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John M. Greene Award

Kate Belcher Webster ’46

For more than 55 years, you have responded enthusiastically and unhesitatingly to every need of Smith College. You served as Chair of the Board of Trustees, Alumnae Trustee, President of the Smith College Club of Seattle and, at present, Chair of the Medal Committee. You are an unparalleled example of dedicated service to Smith College.

Your career as a volunteer began upon graduation from Smith, when the Class of 1946 needed a fund agent. You took the job simply because you were asked to do it. Thus began a personal tradition of keeping in touch with Smith graduates throughout their lives and throughout the world.

Moving to Seattle in 1947 with your husband, Holt, you quickly became involved with the Smith College Club of Seattle. Over the years -- while you skied and sailed, cooked creative casseroles and drove countless carpools for your three children -- you also served as the elected president of this active Seattle Smith Club. Deeply involved in your community in many capacities, you were regarded as a dependable and decisive leader of the local Smith alumnae.

In 1985, while serving as chair of the Board of Regents of Washington State University, you were elected as an Alumnae Trustee at Smith. Your first Board meeting was also the first for the newly appointed president, Mary Maples Dunn. Your judgment and experience were invaluable as the College plotted its course for the future. Having your granddaughter, Sarah, at Smith while you were serving on the Board was fun for both of you and provided lively insights into what was really happening on campus, as well as another link to the college that both your sister, Suzanne, and your daughter, Anne, attended.

Although your five-year term as Alumnae Trustee ended, your work on the Board was so outstanding that you were called back three years later as Chair-Elect. Once again, you embarked on those pre-dawn flights from the West Coast to the East for the myriad meetings and strategy sessions. Your hearty laugh and the twinkle in your dark eyes enhanced your leadership skills as listener, evaluator and humanist concerned about all members of the college community.

As Chair of the Board, you exemplified skilled leadership while regularly facing challenging issues, all the time keeping a sharp eye on costs. You helped Smith find Ruth Simmons, its ninth president. You became her partner and launched Smith into its next brilliant chapter. With Ruth as president and you as Chair, Smith embarked on a major institutional self-study that culminated in ambitious objectives, including the engineering program, the Praxis program and the Kahn Liberal Arts Institute. You oversaw the Campus Center feasibility study and the decision to renovate and expand the Fine Arts Center, building projects that are now coming to fruition. You planted and nurtured so many seeds from which the institution now reaps benefits.

Kate, the breadth and depth of your commitment to Smith College are remarkable. It is with deep gratitude that the Board of Trustees presents to you the John M. Greene Award for distinguished service to Smith College.

Rochelle Braff Lazarus ’68
Chair, Board of Trustees
February 20, 2003