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Mills Quarterly Spring 2006 Alumnae Magazine


Science Building under

Construction see page 7

Public Interest Lawyer Diane Chin, ’85 Teacher and Author Yiyun Li Arrives at Mills


Mills College changed your life. Now you can bring that opportunity to more women. Giving to Undergraduate Scholarships through the Mills College Annual Fund helps exceptional women attain their educational goals.

Meet Alison Lazareck, ’08 Major – Psychology Interest – Developmental Psychology and Psychopathology Passion – Clinical practice or intensive research Scholarship – Mills College Scholarship

“My experience here would not be possible without the scholarship I receive, and I am so grateful to have it!”






Mills Quarterly


In the Public Interest: Lawyer Diane Chin, ’85

by Jo Kaufman

Born in Oakland and educated at Mills and Northeastern University’s School of Law, Diane Chin has dedicated her career to representing the poor and disenfranchised. Now she’s coaching the next generation.


Mills Hosts Kol Isha: Jewish Women’s Voices Unbound by Julia Silverberg-Nemeth, ’05, MFA ’07

An all-day conference at Mills kicks off a series of events celebrating the creativity, scholarship, and indomitable spirit of Jewish women.


Teacher and Author Yiyun Li Arrives at Mills

by Vanessa B. Marlin, ’06

She came to this country to study immunology and is now garnering prizes for her writing.


Wild Things Still Make My Heart Sing

by Daphne Muse

Mills and Mother Nature meet when wild turkeys suddenly appear.

D E PA R T M E N T S 4

Inside Mills


Mills Matters







ABOUT THE COVER: Mills College Campus Architect Karen Fiene goes over the plans for the new Natural Sciences Building with site superintendent Dan Piceno of J.R. Griffin Construction. The new building is scheduled for occupancy early next year. Article on page 7. Cover photo by Peg Skorpinski.

Mills Quarterly Volume XCIV Number 4 (USPS 349-900) Spring 2006 Alumnae Director Sheryl J. Bize-Boutte, ’73 Editor David M. Brin, MA ’75 <> (510) 430-3312 Design and Art Direction Benjamin Piekut, MA ’01 Associate Editor Pat Soberanis Contributing Writer Moya Stone, MFA ’03 Editorial Assistance Alison Lazareck, ’08 Quarterly Advisory Board Jennifer Neira Heystek, ’04, Marian Hirsch, ’75 Jane Cudlip King, ’42, Jane Redmond Mueller, ’68 Cathy Chew Smith, ’84, Ramona Lisa Smith, ’01, MBA, ’02 Sharon K. Tatai, ’80 Lynette Williams Williamson, ’72, MA ’74 Class Notes Writers Sharada Balachandran-Orihuela, ’05 Alice London Bishop, ’58, Julia Bourland Chambers, ’93 Laura Compton, ’93, Barbara Bennion Friedlich, ’49 Sally Mayock Hartley, ’48, Marian Hirsch, ’75 Cathy Chew Smith, ’84 Special Thanks to David M. Hedden, Erinn House, and Jane Cudlip King, ’42 Board of Governors President Thomasina S. Woida, ’80 Vice Presidents Anita Aragon Bowers, ’63 Jane Cudlip King, ’42 Treasurer Beverley Johnson Zellick, ’49, MA ’50 Alumnae Trustees Leone La Duke Evans, MA ’45 Sara Ellen McClure, ’81 Sharon K. Tatai, ’80 Governors Lila Abdul-Rahim, ’80, Michelle Balovich, ’03 Micheline A. Beam, ’72, Sheryl J. Bize-Boutte, ’73 Cecille Caterson, MA ’90, Harriet Fong Chan, ’98 Vivian Fumiko Chin ’89, Beverly Curwen, ’71 Suzette Lalime Davidson, ’94, Cynthia Guevara, ’04 Linda Jaquez-Fissori, ’92, Krishen Laetsch, MA ’01 Mary Liu, ’71, Leah Hardcastle Mac Neil, MA ’51 Nangee Warner Morrison, ’63, Michele Murphy, ’88 Diana Birtwistle Odermatt, ’60, Ramona Lisa Smith, ’01, MBA, ’02, Jennifer Torkildson, ’06 Lynette Williams Williamson, ’72, MA ’74 Sheryl Y. Wooldridge, ’77 Regional Governors Joyce Menter Wallace, ’50, Eastern Great Lakes Nancy Sanger Pallesen, ’64, Middle Atlantic Albertina Padilla, ’78, Middle California Adrienne Bronstein Becker, ’86, Middle California Judith Smrha, ’87, Midwest Linda Cohen Turner, ’68, North Central Carolyn Chapman Booth, ’63, Northeast Brandy Tuzon Boyd, ’91, Northern California Gayle Rothrock, ’68, Northwest Louise Hurlbut, ’75, Rocky Mountains Colleen Almeida Smith, ’92, South Central Dr. Candace Brand Kaspers, ’70, Southeast Julia Almazan, ’92, Southern California Elaine Chew, ’68, Southwest The Mills Quarterly (USPS 349-900) is published quarterly in April, July, October, and January by the Alumnae Association of Mills College, Reinhardt Alumnae House, 5000 MacArthur Boulevard, Oakland, CA 94613. Periodicals postage paid at Oakland, CA and at additional mailing office(s). Postmaster: Send address changes to the Mills Quarterly, Alumnae Association of Mills College, P.O. Box 9998, Oakland, CA 94613-0998. Statement of Purpose The purpose of the Mills Quarterly is to report the activities of the Alumnae Association and its branches; to reflect the quality, dignity, and academic achievement of the College family; to communicate the exuberance and vitality of student life; and to demonstrate the worldwide-ranging interests, occupations, and achievements of alumnae.

On This Issue Sometimes you find what you’re not looking for. A few weeks ago, I got a phone call from someone looking for a historical photo that he believed the Alumnae Association had. After searching in various files, nooks, and crannies, I asked Sheryl Bize-Boutte if there were any old photos in her office. She told me about the photos and negatives in the antique desk in her office. I was delighted at the glimpse of Mills they showed us, and I took the negatives to a photo shop for prints. Three of the photos appear on the back cover of this issue. As you can see, they were quite a find. The name Ruth Craig was written on the back of some of the photos and on the envelope with the negatives. This clue led to the discovery that Ruth entered Mills in 1911 and graduated in 1915, that her sister, Ann, had attended Mills as well, graduating in 1924, and that Ruth’s daughter, Marjorie Merrell Bartlett, was a Mills alumna from the Class of 1949. I had met Marjorie when she was here for her 50th Reunion in 1999. I called Marjorie, who didn’t know anything about the photos, but she told me she had donated Ruth’s scrapbook to the Mills College archives. My next call was to Marge Thomas, the longtime executive director of the Alumnae Association and former Mills Quarterly editor. Marge informed me that the desk had belonged to Aurelia Reinhardt, and that after her death, it was given to the Alumnae Association. When the negatives came back, one print immediately drew my attention: a vinecovered building with three students standing on the steps. I showed it to Alison Lazareck, the Mills student who is helping with the Quarterly this semester. I had asked Alison to write something for the Quarterly on the topic of “one hundred years ago at Mills.” I usually consider such topics a dubious use of space, but 1906 was a momentous year in the history of the Bay Area, and I thought our readers might want to know something about how the quake affected the Mills community. I showed the photo to Alison and told her, “If this is the Nathaniel Gray Hall of Science, it’s the perfect photo to illustrate your article.” It turned out to be just that. (Alison’s article and the photo appear on page 9.) No one has been able to explain how or why the photos came to be in that desk in Sheryl’s office. Maybe some further bit of evidence will turn up and solve the mystery. Meanwhile, in addition to these archival photos, we have an array of new photos and articles of interest in this issue of the Quarterly. You will meet Diane Chin, an outstanding Mills alumna with a passion for social justice; Yiyun Li, assistant professor of English, who came to this country to study immunology and is now winning prizes for her writing; and young alums Thea Hillman, Jamila Jackson, and Cenk Ergün, all of whom are bursting with creativity. I hope you’ll enjoy this issue.

Come to Our

Annual Meeting Come and hear updates about what’s happened in the last year from

Thomasina Woida, AAMC President Sheryl J. Bize-Boutte, ’73, Executive Director, AAMC Leone La Duke Evans, MA ’45, Alumna Trustee Participate: Vote for the new Nominating Committee, whose members will select new members of the AAMC’s Board of Governors. Attending the Annual Meeting is your opportunity to make yourself heard.

May 13, 2:00 p.m., Lucie Stern 100

Reunion 2006 “IN THOSE DEAR OLD COLLEGE DAYS, IN THOSE DEAR OLD COLLEGE DAYS, FREE FROM SORROW, CARE, AND STRIFE, THE HAPPIEST MOMENTS OF MY LIFE” That’s an old, old Mills song, and the lyric writer chose to overlook term papers, pop quizzes, and finals; but at Reunion 2006 there won’t be any such headaches, so it may well be among the happiest moments of your life. Your Reunion committee works ten months of the year, and more, to make it so. September 14, 15, 16, and 17 are the days of celebration, particularly for those whose class year ends in 6 or 1 but also for anyone who wants to come for our big weekend house party. You’ll be able to march in the academic procession for Convocation, and you’re invited to attend lectures offered by Mills faculty members. You’ll hear a report on the State of the College by President Janet Holmgren, with reports on the State of the Alumnae Association by President Thomasina Woida and Executive Director Sheryl Bize-Boutte. The committee is working on offerings—movies? dance? What would the reunioners most want? We ask ourselves these questions to meet our goal of keeping you entertained. There will be tours of campus, old buildings, new build-

ings, and buildings aborning. There will be class dinners and all-alumnae lunches and dinners, a concert, and a special memories service to end Reunion on Sunday. There’ll be lots of time to catch up with all your old classmates, especially at the Sharing Tables at the Saturday Picnic. Your class secretary’s letter should tell you about that: we began it last year, and it was a winner. Reunioning classes will find the brochure in their mailboxes in June. If you are not a reunioner but want to come, contact Reinhardt Alumnae House, (510) 4302110, or <> for a copy of the brochure. If you want to volunteer to help at Reunion, use those same contact numbers and address your offer to Chris Kramer, Director of Alumnae Relations. We need a great deal of volunteer help to keep it all humming. The song goes on with “You can hear those old chimes ring . . . Come on, Mills girls, come on, Mills girls,” and we hope you do. El Campanil and your Reunion Committee await you. —Jane Cudlip King, ’42

