WELLESLEY, Mass. (WBZ NewsRadio) — Wellesley College is mourning a groundbreaking alumna.
Madeleine Albright, the first-ever female Secretary of State in U.S. history, died after a battle with cancer, her family announced Wednesday. She studied political science at Wellesley and was a member of the class of 1959.
In a letter to the Wellesley community, college president Paula Johnson memorialized Albright and said she will be remembered as a friend and devoted alumna.
"One of my favorite memories since coming to Wellesley is having the honor of moderating a discussion in Alumnae Hall in 2019 with Madeleine and former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton ’69, who were on campus for their class reunions," Johnson wrote. "Both wonderful storytellers, they kept the audience laughing—and they left no doubt about how important Wellesley College was to their remarkable trajectories."
Albright joined forces with Wellesley in 2009 to create the Madeleine Korbel Albright Institute for Global Affairs at the college, which served as the school's international affairs institute. The institute took on 40 students each year. Johnson said Albright was very involved in the institute and would arrange lectures, critique presentations, and would even meet with students to share her experiences.
In a statement, the institute said they know the past and future Albright fellows will continue to carry forward her legacy.
"She taught us that being a diplomat means approaching even the most difficult of problems with empathy and humor, without abandoning your principles along the way," the statement reads. "She showed us that good leadership isn’t about any single individual, but about collaboration and cooperation across our differences. She was fiercely proud of the now over 500 Albright Fellows who had the opportunity to learn from her."
Professor Stacie Goddard, the director of the Albright Institute told WBZ's Nichole Davis that Albright was an inspiration to the Albright fellows.
"We have lost somebody who was not only so important but so unique," Goddard said. "She might have been one of the most empathetic people I ever met and she would stress that that was actually the key to her diplomacy".
A month before her death, Albright penned an op-ed in the New York Times denouncing Russian Vladimir Putin and his actions towards Ukraine leading up to Russia's eventual invasion. Goddard said Albright had hoped the world would come together against the invasion in the way that it has.
"As much as she saw the invasion as a tragedy, as much as she saw this a blunder, she also saw at this moment the U.S., Europe, and partners in Asia as well really coming together to denounce this as a fundamental violation of territorial sovereignty," Goddard said.
Albright was 84.
WBZ's Nichole Davis (@NicholeDWBZ) reports.