Hundreds Turn Out as McCormick Hall Celebrates 50th Anniversary

Five-decades of pioneering women alumnae gathered on the weekend of Oct 5-6 to rejoice and celebrate their special experiences as residents of McCormick Hall. This all-female dormitory was the first of its kind at MIT, and remains a highly popular choice for current undergraduates.
The commemorative weekend was filled with as many stories, laughs, hugs and bonding moments as activities for alumni to participate in. The event began with a Saturday brunch and “memory” hall tour, followed by an afternoon Symposium, featuring McCormick alumnae from five different decades. Saturday evening festivities began with a reception attended by MIT President Raphael Reif and his wife Christine.
Speakers at the afternoon symposium ranged from the keynoter, former McCormick Housemaster Professor Margery Resnick, to MIT alumnae including panel moderator Karen Arenson ’70, former New York Times editor and reporter, Dr. Barbara Gilchrest ‘67, a member of the first class of women to go through all fours at McCormick, Pat Callahan ‘75, a Vice President at Wells Fargo & Company, Chiquita White ‘85, an Associate Director for Research at Procter and Gamble, Monisha Merchant ‘99, a Senior Advisor to U.S. Senator Michael Bennett, Jasmina Aganovic ‘09, owner of Bona Clara skincare and beauty products company, and Henna Jethani ‘14, the current McCormick Hall President and Aeronautics and Astronautics undergraduate.
Saturday concluded with a gala dinner in the La Sala de Puerto Rico. The evening’s program included several high profile speakers, like MIT Association EVP Judy Cole and the new Dean for Undergraduate Education Dennis Freeman. Current McCormick housemasters Prof. Charles Stewart and Kathryn Hess added their thoughts on McCormick’s legacy and introduced several other former housemasters and staff who have served there over the years. The night closed with a series of spectacular performances by a series by five different Asian student dance troupes. Dean for Student Life Chris Colombo served as emcee for evening and captured the feelings of many when he said, “What a marvelous weekend for these alumnae, students – for everyone that is a part of the McCormick community.”
Many alumnae returned for the Sunday brunch in McCormick and shared more of their feelings and memories of life at McCormick. “Our living group was our home, it was a place of comfort and learning,” said Bonny Kellerman ’72 a key organizer of the celebration. The atmosphere at the 50th anniversary was filled with a ubiquitous passion the women felt for their former home in Cambridge. As alumna Monisha Merchant ‘99 put it, “McCormick was the place that grounded me and friends. We spent time studying, eating pizza and just harboring a sense of community. It helped me not be intimated of the challenges put forth in front of me.”
When it opened 50 years ago, McCormick Hall allowed MIT to admit many more women undergraduates and that trend has not abated since. McCormick Hall remains a beacon of strength and pride for MIT women. “We spend so much time in McCormick. Whether it’s baking, laughing or studying, it remains a driver of so many diverse communities,” said one undergrad. With tears flowing down her face, Sarah Simon ’72 portrayed McCormick’s symbolic existence past and present, “It was the place that opened the doors for women who wanted to study science and technology. It is an amazing place.”
Check out the photos from McCormick Hall's 50th Anniversary on our Flickr page.

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