Spring 2006 M I L L S Q U A R T E R LY




hy is women’s aptitude in the sciences still being questioned? Why is the percentage of women in scientific careers still so low? Mills College addresses these issues and the national challenge to advance women in science by preparing the next generation for scientific leadership. Our students gain exceptional knowledge and skills in an environment of rigorous academic study, the use of interdisciplinary approaches, and unparalleled faculty mentoring— hallmarks of all Mills programs. What sets Mills apart is the College’s commitment to a firm grounding in

the liberal arts for all science students. We teach science and global analytical thought, as well as providing the opportunity for the synthesis of art and science. Strengthening our long-standing commitment to scientific inquiry, in 2005 Mills initiated bachelor of science degrees in five majors: biology, biochemistry and molecular biology, biopsychology, chemistry, and environmental science. Offered in addition to bachelor of arts degrees in these disciplines, the new degrees are specifically designed for undergraduates seeking more specialized preparation for

graduate school or postgraduate science careers. Now more than ever, effective scientists must possess a firm grounding in the humanities. The College is in a unique position to offer an integrated program of sciences with arts. Far from abandoning its liberal arts roots through this effort, Mills is graduating women scientists at the forefront of their fields, but with the important difference of infusing the arts into their courses of study. Full integration of the arts and sciences is a major initiative for Mills’ future, and a goal for which the College is uniquely situated.



ills College was honored in June 2005 to receive a major grant from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation supporting its innovative Nursing Leadership Program. The fiveyear grant of more than $473,000 will enable Mills to advance women as future leaders in nursing and to increase the number of nurses entering the profession. Health care providers and experts report a shortage of nurses around the country. The shortage is expected to increase as baby boomers age and fewer nurses enter the workforce. Nurses able to treat complex needs (such as emergency or acute care) are also in short supply, and technological developments demand increasingly sophisticated nursing skills. Furthermore,


M I L L S Q U A R T E R LY Spring 2006

quality of care is negatively impacted by the nursing shortage. Launched in fall 2005, Mills and Samuel Merritt College offer an exceptional program in nursing leadership, aimed not only at providing a higher number of nurses, but promoting women to higher-level nursing positions. Founded in 1909, Samuel Merritt College is the largest source of nurses in the greater East Bay. Together with Mills, the schools have initiated a new intercollegiate nursing program, which combines a two-year liberal arts education at Mills with two years of nursing education at Samuel Merritt College. In addition, with support from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, Mills has created an innovative Nursing

Leadership Program for the Mills nursing students. Mills students who successfully complete their first two undergraduate years in pre-nursing are guaranteed admission to Samuel Merritt’s bachelor of science in nursing department. A liberal arts education from Mills will help future nurses think critically and independently, understand a variety of perspectives, and communicate well with their patients, skills that are essential for effective nursing. As a women’s college, Mills brings special resources to this new nursing education partnership. Mills is known for educating active thinkers who relish complex ideas and who can think from a variety of perspectives and disciplines. Our science curriculum fos-


ters excellence by promoting investigative learning and interdisciplinary study, bolstered by a rigorous undergraduate research program. On top of our superb liberal arts curriculum, Mills’ Nursing Leadership Program will prepare future nurses to take leadership in addressing the challenges they encounter in the field. “Mills provides an outstanding education in the liberal arts and general

sciences, and Samuel Merritt excels in clinical education, so the combination of both curricula is powerful,” says Anne Seed, director of admission at Samuel Merritt College. “This generous support from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation will allow Mills to create a high quality nursing leadership program with excellent preparation for a critical profession,” says Marianne Sheldon, asso-

ciate provost at Mills. Nurses, the backbone of the healthcare system, can and must play an important role in improving patient care. Our unique Nursing Leadership Program augments the nursing students’ rigorous liberal arts education at Mills and empowers our graduates to step forward and help create clinical environments where nurses and their patients thrive.



n addition to instituting the bachelor of science degree, Mills College has initiated leading-edge programs aimed at advancing women in the sciences with a background in the liberal arts:

Infant Mental Health In fall 2005, Mills became the first educational institution in the world to offer an integrated curriculum that provides undergraduates majoring in psychology the opportunity to pursue an accelerated 4+1 master’s degree in infant mental health. This groundbreaking program focuses on developmental prevention, intervention, and building a healthy future for children. Exciting research at Mills shows that babies and toddlers perceive much more of their surroundings and human interaction than previously thought. Studies of teens prove that early intervention with very young children can make a significant difference in their later levels of connectedness and happiness. Mills College’s psychology department supports research at the forefront of this vital field. Once our psychology students reach the master’s level, they may go on to PhD programs at major universities.

Our 4+1 program gives them a tremendous advantage in applying for these competitive programs. Post-Bac Pre-Med Program Mills College has a record of excellence in pre-professional education of physicians and other health professionals. Mills College’s post-baccalaureate pre-medical program prepares students to gain admittance to prestigious schools such as Stanford and Harvard medical schools, and UC San Francisco. With a shortage of women leaders in medical fields, Mills is uniquely positioned to bolster their preparatory studies in medicine. The post-baccalaureate pre-medical program opens this educational opportunity to women and men who already have a bachelor’s degree and have decided to pursue a career in the health professions, but lack some or all of the basic science courses. Students who need to complete all of the basic premedical science courses usually take two years to complete the program. The program is flexible, and can be tailored to suit a student’s specific background in science and mathematics. To earn the program certificate,

Carol George, professor of psychology, and Esther Lee Mirmow Chair

students must complete (at Mills) at least one half of the science courses required by medical schools. Required courses are general biology, chemistry, physics, and organic chemistry, each with a laboratory component. Post-bac pre-med students enroll in regular Mills courses taught by Mills faculty; the average class size is about 25 students. At Mills, the academic atmosphere is one of encouragement and optimism. Students support and help each other and are cooperative and friendly as they seek their mutual goals. Spring 2006 M I L L S Q U A R T E R LY




ach of the new science initiatives aims to provide Mills students with the opportunity for expanded choice and fulfillment in their careers. Mills Professor of Chemistry John Brabson points out that successful scientists often find themselves fully tenured at leading research universities, where they are required to become managers supervising their laboratories and technicians, professors supervising graduate students in the classroom, grant-writers pursuing funding, and ultimately visionaries writing scientific papers to communicate their findings. Brabson says, “It is in this second stage of a scientific career that

graduates with a strong humanistic education thrive. Since this career stage lasts for the rest of one’s scientific life, this is a powerful advantage.” Mills Alumnae in Science Careers Our science graduates pursue a wide range of careers at major institutions such as Kaiser Permanente, Roche Diagnostics, and Lawrence Livermore Laboratory. Over the decades, Mills alumnae have served as leaders for NASA and the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission, have founded biotechnology and software companies, developed innovative therapies, and provid-

ed medical services to children in Third World countries. Mills alumnae use their synthesis of liberal arts study and scientific expertise to make the world a better place. As we tackle the ethical conundrums of 21st-century technology, we require researchers and technicians to grapple with aesthetic, philosophical, and cultural issues in addition to their science. Mills fosters an atmosphere of scientific inquiry and education based on a foundation in the liberal arts, and by requiring intellectual cross training, develops practitioners well-suited for modern science.

Professor of Chemistry John Brabson teaches future scientists in the lab.



M I L L S Q U A R T E R LY Spring 2006




he quiet of winter break at Mills was interrupted this year by the sound of backhoes and jackhammers. In order to accommodate the increased demand for science degrees at the College, and to create a centralized, vigorous scientific community, Mills has broken ground on a new Natural Sciences Building adjacent to the existing Life Science complex. When completed, the natural science depart-

ments will be housed together, providing expanded opportunities for studentfaculty collaboration, enhancing scientific research through the use of cutting-edge laboratory equipment, and allowing for further interdisciplinary work among the science programs. Designed by Karen Fiene Architects and prominent Bay Area firm EHDD Architecture, the new structure will consolidate the study of biology,

Left: Natural Sciences construction site at the front of the Life Sciences Building. Below: Architect’s sketch of the new Natural Sciences Building.


psychology, chemistry, and physics into one complex. Elisabeth Wade, assistant professor of chemistry, says, “All science students will now have a home. They will be able to access faculty across the natural science disciplines, making academics and research much more practical.” State-ofthe-art test and experiment stations will allow enhanced teaching and research opportunities. “Our new Natural Sciences Building will give students a deeper sense of purpose, and a vital center for scientific collaboration,” says John Brabson, Scheffler Pre-Health Science Chair and professor of chemistry. The addition will become the first building on the Mills campus to meet rigorous national standards as a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) “green building.” Designed from a sustainable perspective in every aspect—including energy consumption, material selection, and water use on the site—the Natural Sciences Building will provide a template for future campus building projects. Fundraising is well underway for the new building. The Wayne and Gladys Valley Foundation has provided a generous challenge match, and several individuals have made major gifts to the project. A planned gift from the estate of Eileen Mitchell Gibbs, ’36, will fully fund the requisite maintenance endowment for the facility. Occupancy of the new building is slated for January 2007. This project remains the College’s top fundraising priority.

