Jill Ker Conway, the first woman to become president of Smith College, has died at age 83.


NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (AP) – Jill Ker Conway, the first woman president of Smith College in Massachusetts, has died at age 83. The school says the writer and scholar died Friday at her home in Boston.

Conway, a native of Australia, was named president of the women’s liberal arts college in Northampton in 1975. During her decade long presidency, Conway spearheaded new programs and oversaw a near tripling of the school’s endowment

After she left Smith, Conway wrote three best-selling memoirs, including  “A Woman’s Education.” She received the National Humanities Medal in 2013 from Democratic President Barack Obama.

Conway also served as a visiting professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology until 2011. Smith President Kathleen McCartney calls Conway a “groundbreaking and gracious” president and good friend and mentor.