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Mills Quarterly Winter 2011 Alumnae Magazine

Strong Women

the spirit of Mills






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Mills Quarterly

contents 4

Winter 2011 The values of education In the course of President Holmgren’s tenure, the Mills curriculum has strengthened learning in fields where women have been underrepresented, incorporated multicultural perspectives, and expanded opportunities in graduate education—while remaining true to the basic values of a liberal arts education.


A matter of principles by Kate Rix Cultivating a strong sense of ethics and embracing diversity can help women in business change the definition of good leadership, says Deborah Merrill-Sands, the new dean of the Lorry I. Lokey Graduate School of Business.


Change in the classroom by Pamela Wilson The Curricular Transformation Initiative encourages professors to integrate social justice concepts into their courses. As a result, their students find new relevance in old subjects.


Reunion review

•  Alumnae Award winners reflect the spirit of Mills by Linda Jaquez-Fissori ’92 •  The weekend in pictures. •  A message from the President of the Alumnae Association of Mills College.

32 Sound off! What does “leadership” mean to you?

Departments 2

Letters to the editor




Mills Matters


Class Notes with Notes from Near and Far: Alumnae Activities Report and Reunion class photos.


In Memoriam

On the cover: Mitra Lohrasb ’90 traveled from Vancouver to attend Reunion. A native of Iran, she witnessed a revolution there in 1979 that persecuted women, so her Mills experience and her work on the student communications committee during the Strike have particular meaning for her: “To have a voice and peacefully overturn an unjust decision by the Trustees was an empowering and life-changing experience,” she says of rescinding the decision to admit undergraduate men to Mills. “The fact that our actions made a difference meant the world to me.” Lohrasb now runs her own business, The Harvard Advantage Consulting & Training, teaching communication techniques to business people, entrepreneurs, and executives. Photo by Dana Davis.

Letters to the Editor I’m puzzled by the paragraph announc-

rized in much the same way that “black”

ing new women’s studies faculty mem-

was in the civil rights movement.) Many

ber Priya Kandaswamy,

educational institutions across

“whose arrival signals the

the country, including Yale, UC

beginning of a greater

Berkeley, and San Francisco State

focus on queer/sexual-

University, have already estab-

ity studies within the

lished full-fledged programs in

Volume XCIX Number 2 (USPS 349-900)

department” (“New fac-

queer studies.


Winter 2011

Gender and sexuality are two

offerings,” Fall 2010). Is

fundamental categories of social

President Janet L. Holmgren

there a new meaning for

and cultural analysis; other very

“queer” these days other

important intersecting catego-

Vice President for Institutional Advancement Cynthia Brandt Stover

than homosexuality, or is

ries include race, ethnicity, class,

Senior Director of Communications Dawn Cunningham ’85 Managing Editor Linda Schmidt Design and Art Direction Nancy Siller Wilson Contributing Writers Linda Jaquez-Fissori ’92 Kate Rix Pamela Wilson Editorial Assistance Allison Marin ’12 The Mills Quarterly (USPS 349-900) is published quarterly by Mills College, 5000 MacArthur Blvd., Oakland, CA 94613. Periodicals postage paid at Oakland, California, and at additional mailing office(s). Postmaster: Send address changes to the Office of Institutional Advancement, Mills College, 5000 MacArthur Blvd., Oakland, CA 94613.



there actually going to be an entire study devoted to this subject? Shirley Peavey Walkoe ’48 San Diego, California

and ability. Drawing on history, literature, cultural studies, social science, and science, we offer students interdisciplinary perspectives through which to examine the social construction of gender

Elizabeth Potter, head of the Women’s Studies Program at Mills, responds:

and sexuality, including masculinities and

I’m delighted to have a chance to talk

that are female or male, and as expressed

about queer studies at Mills. As you

in variously racialized bodies, able and

may already know, the Women’s Studies

disabled bodies, etc. Thus, for example,

Program aims to acquaint Mills students

when masculinity is expressed in a female

with the scholarship on women, gender,

body, we may dub this a transgender

sexuality, and feminist theory.

identity and aptly describe it as “queer.”

femininities, whether expressed in bodies

We understand gender to be the

The social, political, cultural, and scien-

social meaning of the biological distinc-

tific work that goes into the production

tion between the sexes and sexuality to

of transgender identity is now an area of

include the full array of human sexual

intense academic investigation included

identities; interdisciplinary study of this

in queer studies. This academic area covers

rich diversity of human gender and sex-

the social construction of heterosexuality

ual expression is now referred to in the

and homosexuality, of course, but these are

academy as “queer studies.” (The term

merely part of the wide-ranging human

“queer” has been recovered and valo-

experience of gender and sexuality.