Spring 2006 M I L L S Q U A R T E R LY



Faculty News and Publications

writer, social commentator, and activist. Ticket to Ride (Some Ways to Play London-based avant-garde music My Tunes) is the latest volume by poet magazine The Wire has named Mills’ and professor Carlota Caulfield. A Milhaud Professor of Composition member of the Spanish and Spanish Alvin Curran Best Composer of 2005. American Studies department, Professor Curran recently created four Caulfield mixed autobiographical new works: Canti Illuminati, Maritime essays, poems, and interviews in this Rites, Toto Angelica, and Inner Cities. autobiographical evocation of the He has performed with artists such as author’s family history, and homage to John Cage, Merce Cunningham, her mother. Anthony Braxton, and Pauline Award-winning author Kathryn Reiss, Oliveros. assistant professor of English at Mills, has Daphne Muse, director of the published her 13th novel, a tale of susWomen’s Leadership Institute, has pense for teens entitled Blackthorn written a children’s book. The Winter: A Murder Mystery (Harcourt Entrance Place of Wonders: Poems of Children’s Books, January 2006). the Harlem Renaissance (New York: Ron Nagle, professor of studio art Harry N. Abrams), for children ages 4 at Mills and master ceramic sculptor, through 10, is the fourth book for the recently had his work showcased during a month-long exhibit at the Garth Clark Gallery in New Ron Nagle’s Midnight Earl, 2002. Porcelain and overglaze, York. The exhibition, 1 ⁄ x 5 ⁄ x 4 inches. entitled Ron Nagle and the Holy Grail, featured ceramic cups and bottles fashioned as richly colored, decorative sculptures. Nagle has been exhibiting his ceramic sculptures for more than 40 years. His work is included in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. 3





M I L L S Q U A R T E R LY Spring 2006

Cyclones Go to Nationals For the first time in Mills College history, Mills swimmers advanced to the final rounds of a national competition. The weekend of March 2–4, five Mills swimmers and their two coaches, Neil Virtue, head coach, and Bridget Mansell, athletic trainer, traveled to St. Louis, Missouri, for the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) Swimming Championships. The Mills College 400-yard medley relay team— senior Sophia Tuttle, freshwoman Shayna Elbling, junior Catherine Stitt, and sophomore Chrissy Fisher—qualified for the consolation final, and Chrissy also qualified for the consolation final in the 100-yard breaststroke. The team also competed in the 200-yard freestyle relay. When the competition ended, the Mills team had broken 12 school records. Sophia Tuttle said, “It was really great to get to swim our relay in finals and represent our team in that way.” In addition to their athletic achievements, the Mills College swim team was selected by the NAIA Swim Coaches Association Officers to receive the NAIA/Buffalo Funds Five Star Champions of Character Award, presented for the first time this year. This award is given in recognition of the team that best demonstrates the NAIA five core character values of respect, integrity, responsibility, servant leadership, and sportsmanship. Chrissy Fisher was also awarded the individual Champion of Character award. Chrissy commented, “Everyone did so well individually and together as a team. It was the best way to end a season of hard work.”


Most college students spend spring break at parties or at rest. But 20 Mills students spent the week of March 17–25 helping rebuild New Orleans. They joined hundreds of other college students from around the country on the Second Freedom Rides project of Common Ground Collective, a community-based volunteer organization that grew out of the relief efforts. Common Ground offers assistance, mutual aid, and support so that New Orleans citizens can rebuild their lives in sustainable ways. The Second Freedom Rides project put college students to work gutting houses, removing debris, and helping the medical clinic and legal teams. The hardest-hit areas of New Orleans still have not been cleaned up, and the lack of utilities and other services have prevented many more New Orleanians from returning to their homes. Those who cannot yet return are in danger of losing their homes and communities. According to Louisiana state officials, 75% of the city’s African American residents may be lost in the process. The spring break project aims to prevent that, and Mills students stand ready to serve. Sophomore Cierra Bolin, just before the trip, said, “We are very excited to help in this area of such desperate need.”


Spring Break in New Orleans

The Nathanial Gray Hall of Science, circa 1910. It was the only building on campus damaged by the 1906 earthquake.

One Hundred Years Ago at Mills

Students were jolted awake at 5:12 a.m. on April 18, 1906, as tremors shot through the ground. The Bay Area shook, San Francisco burned. Having returned three days before from the Easter holidays, Mills students spent their first Wednesday morning assembled on the oval in front of Mills Hall. Anticipating aftershocks, the student body ate breakfast outdoors in their nightgowns and bathrobes, and with classes canceled for the day, began to survey the damage done. El Campanil, barely two years old, remained in pristine condition, garnering its young architect, Julia Morgan, much acclaim. Nearing the GIFT IN HONOR OF SHARON TATAI end of construction, The Mills College Club of New York has given a gift to the Margaret Carnegie Mills College in honor of alumna trustee and former Library (now Carnegie president of the AAMC Sharon K. Tatai. The gift will Hall), another Julia go toward the Tri-State Regional Scholarship. Morgan building, was

unaffected. Of the other buildings on campus, only the Nathanial Gray Hall of Science suffered any structural damage, losing two chimneys and forcing classes out of doors, presumably a welcome relief from the anxiety of that April. By the following morning, Mills was host to 40 refugees from San Francisco and Oakland, including the families of students and faculty as well as the families of the College’s Chinese chef and head waiter. In addition to sheltering refugees within the campus gates, sewing circles were quickly formed. By Sunday evening, 500 garments had been sewn or donated by students, ready to be sent out to the relief efforts all around the Bay Area. The experience impacted students as much as their generosity impacted the community, and one student remarked about that night, “We went to bed last night as frivolous, careless girls, but this morning, we are women.” —Alison Lazareck, ’08

Spring 2006 M I L L S Q U A R T E R LY



Chris Kramer Joins AAMC Staff The AAMC is pleased to announce the appointment of Chris Kramer to the position of director of alumnae relations. Chris has extensive experience in event planning; as project manager for the Bay Area Chapter of the American Red Cross, she helped plan the national convention, held in San Francisco in 2005, which drew 1,200 participants.

She managed 250 volunteers, whom she says “were wonderful.” As co-director of the Red Cross’ Disaster Institute, she helped plan a training conference for 400 volunteers who provide aid during disasters of all kinds. The conference was held at Mills, which, according to Chris, “offered the best facility.” (The conference was not Chris’ first time on the Mills campus. As a girl, she took cello lessons from Bonnie Hampton at Mills.)

New Apartments on Campus Construction is well underway on new on-campus apartments to help accommodate record numbers of students at Mills. Beginning in August 2006, the Courtyard Townhouses will welcome nearly 100 upper-class undergraduate and graduate students 21 years of age and over. The new complex includes 21 apartments in three buildings. Students will choose from four-, five-, and six-bedroom units, each including a fully equipped kitchen, a spacious living room with cable TV hook-up, and an adjoining dining room. In addition, high-speed and wireless Internet access, all utilities, laundry facilities, and parking will be provided. Designed by Pyatok Architects, the apartments are situated atop Prospect Hill near the main campus entrance. Many of the fully furnished suites offer inspiring Bay Area views via expansive windows.

Staff members at Reinhardt Alumnae House were surprised at the appearance of a TV crew from KTVU Chris Kramer during Chris’ second week of work. It turns out that Chris is an expert in dams and disaster preparedness. Because a dam had just failed in Hawaii, Channel Two’s science and health editor came to ask Chris about her research on Bay Area dams. (Chris’ master’s thesis is entitled “What If? . . . Preparedness for and Potential Impacts of Dam Failure in the Bay Area.”) Chris earned a master’s degree in geography from California State University, East Bay (Hayward), and a BA in environmental studies from CSU East Bay. Chris began college as an adult; previously she worked in the field of accounting and raised three sons, who are now all grown. She and her husband, Ron, live in Castro Valley.

Take Part in Your Alumnae Association



M I L L S Q U A R T E R LY Spring 2006

Did you know that your membership in the Alumnae Association of Mills College costs nothing and comes with numerous benefits? If you completed at least one semester at Mills, and your class has graduated, you are considered an alumna or alumnus of the College, and are eligible to use the Mills College library, pool, and fitness center, and to receive discounts at some theater events and concerts on campus. All alums receive the Mills Quarterly free of


charge, and our email newsletter if you request it. In addition, you are eligible for our Free Email for Life service. (Click on “E-mail For Life” on the Alumnae pages of the Mills College website <>.) Membership cards can be obtained at Reinhardt Alumnae House or requested by phone, mail, or email. We are also able to assist you in

locating old friends, and to help you get in touch with fellow Mills alums if you are moving to a new area. Our Career Networking center can provide you with an array of services as you choose a profession or search for work. If you are interested in becoming involved, we welcome your participation. A branch start-up kit is available for those who wish to start or revitalize

an AAMC branch. For more information, please call (510) 430-2110 or email <>. Please contact the appropriate department for information regarding operating hours and any fees. Library: (510) 430-2385 Swimming Pool: (510) 430-2170 Fitness Center: (510) 430-3376 Concerts: (510) 430-2296

C A L E N D A R FRIDAY, APRIL 28 8:00 PM Undergraduate Senior Thesis Dance Performance Lisser Hall (510) 430-2175

Barbara Boxer will present the commencement address. Toyon Meadow, Mills College (510) 430-2110

SUNDAY, APRIL 30– SUNDAY, MAY 28 MFA Exhibition Mills College Art Museum (510) 430-2164

SATURDAY, MAY 13 2:00 PM AAMC Annual Meeting Lucie Stern 100 (510) 430-2110

June Watanabe (pictured) joins other members of the Mills College dance faculty, including Sonya Delwaide, Molissa Fenley, and Anne Westwick in Four Choreographers | One Connection in Lisser Hall on April 21 and 22 at 8 p.m. and on April 23 at 2 p.m. Music by cellist Joan Jeanrenaud, percussionist William Winant, and pianist Judith Rosenberg. (510) 430-2175.

FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 15 Convocation (510) 430-2110 You can find more events on the Mills College web site <>. Events are subject to change. Please call ahead to verify times, dates, and locations.


SATURDAY, MAY 13 9:45 AM 118th Commencement Meet at Reinhardt Alumnae House at 8:30 AM to don robes and march with your fellow alumnae. Senator

THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 14–SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 17 Reunion 2006 (510) 430-2110

Spring 2006 M I L L S Q U A R T E R LY


In the Public Interest Lawyer Diane Chin, ’85, has dedicated her career to representing the poor and disenfranchised. Now she’s coaching the next generation. BY JO KAUFMAN



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It’s those policies that Diane is helping a generation of future lawyers reconsider, rethink, and, if need be, reform. “Since a very small percentage of young people know what they want to do, my goal is to encourage students to get out there and change the world,” she says. She sees her job as countering what she refers to as the “funnel effect” of law school, whereby the majority of students are funneled into lucrative careers at prestigious corporate law firms. Through the Public Interest Program, Stanford law students receive comprehensive support in their quest to avoid the funnel effect. Diane and her staff coordinate everything from fellowship and mentoring programs to conferences and career planning services. Among Diane’s goals at Stanford is to ensure that students have the experiences and opportunities to make informed decisions about where to direct their energies upon graduation. “I’m an optimist,” she says of her belief that most people, given the chance, want to help others. “I’ve been able to use the privileges I’ve had to reach out to those in need, and at some point I became addicted to helping people.” Diane’s seminar, aptly named Lawyering for Social Change, addresses myriad social and policy issues. First on the syllabus is to have her students study the landmark 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision, which ended federally PEG SKORPINSKI

hen Diane Chin, ’85, was a precocious ninth grader, an English teacher gave her a copy of Albert Camus’ Myth of Sisyphus, which she credits with a shift in the way she thought about the world. “There was something about the image of that man and that rock that really got to me.” Apart from wrangling with existential dilemmas—territory most of us are unable to navigate until we’re in our 20s—Diane took the essay’s message to heart. Whether it has been as a senior trial attorney for the San Francisco Police Commission’s Office of Citizen Complaints, or as executive director of Chinese for Affirmative Action, Diane’s perseverance and commitment to social justice have been instrumental in moving that rock closer to the mountain’s pinnacle. In her current position as director of the Public Interest Program at Stanford Law School, Diane not only coordinates programs and events that tap her students’ nascent interest in public service, she rolls up her sleeves and teaches them about her twin passions: history and law. Diane believes that law is in a constant state of flux, and that it’s important to challenge the assumptions and biases we’ve all unknowingly carried with us since childhood. “We still live in a society of assumptions,” she says, “and unfortunately, those assumptions are translated into policy.”

