Mount Holyoke Alumnae Quarterly Spring 2016

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Mount Holyoke sp r ing 2016

Alumnae Quarterly

Celebrating the Commish Looking back at Lynn Pasquerella’s successes as Mount Holyoke’s eighteenth president


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I N A F E W S H O R T M O N T H S , I will be

stepping down as the eighteenth president of Mount Holyoke College to begin a new charge as head of the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U). To say these final days in South Hadley are bittersweet is an understatement, indeed. I am grateful that I will bring so much of the College with me to my work in Washington, DC. Mount Holyoke has long been a leader in liberal education, encouraging our students to absorb all they can from the arts, philosophy, science, and languages in order to meet the challenges of the twenty-first century. I believe a life deeply rooted in the full expanse of what it means to be human is a life that is abundant and consequential. I also believe it is imperative to open doors of excellence in higher education to all students, regardless of their socioeconomic backgrounds. Serving as president of AAC&U allows me to bring my passion for both liberal learning and access in higher education to more than 1,300 member institutions around the country. I am proud of the work we

A view of the Williston Library Reading Room

have done together at Mount Holyoke, and I am eager to apply our successes to the many challenges facing higher education today. There is so much I will miss about Mount Holyoke. I will miss field hockey matches, music performances, autumn walks around Upper Lake, the utter joy of Mountain Day, and the enthusiasm at convocation. I will also miss going over to the Village Commons, ducking inside to see what’s

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“ ”

Across the country and around the world, I have witnessed the Mount Holyoke connection as a powerful circuit of unending energy. — LYN N PASQ U E R E LL A ’80

new at the Odyssey Bookshop or indulging in my Tailgate Picnic guilty pleasure: a loaded baked potato (without bacon, of course). And I will miss entering the library—as I did today—simply to take in the luminous beams of light that radiate from countless windows. One thing I know now that I did not fully understand when I began serving as college president is how connected we all truly are. Time after time, I have been impressed by the ways alumnae reach out to one other, even to those they never knew as classmates. Someone is new in town and needs introductions—Mount Holyoke alumnae are there. Someone has a health emergency—Mount Holyoke alumnae are at the hospital or texting from another state. Across the country and around the world, I have witnessed the Mount Holyoke connection as a powerful circuit of unending energy—an astonishing renewable resource. Nearly four decades ago when I first set foot on campus as a young student, I thought every Mount Holyoke experience dazzled because I had never experienced it before. I was wrong. Mount Holyoke still shines for me every single day. In the brilliant accomplishments of our students, in the incandescent connections among alumnae, and in all those library windows that illuminate our best selves— Mount Holyoke is a beacon of possibility. Of everything I treasure about Mary Lyon’s audacious experiment, it is that light I hold dearest. I shall keep it with me every day—a reminder that Mount Holyoke forever shall be.

Deirdre Haber Malfatto

President’s Pen

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SPRI NG 2016


VO LU M E 10 0



Contents F E AT U R E S

16 Celebrating the


As Lynn Pasquerella ’80 prepares to take her leadership skills to the national stage, we look back at her successes as Mount Holyoke’s eighteenth president

Cover: Lynne Graves; back cover: Erin Schaff; class rings, silverware, and page from the Book of Duties (1842-46): Joanna Chattman; McSwain: Deirdre Haber Malfatto

20 Into the Halls

of Power

Honoring Professor Victoria Schuck’s legendary Washington, DC, internship program and the Mount Holyoke women it set on the path to success



Questioning transgender policy, essay reactions, more support for Mariya Karimjee ’10


9 Ten Minutes With Story sharer Sharyanne McSwain ’84


Round-robin letters


History to Life

13 The Maven Julie Seibert Coraccio ’91 on emotional decluttering 14 The Female Gaze Studio potter Joan Libby Hawk ’69; authors Maren Bradley Anderson ’95, Talvikki Ansel ’85, Elizabeth Palermo Gonzalez ’87, and Mary Ann Villarreal ’94

Welcome Nancy Bellows Perez ’76, board of trustees approves community center, data science concentration launches, new VP of advancement

26 Bringing


35 On Display Mary Lyon’s key 36 Then and Now Dorm life


With an open-door, please-touch philosophy, Mount Holyoke’s Archives and Special Collections is helping students and alumnae connect with the College’s— and their own—rich past

Recommend an alumna, Asian Alumnae Symposium, travel opportunities, PaGE 38 A Place of Our Own Abbey Chapel

40 CLASS NOTES 10 Insider’s View Clapp Laboratory basement


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12 Go Figure Equestrian Center


Sara Hyry Barry ’94 on “Loss and the Stories that Connect Us”

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Lyons Share ON TRANSGENDER ADMISSION Anyone with a compassionate heart MOST PO PU L AR POST

“I feel like Miss Universe!” —Margarita (Gaita) Forés ’80 on being named Asia’s Best Female Chef in 2016 by World’s Best Restaurants

My 50-year grandmother class pen pal sent me a postcard: “I sent you a friend request on Facebook” @aamhc MHC alums are the coolest! C ATH LE E N PRU D E N ’ 16 @C ATPRU D E N4 8


would want transmen to have a safe place to grow into adulthood. The same can be said for any man who is a part of a minority group. However, a women’s college is not the place for them to have this, as it comes at the expense of women. In the recent article in the Quarterly (“Change in Time,” winter 2016, p. 16) absent were the voices of transwomen. Absent were the voices of all women who had chosen a women’s college. Yes, the times may have changed, but sexism is alive and thriving, and women deserve a place just for them. Let’s bring the focus back to women. With men as part of the student body, my daughter will never have a chance to experience a women’s education at MHC— and I had hoped that would be an option for her. My child may also be transgender. If so, when my child lets me know he was mis-gendered at birth I will do everything possible to help him with whatever he needs to feel comfortable. (As I did with my niece when she transitioned and who could now apply to MHC as the young woman she is—thank you.) However, I hope to raise a child who understands the importance of women’s spaces and would respect the women who choose them by not seeking them out if he no longer identifies as female. I do, and will continue to, advocate for equality for transgender people. However, male-identified students (whether transgender or cisgender) at a women’s college makes no sense and undermines the experience for the women who choose a women’s college.

MHC is dedicated to educating women, and it seems we are losing focus through our efforts to be all things to all people—and on the losing end are the women who chose a women’s college education and are no longer receiving it. —Trisha Falvey ’93 via email ANOTHER KIDNEY DONOR

I also donated my kidney in 2013 in New York City! (“A Literal Life Saver,” winter 2016, p. 9.) It was a year and a half after I graduated from MHC, and I recall the [United Way] “Be An Agent of Change” campaign. I also remember how difficult the years after graduation were, particularly professionally. I was unable to obtain meaningful work that I could survive on, and when a dear friend became ill I thought, “Well, okay, I will be an agent of change and do something meaningful.” It was the best decision I’ve ever made, and my professional goals worked out after all! —Jackie Quinn FP’12 via Association website

Join the Conversation


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Preparing to move across town next week! 1st step? Updated my address with @aamhc. ✓ Now, back to packing! @mtholyoke E M I LY WAG N E R ’08 @E LWAGS

ESSAY RESPONSE “Pro-life” is not just about hierarchy

(“Words. Power. Life.” winter 2016, p. 80). When a woman becomes pregnant, there are two lives involved: the woman’s, and the nascent life in her womb. Most of the “pro-choice” movement conveniently ignores the second life. The best time to be pro-choice, to make the choice not to have a child, is before the child is conceived. Abortion is among the worst forms of birth control. So am I “pro-life”? It’s complicated. I believe that abortion is always a negative choice, because it involves ending a life. But sometimes there are no good choices. So abortion should be safe and legal— but also rare. When I was in my early twenties, a friend thought she might need an abortion and asked if I would go with her. I said I wasn’t sure that I could. I felt bad because I was unable to support my friend. She was hurt and said, “It’s because you were

adopted, isn’t it?” Well, yes, there is that, too. I never searched for my birth mother, so I don’t know why I was put up for adoption at birth. But in the 1950s, abortion was neither safe nor legal, so the odds are good that my birth mother decided to carry me to term and put me up for adoption because she was not in a position to raise me and that was the only safe option for her. Had abortion been safe and legal my life might have ended before it began. —Deborah Simpson Hutchings ’78 via email I’ve always been confused about how the term “pro-choice” is used. In my experience, it has been used only as code for the single “choice” of abortion. While abortion may be legal, it is certainly not the only choice the mother could consider. The unfortunate thing about presenting (and electing) only the one “choice” of abortion is that the loss of a child can lead not only to longterm sadness and depression for both parents and their families, but there are also significant hormonal issues following the catastrophic interruption of the normal process

of pregnancy. So, it seems to me that, rather than ascribing a desire for “control” to those of us who consider ourselves pro-life, “control” seems to better describe those who present only one “choice”: abortion. —Cynthia Taylor Curtis ’60, Cheboygan, Michigan THANKS FOR A TRIBUTE Many thanks for the Mount Holyoke

Alumnae Quarterly that included an excerpted obit of my late wife, Nancy Gross Dunn ’52 (“Class notes,” winter 2016, p. 44). She often remarked on her Mount Holyoke years—especially in the first decade or two after I met her—and did so with much fondness. Nancy was keenly disappointed that our daughter thought the College wasn’t right for her but pleased that she did select a school (Hampshire) partly because of its proximity to Mount Holyoke. Over the years, taking advantage of drives that took us close to Mount Holyoke while traveling elsewhere, Nancy took me on a couple of visits, during which she seemed to be transported back to her undergraduate days. Must be a good place. Again, I thank you, and I’ll share the issue with our two children. —Robert Dunn via email

The perfect Saturday afternoon reading (and snacking) #purity #jonathanfranzen #mountholyoke #alumnae #ghiradelli #chocolate #saturday #athome LI Z A PARTI N GTO N ’ 13 @LI Z APARTI N GTO N

Mount Holyoke Alumnae Quarterly

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Spring 2016 Volume 100 Number 2 EDITORIAL AND DESIGN TEAM

Taylor Scott Senior Director of Marketing & Communications Jennifer Grow ’94 Editor Millie Rossman Creative Director Anne Pinkerton Assistant Director of Digital Communications Jess Ayer Marketing & Communications Assistant CO N T RIBUTORS


Kyley Butler ’18 Olivia Collins ’18 Alicia Doyon Maryellen Ryan Elizabeth Solet Nicole Villacres ’18 Amy Yoelin ’18 QUARTERLY COMMITTEE

Beth Mulligan Dunn ’93, chair Amy L. Cavanaugh ’06 Lauren D. Klein ’03 Katharine L. Ramsden ’80 The Mount Holyoke Alumnae Quarterly is published quarterly in the spring, summer, fall, and winter by the Alumnae Association of Mount Holyoke College, Inc.


