Art at the University of Newcastle. Following her graduation from Smith with a degree in American studies, Hiller went on to study for a doctorate in anthropology on a National Science Foundation fellowship at Tulane University in 1965. She has authored several books, most recently The Provisional Texture of Reality and The Dream and the Word.
Susan May Molineaux ’75, biotech entrepreneur
For more than two decades, Susan Molineaux has been doing what she loves: leading the development of drugs that extend—and save—the lives of patients suffering from devastating illnesses. As co-founder and CEO of the biotech company Calithera Biosciences, Molineaux is taking novel approaches to cancer therapy by developing drugs that block dysregulated metabolic pathways that control growth and survival in cancer cells. One of only a few executive-level women in the field of biotechnology, Molineaux earned a degree in biology from Smith and a doctorate in molecular biology from Johns Hopkins University and then completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Columbia University before making the decision to move from academics to the pharmaceutical industry. She began her career working at Merck, an experience that enabled her to see firsthand the power of research applied to the development of drugs. Looking for a more fast-paced and entrepreneurial environment, Molineaux then joined a series of biotechnology companies, where she worked to discover drugs to treat Alzheimer’s disease, autoimmune diseases and cancer. And, in 2003 she became co-founder, president, CEO and director of Proteolix, Inc., in San Francisco. Molineaux is a co-author of several patents relating to her work on Alzheimer’s disease and cancer treatments. Her research has been published in leading scientific journals, and she lectures frequently about biopharmaceuticals. Molineaux serves on several nonprofit and industry boards and makes time for mentoring young women seeking careers in biotechnology.
Amy Ellis Nutt ’77, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author
Amy Ellis Nutt believes in her profession’s unofficial credo, that the job of a journalist is to “comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.” Nutt, who double-majored in English and philosophy and rowed crew at Smith, began her career as a philosophy lecturer at Tufts University and the University of Massachusetts Boston before being hired as a fact checker at Sports Illustrated. Three years later, she wrote her first piece for the magazine. While working there, she attended Columbia University and in 1995 earned a master’s degree in journalism. Shortly thereafter, she began her career at The Star Ledger, New Jersey’s largest newspaper, where she works today. In 2009, Nutt was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for her series of stories about a man who became an “accidental artist” after suffering a brain injury. Two years later, Nutt won a Pulitzer Prize in feature writing for her investigation into the mysterious sinking of a scallop fishing vessel off the coast of Cape May in 2009. In addition to the Pulitzer, Nutt has received numerous prizes and fellowships, including the Nieman Fellow in Journalism at Harvard University, the Distinguished Writing Award from the American Society of Newspaper Editors and four Front Page Awards from the Newswomen’s Club of New York. In 2011, Nutt published her first nonfiction book, Shadows Bright as Glass, which grew out of her story about the “accidental artist.” When Nutt isn’t writing, she is teaching students at the Columbia School of Journalism and at Princeton University.
Farah Pandith ’90, special representative to Muslim communities
Appointed in 2009 by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Farah Pandith leads U.S. efforts to engage and deepen our relationships with Muslims around the world. Pandith has traveled to more than 80 nations to advance President Barack Obama’s goal of promoting “mutual interest and mutual respect.” Her youth-focused initiatives have helped fight intolerance, bigotry and extremism. In 2011, The Washingtonian magazine named her one of the U.S. capital’s 100 Most Powerful Women. In 2013, she received the State Department’s Distinguished Honor Award for “exceptionally outstanding service to the agencies of the U.S. government resulting in achievements of marked national or international significance.” A tireless champion of liberal arts education and the value of public service, Pandith played an instrumental role in creating and developing the Women in Public Service Project, a partnership among the State Department and Smith, Mount Holyoke, Barnard, Bryn Mawr and Wellesley colleges to inspire, train and mentor a new generation of women to enter and lead in the public sector. Before becoming special representative, Pandith was senior adviser to the assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs. From 2004 to 2007, she served as the director for Middle East regional initiatives for the National Security Council and from 2003 to 2004 served as chief of staff to the Asia Near East Bureau at the U.S. Agency for International Development. At Smith, Pandith studied government and psychology and was president of the student body. Pandith received a master’s degree from The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University.