The Path to Activism Born and raised in Oakland to a working-class family, Diane grew up in a Chinese immigrant culture. Despite the strong work ethic provided by her parents, there was no pressure on her or her three siblings to do or be anything that wasn’t in keeping with their respective sensibilities. One brother is a merchant marine; another is a minister. Her sister is a bank vice president. Still, as early on as high school, Diane thought she might want to be a lawyer. Exactly what kind of lawyer was yet to be determined, as was the depth and scope of her ambitions. Knowing only that she wanted to remain in the Bay Area for college, and assuming that she would enroll in one of the larger universities, she toured nearby Mills during her senior year at Oakland High School and was immediately smitten. “It was such a beautiful


sanctioned racial segregation in public schools. “The dramatic implications of that case are enormous,” she explains. “It’s not only that students need to learn about recent history, they need to understand how the law has been a tool to open doors.” For Diane, opening doors for the disenfranchised and underrepresented isn’t only a challenge, it’s a personal and passionate crusade. In fact, as a law student herself, working on eviction cases, she came to understand both the immediacy and the impact of litigation. “There are so many ways that law can help people,” she says, “whether it’s ending a discriminatory environment or solving a dispute.”

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discrimination] that I’d experienced since I was a kid,” she says. Not one to let her emotions undermine her determination, Diane focused her attention on hate violence cases. She often worked in close proximity with police officers, who, Diane maintains, “are the most powerful people at any given moment in this country.” She spoke fondly of Boston police officer Billy Johnston, a man she calls her “mentor cop.” “The professionalism and integrity of the officers I’ve worked with has been a life-changing experience,” she says. So much so that she later participated in regional and statewide police and FBI training programs, learning what she considers an important lesson: rather than being natural adversaries, civil rights lawyers and police officers have similar missions—to protect and defend citizens, particularly the most vulnerable. At the same time, though, she concedes that there is a tremendous need for police reform to counterbalance the power dynamic generated by the culture of what she calls “cop-dom.” “At its best, law levels the playing field. Regardless of your background, you get your shot.” In 1990 Diane relocated to the San Francisco office of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights—a decision dictated by a desire to be closer to her family—and began a career trajectory that allowed her to focus on the issue closest to her heart, namely social justice. Over the next 12 years, she amassed an impressive resume: staff attorney and director of the Racial Violence Project for the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area, adjunct professor at the New College School of Law, housing attorney for the Oakland-based Protection & Advocacy, a nonprofit devoted to advocating for people with disabilities. As a senior trial attorney from 1996 to 1998 for the Office of Citizen Complaints, an independent watchdog agency overseeing the San Francisco Police Department, her knowledge of law enforcement made her a critical liaison between the community and the police. PEG SKORPINSKI

campus, an oasis in the middle of an urban environment. I walked in [to a classroom] and saw 25 bright, articulate people engaged in a discussion, and that was it—my mind was made up.” While she was at Mills, Diane met profoundly inspirational teachers, one of whom, the late Professor of History Anne Sherrill, provided Diane with what she describes as the luxury of thinking. Dianne will never forget those early conversations she had with Anne Sherrill. “When I told her I was considering a career in law, she told me that law was about choices and changes and that if I wanted to pursue law as career, I had to steep myself in history, to understand the founding principles as a way into law.” Diane did just that, studying everything from ancient Greece—with Professor Sherrill—to European history with Professor Bert Gordon. “Something resonates when you have instructors like that,” she says, “people who can frame things, put things in perspective. But the most exciting thing was learning that I had choices.” And while she briefly flirted with the notion of majoring in English, it was a BA in history that provided her with the resources and the foundation to take the next step. Choosing Boston’s Northeastern University School of Law because of its public interest program, Diane immediately immersed herself in its unique cooperative legal education, finding that she learned best while working. After completing her law degree in 1989, Diane became a member of the first class of Skadden Public Interest Fellows, a program described by the Los Angeles Times as “a legal Peace Corps.” As a fellow, she served as a staff attorney with the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights in Boston, where she represented clients in housing discrimination (public housing in Boston was still segregated at the time) and hate crimes. As a volunteer for community organizations, Diane became involved in a case where an innocent, non–English-speaking Chinese man was beaten up by the police, which led to her increased interest in civil rights. “It opened up this window [of

A Well-rounded Life One would think that someone as busy as Diane wouldn’t have energy for anything but work. That she manages to carve out time for personal relationships, such as accompanying her 90-yearold father to his cardiology appointments, speaks not only to her priorities but also to her ability to juggle the demands of career and family. “My mother is 78—a real spring chicken—but she has her own health issues, so of course I’m there for my dad,” Diane says. She is equally devoted to


In 1998 Diane became executive director of Chinese for Affirmative Action (CAA). It was during her tenure at CAA that she was thrust into the media spotlight when the U.S. Department of Justice accused Wen Ho Lee, a nuclear scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, of improperly downloading classified files at the nuclearweapons lab. After a scrupulous review of the facts in the case, Diane paved the way for his defense. “This was another and different kind of racial profiling by law enforcement, with which I had become all too familiar,” she says. “The Asian American experience has largely been that we’ve been viewed as disloyal—not really American—and, as such, are treated suspiciously. Lee’s being accused of being a Chinese spy, when in fact he was a Taiwanese national—it was the same paradigm.” That Lee was eventually cleared of espionage charges is no small testament to Diane’s work on his behalf. For all the media attention of a high-profile case, though, one of the things she loved most about CAA was working with younger activists on advocacy projects and education issues. Of Diane’s transition from being what she calls an on-the-ground activist to her more administrative position at Stanford Law School, she concedes that while she sometimes misses being “in the mix of things,” she is both energized and inspired by working with law students. “Our country is at a real crossroads—the fork in the path Anne Sherrill always told me to look for—and the future leaders I am working with give me great hope,” she says. Given her irrepressible energy and passionate beliefs about social justice and equality, it’s safe to say that her message won’t be lost anytime soon.

her partner, Gil Dong, who is the assistant chief and fire marshal for the City of Berkeley. With a shared interest in public service, they are each other’s biggest fans—“second to our mothers,” she laughs. And when she’s not spending time with her father or gathering her circle of friends together for annual Lunar New Year and Christmas celebrations, she gardens, hikes, knits, writes, and cooks. “Food’s always been a big part of my family,” Diane says. “It’s what we share. My sister and I have this joke that a dinner or party isn’t successful unless everyone goes home with a plateful of food.” As is true of many accomplished people, however, Diane is modest about her achievements, so much so that when approached for this profile, her first reaction was along the lines of “Why me?” But then again, if you’re one of the Diane Chins of this world, you wouldn’t spend time patting yourself on the back. Not when there’s still much to be accomplished. Not when the rock is that much closer to resting securely on top of the mountain. m

Diane Chin talks with Stanford law students Cabral Bonner, center, and Michael Lopez about their upcoming presentation to the Lawyering for Social Change seminar.

San Francisco-based writer Jo Kaufman received her MFA in creative writing from the University of San Francisco, where she also taught English composition. Her poetry has been published in several literary magazines, and she is a regular contributor to the Nob Hill Gazette. This is her second profile for the Mills Quarterly.

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Mills Hosts Kol Isha: Jewish Women’s Voices Unbound by Julia Silverberg-Nemeth, ’05, MFA ’07

On February 26, Professor of English Cynthia Scheinberg and President Janet L. Holmgren led Mills staff, alumnae, student volunteers, and an energetic audience of more than 100 women in the opening ceremonies and all-day conference for Kol Isha, a series of five events at several East Bay venues.


ol Isha: Jewish Women’s Voices Unbound—Creativity, Scholarship, and Performance celebrated Jewish women’s contributions to academia, art, activism, and religion. Cohosted by Mills College, the Richard S. Dinner Center for Jewish Studies at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, and the Berkeley Richmond Jewish Community Center, the ongoing series included the daylong conference as well as four lectures, culminating in a conversation and reading with Mills professor emerita, poet, and translator Chana Bloch (see page 18). Several Mills faculty members participated, including Cynthia Scheinberg, professor of English literature, Jewish scholar, and coordinator of the event; Carlota Caulfield,


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Below: Dr. Irena Klepfisz speaks on Yiddish women writers. Bottom: President Janet Holmgren welcomes participants.


chair of Spanish and Spanish American Studies; and Judith Berlowitz, visiting assistant professor of Spanish and Spanish American Studies. Poet Yiskah Rosenfeld, MFA ’03, adjunct professor of English and Jewish studies at Temple University, led a workshop at the conference. As a Jew and a Mills student, I was excited to witness my two complex worlds come together at the February 26 conference, colliding into a potent day of Yiddishkyte (Jewishness), activism, and sisterhood. Highlights included workshops, lectures, and performances facilitated by distinguished and dynamic Jewish women from diverse backgrounds. The opening presenter, Dr. Irena Klepfisz, is adjunct associate professor of women’s studies at Barnard College, a poet, and a translator from Yiddish. Workshop leaders included Professor Bloch; Roslyn Barak, cantor of Congregation Emanu-El in San Francisco; Marcia Freedman, author and former member of Israel’s Knesset; and Nan Gefen, president of the Bay Area’s Chochmat HaLev: A Center for Jewish Spirituality. Topics ranged from poetics to peace, from the tallit (prayer shawls) to the Talmud, from coming out in Poland to “kosher” comedy in San Francisco. Of course, the food was kosher too. Raphael’s Kosher Bar and Ristorante of Berkeley catered a delicious lunch and festive reception. And since “often with food there is also a beverage,” Hagafen Cellars provided the crowd with brimming glasses of kosher wine. The conference closed with a rousing performance by the Juggling Diva, also known as Sara Felder, a former member of the Pickle Family Circus. The Hebrew kol isha—literally “voice of woman”—is an apt title for this bold project. The Kol Isha events are a direct protest of an obscure line in the Talmud (the collection of rabbinical dialectics upon which traditional Jewish social and legal practices are based). This line in the Talmud claims a women’s voice to be provocative, lewd, and erotic. Rabbinical interpretation over the centuries has led to the commonly held belief that kol isha is an injunction prohibiting men from listening to women sing, speak, or pray. And for centuries this prohibition on Jewish women by religious men has abetted the absence of women’s voices in all facets of public religious life, primarily in the ultraorthodox communities. Professor Scheinberg said this in her morning address: “Our goal in this series is to cross disciplinary boundaries that often separate creative arts, spirituality, scholarship, and activists in order to offer a broader picture of the ways Jewish women have been shaping the fields of literature, performance, and Jewish scholarship for centuries, and to celebrate the diversity of these voices.” President Janet L. Holmgren, in her welcoming address, spoke of the ideal partnership between Kol Isha and Mills: “Mills has spent 150 years fostering excellence for women—in education, scholarship, and community outreach—and we believe this event series reflects these values.”