President Marcia Brumit Kropf ’67 Vice President Julianne Trabucchi Puckett ’91 Treasurer and Chair, Finance Committee Tara Mia Paone ’81 Clerk Ashanta Evans-Blackwell ’95 Alumnae Trustee Catherine Burke ’78 Young Alumnae Representative Elaine C. Cheung ’09 Chair, Nominating Committee Radley Emes ’00 Chair, Classes and Reunion Committee Danielle M. Germain ’93 Chair, Communications Committee Shannon Dalton Giordano ’91 Chair, Volunteer Stewardship Committee Ellen L. Leggett ’75 Chair, Clubs Committee Elizabeth Redmond VanWinkle ’82 Directors-at-Large Katherine S. Hunter ’75 Amanda S. Leinberger ’07 Executive Director Nancy Bellows Perez ’76 ex officio without vote

Spring 2016, volume 100, number 2, was printed in the USA by Lane Press, Burlington, VT. Periodicals postage paid at South Hadley, MA, and additional mailing offices. Ideas expressed in the Alumnae Quarterly do not necessarily reflect the views of Mount Holyoke College or the Alumnae Association of Mount Holyoke College.

The Alumnae Quarterly welcomes

letters. Letters should run not more than 200 words in length, refer to material published in the magazine, and include the writer’s full name. Letters may be edited for clarity and space. To update your information, contact Alumnae Information Services at or 413-538-2303.


The Alumnae Association of Mount Holyoke College, Inc. 50 College St. South Hadley, MA 01075-1486 413-538-2300

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(ISSN 0027-2493; USPS 365-280) Please send form 3579 to Alumnae Information Services Mount Holyoke Alumnae Association 50 College St. South Hadley, MA 01075-1486

A POWERFUL TESTIMONY What courage and honesty! The

simplicity of Mariya Karimjee’s ’10 account (“Forgive/Can’t Forget,” fall 2015, p. 28) disguises the depth of the experience and her superb writing skills. This is the account I’ve never, ever read before, although FGM, called by my generation “female circumcision,” as you note wryly, is critical to millions of women and has been for centuries, even for those who have never been involved. Which is all the more reason women must bond. Thank you for this powerful testimony. —Leialoha Mark Perkins ’62 via Association website I was already aware of the practice Ms. Karimjee described, which I prefer to call FGC (female genital cutting). But the piece is definitely the most moving and heartbreaking description of FGC that I’ve ever read. There is one thing about FGC that your readers really need to know: it is not just practiced by brown and black people in farflung parts of the world, nor is it happening here in this country only to outsiders who have immigrated to the US. Female genital cutting is performed on girls and tiny babies in this country (and throughout Europe) on a daily basis—in hospitals, under the supervision of physicians, no matter what the parents’ religion, and with some of the same devastating effects. Sometimes called “sex assignment surgery,” this procedure is performed on children born with ambiguous genitalia (often referred to as having “intersex” conditions). It causes extreme emotional suffering, often deprives the “patient” of the ability to orgasm (and sometimes

The sun came out along with some love. #mountholyoke #amaro

of the ability to reproduce), and is performed with no medical justification. Instead, it is justified by outdated, stigmatizing assumptions about physical disabilities and by problematic gender stereotypes about what women’s bodies should look like. While I have nothing but praise for Ms. Karimjee’s important and powerfully written account, I write now to suggest that the homegrown, US practice of FGC deserves to be equally well known, and equally criticized. —Nancy Ehrenreich ’74 via email MOTHER-DAUGHTER BONDS I am scribe for MHC Class of

1976. We were proud to see Edith Kaselis’ ’76 essay (“Choosing Mount Holyoke Again and Again,” fall 2015, p. 80). She is a beloved member of our class. She and I share a very special connection: our mothers were both MHC class of 1938! My mother, the late Constance Loring Murray, remembered Edith’s mother, Ruth Abbott, from days on campus, and was always “tickled” that two class of ’38 daughters were also classmates. Thank you, Edith, for this wonderful essay. —Eileen Murray ’76 via Association website

Anne Pinkerton


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Uncommon Ground Association Welcomes Interim Executive Director IN FEBRUARY Nancy Bellows Perez ’76

joined the Alumnae Association as interim executive director. Perez graduated cum laude from Mount Holyoke with a degree in French. She served last year on the Association’s board as a director at large and was involved in the recent strategic planning process. Perez retired from the IBM Corporation after a long career as an executive with a

focus on driving global strategy and transformation. She is also passionate about mentoring, employee and team development, and implementing effective interpersonal communications to drive change. Perez will serve while the board clarifies the role of the executive director and undertakes a search for a permanent director. We asked her to share a little bit about herself and the work she will embark on while she is here.

TOP PRIORITIES Furthering the goals of the Association’s Strategic Plan: BUILD awareness of the Association and clarity about its work; GROW the base of connected alumnae; FORGE a powerful partnership with the College; SERVE as a strong, independent voice in support of a Mount

Credit Graves Lynne tk

Holyoke education.

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Q: Why were you motivated to take on the role of interim executive director? A: Through my recent work on the board I have enjoyed a wider view of the College and have been impressed by the changes and development that have transpired since I graduated. I have a better understanding of the role of the Alumnae Association and the impact that we all have as alumnae to the vibrancy of Mount Holyoke. This opportunity is yet another way to give back. To this day, I count my years at Mount Holyoke as some of the most wonderful and impactful years of my life. Q: Why is the work of the Alumnae Association important to both the alumnae population and to the College? A: I see the Alumnae Association as the glue that connects the global community of Mount Holyoke women to each other and to the College. Our alumnae are collectively an amazing resource to the College, to the students, and to each other. The Alumnae Association— through diverse programs, expertise, and resources—provides the foundation for these connection points and enables alumnae to stay involved via events and programs, targeted and relevant communications, and services. Q: How does being an alumna influence your work? A: It is extra special to be working for my alma mater. I am inspired to make whatever contribution I can in order to “pay back” the valuable gift of my Mount Holyoke education. Also, it is an incredible work environment to have an office in Mary Woolley Hall and to look out on Abbey/Buckland, where I lived for several years! I am able to see our work through the lens of the greater alumnae population, and it certainly influences the way I approach decisions each day. To read more about Perez, visit alumnae.

Mount Holyoke Alumnae Quarterly




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Advancement Welcomes New Vice President

Kassandra Jolley, an innovative leader who has led development and communications enterprises at Spelman College in Atlanta for the past eight years, was named Mount Holyoke College’s next vice president for advancement. She started March 1. As a senior officer and member of the president’s cabinet, Jolley will provide strategic leadership and administrative oversight of the College’s advancement programs. “As we increase our momentum around the Lynk program and take on new initiatives in support of academic excellence, the College will benefit enormously from Kassandra’s strong, innovative leadership in the advancement field,” President Lynn Pasquerella ’80 said. At Spelman, Jolley led fundraising, communications, and marketing efforts, overseeing a staff with responsibility for more than $20 million in fundraising revenue annually. Previously, Jolley served as vice president for institutional advancement at Roger Williams College in Bristol, Rhode Island, and as assistant vice president for advancement at Simmons College in Boston. She received her bachelor’s degree in communications and women’s studies from Simmons. “I am thrilled to be joining Mount Holyoke College at this pivotal moment,” Jolley said. “Mount Holyoke clearly is a place where intellectual inquiry and ubiquitous leadership development result in graduates who are fearless in their endeavors and who go on to lead meaningful lives . . . always with unwavering commitment to change.”


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In the fall Mount Holyoke College will launch a new concentration in data science through the Nexus Program, which is designed to help students link their liberal arts education with their career goals. Data science is an emerging interdisciplinary field taught primarily on the graduate level, said Martha Hoopes,

Professor Named Mosteller Statistician of the Year In late February, George W. Cobb, professor emeritus of mathematics and statistics, was named the 2016 Mosteller Statistician of the Year by the Boston Chapter of the American Statistical Association. The award is given to a distinguished and accomplished statistician who has shown outstanding service to the statistical community. Mount Holyoke was one of the first liberal arts colleges in the country to offer a major in statistics, and Cobb was the third statistician hired by the College and the first with a doctorate in the field. WE B EXCLUS IVE

To read more about this and other news from Mount Holyoke, visit

associate professor of biological sciences, who cochairs the new Nexus with Amber Douglas, associate professor of psychology and education. They noted that only a handful of liberal arts colleges currently offer a data science curriculum. “In twenty years, data science will be standard on every campus, and establishing this Nexus program is putting Mount Holyoke on the cutting edge right now,” Hoopes said. “By creating a data science Nexus, we create conversations across campus for our faculty as well as for our students. This addition invigorates our research and that sense of life in classrooms and on campus.” Data science involves the extraction of meaningful knowledge from information by using mathematics, statistics, and computer science. Researchers use data science to connect their technical skills directly to real-world challenges and events. The Nexus Program in data science was created at a time when Mount Holyoke is expanding its range in the field. The College last year partnered with Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company and Smith College to form the Women in Data Science initiative. The four-year program includes funding for five professors to work with students interested in data science. To learn more, visit alumnae.

Jolley: MHC Office of Communications

College to Offer Concentration in Data Science

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Ancient Manuscripts Discovered on Campus

MHC Office of Communications (2)

In August 2014, after a frame crashed to the floor, shattering to reveal a document beneath, Laura Garcia, director of campus technology and media support, realized that what she had thought was a print of a medieval manuscript might be an original after all. With the help of Leslie Fields, head of Archives and Special Collections, they were able to conclude that the document that had been hanging on her office wall was a medieval musical manuscript, preserved

on vellum, which could date back to the late fourteenth or early fifteenth century. Yet, this would not end the journey of uncovering mysterious, historical artifacts at Mount Holyoke College. Last fall, Assistant Professor of Music Adeline Mueller brought students from her music history survey course to Archives, where they got an in-depth look at early music manuscripts, including the one that had been in Garcia’s office. Lucy Bolognese ’18 and Selime Salim ’17 noticed a striking similarity between that manuscript and a piece hanging in Abbey Interfaith Sanctuary. After examining the piece, Mueller and Fields confirmed that it, too, was a medieval musical manuscript. Both are available for viewing in Archives and Special Collections.

