Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Academic fund established in memory of Five College pioneer

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A fund meant to finance academic programs in the Five College Consortium has been established in honor of a recently deceased, longtime member of the administration.

In honor of her numerous contributions, the Consortium has started the Jackie Pritzen Fund to ensure that her legacy of generosity and passion for higher learning lives on. Kicked off last November by a donation from Hampshire College alumna Jacqueline R. Slater, the fund has already raised over $165,000 in Pritzen’s honor.

“Jackie was liaison to a wide range of academic committees during her long tenure with the Consortium,” Five College communications director Kevin Kennedy said. “In recognition of her versatility, funding will be awarded to Five College academic programs based on applications submitted to the consortium.” Kennedy went on to say that applications would be taken on a rolling basis, and will begin this fall.

The generous spirit and academic focus embodied by the fund is quite representative of the person it was named in honor of. A Fulbright scholar and Yale graduate by the time she began working for the Five College Consortium in 1969, Pritzen worked tirelessly and selflessly to help lead and establish many of the collaborative projects enjoyed by Five College students today. Over the course of her 25-year career with the Consortium, Pritzen played a leading role in establishing the African Studies Council, American Indian Studies, the Center for East Asian Studies, Coastal and Marine Sciences, East Asian Languages and the Latin American Studies Council. She is also credited with developing the first coordinated Five Colleges Calendar, greatly facilitating cooperative efforts between the schools.

Pritzen reflected on these and her many other contributions in a 1995 interview following her retirement.

“(The presidents of each of the Five Colleges) saw a new era coming, and knew that not all institutions would be able to keep up with the knowledge explosion,” Pritzen said. “(Colleges in the Pioneer Valley area) weren’t going to be able to expand their curriculum and student body the way larger places could, so they looked to each other for help.”

This posthumous fund is not the first time Pritzen’s contributions to the Five Colleges have been officially recognized. Upon her retirement in 1995, the Five Colleges initiated the annual Jackie Pritzen Lecture. The lecture is free and open to the public, and has hosted a variety of interesting guest speakers and topics in the years since its inception. One notable example is the physicist who discussed a potential theoretical basis for time travel.

Beyond her numerous academic contributions, Pritzen was a beloved and gregarious member of the Pioneer Valley community. She was a diehard Red Sox fan, an apt political conversationalist and a great cook. She garnered the reputation of a true and caring friend, always lending an ear to those in need.

Pritzen died on Aug. 10, 2013 – two days after her 83 birthday. Her life and legacy was celebrated at the Hampshire College Red Barn on Feb. 16 from 2 to 4 p.m.

Josh Darling can be reached at [email protected]

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