Pearl Sydenstricker arrived in Lynchburg, Virginia, in the fall of 1910 for her first extended stay in the United States since her family's furlough from China almost ten years earlier. She enrolled in Randolph-Macon Woman's College, an institution founded just nineteen years earlier by William Waugh Smith, a Methodist clergyman and president of Randolph-Macon College in Ashland, Virginia. Randolph-Macon Woman's College was to be "a college where our young women may obtain an education equal to that given in our best colleges for young men and under environments in harmony with the highest ideals of womanhood." In addition to its academic rigor, it appealed to her missionary parents for its location in the South, near her parents' families and her brother Edgar.
Pearl graduated in 1914 with majors in philosophy and psychology and was invited to return the following year as assistant in the psychology department, a position she was forced to leave when her mother became seriously ill in China. She retained ties to the college and her classmates for the rest of her life, however, returning for several reunions and delivering the commencement address in 1964. Therefore, as the hundredth anniversary of her birth approached, it seemed fitting that her alma mater recognize her wide- ranging accomplishments as writer, humanitarian, and advocate of international understanding.
The Pearl S. Buck Centennial Symposium began as the vision of two alumnae of Randolph-Macon Woman's College, Janet Otte Holbrook and Barbara Boyle Lemon. Through the efforts of many faculty members, students, administrators, and other alumnae of the college, as well as friends and admirers of Pearl Buck in the United States and China, their dream evolved into a fully packed three-day program in March 1992. Significant financial support came from the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities and Public Policy, the Inez Duff Bishop Annual Visiting Scholar Fund, the Sarah