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Community Center with Dining Approved In February the Board of Trustees unanimously approved plans for a $50 million expansion and enhancement of Blanchard, including renovations to all three levels of the building and an addition. Construction is set to begin in May 2016 after Commencement and Reunion and to continue in phases through spring 2018. “The Board’s enthusiastic and unanimous support for this project is a reflection of our commitment to finding innovative ways to respond to the needs of our current and future students, faculty, staff, and alumnae while at the same time honoring our beloved traditions,” Board Chair Barbara McClearn Baumann ’77 said after the vote. “This sustainable and accessible center will quickly become the heartbeat of this extraordinary institution.” The project will include a 34,000-squarefoot, one-story addition where members of the campus community will come together to share meals. The center will combine the intimacy of the Mount Holyoke experience—including themed dining rooms bringing in signature views of Lower Lake and Skinner Green—with the choice and convenience of expanded offerings and hours that students desire today, said Shannon Gurek, vice president for finance and administration. Included in the plans are a concert venue, a headquarters for student clubs, and a space that will be a coffeehouse during the day and a pub at night. The improvements also will make the building fully accessible and redouble the College’s commitment to sustainability. A significant portion of the project will be funded through donor investment. To inspire women’s philanthropic leadership and support

the creation of the community center, an anonymous alumna has already committed $5 million to the project and will match $10 million in gifts for individual commitments that exceed $250,000. The alumna donor said she was inspired by the College’s commitment to enhance an already strong tradition of community on campus and to remain competitive among other colleges nationally. “Community is something that has always been such an important part of Mount Holyoke,” the alumna donor said. “We are creating a new tradition with a beautiful state-of-the-art dining commons and center that will provide even more opportunities for students, faculty, and staff to connect as part of a larger community.” President Lynn Pasquerella ’80 noted that the project supports the strategic plan for Mount Holyoke to honor traditions while at the same time meeting the changing needs of today’s students and of generations of students to come. “One of the most valuable aspects of a Mount Holyoke education is the seamless integration of the curricular and cocurricular. Learning doesn’t stop outside of the classroom or lab,” Pasquerella said. “The new community center will facilitate the use of high-impact practices beyond the classroom—those that we know help students thrive well beyond graduation. It will also be a space where new traditions are forged, binding generations of alumnae from around the globe together through shared experience.” To learn more about the community center with dining, including a list of frequently asked questions, visit communitydining. Mount Holyoke Alumnae Quarterly




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Thanks in part to a grant from Clean Water Action, the environmental studies department has been working on overseeing Project Stream, a restoration plan aimed to improve the quality of the water entering Upper Lake and to reestablish native plant species. Part of the improvement also involves the construction of a boardwalk and outdoor classroom, which meets a project goal of encouraging visitors and program participants to learn more about and engage in ecological restoration. The boardwalk is due to be completed later this spring, with a celebration scheduled for May 14. For more information, visit projectstream.

The Mount Holyoke community mourns the passing of two of its own, Sarah (Sally) Montgomery and John Varriano. SALLY MONTG OMERY

died November 28, 2015, in Holyoke, Massachusetts. She received her bachelor’s degree in economics from Vassar and her master’s degree in economics at Columbia University.

Recruited to Mount Holyoke by Everett (Red) D. Hawkins, then chairman of the College’s Department of Economics and Sociology, she arrived on campus in 1956 and stayed until her retirement forty years later. Montgomery filled multiple roles and completed her doctorate from the University of Wisconsin in her earliest years at the College. She twice chaired the Department of Economics and was a founding member of the Committee on Planning and Budget. She was committed to increasing diversity and multiculturalism, a passion that led her to become a founding member of the Committee on Multiracial Community in 1968. In 1992 the Board of Trustees announced Montgomery’s appointment as the first dean of the College. As dean, Montgomery was integral to developing the dance major and the Five College black studies program. She was also instrumental in the creation of the Community-Based


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Learning (CBL) program. In 1996, in honor of Montgomery’s retirement that year, Mount Holyoke established the Sally Montgomery Award to recognize students or groups of students who encapsulated the blend of classroom learning with community participation through a CBL. Montgomery’s survivors include her partner, Priscilla (Chips) Wahlen, brother Harry Montgomery and his partner, and many nieces and nephews.

J OHN VARRIANO , professor emeritus of art, died January 26 at the age of seventy-three. He joined the Mount Holyoke College faculty in 1970 and taught for thirty-nine years. Active in the European Studies Program, he also served four terms as chair of the Department of Art. Varriano had a special interest in the art and architecture of seventeenth-century Rome and had published more than three-

dozen specialized studies in his field. He also published many books, most recently Edward Lear in Malta (2014). He leaves his wife, Wendy Watson, who is a consulting curator at the Mount Holyoke College Art Museum.

MHC Office of Communications (4); Montgomery: MHC Archives and Special Collections

Upper Lake Improvements

In Memoriam

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Bringing the World Together Former Alumnae Association board member S H A R Y A N N E M C S W A I N ’ 8 4 spent twenty-five years working in financial services. A desire for change coupled with a connection to a Mount Holyoke alumna led her to take her career in a new direction. Since 2008 McSwain has been chief financial and administrative officer at StoryCorps, a national nonprofit whose radio program is heard on National Public Radio. StoryCorps is committed to gathering, recording, and sharing the stories of people from all walks of life in order to build meaningful connections and create a more just and compassionate world. On how she ended up at StoryCorps: I was on Wall Street for many, many years, and I was coming toward the end of my time there. I wasn’t interested in the day-to-day work that I was doing. I had mentioned to a few people, including my classmate Kathleen (KC) Maurer ’84, who is chief financial officer at the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, that I was

interested in finding a nonprofit where I could really use all of my skills that I learned on Wall Street but feel differently about my work. KC got a call from a headhunter, and in the way that headhunters will say, ‘Well, if you’re not interested, would you give me the name of someone who might be?’ KC gave my name and a great recommendation, and that’s how I got here.

“ ”

Even if it’s only for a couple of minutes, getting in the shoes of somebody who isn’t you is an interesting place to be.

Deirdre Haber Malfatto

MHC Office of Communications (4); Montgomery: MHC Archives and Special Collections

ten minutes with


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On what she likes best about her work: I love being around so many brilliant people. There’s also a lot of what I call ‘youthful energy.’ I love our mission. I love that people have ‘driveway moments,’ or they write us letters saying, ‘I had to pull over in my car because I was crying listening to a StoryCorps story.’ I love that we also have this social justice side to us that is equally as important. On what StoryCorps offers: We try to get people focused on the lives of folks that are very different from [their own]. Yet at the same time, we’re able to pull out the very common threads of humanity, and the idea that [a listener might think], ‘This person’s socioeconomic, ethnic background is very different than mine and yet, wow, I’ve felt that way before because of x, y, and z.’ We’ve been able to connect folks on a different level, and to connect them as human beings. There are stories that need to be shared—positive, negative, intricate things, simple things—and when we share them, I think it brings us closer as human beings. On why stories matter: A street-sweeper in Paris or in Singapore or in New York City has the same view of the world. If each knew what was in the mind of the other, there would be a tightening of the world. In sharing stories, you get that feeling, ‘Oh, she thinks exactly the same way I do.’ It’s an opportunity to break down some of the barriers, some of the stereotypes, some of the misconceptions that are built up. WEB EXCLUSIVE

Listen to a conversation with Sharyanne at

Mount Holyoke Alumnae Quarterly




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Clapp Laboratory Basement Although some may find the lowest level of Clapp Hall creepy, for others it is a haven full of biological curiosities. The long hall running the length of the floor, stocked with preserved specimens and cabinets of fossils, leads to rooms that serve many functions and entertain many interests. n The Animal Rooms. Whether purple sea urchins for Professor Rachel Fink’s Bio 200 class or toads studied by Professor Gary Gillis, you’ll find it in the menagerie of the animal-care rooms. A large saltwater tank houses molluscs, starfish, and small fish, while nearby smaller tanks contain small but aggressive crayfish that will come up to the side of their enclosure and wave their claws at their caretakers, as if in anger. Temperature-controlled rooms house frogs and toads, and a tank of crickets is kept to feed them.





n Labs. Professor Stan Rachootin often meets with his evolution students in Room 8, where monstrous skulls and a camel’s leg are mounted on the wall. Across the hall, in Room 15, a small selection of his vast biological book collection are crammed in next to equipment for collecting and mounting insect specimens. n The Specimen Room. Off the animal-care room is a small, closet-like space packed with specimens, including skulls and pickled things in jars. Drawers full of mounted insects and shells are surrounded by cardboard boxes full of more biology goodies, including one that is mysteriously full of nothing but snake vertebrae and another containing birds’ nests from across campus.


n The Electron Microscopes. Mount Holyoke is in possession of both a transmission and a scanning electron microscope, housed at the far end of the hall along with six light microscopes and one atomic force microscope. Students can explore the microcosms of our world by taking a course in either transmission or scanning electron microscopy or through working with faculty to use the microscopes for research. — B Y O L I V I A C O L L I N S ’ 1 8



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Joanna Chattman

View a slideshow of more photos of the Clapp basement at alumnae.

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a place ofview our own insider’s




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A collection of stuffed birds is displayed in the hallway (A, B); a student’s collection of pinned insects is on view in Room 15 (C); a close-up of a living crayfish in one of the animal rooms (D); dozens of specimens preserved in formaldehyde line the shelves of a large wooden cabinet in the specimen room (E, F); the exoskeleton of a horseshoe crab and skulls of small carnivores clutter the specimen room (G); a collection of fossil specimens and the skeleton of a sabertoothed tiger’s skull in Room 8 (H, I); and the College’s scanning electron microscope, housed behind locked doors at the end of the hallway (J).



