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SOUTH HADLEY — Mount Holyoke College President Sonya Stephens announced that she will step down in August to become president of the American University of Paris.

Stephens joined Mount Holyoke in 2013 and served as vice president for Academic Affairs and dean of faculty before being appointed acting president in 2016 to replace Lynn Pasquerella. In 2018, the board of trustees voted to remove the ‘acting’ title.

In a letter to the Mount Holyoke community, Stephens said her new role in Paris is a “unique opportunity to advance a contemporary expression of the liberal arts in France — one that brings together so many of my intellectual and administrative interests and commitments.”

She added that “it has been an extraordinary honor and a privilege to serve you and Mount Holyoke since 2013 and to work in concert with brilliant and exacting students, with a faculty that is as devoted to outstanding scholarship as it is to cultivating inquiry in others and with a leadership team and staff so exceedingly devoted to our mission. It has been inspiring and motivating to work with such an engaged, thoughtful, generous, and dedicated board of trustees, and to come to know, admire, and deeply appreciate the wider alum community. While I have held different roles over these nine years, I see our work together as a continuum — one focused resolutely on the future strength of the college, on enhancing the exceptional educational experience it offers, and on the community that makes this possible, here on campus, across the nation, and worldwide.”

In the past six months, Stephens is the third president in the Five Colleges community to announce she will be stepping down, following Amherst College President Biddy Martin in September and Smith College President Kathleen McCartney last week.

Daily News

SOUTH HADLEY — Mount Holyoke College announced it has received the largest gift in support of financial aid in its history. Alumna Liz Cochary Gross and Philip Gross have committed $10 million to be directed to scholarships and financial aid.

“With this gift, my husband Phill and I hope to inspire others to invest,” said Liz Gross, a 1979 graduate and a member of the Mount Holyoke board of trustees. “We need to ensure students with diverse backgrounds and from a wide variety of economic circumstances have the opportunity to join the Mount Holyoke community and thrive as student scholars and change agents.”

Nancy Nordhoff, a 1954 graduate, also committed $1 million to support future Mount Holyoke students across the economic spectrum.

“When I heard about the $10 million gift, I found myself wanting to jump right in to support the financial aid and scholarships,” Nordhoff said. “I’m proud to be part of giving, and I encourage others to join us.”

These two gifts are the seed for Mount Holyoke’s new Meet the Moment Scholarship Challenge. This challenge offers donors the opportunity to double — or triple — their impact with their endowment gifts.

“The Meet the Moment Scholarship Challenge is an investment in the future — the future of Mount Holyoke College and the futures of the talented students who will benefit from the education and the financial support that these endowed scholarships make possible,” President Sonya Stephens said. “I am deeply grateful to Liz and Phill Gross for their generosity, and for inspiring others to join them in their commitment to the college, its students, and the affordability of an outstanding liberal-arts education.”

For first-time donors to endowed financial aid, the Meet the Moment Scholarship Challenge will match two dollars for every one dollar contributed for gifts between $50,000 and $250,000. For repeat endowed financial-aid donors, the challenge will match new gift commitments between $50,000 and $250,000 dollar for dollar.

The college is seeking to raise at least $20 million in new gifts and commitments over the next 18 months. As of Jan. 14, Mount Holyoke has already secured more than $5 million in gifts and commitments toward this effort, above and beyond the $11 million in challenge gifts.

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