Mara O'Laughlin '66 first arrived at Hobart and William Smith Colleges in 1962 as a first-year student from Manhattan, and other than a brief departure just after graduation to teach history at Romulus Central School where Christopher McDonald '77 was her student, she hasn't left.
During the course of more than 40 years of service to the Colleges, she has taken on increasingly complex administrative roles from admissions to advancement, each one allowing her to make an indelible mark on the institution. As director of admissions of William Smith College from 1974 to 1992, and then of Hobart and William Smith Colleges until 2005, she admitted nearly two-thirds of all William Smith alumnae. In 2005, O'Laughlin took on a new role - that of assistant vice president of institutional advancement for the William Smith College Centennial Fund, a position that allowed her to reconnect with the alums she first met when they applied. After the initial Centennial fundraising goal of $6 million was surpassed and a total of $8 million raised, O'Laughlin was named assistant vice president for the performing arts initiative. As such, she has played an important role in framing the scope of the new performing arts project.
O'Laughlin was instrumental in establishing "Frank's Books" in the Warren Hunting Smith Library on campus - an extensive collection of nearly 11,000 scholarly books from the library of Professor Emeritus of History Frank O'Laughlin, to whom she was married for 35 years. She also established the Frank and Mara '66 O'Laughlin Scholarship, which targets middle income students of high promise in their first year.