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Since 1987 the Center has been a training ground for some of the nation’s most elite equestrian athletes, who have earned seven national championship team titles since 2000


Number of alumnae employees—Joy Wiezbicki Collins ’91, Paula Fackelman Pierce ’94, Nikki Eula Cannici ’04

58,950 Pounds of grain fed to horses in one year

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1,040 Number of horseshoes used per academic year

January 27, 1999 Date the first and only foal was born on campus


Number of student-owned horses kept in the stables


Number of horse shows (open and team) the center hosts annually


Number of horse stalls in the center

Deirdre Haber Malfatto

go figure

go figure

Equestrian Center

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the maven


Clearing Your Emotional Clutter J U L I E S E I B E R T C O R A C C I O ’ 9 1 is an award-winning professional organizer and lifestyle

coach. Years ago, as a nanny, she left a client’s house without a fully stocked diaper bag, a misstep that she never repeated and that sparked a new career. In 2009 she started her business, Healing through Organization, based in Raleigh, North Carolina, where she lives with her husband, Tony. Coraccio is passionate about supporting people in helping them to remove clutter—both physical and emotional—so they can “share their gifts with the world.” You can listen to her weekly podcast, Clearing the Clutter Inside & Out, on iTunes and learn more at As a professional organizer and coach, I have observed that whatever is going on inside of you is often reflected in your outside environment and vice versa: depression can cause clutter, and clutter can cause depression. I view emotional clutter as feelings that prevent you from creating the life you choose. Like physical clutter, emotional clutter can be cleared, freeing us to live more joyfully.

Pay Attention Self-awareness is a necessity. Start by becoming aware of your emotions and how you respond to people, events, and situations. Notice how and when feelings prevent you from speaking up or trying something new. Observe, Don’t Judge As you become more aware of your emotional clutter, try to remain neutral. Many emotions have been labeled as good (joy, happiness, passion) or bad (anger, sadness, shame). Concentrate on observing the emotion rather than labeling it. Dig deep. Many times there are layers to emotions; sometimes under anger there is sadness. Consider your emotions as guideposts signaling the path to change. Honor Your Emotions If you are angry, can you scream? Dance? Moving our bodies helps release stagnant energy. If you are


Pitch us your area of expertise at quarterly@

feeling sad, can you cry? Talk to a friend? Your fear of the emotion may be much more difficult to overcome than expressing the emotion fully. As you practice expressing your emotions, you will get better at releasing them, alleviating your suffering.

Live in the Present Do you know where you spend the majority of your time? Is it the past, the present or the future? Do you often become angry, ruminating over past events? Perhaps learning better boundaries is a skill to transform anger into peace. If you’re anxious about having enough money for retirement, can you skip the daily Starbucks to put into savings?

The present moment represents our point of power because that’s where we can take action to change. Spend ten minutes a day noticing if you’re in the past, present, or future. Wear a rubber band on your wrist and snap it to bring you back into the moment. Or set a timer every half hour to observe where your thoughts are.

Be Kind to Yourself Practice self-kindness. Try not to be critical in your self-talk. Follow your heart. Practice healthy living. Be gentle with yourself as you work on removing your emotional clutter, and with time and practice you will put yourself on a path to living more fully. — BY J U L I E S E I B E R T CO R ACC I O ’ 9 1

Mount Holyoke Alumnae Quarterly

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the female gaze


Sculpting a Life AR E YO U AN ARTI ST?

Email your submission to quarterly@

“People are never just one thing or another. For me, life is not a dichotomy,” says Joan Libby Hawk ’69. This sentiment has guided Libby Hawk throughout her life, now more so than ever as she enters what she refers to as her “third phase,” once again as an artist. At a young age Libby Hawk showed interest in writing, art, and activism, and continued to pursue all of them during her time at Mount Holyoke. But a move to Oxford, England, with her husband, David, in 1972 gave Libby Hawk the chance to commit to art more exclusively. She enrolled at the Ruskin School

Blush Painting. 2014. Thrown vessel, burnished terra sigillata, surface decoration from horsehair and feathers on hot clay, 6.5 in x 5.5 in x 5.5 in.


of Art, “spending chilly mornings drawing Greek and Roman sculptures from the cast gallery and going to lectures on Renaissance masters and Chinese painting,” she says. She also attended Oxford Polytechnic, which provided essential training in ceramics. “Clay had everything,” says Libby Hawk. “History, archeology, science. Every civilization has expressed itself in clay. You can shape anything . . . and go down that path happily, innovating and creating for many lifetimes.” When she and her husband moved back to Manhattan in 1974, Libby Hawk applied to the City University of New York’s master of fine arts program, from which she graduated in 1977. But her time was quickly given over to the responsibilities of raising two sons and trying to make ends meet. Returning to work full time meant having to “hang up her apron,” she says, and store her tools in a friend’s basement. In 1983 Libby Hawk became director of public information and press secretary for the state of New York’s Attorney General’s Office. In 2001 she also signed on as public affairs chief for the United Nations Development Fund for Women (now part of UN Women), an organization that works in more than ninety developing countries to advance women’s human rights. After retiring from the UN, Libby Hawk and her husband moved to Sarasota, Florida, two years ago. While she continues to do consulting work, she is able to focus more on her art. She quickly discovered there was a pottery studio close to her new home and enrolled in classes. “I opened the doors, smelled the clay,” she says. “It was remarkable that so much of the coordination and sensibility was still in my head, even though it had not been accessed for forty years.” Libby Hawk continues to spend time in the studio, discovering new techniques and approaches to ceramics, including experimenting with alternative firing and building extensions to explore the negative space around each piece. She is also becoming more practiced in hand-painting her pieces, using greater detail than ever before.

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Joan Libby Hawk ’69


Listening to Rosita Mary Ann Villarreal U N IVE RSIT Y O F O KL AH O MA PRESS

Drawing on interviews and insights from ethnic and gender studies, this oral history tells the story of a small group of Tejana singers and entrepreneurs in Corpus Christi, Houston, and San Antonio—the “Texas Triangle”—during the midtwentieth century. It examines a social world and cultural landscape in central south Texas where Mexican American women negotiated the shifting boundaries of race and economics to give them a public presence.

In her most recent stint as an artist, Libby Hawk appreciated being part of a group. “When I first started I didn’t have a community,” she says. “Everyone does better in a supportive environment, and I am truly benefiting from it. The fine artists that live in the same community as I do are very supportive of what I am doing now and have given me excellent feedback, which makes a huge difference. It makes me more confident to go out into the world and try to find homes for all of my pieces.” While her path to becoming a studio potter had plenty of twists and turns, Libby Hawk is comfortable being able to redefine herself as an artist once again. “I didn’t think I’d get a shot at doing this again,” she says. “I feel very blessed.” To learn more about Libby Hawk visit — B Y J E S S AY E R


See more recent alumnae books at spring2016books.

MARY ANN VILLARREAL ’94 is director of strategic initiatives and university projects at California State University, Fullerton. She is the author and coauthor of journal articles related to Mexican American women’s entrepreneurship, civil rights activism, and race/ethnic identity. She holds a BA in women’s studies from Mount Holyoke and a PhD in history from Arizona State University.

The Universal Physics of Escape Elizabeth Gonzalez PRESS 53

This debut collection of short stories takes readers on a journey both scientific and spiritual, raising the questions: why do we stay, where do we go, and how do we build ourselves and our homes? ELIZABETH PALERMO GONZALEZ ’87 is the author of short stories published in Best American Nonrequired Reading, New Stories from the Midwest, and SolLit Selects, among other publications. Her stories have earned the 2011 Howard Frank Mosher Prize, the 2012 Tusculum Review Prize, and the 2015 Press 53

Award for short fiction. She works as a freelance writer and editor in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, where she lives with her husband and two daughters.

Fuzzy Logic Maren Anderson B L ACK O PAL BOO KS

After divorcing her unfaithful husband, Meg Taylor buys an alpaca ranch to finally do something on her own. Almost as soon as she arrives, she meets two handsome and baffling men. She thinks choosing between the shy veterinarian and the charming securities coworker is her biggest problem, until life and death on the ranch make her re-evaluate her life. MAREN (RACHEL) BRADLEY ANDERSON ’95 is a writer, blogger, and alpaca rancher, who teaches literature and

writing at Western Oregon University. She holds master’s degrees in both literature and writing from Humboldt State University and a BA in English and studio art from Mount Holyoke. Anderson lives in Monmouth, Oregon, with her husband.

Somewhere in Space Talvikki Ansel O H I O STATE U N IVE RSIT Y PRESS

Winner of the Ohio State University Press/ The Journal Award in poetry, Ansel’s third collection brings readers to a world mixed of the man-made and the natural, the cultivated and the untamable. Subjects include the lives of past writers, glimpses into history, and forays into the natural world. TALVIKKI ANSEL ’85 is the author of My Shining Archipelago, winner of the Yale Series of Younger Poets Award, and Jetty & Other Poems. She received an MFA in creative writing from Indiana University and a BA in English from Mount Holyoke. She was awarded a Wallace Stegner Fellowship in creative writing at Stanford University. Mount Holyoke Alumnae Quarterly

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In March we were pleased to have one last photography session with President Pasquerella, who met us in the library, one of her favorite places on campus.


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THE COM M ISH As Lynn Pasquerella ’80 prepares to take her leadership skills to the national stage, we look back at her successes as Mount Holyoke’s eighteenth president




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here’s no other job that could take me away from this place,” President Lynn Pasquerella ’80 said before an audience of Mount Holyoke faculty and staff in early January. The previous day Pasquerella had informed the community that, effective June 30, 2016, she’d be stepping down as Mount Holyoke’s eighteenth president to take on a new presidency with the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U), the foremost national public-advocacy organization concerned with promoting the value of undergraduate liberal education. Calling Mount Holyoke “an institution that transformed my life,” Pasquerella spoke to the importance of championing what Mount Holyoke

The theme of accessibility runs strong through Pasquerella’s presidency, most notably in her efforts to put a liberal arts education within reach of all students. In the summer of 2014, after attending a summit at the White House on the cost of higher education, Pasquerella announced that going forward Frances Perkins (FP) Scholars—students of nontraditional age—admitted to the College would be eligible for full tuition scholarships. Pasquerella also ensured that every student had access to experiences beyond campus that would support their work in the classroom through the Lynk, a bold initiative that guarantees a paid internship for every student and connects curriculum to career in a forward-facing way that readies students for the rapidly changing world that awaits.

