As a high school student, Cornelia “Connie” Griffin Farmer ’67 first visited Mount Holyoke in March of her junior year. Though impressed by the interview, Connie admits that the campus didn’t “wow” her on that cold winter day. The following October, after visiting Smith as a prospective student, she returned to South Hadley.
“I came to spend the night with Bonnie Sether ’66, who had attended my high school. And it was glorious,” Connie says. “I saw how beautiful the campus really is. Everyone made me feel welcome, and made me feel good about Mount Holyoke. But even during my four years there, I never imagined how this community would enrich the rest of my life.”
Connie, who majored in history, also earned degrees from Cornell University and Marquette University Law School. In addition to raising a family, her career has included teaching land-use law at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee and the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, and serving as a land-use hearings official in Oregon. Her career has taken her from one coast to another, and wherever she relocated, it was Mount Holyoke alumnae who made it feel like home.
In Pittsburgh, Jill Brethauer ’70, who had been a freshman in Connie’s dorm her senior year invited Connie to lunch, and soon they were working together on activities for the Pittsburgh MHC Club. When Connie moved to Minneapolis in 1995, Holly Hannah Lewis ’68 hosted a dinner party to welcome her. Mary Lou Judd Carpenter ’55 also made a special effort to nurture the MHC connection. Decades later, Connie warmly recalls these special relationships. “I still consider Holly, Mary Lou, and many of the alumnae I met through them to be friends. I'm also thankful to Joanne Hammerman Alter ’49, who welcomed me to Chicago in 2001 and introduced me to extremely satisfying volunteer activities.”
In gratitude for both the intellectual stimulation and the lasting friendships, Connie has been an active volunteer for decades. She has served as class president, reunion co-chair, club president and treasurer, and head class agent. In 2007, her service to the Alumnae Association and her class was recognized with the Association’s Medal of Honor. A faithful donor to The Mount Holyoke Fund, Connie decided to expand her support by establishing a deferred charitable gift annuity as she approached her 40th reunion.
“After reviewing the giving opportunities outlined on the website, I contacted the Office of Advancement. The annuity made good financial sense for me, and it was easy to set up. It mattered to me that I could give back to Mount Holyoke while also helping my retirement. In fact, I wish I had thought about a deferred charitable gift annuity earlier, as it would have enabled me to give even more support to the College while also supplementing my retirement income. ”
Connie stays connected to the life of the College by meeting recent graduates through the MHC alumnae clubs. Through them, she hears firsthand about the initiatives keeping the College strong and vital. She continues to believe strongly that a small, residential liberal arts setting offers great advantages.
“And when that college is Mount Holyoke, you get a community for life,” says Connie. “The sense of welcome I discovered as a prospective student is a thread that has continued throughout the decades. Mount Holyoke has given me more than I could ever give back.”