Copyright © 2010, Mills College. Address correspondence to the Mills Quarterly, Mills College, 5000 MacArthur Blvd., Oakland, CA 94613. Letters to the editor may be edited for clarity or length. Email: Phone: 510.430.3312 Printed on recycled paper containing 10 percent post-consumer waste.

Have a comment or opinion? Write to us at Mills Quarterly, 5000 MacArthur Blvd., Oakland, CA 94613 or Letters may be edited for clarity or length.

At Mills, for Alumnae Alumnae Relations 510.430.2123 Career Services 510.430.2130 Alumnae Admission Representatives Joan Jaffe, Associate Dean of Admission 510.430.2135


M i l l s Q u a r t e r ly

Giving to Mills 510.430.2366........................... Alumnae Association of Mills College (AAMC) 510.430.2110 . Linda Jaquez-Fissori ’92, President ...................................... 510.430.3374 Bill White, Accountant.................. 510.430.3373 To contact the AAMC, please write to: AAMC, 5000 MacArthur Blvd., MB #86, Oakland, CA 94613-1301

Calendar Mills Music Now For more information on all Mills music events, see


March 10–13  SIGNAL FLOW

Unless otherwise noted, all performances at 8:00 pm, Littlefield Concert Hall, $15 general, $10 seniors and non-Mills students, free with AAMC card

Various times/locations, free A festival of music and sound art from current Mills graduate students. Call 510.430.2171 or see

February 5  Mills Performing Group: Homage to the Music of Robert Erickson


Composer Pauline Oliveros says Erickson is “tireless in his investigation of music,” and had “already studied—and abandoned—the twelve-tone system before most other Americans had taken it up!”

February 26  Christian Wolff, Jean Macduff Vaux Composer-in-Residence The revered composer aims “to turn the making of music into a collaborative and transforming activity… to stir up, through the production of the music, a sense of the social conditions in which we live and of how these might be changed.”

Center for Socially Responsible Business Lecture February 24, 7:00 pm, Lokey Graduate School of Business Gathering Hall, free Ann Thrupp, manager of sustainability and organic development at Fetzer/Bonterra Vineyards, develops partnerships, provides communications, and organizes educational events about organic and sustainable farming. For details, contact or 510.430.2304.

All events at 7:30 pm, Music Building Ensemble Room, free

February 7  Jen Baker Baker’s performance showcases the trombone as a versatile musical voice.

February 28  Dana Reason An evening of solo piano compositions and improvisations by the Canadian-born pianist, composer, and improviser.

March 7  John Butcher The legendary saxophonist performs solo improvisations, multi-tracked pieces, and explorations with feedback and extreme acoustics.

April 2  Robert Ashley: Foreign Experiences 8:00 pm, Littlefield Concert Hall, $15 general, $10 seniors and non-Mills students, free with AAMC card This special performance of Ashley’s 1994 opera is presented as part of the College’s partnership with the San Francisco Opera’s Ring Festival. Featuring Sam Ashley and Jacqueline Humbert, Foreign Experiences portrays life in America, focusing on an individual’s search for self-realization within the lonely, isolated California cultural landscape. Ashley’s operas are “so vast in their vision that they are comparable only to Wagner’s Ring cycle or Stockhausen’s seven-evening Licht cycle. In form and content, in musical, vocal, literary and media technique, they are, however, comparable to nothing else.” —Los Angeles Times For more information on the Ring Festival, see

Karen Tei Yamashita

Contemporary Writers Series All events at 5:30 pm, Mills Hall Living Room, free. For information, contact Stephanie Young at 510.430.3130 or

February 15  Karen Tei Yamashita Yamashita’s fifth book, I Hotel, fuses prose, playwriting, graphic art, and philosophy to spin an epic tale of the struggle for civil rights in San Francisco’s Chinatown from 1968 to 1977.

March 15  Ngu˜gı˜ wa Thiong’o His sharply critical writings about the injustices of neocolonial Kenyan society led to Ngu˜gı˜ ’s life of political exile.

March 29  M. NourbeSe Philip Philip’s recent poetry project, Zong! excavates the story of some 150 Africans who were murdered aboard a slave ship in 1781 so the ship’s owners could collect insurance payout.