During her tenure Lynn sought out new ways to improve the educational experience of our students while eloquently advocating in local, national, and international forums for the high academic standards that are the hallmark of Mount Holyoke.” BA R BA RA McLEARN BAU M ANN ’77, Chair of the Board of Trustees

and its peer institutions offer on a national level. In a letter to the community, she promised that South Hadley would never be far from her heart in her new role, and that as an alumna of the College she would always be “a zealous advocate for Mount Holyoke’s mission of directing liberal learning toward purposeful engagement in the world while fostering the next generation of women leaders.”

Educational Access

Known to students and alumnae as “Commish,” Pasquerella’s time at Mount Holyoke is marked by her deep commitment to creating a vibrant community and making herself accessible to those on and off campus: co-teaching a course almost every semester of her presidency, tweeting on a regular basis under the handle @commish1837, hosting events for students in her home, and personally answering every email and letter from alumnae. “President Pasquerella is always willing to engage with and participate in conversations with students,” says Carly Bidner ’16, chair of the student senate. “She is an active presence on campus and has worked to make the president’s office accessible to all of us.”


Then, in 2014 Pasquerella announced a new admission policy that allows transgender students to apply to the College. Mount Holyoke was the second women’s college in the country to implement such a policy, which remains one of the most inclusive to this day.

Financial and Intellectual Strength

President Pasquerella’s time in office coincided with a dramatic economic downturn in the US and around the world. During these uncertain years, Pasquerella turned her attention toward positioning the College for long-term financial sustainability. Despite the global recession, she was instrumental in leading a successful $305.4 million campaign, which concluded in June 2013. Under Pasquerella’s leadership the College endowment grew from $520 million to more than $717 million. Pasquerella focused not only on strengthening the College’s financial position but on its place within the larger context of intellectual debate at both the local and national level. In a January 2016 article, the Daily Hampshire Gazette called President Pasquerella “a highly public leader of a

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private college in ways that deserve to be emulated,” noting her many op-ed pieces in publications around the country and the regular radio and television segments she hosts featuring researchers and faculty discussing important issues of the day. A philosopher and scholar, Pasquerella has written extensively on medical ethics, theoretical and applied ethics, metaphysics, public policy, and the philosophy of law.

National Influence

In her new role, Pasquerella will take on the broader challenge of championing the liberal arts. Her appointment as president of AAC&U is testimony to the power of a Mount Holyoke education. In fact, she will succeed sister Mount Holyoke alumna Carol Geary Schneider ’67. Founded in 1915, AAC&U now comprises more than 1,300 member institutions and works to help colleges and universities keep the quality of student learning at the core of their work as they evolve to meet twenty-firstcentury economic and social challenges. In her first words to the alumnae community in the fall 2010 Alumnae Quarterly, Pasquerella wrote, “In every case the liberal education we have received at Mount Holyoke has empowered us to thrive in an increasingly complex global society and to respect the narratives and experiences of those different from ourselves. It is the richness of what Mount Holyoke has to offer to the world, through its alumnae, that makes it such an honor and privilege for me to serve as the College’s president.” “Lynn has been very committed to getting to know her fellow alumnae,” says Alumnae Association Board President Marcia Brumit Kropf ’67. “She meets with alumnae during on-campus events and whenever she travels outside of South Hadley. She worked closely with the Association to create opportunities for alumnae to learn more about the current state of the College and to share their concerns and recommendations related to the College’s strategic planning process through open-forum discussions and live webcasts. It has been my privilege to work with her.” When Pasquerella announced her resignation, community members on campus and alumnae across the globe reacted with sadness but expressed excitement that she would continue to advocate for institutions such as Mount Holyoke on a national stage and to promote the value of a liberal education and the expanding role of women in a global society.

LEADING SUCCESS During her tenure President Pasquerella led Mount Holyoke through a time of transformative growth, positioning the College to succeed in an increasingly competitive higher education landscape. Here’s a look at just a few of her achievements: I NC R E A S E D E N D OW M E N T F ROM $ 520 M I L L I ON

T O $ 7 17 M I L L I O N —•— L AU NCHED T HE LY NK I NI T I AT I V E I N 2014







Mount Holyoke Alumnae Quarterly

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Into the Halls of Power Honoring Professor Victoria Schuck’s legendary Washington, DC, internship program and the Mount Holyoke women it set on the path to success 20

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The ornately decorated Brumidi Corridors on the first floor of the Senate wing in the United States Capitol

icky Schuck never failed to make an impression. Former students remember her bursting into classrooms like a brilliant whirlwind, holding court in a library office scattered with books and newspaper clippings, and expertly guiding her green convertible Porsche around Blanchard Circle, a silk scarf flowing behind her like a jaunty contrail. (According to one of her protégées, she was a proud graduate of the Bob Bondurant School of High Performance Driving.) Like many formidable campus personalities, she could be polarizing, but she was widely popular, and she understood that realigning systemic power requires strong networks. “I owe my whole professional life to my Mount Holyoke education and my Vicky Schuck internship,” says Linda Melconian ’70, a longtime Massachusetts state senator who is now on the faculty of Suffolk University. “That internship opened up the world of public service to me.” Celebrating Schuck’s legacy—she died in 1999—and affirming the profound effect that the Washington, DC, internship program she created has had on the lives of Mount Holyoke College students was the impetus of the Women Leading in Public Service Summit held at Mount Holyoke in early November. For three days, alumnae with prominent positions in public service returned to campus to meet faculty and students and to discuss how best to expand access for women to public-service fields—and what it means to be a woman in power in the twenty-first century. “Vicky Schuck instilled in all of us a desire to do the best job that we possibly could,” says Sally Sears Donner ’63, who retired from practicing law in 2013 and was one of the principal organizers of the summit. “Many of her former interns were extremely successful.” Among them were many for whom the Schuck internship was a life-changing, and in some cases career-making, experience.

TO P Professor Vicky Schuck taking a stroll on campus

in an undated photo; BOT TO M Schuck (second from right, facing camera) with students in a class at the Amherst-Mount Holyoke study center, a precursor to the Five College Consortium, 1956.

By Abe Loomis Mount Holyoke Alumnae Quarterly

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Linda Melconian (left) and Sally Sears Donner

When Linda Melconian enrolled at Mount Holyoke, her dream was to be a math teacher—or an Olympic swimmer. “I liked math,” she says, “and, yes, I had other crazy ideas, too. The internship opened up a world that I just did not know.” Melconian made history when, in 1999, she became the first woman to serve as the majority leader of the Massachusetts State Senate. But her experience in politics started as an intern in the offices of Edmund Sixtus “Ed” Muskie, the former US senator from Maine, and Edward Boland, a congressman who represented Melconian’s native Springfield, Massachusetts, in the US House of Representatives. “Vicky Schuck knew enough about the different offices and the different people in Washington to place us where we would be doing substantive work,” Melconian says. Her method of securing these internships was direct—she wrote letters to senators and members of congress asking them to participate in her internship program, including a recommended student’s résumé in each letter.


Melconian’s duties included attending committee hearings, writing articles for the Congressional Record, revising transcripts, and resolving constituent issues. She also answered phones, opened mail, and made some important connections. “One reason working with Muskie was terrific,” she says, “was because my supervisor was Jane Fenderson Cabot ’65, who had been at Mount Holyoke five years ahead of me. Of course, she took a great interest in me because I was a Mount Holyoke student. So I got to work with her and do a lot of legislative research as well, which was wonderful exposure to the whole legislative process and the issues that were current at the time.” Melconian’s relationship with Cabot eventually tipped her to the job that launched her career. After graduation, Melconian worked on Muskie’s presidential campaign and, just as that job was ending, learned from Cabot that Judith Kurland ’67 was leaving her position as legislative assistant to Congressman Thomas P. “Tip” O’Neill Jr. of Massachusetts. “So I called Eddie Boland, the congressman who knew my work,” Melconian says. “He called back and said, ‘They’re going to be calling you to interview you. I told them great things.’” She took the call, and got the job. When O’Neill became House majority leader, Melconian became his chief legislative assistant and, after earning a law degree from George Mason University, assistant counsel. In doing so, she became the first woman to gain access to the floor of the House as a professional staff member in all three leadership offices. She went on to become the first woman from western Massachusetts elected to the State Senate, where she fought successfully for laws that banned discrimination in genetic testing and mandated access to health insurance for women and children.

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At Suffolk, she runs a Washington, DC, internship program of her own. “I don’t think I ever consciously thought ‘I’m going to establish a Vicky Schuck internship program here at Suffolk,’” she says. “But as I got into it I thought, ‘This is just exactly what I experienced.’” Initiated in 1949, Schuck’s program was the first of its kind, and it inspired similar innovations at countless other colleges and universities. Schuck’s practical knowledge of politics not only opened doors but made old barriers seem obsolete. “Vicky Schuck was engaged in real-world politics. It wasn’t just a subject you studied in her classroom,” says Susan L. Shirk ’67, a former US deputy assistant secretary of state who is now chair of the Twenty-first Century China Program at the University of California, San Diego. “And, especially for a generation of women who in the past had not had opportunities for these kinds of careers, having that kind of real-world experience was very important.” Shirk started in Professor Schuck’s first-year survey, Parties and Politics 101. Impressed by Schuck’s vibrant blend of charisma and rigorous scholarship, she signed on to do independent work with Shuck the following year, examining how high school history textbooks depicted political parties in American history—a topic close to Schuck’s heart. “The textbooks took a pretty negative view of party politics,” Shirk says, “and Vicky Schuck’s strong belief was that strong political parties are good for democracy.”