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Below: Dr. Irena Klepfisz speaks with a participant at the conference.



Bottom: “Juggling Diva” Sara Felder performs for an appreciative audience.

Dr. Irena Klepfisz titled her talk “Yiddish Women Writers: What They Have Taught Me as a Writer and as a Jew.” She is active in numerous areas, including the preservation of secular Jewish identity, women and peace in the Middle East, and homophobia in the Jewish community. She is also a survivor of the Warsaw ghetto. “Let me start by being contrary,” Dr. Klepfisz began. She then shared her experiences with Jewish audiences that were intolerant of her being openly lesbian: religious Jews saw it not only as morally unacceptable but also as compromising Jewish continuity. Dr. Klepfisz shared stories of some of her favorite defiant Jewish women in Yiddish literature, such as Shayndl, the protagonist in Fradl Shtok’s short story “The Shorn Head,” which Dr. Klepfisz translated into English. Shayndl, “who had the good luck of being widowed at 19,” entwined pieces of her own hair bit by bit into her sheitel, the wig worn by pious women to cover their natural hair because it too is believed to be provocative. Dr. Klepfisz pointed out that Shayndl and other women of Yiddish literature lived within the private sphere of small fenced-in freedoms. “They were illiterate,” she said. “Sewing, cooking, childrearing, and interior design were their realms—nothing public.” Dr. Klepfisz spoke frankly of her own work, specifically her use of Yiddish in her English-language poetry; after all she is the wordsmith who imagined from English and Yiddish the word lesbianke (Yiddish for lesbian). She first used Yiddish in her gutsy poem “In the Mother Tongue,” in reference to Jewish women archetypes. She explained that she wanted to introduce a more genuine use of Yiddish to her American audience—a “less vulgar, more poetic, political form of Yiddish than what was being written in American literature and spoken on TV and in film.” In addition to Dr. Klepfisz and Juggling Diva Sara Felder, there were 18 Jewish women presenters and performers, and all of the presentations were well attended. The Kol Isha conference speakers dealt courageously, and often with humor, with issues of patriarchal control over both the larynx and the womb of the Jewish woman. Their voices were diverse and wide ranging, but all were marked by the refusal to be constrained in their creative, intellectual, and performance endeavors. m Julia Silverberg-Nemeth, ’05, holds a BA in English literature and is currently pursuing an MFA in creative writing at Mills. She is working on a novel.

For more information on Kol Isha, visit <>. Kol Isha Upcoming Event Sunday, April 30, 2006, 10:30 AM to 12:30 PM; brunch $5 The Creative Dialogue: Jewish Women in Prose and Poetry A conversation and reading with Chana Bloch and Elizabeth Rosner Berkeley Richmond Jewish Community Center Questions? call Andrea Mok at (510) 848-0237, Extension 132 or email her at <>.


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Teacher and Author Yiyun Li Arrives at Mills H E R J O U R N E Y S TA R T E D I N B E I J I N G A N D T O O K H E R T O I O WA

by Vanessa B. Marlin, â&#x20AC;&#x2122;06


Elmaz Abinader and Cornelia Nixon, professors of English, looked at each other in knowing confidence while sitting in a Mills Hall classroom last winter. They had just found Millsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; newest creative writing professor. . . .

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to her “class,” which consisted he English departof a few Mills students, as well ment head and the as Drs. Abinader and Nixon, chair of the hiring “the first-person narrator must committee have different layers. The monwatched aweotone narrator voice does not struck as Yiyun Li, the young, work.” To demonstrate her vibrant creative writing prodigy point, for the duration of the from the University of Iowa class Li raced with rapid-fire delivered a 40-minute demonspeed through dozens of books. stration class unlike anything “To maintain that energy and they had ever witnessed. It was be pregnant,” says Abinader, part of the grueling, daylong “she had my admiration.” interview process for candidates Li practices what she seeking the position of assistant preaches. In her prize-winning professor of English at Mills. book, A Thousand Years of Drawing from an epiphany Li had during her flight from Good Prayers (Random House, Iowa City to Oakland for her 2005), she crafts the multilayinterview at Mills last summer, ered effect into her short stories. she raced through an intense The voices of many narrators lecture devoted to the voice of are presented, including young the first-person narrator. With a and old, male and female, master’s degree in immunology to back her up, she vividly described research she had done on dead dogs where she would cut the dog’s throat open in order to study the larynx. “It was metaphorical to me because animals don’t have a voice. Babies don’t have a voice. Babies and animals have one layer of muscle Yiyun Li with her son James, who is almost a year old now. tissue in the larynx.” She further explained married, single, divorced, gay, that it isn’t until multiple layers and straight individuals. In of muscle tissue are developed the story “Immortality,” Li that humans can communicate applies layers of rich voices as using language. she unfolds the legacy of the The “students” looked in amazement at their eight“Great Papas.” One layer repremonths-pregnant “teacher” sents the collective voice of an with her small frame and big entire town in China over seversmile. “The point is,” she said al dynasties while another layer


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tells the story of the revered eunuchs who served China’s imperial families as domestic servants. Li is currently riding a wave of recognition in the literary world. Her fiction has been published in the New Yorker, Ploughshares, and the Paris Review. She recently published an essay, “Passing Through,” in the New York Times Magazine. Her short story “After a Life” will be included in Houghton Mifflin’s Best American Short Stories of 2006. A story from her book will be read at Symphony Space in New York City in May, and Li has been invited to read and participate in panel discussions for the PEN/World Voice literary festival, which will feature writers from around the world. “I feel very happy that I will be representing Mills at these events,” she says. Li is contributing editor to a new literary magazine, A Public Space, which debuted in February. She finds talent for the magazine, which touts literature and culture. The first issue includes pieces by Pulitzer Prize-winner Marilynne Robinson, international best-selling author Haruki Murakami, and other important authors. Mills Provost Mary-Ann Milford just announced that A Thousand Years of Good Prayers has been chosen as the reading for the class entering in the fall of 2006. All entering

students will be given the book to read, and Li will talk to them at Orientation. She will also be talking during Reunion weekend. In September 2005 Li was awarded the prestigious Frank O’Connor International Short Story award, which comes with a monetary prize of $60,000. She has also won the Plimpton Prize for New Writers, a Pushcart Prize, and the 2006 Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award for a first book of fiction. The Los Angeles Times named her “a person to watch” in 2005, and the San Francisco Chronicle selected A Thousand Years of Good Prayers as one of the “Best Books of 2005.” “I feel very lucky,” Li says. And she hopes her luck will continue. When Li applied for permanent residency in the United States, her petition was denied. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services told her that there was insufficient evidence of her “extraordinary ability in the arts.” Li has vowed to try again. Fortunately, some of the awards, such as the Frank O’Connor award, were received after she applied for permanent residency status. The O’Connor award should establish that she has received what the Code of Federal Regulations calls “sustained national or international acclaim through evidence of a one-time achievement (that is, a major, interna-

tionally recognized award).” Cornelia Nixon has taken a personal interest in Li’s tenure at Mills. “I think she’s a genius,” Nixon deadpans. “It’s obvious she’s going to have huge quantities of success.” Nixon penned a letter of support to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Li understands better than most the value in chasing dreams and the importance of being able to adapt to change. Having moved to Iowa nine years ago after graduating from the University of Beijing with a bachelor’s degree in science, English was still a language that

“[T]he firstperson narrator must have different layers. The monotone narrator voice does not work.” she had yet to master. While pursing a PhD in immunology at the University of Iowa, Li decided she was not content. She felt compelled to explore a whole new world in creative writing at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop—a mecca

that attracts and produces some of the world’s greatest authors. “I could feel the energy of writing there,” she says. Li remains grounded in her family and focused on her writing career. Her boundless energy enables her to teach graduate classes at Mills, work on her novel, and spend time with her husband, Dapeng, and two sons, Vincent, five, and James, who is almost a year old now. Cornelia Nixon notes that Li is the first to replace Amanda Davis, the immensely popular professor of creative writing who died tragically in a plane crash in 2003. Li’s home in Faculty Village was formerly inhabited by the beloved professor. A picture of her two sons is just within reach of her computer in her office on the third floor of Mills Hall. “I feel like I’ve settled down. I’ve found my rhythm,” she says, as the faint “ding” indicating a new email rings from her laptop computer. When asked whether there is any additional news about herself to report, Li checks her email and flashes her trademark smile. “You can say I just won the Editor’s Choice Award from the New York Times Book Review.” m Senior Vanessa B. Marlin is an English major and has worked as an editor of the Mills Weekly. She is on the crew team and is the mother of a seven-year-old daughter.

