Jill Ker Conway, author and the first woman to be named president of Smith College, died June 1, the New York Times reported. She was 83. Conway, who was raised on a giant sheep ranch in the remote grasslands of Australia, followed up her decade leading Smith with the publication of "three acclaimed memoirs, among other books, and championed feminist causes and ideas."
"One of the things I really like about Jill's life as a model is that she had different chapters in it," said Kathleen McCartney, Smith's current president, adding that she was struck not only by what Conway did for the college, but also by her multiple roles as feminist, author, scholar and woman of influence on the boards of companies like Nike and nonprofits like the Kellogg Foundation.
Her books include the memoirs The Road from Coorain (1989), True North (1994) and A Woman's Education (2001), as well as When Memory Speaks: Reflections on Autobiography (1998). She was also the editor of several books, including Written by Herself: Autobiographies of American Women (1992) and In Her Own Words: Women's Memoirs From Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United States (1999).
When she was awarded the National Humanities Medal by President Barack Obama in 2013, the citation noted that "her deepest legacy may be in her autobiographical writings. Studies in achieving the examined life, Conway's books have taught countless women and men to practice self-awareness, to acknowledge their own ambition, and to relish leadership."