Melconian: Lynne Graves; Donner: Erin Schaff; Shirk: Joshua Sugiyama

Susan L. Shirk

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Schuck’s views were formed, in part, by first-hand experience in government. During and after World War II, she worked for two federal agencies: the Office of Price Administration, where she was the principal program analyst from 1942–1944; and that agency’s subsequent incarnation, the Office of Temporary Controls, where she served as a consultant from 1945–1947. She later served on President John F. Kennedy’s Commission on Registration and Voting Participation. “Vicky Schuck felt that politics was a noble profession,” Shirk says, “and she wanted to teach her students how American politics worked and encourage them to go out there and really contribute and, ideally, to run for elected office.” Schuck’s career blended the political with the academic. Born in 1909 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, she attended college at Stanford University and then taught there, earning a doctorate in 1937. She served as an assistant professor at Florida State College for Women from 1937 until 1940, when she became a member of the political science department at Mount Holyoke, where she remained until 1976. She served as President of Mount Vernon College in Washington, DC, from 1977–1980 and, in 1988, the American Political Science Association established an annual award in her name for “the best book published on women and politics.” Shirk was somewhat unusual among Schuck’s protégées in that she had not jumped in with both feet to the study of American politics; her primary interest lay instead in China and Asia. As if by magic, Schuck found an internship that was a perfect fit. “I have no idea how she did it,” Shirk says, “but she got me a great internship in Washington, in the State Department at the Office of Vietnamese Refugee Affairs. It was during the Vietnam War, and I was opposed to American policy in Vietnam, but this was the office taking care of the refugees. I felt it was only morally proper and completely defensible that we should

Mount Holyoke Alumnae Quarterly




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be trying to take care of the refugees— and, you see, it was related to Asia.” After Mount Holyoke, Shirk continued her studies at the University of California, Berkeley, and earned a PhD at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, exploring the consequences of Mao Zedong’s educational policies. She went on to help found the political science department at the University of California, San Diego, and from 1997–2000 she served under President Bill Clinton and Secretary of State Madeleine Albright as deputy assistant secretary of state in the Bureau of East Asia and Pacific Affairs. Her success owed a lot, she says, to Mount Holyoke and her mentor there. “Vicky Schuck was comfortable with power, and she wanted her students to be comfortable with power,” Shirk says. “The ambition to contribute to public service, and then to be effective in doing

it by trying to work with people and have the kind of power you would need to get something done—that was a lesson from Vicky Schuck.” Longtime employment and civil-rights lawyer Judith Lonnquist ’62 agrees. “Vicky Schuck wanted to bring more involvement of confident, capable women into the political scene—into the halls of power, where women had rarely gone,” Lonnquist says. One way Schuck helped to create confident, capable leaders was by challenging her students at every turn. Her reputation as a demanding teacher was legendary. When Lonnquist—who has since been named one of Seattle’s 100 most powerful women—walked into Schuck’s classroom as a first-year student, she wasn’t sure what to expect. All she knew was that her sister Jill, who had graduated from Mount Holyoke in 1957, had told her that she had to take a class with Schuck. “The first day of the class, Vicky is reading through the roster of students and comes upon my name, and she asks me if I were any relation to Jill Lonnquist ’57,” Lonnquist says. “I said, ‘Yes, she’s my sister.’” Schuck’s next words were enough to make even a seasoned scholar squirm: “Define politics.” A startled Lonnquist forged ahead. “And I guess I did all right,” she says, “because after that we became friends!”

Judith Kurland (left) and Judith Lonnquist


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Over the next four years, Lonnquist and Schuck often met at “Glessie’s,” or Glesmann’s Pharmacy, the legendary pharmacy and soda fountain whose bibliophile owner Romeo Grenier would soon open the Odyssey Bookshop a few doors down on College Street. “The thing to do for Holyoke students during my vintage,” Lonnquist says, “was to grab the New York Times and go sit in one of the booths at Glessie’s, and people would rotate through there. You could always find friends and faculty coming in for a coffee or a Coke.” One aspect of Schuck’s teaching that Lonnquist and other alumnae remember as especially rewarding was her insistence that her students get involved in politics at the grassroots level. As part of class work, Schuck would send students out to do neighborhood surveys in much the same way that campaign workers canvas potential voters. “That was a phenomenal experience,” Lonnquist says. “We went to these apartments in Holyoke that appeared from the outside to be rather tired and worn down, and yet you would be invited into the apartment and nine times out of ten they would be clean and vibrant, like a little oasis in the middle of the housing projects. I grew up in the suburbs of Chicago, in a well-to-do, middle-class neighborhood, and that was eye-opening for me.” The internship Schuck procured for Lonnquist—with Paul H. Douglas, who was then the senior senator from In 1974 Mount Holyoke Illinois—was also illuminating. alumnae established “Douglas was a professor himself, The Victoria Schuck and he never got out of teaching Endowment Fund to continue Schuck’s legacy mode,” Lonnquist says. “I got to know of providing students with who was in City Hall, who you would internship experiences to call if you needed to discuss x, y, or z— ascend through political the practical politics of government. and public-service And yes, to have worked with Paul sectors. Today, through Douglas did give me a nice big credenthe Weissman Center tial on my political résumé.” for Leadership, students Douglas suggested to Lonnquist interested in government, that if she wanted a career in politics, public policy, advocacy, she should go to law school, a piece of or running for office advice that would change the course can participate in the Leadership and Public of her life. She earned a law degree Service Program. at the University of Chicago and, as a result of her internship with Douglas, served as a law clerk to the chairman of the National Labor Relations Board that, in turn, led to a fifty-year career specializing in employment and civil-rights law. It was not simply Schuck’s connections, she says, but also her example that was crucial. “Vicky was the first role model outside my family who modeled for me what it meant to be a strong, intelligent woman,” Lonnquist says. “There were many people at Mount Holyoke who encouraged us to go out and be uncommon women, and that was a very clear message to which Vicky subscribed. I think that’s why I was so excited about bringing all these interns back to campus for the summit. It is always so pleasurable to see the range of experiences

Kurland: Lynne Graves; Lonnquist: Katie Brase; Glesmans’s: MHC Archives and Special Collections

Vicky Schuck’s Legacy

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Glesmann’s Pharmacy, circa 1957-1962

and brilliance and accomplishments that you find, because we all were exposed to really powerful and wise people.” Melconian likes to tell a story about the day she was sworn in as a state senator. She had arrived in Boston with a triumphant cohort on a chartered bus and, with the ceremony several hours off, somebody suggested the group visit Melconian’s new office in the Massachusetts State House. When the party trooped up the stairs and burst through the doors, there, sitting quietly on the receptionist’s desk, was Vicky Schuck. “I had no idea she even knew I was running for office,” Melconian says. “I had had no contact with her during the campaign. How she got there, I don’t know. But Vicky Schuck was resourceful. She knew what to do, where to go, and how to make things happen. She was there waiting for me—to welcome me in my new political home.” Abe Loomis is a freelance writer based in western Massachusetts.


Learn more about Vicky Schuck and experiences of alumnae interns at

Mount Holyoke Alumnae Quarterly




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written by Mary Giles

photos by Joanna Chattman


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With an open-door, please-touch philosophy, Mount Holyoke’s Archives and Special Collections is helping students and alumnae connect with the College’s —and their own— rich past

display case at the entrance to Williston Library’s main reading room is literally called the treasure case. One week you might find a handwritten draft of Wendy Wasserstein’s ’71 The Heidi Chronicles inside. The next? The school’s founding charter. Labels provide context for each exhibit, but, perhaps more important, they invite viewers to take a short walk to neighboring Dwight Hall to discover more of the gems that are permanently housed in Archives and Special Collections (ASC). With nearly 12,500 rare books and 11,000 linear feet of archival material, the ASC itself is one of Mount Holyoke’s true treasures. Venture through the large wooden doorway and down a stately staircase to the basement of Dwight and you’ll find not only an inviting reading room lined with historical photographs and portraits but an incredible repository of the College’s history that includes photos from as far back as 1845, scrapbooks, diaries, letters, and physical objects ranging from jewelry to a student’s jump rope to the green velvet purse Mary Lyon used to collect the funds to open the Seminary in 1837. The staff and student ambassadors who work in the ASC are on a mission to share the collections with as many students and alumnae as possible. As Leslie Fields, the head of Archives and Special Collections, explains, “A very important part of our work is to gather and care for this material. But that’s not the only part. I feel like we have an additional responsibility to share these resources and assist in making connections with people, to tell the stories that are here at Mount Holyoke.”

Mount Holyoke Alumnae Quarterly

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H ISTO RI CAL TEX TS RI G HT: Part of the Rare Book Collection in the basement

of Dwight Hall; I N SET: Dante’s Divine Comedy with illustrations by Salvador Dali, published in 1963. From the Dante collection donated to the College by Professor Valentine Giamatti in 1974.

A Si ngu l a r H ist ory

The stories that fill the Archives and Special Collections are as varied as the students, faculty, and others who have touched— and been touched by—Mount Holyoke in some way through the years. Housed in temperature- and humidity-controlled rooms since 1990 (for the Archives) and 2008 (for the Rare Book Collection), the ASC got its start in 1931 when the class of 1929 donated $2,000 to mount and bind Mary Lyon’s letters. In 1937 alumnae were encouraged to donate personal items relating to College history to celebrate Mount Holyoke’s 100th anniversary—and the collection has taken off from there. Many of the materials chronicle the College’s past but also women’s education in the US and, through the history of the Seminary’s early missionaries, around the world. The Archives’ historical offerings are varied and rich: a letter written by Emily Dickinson, class of 1849, describing her day-to-day life at the Seminary; personal correspondence between President Mary Woolley and Professor Jeannette Marks; hundreds of scrapbooks dating as far back as the 1880s, each filled with the kind of unexpected ephemera that transports researchers into another person’s life. Meanwhile, the Rare Book Collection boasts a broad range of titles, College-related and beyond, including textbooks known to have been used during the early days of the Seminary and a Salvador Dali-illustrated version of The Divine Comedy, part of the 200-title strong Dante collection. Martha Ackmann, an award-winning author, senior lecturer in gender studies, and former president of the Emily Dickinson International Society, brings her Emily Dickinson in Her Times seminar to the ASC each year to give context to Dickinson’s historical and educational influences. “I see the students in my class glow like light bulbs when they’re moved by the tactile experience of holding something from the Archives. They also begin to light up intellectually when they think about what they are able to do with primary materials that are not being filtered through a secondary source,” she says. Adds Fields, “Learning the history of Mount Holyoke lets students find their place here and how they’re part of it. It’s very powerful and exciting to see the resilience of the students before them and to see that there’s a model for that. They make a connection through time.” More recent holdings—freshman handbooks, programs from junior shows, copies of campus newspapers, and yearbooks—are every bit as compelling. Nancy Loving Tubesing ’65 spent a day exploring the ASC when working on her fiftieth class reunion book committee. She read the weekly schedule of events from her four years on campus, recalled poets and politicians—Robert Frost, Martin Luther King Jr.—who visited South Hadley, and combed through photos. “It was an amazing experience of putting my college years into perspective,” she says. “There is so much there just waiting to be discovered.”