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COMMUN IT Y B U ILDING: J A MI L A JA C K S O N , ’ 0 1 , MB A ’ 0 3 by Sonya Smith When Jamila Jackson, ’01, MBA ’03, first learned of a project manager position at the Community Housing Development Corporation of North Richmond (CHDC), she was excited. “I thought it was fantastic because vacant lots [there] were being used to change the face of the neighborhood.” Jamila had grown up in the Richmond area, just north of Oakland, and she was thrilled at the prospect of contributing to the growth of her community. “I get exposure to different housing products, from apartments to town-

houses to lofts to single-family homes.” The challenge, she says, is finding sites in an urban landscape to develop. “Market-rate developers have their own funding,” she says. “Community housing development is significantly different because there are more lenders [as well as] government lenders to deal with.” This adds time to the funding process, which can be critical in today’s housing climate. In her job, she sometimes has to think of innovative ways to use a single vacant lot, such as building townhouses instead of a single-family dwelling, which will make the housing more affordable. CHDC has a program called Scattered Sites, in which it reclaims lots


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throughout Richmond that are large enough for single-family homes. “When we acquire enough of these lots, we can get funding to begin construction,” Jamila explains. The idea is that these noncontiguous lots can collectively be treated as a single development, which facilitates a better funding package, enabling the CHDC to minimize the purchase price of the homes. Jamila’s days are spent working on property acquisition, getting environmental clearances, and assembling development teams for several projects CHDC is currently implementing. She develops the preliminary budget and prepares grants for initial funding, and she works to obtain permanent financing that will keep the price of housing low for homeowners. “It’s fun during predevelopment,” she says. “Projects keep changing.” CHDC exemplifies the word community. The nonprofit’s new office is in a hardscrabble neighborhood where the corporation recently completed 52 senior apartments in a building next door that allows long-time North Richmond residents to remain in the neighborhood. “We don’t want to gentrify the neighborhood,” Jamila says. “We want to empower the neighborhood.” The building also houses a new health clinic, with plans to open a deli/convenience store in the next year. After earning her bachelor’s degree at Mills in business economics in 2001, Jamila took a lucrative “dream job” in finance but felt something was missing. She contacted Nancy Thornborrow, David Roland-Holst, and Roger Sparks of the Mills College economics department about the MBA program. “The

professors are fantastic and so accessible,” she says. “That’s what’s so great about Mills.” Their guidance, then and during her MBA studies, helped her realign her career. Having worked as an office assistant at her father’s architectural firm, Jamila was familiar with housing development, building plans, and construction sites. She remembered being excited about the process of finding land and developing it from start to finish. This realization solidified her interest in residential housing development. After getting her MBA, Jamila applied for jobs with large residential housing developers; however, the bulk of positions came from firms wanting to fill openings in finance. “I finally came across a job posting on Craig’s List [online classified ads] from Napa Valley Community Housing [NVCH], and I liked the description of the housing intern,” she says. “But I’d never heard of community housing.” Jamila stepped outside of her comfort zone and took the housing intern position. “It opened my eyes to affordable community housing,” she says. “I enjoyed what I did.” Her enjoyment must have shown, because it wasn’t long before she became assistant project manager. Her work at NVCH primarily dealt with rental housing, but Jamila knew she wanted to help people with home ownership. The Community Housing Development Corporation of North Richmond filled the bill. Currently, Jamila is working on a project that seeks to rehabilitate other underused lots near the CHDC office. North Richmond is the staff’s first priority. “We help people who are in the community maintain housing in their neighborhood,” she says. Jamila’s parents, Debra Jackson and Frank Cuthbert, once advised her not to worry about money, saying that if she did the work she loved, the money would come. While she isn’t getting rich, the money is coming, and she has the invaluable bonus of building her community. Sonya Smith lives and writes in Oakland, California.


NO LOS S FO R W O RDS: T HEA H I L L MA N , MFA ’ 9 9 by Julia Bloch, MFA ’02 living in the Mission and on the Board of Trustees of Mills College with very successful people,” she recalls. “I often felt like I was this ambassador for Mills in my community in San Francisco, telling people that Mills is for them.” Meanwhile, Intercourse marked the beginning of Thea’s activism around intersex rights and visibility. According to the Intersex Society of North America (<>), intersex refers to a variety of conditions in which a person’s reproductive or sexual anatomy doesn’t seem to fit typical definitions of female or male. (The term hermaphrodite is now considered pejorative.) For years, the accepted treatment for intersex newborns was immediate gender reassignment and “corrective” surgery. In the last 15 years, however, organizations like ISNA have fought to raise awareness of the broad range of intersex conditions and the vital need to stop medically unnecessary genderreassignment surgery. Thea was born with congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH), a condition in which the adrenal glands produce unusually high levels of virilizing hormones. She says that after realizing at the age of 28 that CAH is an intersex condition, she began to learn about the urgent need for medical reform. “As lucky as I was not having had surgery and having parents who talked with me about what was going on with my body, I heard hundreds of horror stories from people who can’t speak out because of the treatment they received,” she says. “What I’ve heard time and time again is that the thing that’s worse than the surgery is the shame and secrecy.” Although relatively young, the intersex movement is quickly picking up steam: a recent report by the San Francisco Human Rights Commission, which conducted a two-year project on intersex treatment and rights, calls for an end to medical interventions being performed on intersex infants and children. Having served on the ISNA board from 2002 to 2005, Thea continues to speak about intersex issues at schools and conferences. What’s next for the poet who once performed a birdcall on The Tonight Show and now lives near Mills in Oakland’s Dimond neighborhood? Thea says her new memoir, For Lack of a Better Word, forthcoming from Suspect Thoughts Press, will deal with “labels and the struggle to define one’s self in a world that so highly rewards assimilation and normalcy.” (Find out more at <>.) Sounds like a natural outgrowth of her time at Mills. “It’s a traditional women’s college that accepts all kinds of people, traditional and nontraditional women,” Thea notes. “And I think it has to be that if it’s in the Bay Area.” Spoken like a true daughter of San Francisco. SU EVERS

Thea Hillman, MFA ’99, says she came to Mills to get “permission” to publish her book. Not that she needed it; she’d already become a regular feature at Bay Area open mics and reading series, she was getting published in magazines and anthologies, and she was teaching poetry to formerly homeless adults. But, she says, she knew that the literary circles she moved in were “really different from the world of literary journals and contests where you pay money [to send in work], the more ‘highbrow’ lit world.” Yet at Mills, Thea says, she found an MFA program that supported a diverse range of creative approaches. By the time she enrolled in classes, Thea was already a veteran of poetry slams— competitive poetry events in which wordslingers are judged by their vocal delivery style as much as by the poetry itself; slam work ranges from love poetry to biting social commentary to comedic or satirical pieces. Thea is a two-time San Francisco Poetry Slam Nationals finalist and winner of the Albuquerque Poetry Festival’s Tag-Team Haiku Competition. “One of my professors heard one of my slam poems and thought I’d come up with a new form,” she remembers. “He called it a ‘rant.’ The great thing about Mills was that there was room for me and for my rants, as much room as for people writing very traditionally structured novels or perfectly metered sonnets.” Although Thea, who was born in San Francisco, is well known as a spoken-word artist, she is also a writer keenly aware of the power of the page. Her first book, Depending on the Light, came out in 2001 from Manic D Press to critical acclaim; Out magazine called the collection “dashing.” Thea’s master’s thesis formed the skeleton for the book, which was initially “a very postmodern mess,” she laughs. “I think it was [Mills Professor] Cynthia Scheinberg who told me, ‘This is just way too complicated.’ So I pulled it apart and organized it.” The result is a stunning array of poetic and prose pieces that explore the boundaries of sex, relationships, and urban life as much as they challenge the limits of traditional genre. Take, for example, “Dear Elizabeth”: “Girls get in so deep. That’s why I’m queer. It’s not that they’re any sexier than men, it’s that they break my heart better.” Or “Home Alone”: “I love the way I get off on everyday occurrences. Walking down 14th Street, the setting sun like breath on the back of my thighs.” As Thea was getting ready to launch Depending on the Light, her reputation as one of the literary scene’s most innovative events producers was heating up. With Daphne Gottlieb, MFA ’01, Thea toured the country in Hell on Heels and co-produced ForWord Girls (“The first and, to my knowledge, only spoken-word festival for women,” she says); she also created Intercourse: A Sex and Gender Spoken Word Recipe for Revolution, a pioneering event showcasing transgender and intersex writers, which played to sold-out crowds at the National Queer Arts Festival. Somehow, she also found time to serve on the Mills Board of Trustees from 2001 to 2003, a time Thea remembers as pivotal to how she now thinks about service. “Here I was, this queer activist

Julia Bloch earned her MFA in creative writing at Mills in 2002. Her poetry has appeared recently in Five Fingers Review and Orpheus. Spring 2006 M I L L S Q U A R T E R LY


PASSAGES Gifts in Honor of Sophia Alexander, by Martine and Fred Alexander Virginia Vollmer Barr, ’46, by Shiela Barr Robertson, ’74 Sheryl Bize-Boutte, ’73, by Elizabeth Burwell and Jane Cudlip King, ’42 Anne Gillespie Brown, ’68, by Peggy Weber, ’65, and Robert Whitlock, P ’02 The Class of 1966, by Janice Crebbs, ’66 The Class of 1948, by Gabrielle Morris Myrna Bostwick Cowman, ’57, by Barbara Hunter, ’57 Helen Dannelly, by Peggy Weber, ’65, and Robert Whitlock, P ’02 Doris Dennison, by Rebecca Fuller, MA ’54 Ann Winsor Doskow, ’57, by Barbara Hunter, ’57 Carol Meyer Doyle, MFA ’81, by Barbara Hunter, ’57, and Sandra Sigurdson, ’95 Barbara Evans, ’63, by Barbara Hunter, ’57 Professor Bertram Gordon, by Karen Gordon, ’88 Dr. Herbert W. Graham, by Jane Edwards Kenyon, ’47,

Deborah Gates Senft, ’48, Cynthia Taves, ’48, Shirley Peavey Walkoe, ’48, and Carol Lotz Wenzel, ’46, MA ’47 Lynn Appleton Hartley, ’65, and Marianne Keesee for giving me a ride to Red Bluff after Reunion, by Carol Jenks Fogg, ’60 David Kaufman, PMC ’05, by Peggy Weber, ’65 Mary Ann Childers Kinkead, ’63, by Rebecca Fuller, MA ’54 Carol Lennox, ’61, by Lina Au, ’77, and David Stranz Julie Martinez, ’05, by Peggy Weber, ’65 Kathleen McClintock McCormick, MFA ’85, by Rebecca Fuller, MA ’54 Catherine McCormack McGilvray, ’56, by Jane Cudlip King, ’42 Mary Metz, by Calia Brencsons-Van Dyk, ’90 Hanukah celebration with Catherine “Cate” Brown Meyerson, ’82, by Jim Meyerson Madeleine Milhaud, by Rebecca Fuller, MA ’54 Helen Drake Muirhead, ’58, by Susan Shoenberg

