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William Smith Leaders

Barbara L. Springstead ’57, L.H.D. ’90
Honorary Trustee

Barbara Lynch Springstead, a Geneva native, was the 1953 valedictorian of DeSales High School and graduated cum laude from William Smith College in 1957. An English major, she was active in various clubs and committees, was senior class president, a member of Hai Timiai, and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. As a student, Springstead received the Welker Prize for a woman, “who has been of the greater general good to the development of the Colleges.”  

Springstead has certainly been for the greater good of the Colleges. She has worked steadily for William Smith since her graduation. She was assistant director of admissions of William Smith College from 1958-1961 and director of admissions from 1961-1965. She was a member of the Board of Trustees from 1970 until 1987 and served on the Campaign for the Colleges from 1983-1988. In 1982, Springstead was social chair of her reunion. She was interim alumnae director from 1992-1993 and was a member of the Alumnae Council from 1998-2001. In 1997, Springstead received the Elizabeth Herendeen Odell Award. For ten years, from 1992-2002, Springstead was the Colleges’ representative to the Rochester Regional Library Council and was chair of that group for three years. She was the HWS coordinator of the Elderhostel program from 1995-1998. A member of the Wheeler Society, Springstead is currently an honorary trustee of the Colleges and lives in Geneva with her husband Ralph Springstead ’47. 

How did serving on the Board of Trustees change your view of the Colleges?
It broadened it. I had been a student, an administrator and an alumnae council member. Each of these roles had their own point of view but service on the Board forced me to view the Colleges in a far larger context. The Board has to deal not only with today but with long range plans for both the physical and the intellectual development of the Colleges.

What were the most important initiatives undertaken during your tenure on the Board?
I served as Chair of the Committee on Buildings and Grounds for 11 years so I am inclined to think of some of our new buildings first. The moving of Boswell Field and the construction of the Warren Hunting Smith Library was certainly important as was the building of the Scandling Center. The inclusion of students on the Board of Trustees was a welcome initiative as was the implementation of Title 9 which brought William Smith Athletics into a new and stellar era.

Did the coordinate system have an impact on you as a student? What about after graduation as a volunteer?
Yes, it did. In the 50s, the coordinate system permitted women to accept leadership roles that might otherwise have been denied them. After graduation, it may have had less import as alumni/ae as we worked together to achieve our goals.

How do you define leadership?
The ability to bring about comfortable consensus from a disparate group of people.

How did you get where you are today? Can you trace it to a certain moment, experience or personality trait?
I don’t believe that there has been on defining moment. Certainly, my undergraduate years at William Smith were important. Hard to imagine today but William Smith was the largest school that I had ever attended and as such opened new doors for me and to use that popular word, “empowered” me.

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