Upcoming at the Mills College Art Museum For more information, contact or 510.430.2164. The museum is open 11:00 am–4:00 pm Tuesday through Sunday, 11:00 am–7:30 pm Wednesday, and is closed Sunday. Admission is free.

January 19–March 12  Lærke Lauta: Floating Female Opening reception: January 19, 6:00 pm–9:00 pm Lecture and film screening with the artist: February 16, 7:00 pm, Danforth Lecture Hall Lauta’s new five-channel video installation project maps internal and external states of consciousness.

March 29–April 17  Senior Thesis Exhibition Opening reception: April 2, 6:00 pm–8:00 pm Mills College senior undergraduate students present their final thesis projects in studio art.

Ngu˜gı˜ wa Thiong’o

winter 2011


A look back at the tenure of President Holmgren

The values of education Throughout President Janet L. Holmgren’s tenure, the College curriculum has evolved to strengthen learning in fields where women have been underrepresented, to incorporate diversity, and to build ties between undergraduate and graduate programs. In early October, Holmgren met with Professor Cynthia Scheinberg, chair of the English Department and dean of Graduate Literary Studies, to discuss the ways in which the curriculum at Mills has developed over the past two decades to meet the changing landscape of higher education and expand educational opportunities for women and men. Scheinberg chaired the Faculty Advisory Committee for Mills’ Multicultural Curricular Enhancement Program and led the General Education Task Force, which was charged with evaluating the general education program at Mills. This is the third in a four-part series of conversations with President Holmgren in her final year as the head of Mills College.

Scheinberg: What are the major shifts that have taken place in the

change with undergraduate study. Our 4+1 programs, which

curriculum over the past 20 years?

enable undergraduate women to earn a master’s degree with

Holmgren: When I first arrived, it was very clear to me that Mills had a stellar faculty and a strong curriculum. And there was the real sense that Mills was just at the brink of taking off in terms of graduate programs. Some areas, like fine arts, had been wellestablished for decades and other areas, like English and creative writing, were beginning to get some strong traction. Since then, we’ve come a long way in strengthening general education requirements and distribution requirements for undergraduates. We’ve come a long way in teaching undergraduates basic writing and critical thinking skills through efforts such as the first-year writing program and the Living Learning Communities, which are residential groups for first-year students organized around an academic interest. Our graduate programs, meanwhile, have grown in both size and reputation. We’ve added new graduate degrees, includ-

one additional year of study after their bachelor’s, are part of the genius of Mills. Using the strengths of the faculty, we allow students to make that leap to the next level, from the undergraduate study of a discipline into the professional and pragmatic studies that relate to that discipline. You were also instrumental in helping the College develop a more diverse and multicultural approach to the curriculum. Was this a priority when you came? At that time, diversity and multiculturalism were essentially limited to ethnic studies. We began by developing ethnic studies into a department, and that was an important early part of building the curricular changes that would make us truly multicultural. But we also had to diversify the faculty and provide incentives for faculty to develop their course content as well as their approaches to teaching. We received an Irvine Foundation grant

ing business and public policy, that build on the strengths of

for multicultural curricular enhancement to help our faculty

our undergraduate curriculum. Two graduate programs have

develop a coherent approach to multiculturalism. Also, after

become schools: the Lorry I. Lokey Graduate School of Business

I became a board member and then chair for the Carnegie

and the School of Education. Our first doctoral degree, in educa-

Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, we brought a

tional leadership, was accredited in 1999.

new focus on pedagogy and engagement with learning to Mills

Several of our strong graduate programs have some inter4 

M i l l s Q u a r t e r ly

through Carnegie’s faculty development programs.

Mills College President Janet L. Holmgren and Professor Cynthia Scheinberg

Of course, the most visible sign of our commitment to advancing women in science is our beautiful, green, Betty Irene Moore Natural Sciences Building and its state-of-the-art laboratories, which combine innovation and pragmatism about science education in a liberal arts context. A video running in the lobby focuses on the achievements of women in science that are so often absent from common knowledge. Tell us about the introduction of professional schools at Mills. How does the Lorry I. Lokey Graduate School of Business, for example, mesh with the College’s fundamental goals and values? Those kinds of programs—the Lokey Graduate School of Business is a great example—really emerged from the faculty and the way they continue to re-envision what Mills is all about. While Mills has maintained its liberal arts undergraduate program, we also recognized that we had the capacity to educate at the professional level—and that should be one of the ways of moving into the 21st century, finding financial stability, expanding intellectually and creatively, and expanding women’s leadership. Mills faculty members further recognize that women are seeking to be taken seriously at the professional level and want to find institutions that are going to invest in them and show how they can take their knowledge and skills into the professional arena. And, pragmatically, you make more money if you have a master’s degree—especially if you’re a woman and are still earndana dav is