L et t i ng St u de n ts Ta k e t h e L e a d

When Fields took the helm of Archives and Special Collections in 2012, one of her goals was to give student employees as dynamic an archival and work experience as possible while, at the same time, continuing to share ASC material with the College through the ongoing exhibition program. Students now propose their own research topics, then learn to curate both major and “pop-up” exhibits— those lasting just one to two weeks—in both physical spaces and online before giving presentations to the public. The result is curriculum-to-career experience they can use on résumés and in job interviews. The exhibits are located in display cases in the library and in Dwight as well as in the ASC itself. “We have this opportunity to share our collections, and that’s a privilege and a responsibility. It makes us an activist archives and not just a storage space,” says Fields. “The students are developing real-world skills they wouldn’t be able to get at larger, more restrictive institutions.” “The ASC was like a doorway into untold treasures. And the opportunities I got were so amazing, planning events and exhibits, things you don’t expect to do until you’re a professional in the field,” says Alena McNamara ’13, who is now pursuing a degree in library science and working at the MIT Libraries. While at Mount Holyoke, she curated an exhibit on the history of interactive books, such as pop-ups and those with quick-response (QR) codes. She also planned a Dante-themed party to raise awareness on campus of the ASC’s Dante collection, complete with Dante-inspired coloring pages for attendees to take home. “Working in the ASC made me think about how to reach out to others and let them know that everyone is welcome here. All of this intellectual history is here for everyone. It’s our cultural heritage,” she says. Liz Knoll ’16 and Emily Isakson ’19, two of this year’s twelve workers and volunteers, spent the fall semester preparing an exhibit called College Girl Fiction. The genre, written primarily in the 1910s and 1920s and part of the Rare Book Collection, depicts the still somewhat rarefied— and mysterious to many—world of college women. Knoll and Isakson analyzed the themes of the books—including favorite Doris, A Mount Holyoke Girl—compared how male and female authors represented their protagonists, wrote copy for their exhibits, selected the design elements for their displays, and presented the materials to the public. Says Isakson of her experience, and of working in the ASC in general, “I might want to curate one day, and this gives me an opportunity to explore history. I’ve learned so many research and problem-solving skills. I’ll be able to say, ‘This is why you should hire me.’”

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Mount Holyoke Alumnae Quarterly

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SCR APBOO KS LE FT: Page from a scrapbook created by Anne

Smith, class of 1915; I N SET: The cover of Smith’s scrapbook—blue, featuring the College seal—and other scrapbooks from the collection.

Putting the Special in Archives and Special Collections

“I like students to be able to smell and touch and experience the physicality of an object, especially if it’s a book from 1481. It has this amazing paper, and you have to touch it,” says Fields. To give students, and others, that experience, the Mount Holyoke ASC team takes anything but an oldfashioned approach to spreading the word about their offerings and their genuine desire to have the community utilize them. As Martha Ackmann says, “They are among the most innovative, creative, collaborative, and—most of all—fun people around the College.” Many of those innovations are designed to meet students wherever they are on campus. “I think of it as leaving bread crumbs,” says Fields. “We try to leave little traces of the Archives around the College so that people think about us and realize that we’re here.” Take their button-making activities, a simple but effective way to connect with students and spread the word about the ASC. Fields, archivist Deborah Richards, and student workers take a portable button-making machine and copies of interesting photos from the Archives to the top of Mt. Holyoke on Mountain Day, for example, or to the library during “stress-free study breaks.” While undergrads peruse the photos and make wearable buttons from the images, ASC staff talk up the collections. Their goal is really twofold: to encourage students to make use of the ASC—for classwork, of course, but also to, say, research campus organizations to which they belong or to investigate family genealogy—but also to begin to form lifelong relationships with those students. After all, the staff wants current undergraduates to start considering when and how to preserve and donate their own records. “Nowadays, with technology changing all the time, it’s important to be proactive in reaching out to students so they’re thinking about the Archives and how they document their time here. Because of digital records and photographs, we can’t just wait for people to clean out a box of things when they downsize later in life,” says Fields.


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The ASC has found other creative ways to bring students through the door. A year and a half ago, Fields introduced the concept of Crafternoons—monthly gatherings devoted to making a craft inspired by the College’s history. Participants might sew homemade tea bags while hearing about student tea parties at Mount Holyoke or create bookends while learning about the Rare Book Collection. Similarly, this year Fields and Carlin Ring ’18 kicked off an eight-week, hands-on workshop on bookbinding techniques, from historic methods to those used for contemporary zines. Student Liz Knoll uses one of those techniques to make zines for the ASC—mini, black-and-white magazines filled with hand-drawn captions, illustrations, and even crossword puzzles. Topics range from the College’s herbaria collection to a history of Mount Holyoke ghost stories. The zines are designed to highlight and demystify what’s in the ASC for visitors. “I like working with zines because each one is unique, and there are so many different ways to make them. It’s a fun challenge to figure out how you’re going to adapt such a flexible medium to a relatively organized environment such as an archive, because zines purposely aren’t made to fit into existing systems. On the other hand, these systems can make such awesome material more accessible and available to people, and that’s great!” says Knoll, who, like other student workers, puts in eight to ten hours per week processing and cataloging new material, fielding research questions, and staffing events in addition to making zines and staging exhibits.

and she blogs about exhibits and ASC happenings. “Tumblr gives a great little taste of what we have here,” she says. Snodgrass encourages alumnae and others to ask questions about Mount Holyoke on the blog; she’ll gladly research the answers and then post about them. One reader wanted to know the names of Mary Woolley and Jeannette Marks’ dogs. (Answer: Turvey, Chuckie Chuckles, Heron, and Bummy, among others.) During graduation weekend last year, Maria Sherry Murphy ’82 showed Snodgrass a photograph of her mother, class of 1942, and wondered if she could locate where on campus the image was taken. After some digging through Archives images, Snodgrass discovered that the photo was snapped at the Mandelles, and Murphy was able to take a picture of her daughter, Emma Murphy ’15, in the same location. Alumnae can also keep up with the ASC on other social media sites, including Instagram, Pinterest, and Snapchat.


Examples of buttons made with images from Archives and Special Collections materials, including class symbols, photographs, and valentines.

Building Br idges to A lumnae

Melina Baron-Deutsch ’16 has been working on a different sort of assignment at the ASC: the LGBTQ Alum Oral History Project. With the guidance of Deborah Richards, Baron-Deutsch and others have been interviewing alums about their LGBTQ experiences while at Mount Holyoke. “We realized how little information we had at the Archives about this community. We wanted more info, but we also wanted to connect with our alums. We’re creating a bridge between the current and former history, and the students are learning a part of their history through this process,” says Richards. Samantha Snodgrass ’18 runs the robust Tumblr blog (, posting three to four times per week to keep alumnae and others in the Mount Holyoke community up to date on ASC activities. She highlights photos and images of Archives materials that relate to current events—a 1975 poem a student wrote about exams, an image of a 100-year-old valentine, photos of Reunion—


Archivist Deborah Richards at the Archives and Special Collections reference desk in Dwight Hall. The image to her right is an enlargement of a page from one of Wendy Wasserstein’s ’71 writing notebooks in which she drafted her Pulitzer Prize-winning play, The Heidi Chronicles.

Even better than following the ASC remotely: stopping by when you’re on campus. During Reunion, the staff display documents and photographs relating to each returning class, host button-making activities featuring class symbols and photos, and provide postcards depicting returning classes. Fields and her team also teach seminars on topics such as how to use the Archives, history hunting,

Mount Holyoke Alumnae Quarterly

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3/24/16 2:55 PM

FRO M SH E LF TO D ISPL AY CASE BELOW: Head of Archives and Special Collections Leslie Fields

in the Archives stacks surrounded by boxes of College history; RI G HT: Items on display in an exhibition about College Girl Fiction: comparing and contrasting the actual experience at Mount Holyoke with the fictionalized account in Doris: A Mount Holyoke Girl; I N SET: Materials in an exhibit case. ACCESSO RI ES FACI N G PAG E : An archival storage box holds the Archives’ jewelry and pin collection, including class rings, charms, and other symbolic items.

and the recently launched crowdsourced transcription project, an exciting way for alumnae and others to get involved, helping to transcribe historical texts that can then be made available to researchers all over the world. (Learn more at What’s more, the ASC is an invaluable resource for planning class events and reunion activities. The staff provide copies of class and campus photos, event posters, dance and show programs, newsletters, song lyrics, and more. They will also loan duplicate copies of yearbooks and handbooks to display at reunion events. “We couldn’t have done what we did without them,” says Caroline Webster Bernard ’64, who turned to the Archives when creating her fiftieth reunion book. “The ASC digitized all of the images I wanted, then showed me how to download other images from their Pinterest boards. We found a great photo of the laurel chain ceremony and of Deacon Porter’s Hat and unearthed the freshman handbook’s projected budget for a year at Mount Holyoke in 1960,” she says. “Working with the staff was a marvelous experience,” agrees Tubesing. “They provided a little cocoon for us to research our class of 1965 reunion book and stimulated us to think about what it was we wanted to do,” she says. “As historians, they were also eager to hear about us and every story we could tell them about our class. It was such an affirming experience that provided an entire other level of connectedness to the College. It really was a gift.”


For the staff at Archives and Special Collections, it all comes back to making those connections—reuniting alumnae with memories, mementos, and even friends; connecting the entire Mount Holyoke community with the depth of the ASC’s holdings; and sharing the stories of the College—both old and new—with researchers, alumnae, and students alike. The shelves of the ASC may be full of treasures, but, as Fields notes, it’s through their study and use that they bring richness to people’s lives.

Mary Giles is a former editor at FamilyFun and Parenting magazines. She appears frequently on The Today Show.


