Thursday, April 25, 2013

The Pangy Connection

If one of Mount Holyoke’s founding trustees, Edward Hitchcock, had had his way, every day would be Pangy Day at the College!  Hitchcock was a member of a committee of merchants, clergymen, teachers, farmers, and other “benevolent gentleman” who, in 1834-1835, worked with Mary Lyon to establish a new school for the higher education of women.  Lyon refused to have the institution named after her, having seen many schools closed after a founder’s death.  In newspaper articles describing the proposed school, Hitchcock suggested the name “Pangynaskean”, compounded from three Greek words meaning “whole woman making”.  His idea met with much derision in the press and on April 15, 1835 committee members voted name the school after a popular tourist destination near South Hadley.  Despite the rejection of his well-intentioned suggestion, Hitchcock’s dedication to the institution never wavered, and he served as a Trustee until his death in 1864.  And, in 1980, his once-ridiculed name was proudly used for a new Mount Holyoke tradition which annually celebrates the past, present, and future of the College.