Cronholm, ’69 Rebecca “Becca” Palmer, ’05, by Peggy Weber, ’65 Patsy Chen Peng, ’51, MA ’53, by Benjamin Peng and Angela Chan Cecily Peterson, ’88, by Peggy Weber, ’65, and Robert Whitlock, P ’02 Karen Pfeffer, ’05, by Peggy Weber, ’65 Mary Poppingo, by Peggy Weber, ’65, and Robert Whitlock, P ’02 Josephine Patrick Rappaport, ’65, by Marilyn Schuster, ’65 Lorinda Bader Reichert, ’67, by the Palo Alto Area Mills College Club Remy, by Maria Theresa McKinney, ’04 Professor Moira Roth, by Denise L. Beirnes, ’89 Gayle Rothrock, ’68, by Joanne Regalia Repass, ’66 Jane “Jinx” Rule, ’52, by Sally Millett Rau, ’51 Ariel Eaton Thomas, ’63, by Peggy Weber, ’65, and Robert Whitlock, P ’02 Mary “Molly” Upton, ’65, by Carol Jenks Fogg, ’60 Professor Catherine Wagner,

by The Saidye Bronfman Centre for the Arts Ann Sulzberger Wolff, ’42, Happy 85th Birthday! by Katherine Zelinsky Westheimer, ’42 The Women of Mills, by Marc Fairman Jane Buehler Yates, ’59, by Barbara Hunter, ’57 Edith “Edy” Mori Young, ’51, by Sally Millett Rau, ’51

Gifts in Memory of Abigail “Gail” Hunter Allen, ’51, my dear friend, by Rena Houston Du Bose, ’51 Katherine “Kitty” Furze Andrews, ’31, by Ann and Dwight Bianchi Marjorie Arnold, ’46, by the Palo Alto Area Mills College Club Dorothy Profant Artaud, ’43, MA ’44, mother of Mimi ArtaudLara, ’70, by Eunice Badoux, Max Etheart, Virginia Harpham, Helen Metz Lore, ’43, Silfa Meredith, June Holden Schneider, ’43, Mr. and Mrs. Alec Toumayan, and Kate

Carolyn Everett Wellington, ’55, 1934–2006 My mom never intended to go to college until she met the boyfriend of Loadel Harter Piner, ’50, on the Oval at Mills on visiting day. She thought, “If going to college means having boyfriends like that . . . ” and she brought her grades up from popular-girl C’s to A’s, and was accepted. For the rest of her life, Mills was her lodestar. She married her roommate’s husband’s brother, and when she divorced him, she used her teaching credential to support her family, and she used the faith in her scholastic ability that she acquired at Mills to earn three advanced degrees over her lifetime. Last October she returned to Mills for the last time, to attend her 50th Reunion. Afterward, she told me one last Mills story, of her delight in marching with her class. I was destined for Mills from the day I was born a girl, directed there by my mom’s story of the beer falling out of the car and rolling down the hill from Ethel Moore (and frantically pursued), and sneaking back in after curfew, and the friends she made there, several of whom have become mine. One of the last times I spoke to my mom was from my office in Mills Hall, overlooking the Oval, where this semester I am a visiting assistant professor teaching a class in playwriting to graduate creative writing students. I don’t think she was ever more proud of me. One of her last trips last summer was to bring her granddaughter, Krista Holtzman (’16?), to Mills, to show her the campus and tell her stories as she told them to me. —Carol Holtzman Wolf, ’80


M I L L S Q U A R T E R LY Spring 2006


Morrow Whitley, ’43 Phyllis Cole Bader, ’35, mother of Lorinda Bader Reichert, ’67, by Isabelle Hagopian Arabian, ’45, David and Carol Baker, Adrienne Bronstein Becker, ’86, Susan Ford Blomberg, ’67, Helen and Paul Curtis, Barbara Evans, ’63, Elizabeth Livingston Hogan, ’63, Barbara Hunter, ’57, Jane Cudlip King, ’42, Janet and Hillman Lueddemann, Catherine McCormack McGilvray, ’56, Twina McLinden, the Palo Alto Area Mills College Club, QuadGraphics, Carolyn and Tom Reese, Deborah Beck Rosenberg, ’57, Elise Feldman Rosenfeld, ’47, Gayle Rothrock, ’68, Marge Senders, Harriet Bradley Tegart, ’42, Mary Ausplund Tooze, ’44, Emma-Jane Peck White, ’35, and Jane Buehler Yates, ’59 Leo Becker, husband of Barbara Goldblatt Becker, ’63, by Judith Horwedel Clark, ’63, Marcia Bradley Gifford, ’70, and Patricia Yoshida Orr, ’63 Robert Berendsen, brother of Barbara Berendsen Capron, ’65, by Barbara Berendsen Capron, ’65 Marilyn Frye Bettendorf, mother of Marilyn Ennis Barrett, ’75, by The Frye Foundation North Burn, by Killara Burn, ’73 Jane “Jae” Giddings Carmichael, ’46, by Sofia Adamson, Lois Becker and Mark Stratton, Patricia Boadway Cox, ’43, MA ’44, Nancy May de L’Arbre, ’46, Janice Hogan, Los Angeles Mills College Alumnae, the Pasadena Community Foundation, John D. Taylor, Betsy Taves Whitman, ’46, and Kate Morrow Whitley, ’43 Amy Chamberlain, MA ’00, by Kathryn Boyl Goldsmith, ’66 H. Peter Converse, by Barbara Hunter, ’57 Celia Coplan, mother of Jill

Coplan, ’79, by Jill Coplan, ’79 William Cox, father of Deborah Cox, ’76, by Deborah Cox, ’76 Mary “Mig” Isabelle Gifford Crofts, ’46, by Carol Lotz Wenzel, ’46, MA ’47 Mary Lou Stueck Cunningham, ’51, by Robert Cunningham Evelyn “Peg” Deane, ’41, by Mary Hart Clark, ’42, and Margaret Deane Carol Meyer Doyle, MFA ’81, by Barbara Hunter, ’57 and the Palo Alto Area Mills College Club Betty Meyer Edgar, ’44, by Imogene Fluno Whipple, ’43 Virginia “Ginny” Hale Feldner, ’64, by Susan Wolf Kaufman, ’64 Jean Porges Freeman, ’54, by Lora Lee Smith Novak, ’54 Elaine Walker George, ’49, MA ’51, by Marjorie Guyer Crabb, ’49, and Pauline Royal Langsley, ’49 Samuel Gould, father of Hallie Gould, ’75, by Hallie Gould, ’75 Felecia ”Flea” Anhalt Graham, ’49, by Donald Graham Susan Gregory, mother of Elizabeth Parker, ’85, by Rosita Montalvo Schloss, ’57 Elaine Johnson Gutleben, ’44, by Chester Gutleben Elizabeth ”Betsy” Rulison Harrington, ’40, by Helen B. Smith Dr. George Hedley, by Mura Kievman, ’64 Rebecca Whitemarsh Herbert, ’47, by G. Arthur Herbert Evelyn Merrell Hinrichsen, ’38, MA ’40, by Mary-Lee “Lippy” Lipscomb Reade, ’41 Virginia Ann Holmgren, mother of Dr. Janet L. Holmgren, by Jane Cudlip King, ’42 Donna Hunt, by Cheryl Smith Blankenship, ’72 Sheila Morrow Joost, ’48, by her sister, Kate Morrow Whitley, ’43 Mary Kaczorowski,

by Mary Rose Kaczorowski, ’04 Anastasia Kakavetsi-Karabela, MA ’74, by Lucinda Malott, ’64 Edward and Elizabeth Trowbridge Kent, ’23, my parents, by Margaret von der Linde Ted and Charlotte Klugman, by Roberta Klugman, ’74 Nancy Ladd, MA ’50,

by Allin W. Ladd Unitrust Charles Larsen, by Mura Kievman, ’64 Joyce Leyland, ’47, by Betty Blair Code, ’47 Nancy Lin Li, MA ’48, by Ken Li and Valerie Ng, and Marcy Li Wong and Donn Logan Sydney Silverman Lindauer, ’31,

Carla Eddy Hinrichsen, ’41, 1922–2006 Carla Eddy Hinrichsen was born in Lawrence, Kansas. She earned a BA with distinction from Mills and then attended the University of Kansas, where she taught psychology and earned a degree in law. In 1947, Carla was trained by the U.S. Military Government for duty in Germany. She spent the next four years in Germany using her legal skills to work for the War Department during the military occupation that followed the Second World War. In an article in the February 1950 Mills Quarterly, Carla wrote from Germany, “Our best service will be to eliminate the need for our presence.” In 1956 Carla married music publisher Max Hinrichsen. Carla became active in her husband’s music publishing business, known then as the Hinrichsen Edition. (Max Hinrichsen and his brother Walter had fled Germany with the rise of the Nazis, and both brothers had eventually set up music publishing houses, carrying on the family business, known originally as Edition Peters. Walter was based in New York, and Max in London.) After her husband’s death in 1965, Carla continued as chair, managing director, and secretary of the Hinrichsen Edition until 1976. The edition published a wide range of British music, including 30 volumes of English keyboard music and compositions by Cornelius Cardew and Brian Ferneyhough. The edition also represented contemporary music by American composers published by C.F. Peters in New York. At least three of those composers, Henry Cowell, John Cage, and Lou Harrison, had ties to Mills College. In 1988 Carla received the Leslie Boosey Award for her outstanding contribution to contemporary music. For many years, Carla presided over the informal Mills group in the United Kingdom, a “London branch” of the AAMC. She also made a donation of great value to the Mills library: a manuscript in Mozart’s own hand of his Five Epistle Sonatas, early works for three unspecified instruments. Carla’s friend, Muffy McKinstry Thorne, ’48, said of her, “She was an extraordinary woman with broad interests and knowledge in many diverse subjects, including law, music, and psychology. She was a person whose presence changed the dynamic of a room because she was so impressive, personally and intellectually.” —David M. Brin, MA ’75