Learn more about how to make a donation to Archives and Special Collections at

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MoHome Memories

Writing a Shared History Round-robin letters

“W HEN I WA S A CHILD, mother used to tell my brothers

and sisters and me about the round-robin letters,” says Susan Hewitt FP’93. “It was part of the family lore.” Hewitt’s grandmother, Alice Walker Hodgkins, class of 1909, arrived at Mount Holyoke College in the fall of 1905. By the time of graduation she had formed a tight-knit circle of friends, and they vowed to keep in touch. For sixty years Hodgkins and nine of her classmates were part of a round-robin correspondence—a package of letters, clippings, and photos that each friend added to before sending it on to the next. Once the letter reached all members, the “round robin” started again. The practice became such an important part of their lives that some of their daughters took over when their mothers passed away. Ruth Hodgkins Hewitt ’42—Hodgkins’ daughter and Hewitt’s mother—grew up hearing the stories of these Mount Holyoke women and passed them down to her own children. “Sometimes they were very poetic,” Hewitt says. “They’d write, ‘Oh, I was feeling so blue this winter, but then ‘robin’


flew in today and everything brightened.’” When Hewitt decided to return to college as an adult she was accepted to both Smith and Mount Holyoke. Her daughter went to Smith, and so her inclination was to join her there. But when she recalled the story of the round-robin letters and the intensity of the bond between her grandmother’s friends, she ultimately made her choice to attend MHC. Similarly, Marie-Louise (Pat) Paternoster Dorbandt ’50 and six of her closest classmates—Ann Shelley Dynan, Helen (Bird) Loring Ensign, Elizabeth Dwyer Hillenbrand, Elinor McKinley Norwood, Barbara (Penny) Macdonald Wilkinson, and Audrey Simkin Schlein, with Ruth Craig Morales and Maribelle (Pete) Peterson Anderson joining later—kept up a round-robin correspondence after graduation. “Once or twice a year—oh joy—a bulky envelope would arrive in my mailbox,” says Dorbandt. “It would contain letters with news of jobs, moving, boyfriends, photos, comments on politics or books, etc.” “I wish I had saved copies of my letters,” says Dorbandt. “What memories they would evoke!” — B Y T AY L O R S C O T T

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1984 Lots of people had mini TVs in their rooms. We watched bad movies and soap operas (especially the escapades of Luke and Laura on General Hospital). We decorated our rooms with Marimekko prints, posters, lots of albums, comforters, and stuffed animals. My senior year I painted my walls with phrases and slogans. After graduation I got a notice from the College that if I didn’t wash it off I’d be billed to repaint it! I did my best, but I ended up having to pay anyway. There were smoking rooms in the dorm, but they weren’t very nice so people just smoked in their own rooms. It’s a wonder the place didn’t burn down. There was always music blaring, except during study hour. Even then, we still played music until someone complained and the RA would ask us to turn it down, which we did . . . for fifteen minutes. If you really wanted to study, you went to the library. Everyone showed up for M & Cs, mostly in their Lanz nightgowns. People stayed and hung out, talked, and ate until they locked the food back up. — B Y K AT H R Y N M C H U G H ’ 8 4


View a slideshow of Mount Holyoke dorm rooms through the years at alumnae.


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Dorm Life


2016 Most people just use their laptops to watch TV, although some people have an Xbox or PlayStation as well. My walls are decorated with twinkling string lights, posters of the X-Files and Lord of the Rings, art prints, and drawings. Other people hang tapestries, artwork, or photos on their walls. A lot of us go to IKEA or Target to “pimp out” our dorm rooms. Some bring life into their rooms with plants and betta fish—many first-years have picked out a baby spider plant only to find that six months later the thing is huge and producing babies of its own. We don’t have smoking rooms any more, and there are signs everywhere warning that you’re not allowed to smoke within twenty feet of any building. Not that people pay much attention to that! But smoking cigarettes is definitely not as big on campus as it used to be. Most dorms remain pretty quiet even during the weekend. Lots of people go to the library to study, but they also work in the common and computer rooms as well as in their own bedrooms. We still get our M & Cs in our pajamas, which range from onesies to the old standby of boxers and an athletic shirt. —BY OLIVIA COLLINS ’ 18

1984: MHC Archives and Special Collections; 2016: Deirdre Haber Malfatto

then and now


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on display


Unlocked Mary Lyon’s key

F E W DE TA I L S A R E K NOW N about the key to Mount Holyoke’s

original Seminary building, but the Archives and Special Collections counts it among its collection. A skeleton key on an oversized circular ring, the key belonged to Mary Lyon, who used it to access the Seminary’s main entrance. The building housed every function of the school: dormitory, classrooms, gymnasium, library, teachers’ residence, dining room, kitchen, bakery, laundry, heating plant, and business office. The key has also been among the items presented to new presidents of Mount Holyoke during the inauguration ceremony. To view the floor plan of the original Seminary building, which burned to the ground in 1897, visit alumnae.

Joanna Chattman

The key, thought to be made of brass, measures five inches in length and hangs on a circular ring measuring five inches across.

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Mount Holyoke Alumnae Quarterly




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Class and club contacts are available online at or

Connections Travel Abroad with Sister Alumnae We invite you to join one or more of the Alumnae Association’s travel opportunities this year. Visit

PaGE Courses Mount Holyoke’s Professional and Graduate Education (PaGE) offers alumnae the opportunity to continue their Mount Holyoke education online and on campus through courses taught by Mount Holyoke College professors and guest instructors. Through PaGE alumnae can meet continuing education requirements, advance their careers, and enroll in challenging courses to further their professional development. Apply for Mount Holyoke summer courses online and on campus by visiting


SAV E T HE DAT E Alaska’s Glaciers July 9–16, 2016


Recommend an Alumna

Pin: Joanna Chattman

Each year the Alumnae Association recognizes the unique accomplishments of alumnae through several distinguished awards. By recommending an alumna, you can help the awards committees identify those in our community who are really making a difference. For more information and to recommend an alumna visit

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FOUNDER’S FUND Your gift to the


Asian Alumnae Symposium to be Held in Singapore The second Mount Holyoke Asian Alumnae Symposium will be held November 4–6, 2016, in Singapore. The event will explore the topic of innovation in Asia through a series of talks, panels, interactive discussions, and dedicated networking


opportunities. Come tour the

HELPS US SUPPORT the activities of alumnae around the world.

country of Singapore and connect



multicultural, dynamic island with sister Mount Holyoke alumnae. Learn more at alumnae.

Mount Holyoke Alumnae Quarterly




3/24/16 2:58 PM

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Deirdre Haber Malfatto


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a place of our own

I’d never experienced a female priest until MHC. Just seeing Janet Cooper Nelson up there was moving. She was such an erudite speaker. I’d never heard anything like it in church. She truly inspired me. —KERRI BIANCHI ’88

Mount Holyoke Alumnae Quarterly

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3/29/16 2:25 PM

my voice


Loss and the Stories that Connect Us By SAR A HYRY BARRY ’94


Pitch your topic at quarterly@


deep blue possibility, and the warmth and brightness of the sun filled me with hope. I had just said an easy goodbye to my three-year-old. Seeing a new preschool mom behind me, I smiled, “Hi, I’m Sara, Elizabeth’s mom.” “Amy,” she answered and mentioned how hard it was leaving her only daughter. Her phrasing made me ask if she had a son in the school. No, just the daughter in Elizabeth’s class. “And how about you?” I told her about Kathleen, Elizabeth’s big sister next door in kindergarten. A pause. “And I have a son, who died as a baby,” I added. She took a step toward me. She asked me to talk, to tell her as much as I wanted to about him. I told her his name was Henry, and then my story tumbled out slowly and in rushes. Her hands were warm and firm on mine, and she squeezed just a bit when I faltered in my telling. She kept my gaze through each word. Henry lived for six-and-a-half months and died in December 2007. Since then I’ve gotten stronger, more practiced in saying “my son died,” but it’s never been easy. Five years before I met Amy, another mom struck up a conversation with me about three-month-olds and front-facing baby carriers.

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“Do you have any other children?” she asked over the hum of the room. “I have a son, who died as a baby,” I answered, deflated and heavy. I glanced down at three-month-old Kathleen. When I looked up, the woman had disappeared. Over the years, people have responded with awkward pauses, hugs, or too many words, trying to fill the empty space created when “baby” and “died” were strung together. Sometimes they have simply said “me too.” In telling my story, I’ve discovered that people open their arms and hearts or they open up to show me their losses. Last fall, on International Infant I wanted to and Pregnancy Loss Remembrance Day, acknowledge the I posted on my MHC losses tucked away class Facebook group. I wanted to acknowledge in others’ hearts. losses, ones I didn’t know about but sensed were there. I opened a thread for stories, names, dates, whatever people felt moved to share. Responses came in, loss after loss, and I sat with each one, honoring them. More recently, I joined the Facebook group Moho Mamas. Scattered through the introductions that flooded my feed, I saw miscarriages, preemies, deaths. Each time, I offered words from my heart: “I’m so sorry. You’re not alone.” When Henry died, I felt lost and alone. Despite a strong, supportive network of family and friends, I needed to connect with other parents in mourning. I needed to tell my story again and again (and again). Eight years after the death of my son, my circle of friends is broader and richer. I talk about Henry more easily, less desperately now. But I keep telling my story, because it helps me shape what happened to me. I tell my story as a lifeline to somebody who might be where I was eight years ago. I tell my story because, as I retell it, I connect with other women and their hidden losses. I connect with people who hold space for me. And I connect back with myself, changed forever by my first child, no longer here.

“ ”


AS I WALKED to my car, the September sky was full of

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Your legacy: Own it. Shape it. Name it. Norma Jean Barrett ’04 credits Mount Holyoke for helping her defy the odds. To ensure the same opportunity for future women, she has named the College a beneficiary in her will.

“I already give annually through The Mount Holyoke Fund,” says Barrett.“Each time, I think of the younger version of myself. I think of the many young women overcoming obstacles to be at Mount Holyoke College. I want to help them—now, and in the future.” Making a gift is, according to Barrett, “incredibly easy.” To learn more, contact Anne Vittoria FP’05, director of gift planning, at 413-538-2637 or

Read Barrett’s story at

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50 College Street, South Hadley, MA 01075

Michelle Hurst ’74, actor. Laakan McHardy ’16, theatre arts/psychology major. Connected in November 2015 when Michelle returned to campus to speak at the Black Alumnae Conference. Laakan was assigned to be her assistant. The two shared an immediate understanding of each other and have kept in touch as Laakan navigates her way from student to alumna. Discover what the power of the network can do for you. Update your information and start connecting.

Laakan McHardy ’16 Michelle Hurst ’74

Read more about this Mount Holyoke connection at

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