Spring 2006 M I L L S Q U A R T E R LY


Passages by Linda Seligman Schulz, ’63 Arne Michaelsen, husband of Rachel Walter Michaelsen, ’42, by Jane Cudlip King, ’42 Luis Monguio, by Yvonne Steele Byron, ’50 Nancy Richter Monson, ’56, by Pamela Smyth Webster, ’56 Elizabeth Schohr Morton, ’50, by Louis Morton Elizabeth Shepherd Murray, ’33, by Elizabeth Bryant Miles, ’34 Eleanor Nelson, by Evelyn Fry Woelz, ’42 Evelyn Oremland, by Jerome D. Oremland Franklin Ott, by Margaret Saunders Ott, ’40 Robbyn Panitch, ’79, by Betsey Shack Goodwin, ’76 Barbara Tudor Parker, ’36, MA ’41, by Loadel Harter Piner, ’50 Margaret “Meg” Quigley, ’63,

by Marilyn Schuster, ’65 Mary Rand, MA ’78, by Yvonne Dechant Lorvan, ’78 Christine Ploeser Reese, ’70, MAT ’78, by Loadel Harter Piner, ’50 Betty Riback, mother of Donna Riback, ’61, by Mary Linda Doerfler Luhring, ’61, Betsy Frederick, ’61, Connie Gilbert, ’61, Ann Gordon Bigler, ’61, Carolyn Jensen Monday, ’61, Stuart Johnson Sliter, ’61, and Marcia McElvain, ’61 Keith Rice, by Tomoye K. Tatai Donald Robinson, husband of Audrey Coker Robinson, ’52, (deceased) by Sharon Smilie Clausen, ’52 Elizabeth Rosenblatt Rothschild, ’36, by the Palo Alto Area Mills College Club

Nathan Rubin, by Katharine Morton Austin, ’70, Mura Kievman, ’64, and Darlene Mahnke SimpsonBrown, ’52 Irene Wood Schulte, ’39, by Roger Schulte James Short, by Kimberly Kim Lim, ’55 Deborah Shwayder Sims, ’38, MA ’40, by Judith Vida, ’64 Carmen Campbell Smith, ’47, by Betty Blair Code, ’47 Marilyn ”Daz” Dalziel Spencer, ’54, by Betty Chu Wo, ’46 Dave Tatsuno, by Tomoye K. Tatai (Topaz 1945) Melody Clarke Teppola, ’64, by Mark Teppola, and Tiki Feller Ives, ’64, in joyous remembrance Jeanie Thomas, ’64,

by Josephine Patrick Rappaport, ’65 Mackey Thompson, husband of Adeline Hughes Thompson, ’36, by Eleanor “Elly” McDonald Meyer, ’36 Anna Tucci, by Mary Rose Kaczorowski, ’04 Michael Wallerstein, by Jerome D. Oremland Richard Wistar, father of Alice Wistar Herbert, ’85, by Alice Wistar Herbert, ’85 Jeffrey Wendt, son of Mary Church Wendt, ’52, by Sharon Smilie Clausen, ’52 Margaret Wertheimer Wolf, my mother, by Susan Wolf Kaufman, ’64

Phyllis Cole Bader, ’35, 1913–2005 Phyllis Cole Bader, ’35, passed away suddenly and peacefully early on Christmas morning, 2005. For 74 years, from the time she enrolled as a freshwoman, Phyllis was the epitome of a “Mills girl.” At the time of her death, at age 92, she was the marketing manager for the Palo Alto Area Mills College Club and was working at the Junior League resale shop in Menlo Park, California, where she lived. Phyllis was born in San Francisco, raised in Los Gatos, California, and was a resident of Portland, Oregon, after her marriage to William Bader in 1937. In Portland she capitalized on her music major, teaching music and voice privately, conducting children and adult church choirs, and teaching and counseling at Cleveland High School. She was an accomplished vocalist, accompanist and, throughout her life, an ardent attendee at and appreciator of musical events of all sorts. She was active in the Portland branch of the Alumnae Association of Mills College, including serving as president, and was instrumental in sending many a Portland area girl to Mills College through her work as a Student Referral Representative (later known as an Alumnae Admission Representative). Her close Portland friend, Mary Ausplund Tooze, ’44, said, “No one did more for the Mills College Portland Branch than Phyllis Bader.” She was also president of Beaux Arts, a Portland-area musical and cultural group, and was national president of the Rainbow Girls. Phyllis and Bill came to Palo Alto in 1980, to be near their daughter, Lorinda Bader Reichert, ’67, and their newly born grandchild, but returned to spend the summers in Portland. When Bill died in 1988, Phyllis moved permanently to Menlo Park, where she continued her two lifelong interests: music and Mills. When not volunteering at her granddaughter's school, she worked at the Junior League resale shop in Menlo Park. Just a few months before her death, she had led her class at its 70th Reunion. Phyllis in person was a striking figure. Indeed, she had maintained a striking figure, and she was never seen without great makeup, a faultless hairdo, and stunning clothes. No one missed her entry into a room. She practiced daily the gracious living that Mills taught on Wednesday nights, and her fellow members of the Palo Alto Area Mills College Club board delighted in her linens, silver, and china, and her signature dish, chicken legs. Would that we could have cloned her! Phyllis leaves her daughter, Lorinda of Palo Alto, her son, Reece Bader of Washington, D.C., three grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren. —Jane Cudlip King, ’42


M I L L S Q U A R T E R LY Spring 2006

Wild Things Still Make My Heart Sing b y Da p h n e M u s e


s I headed to the Trefethen Pool early one Monday morning for my regular swim, I spotted six wild turkeys wobbling and gobbling their way from the tennis court down a slight embankment just behind the gym. I was so thrilled to see yet another example of where Mills and Mother Nature meet. I could barely contain my amazement and pointed out this fine moment to others leaving the pool. Last year, scores of us watched on a daily basis as a nest of newborn red-tailed hawks, living under a beam of the pool house, learned to take flight and make their way into the world. I remember when I first came to Mills to teach in 1975, the campus was filled with quail with the most amazing markings. Squadrons of them used to scurry and strut just outside the window of my office in the e t h n i c s t u d i e s department. They carry themselves in a very sophisticated, almost poised manner, and their markings remind me of those found on Zulu shields and sculptures. In recent years, I’ve sighted and caught the lingering scent of skunks, listened to frogs “ribbet” lines of poetry at the pond, and heard crickets chirp up

dusk behind the Olin Library. Ducks, possums, raccoons, herons, egrets, and deer can also be seen on campus. I simply love it when the reassuring sounds of nature riff alongside the staccato beats of urban life. While I’ve never seen a mountain lion saunter up Richards Road, feral cats roam Mills’ many acres from time to time. As millipedes make their way across the various groves of beautiful plants, bats flutter from the clock tower to surrounding trees, and dragonflies hover at a persistent pace along the creek, Mills remains an ecological haven for more species than we could ever imagine. Those wild things still make my heart sing. When I return to the pool for my next swim, I hope to catch yet another glimpse of those turkeys making their way across campus. Don’t be surprised, one morning as you’re jogging yourself awake, if you’re greeted by “Turkey Momma” and her brood foraging for food and seeking refuge somewhere among the various pockets of lush underbrush. Or maybe, just maybe, like some of you, “Turkey Momma” is seeking a new set of knowledge about coexisting peacefully with our species.

Daphne Muse is a writer, social commentator, and director of the Women’s Leadership Institute at Mills. She taught at Mills for ten years and was a WLI Scholar from 1999 to 2002. Her fourth book, The Entrance Place of Wonders: Poems from the Harlem Renaissance for Children was recently published by Abrams (2006).

Spring 2006 M I L L S Q U A R T E R LY


Class Notes do not appear in the online edition of Mills Quarterly. Alumnae are invited to share their news with classmates in the Mills College alumnae community. To submit notes for publication in the next available Quarterly, send your update to classnotes@mills. edu.

Class Notes do not appear in the online edition of the Mills Quarterly. Alumnae are invited to share their news with classmates in the Mills College Alumnae Community, To submit notes for publication in the next available Quarterly, send your update to

B A S E B A L L’ S S A C R E D G R O U N D S For most baseball fans, the legends of the sport are larger than life. This once-in-a-lifetime adventure follows the footsteps of the game’s legends. Sit in a dugout at Yankee Stadium, inspect the famous “Green Monster” at Fenway Park, enjoy a private visit with a sportswriter and more!

Join us on this family friendly experience July 27 – August 2. Prices start at $2,499 plus air.

FOR RESERVATIONS AND INFORMATION Contact Laurie Krane at the Alumnae Association of Mills College, Reinhardt Alumnae House, (510) 430-2110.

Mills Trips 2006 Portugal: the Duoro River Valley July 21–29 Your “hotel” is a 48-passenger river ship that travels 600 miles through the unspoiled beauty of Portugal’s port wine region. The journey ends in Salamanca, Spain, the ancient seat of learning. From $2,095 plus air

The Erie Canal October 13–25 Join Dr. Marion Ross on the historic route from Montreal to Newport, Rhode Island, where mansions of the early industrialists line the banks of the waterway. The trip includes stops at West Point and Boston. From $3,395

South Africa September 10–22 Discover the innate beauty, historic culture, and vineyards from Cape Town to Johannesburg. A highlight is a visit to a nursery school founded by Mills attendee Ellen Thobela, who came to Mills on an educational grant. The journey includes stops in Soweto, Pretoria, and the De Wildt Cheetah and Wildlife Center. $5,795 plus air

The Yucatan Peninsula November 26–December 4 Visit this extraordinary part of Mexico and explore the Mayan temple of Uxmal, the pyramids of Chichen Itza, and a settlement of flamingos. $1,695 plus air

Napa: R & R after Reunion September 17–19 Prolong your trip to Mills for Reunion and tour Napa’s famous wine country for a relaxed time with friends you came to see at Reunion. Transportation to and from Mills provided. All alums are invited. Approximately $700 per person

New Year’s Eve in Europe December 27, 2006– January 4, 2007 Cruise from Vienna to Budapest and Bratislava for a oncein-a-lifetime celebration of the New Year in Europe. Imagine watching fireworks over the Danube to welcome in 2007. $2,228 including air For more information about AAMC trips, please call (510) 430-2110, or email <>.

Clockwise from left: A pajama party in a Mills Hall dorm room, touring cars with passengers leaving Mills Hall, and a pageant at Lake Aliso. These photos, from about 1911, had apparently been stored in a desk, now at Reinhardt Alumnae House, for more than 90 years. See On This Issue on page 2 for more about these photos as well as the photo of Nathaniel Gray Hall of Science on page 9.

Mills Quarterly Alumnae Association of Mills College Reinhardt Alumnae House Mills College PO Box 9998 Oakland, CA 94613-0998 (510) 430-2110



Printed on recycled paper with soy-based inks.

Mills Quarterly spring 2006  

Spring 2006 Mills College alumnae magazine

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