What has Mills done to advance women in science and math, fields where they have long been underrepresented? We’ve done a lot to heighten the awareness of women in the sci-

ing an average of 80 cents on the dollar. We are looking to provide the best educational opportunities in those areas. You are also k nown for supporting the integration of social justice perspectives into the curriculum. Why is this important?

ences, to encourage our students—and younger girls—to consider

I don’t think you can have an educational community that is

science as a field they can pursue. The 1994 Women in Science

not grounded in certain values. Academic excellence has to be

conference, sponsored by the Women’s Leadership Institute,

tied to the questions, “For what? To what end?” We can’t have a

was a very energetic conversation about what it would take to

strong and intelligent and civil society if we don’t also hold the

transform the sciences with women’s energy and leadership.

perspective that every human being has the capacity and the

Our distinguished provost, Sandra Greer, a nationally recognized

right to life and liberty.

chemist, chaired that conference. We’ve had many prominent scientists enhance our focus on these fields, including astronaut Sally Ride, the first American woman in space, who was our very inspiring Convocation speaker in 2005.

In what ways do you think the College’s curriculum might change in the future? I’m very proud that we have continued to be cutting edge in

We have a wonderful summer program, supported by the

areas where we’ve been traditionally strong, while at the same

Hellman Family Foundation, to support incoming Mills students

time developing other areas that, for Mills, weren’t quite so much

who show particular interest and promise in the sciences. With a

on the map, such as the sciences and public policy. I think we’re

grant from Toyota USA Foundation, we’ve offered a summer pro-

poised to be more powerful in terms of interdisciplinarity, even at

gram for girls in high school to develop their capacity in the sci-

the graduate level. There is no other public policy program in the

ences. Professor of Education Jane Bowyer, in conjunction with

U.S. that really draws from the liberal arts, although everything

Mills science faculty, developed curricula to educate Oakland

about making policy should come out of the liberal arts. That’s

elementary school teachers in teaching sciences. And last year

true of business, it’s true of the arts, it’s true of so many disci-

the National Science Foundation awarded us a multi-year grant

plines, and I think that interdisciplinarity throughout our cur-

to prepare science and math educators.

riculum is going to be an important next step for the College. winter 2011


Mills Matters Smart students + green campus = top rankings Academic excellence and a commitment to sustainability vaulted Mills to the top of several college ranking reports this year. U.S. News & World Report’s Best Colleges guide ranked Mills fourth among regional universities in the West. This is the third consecutive year Mills has held that rank, though the College has improved its overall score as well as its standing in categories of selectivity and peer assessment.

Bigger and brighter: new students arrive for fall

Mills also ranked second in the “Great

Mills College reaped a bumper crop of new students this year: 322 new undergradu-

on academic quality relative to the net

ates began classes in August, including 102 transfer students. With 312 new gradu-

cost of attendance for students receiv-

ate students, Mills has a total student body of 1,596 for fall semester—a significant

ing financial aid.

increase from the total of 1,510 a year ago. Nineteen percent of the new undergraduates are resumers (23 years or older in age)

Schools, Great Prices” category based

For the fifth consecutive year, Mills is one of 330 colleges included in the

and 20 students are parents. The group also includes 16 Hellman Summer Science

Fiske Guide to Colleges. Fiske describes

and Math Fellows, five Trustee Scholars, 15 Summer Academic Workshop participants,

the academic climate on campus as

and 39 Bent Twigs.

“tough but cooperative,” and says the

This year’s first-year students come with impressive academic credentials: they

College “continues to provide ambi-

have an average GPA of 3.67 and a SAT score range of 1550–1850. Five of these first-

tious women with a stellar education

year students were valedictorians, 160 received an academic award or honor in high

and a host of opportunities.”

school, 70 percent have held a leadership position in or out of school, and 30 have

The Princeton Review selected Mills

been elected to student government. In addition, the new cohort includes 23 captains

as one of the Best 373 Colleges in the

of a sport, nine cheerleaders, two synchronized swimmers, a professional cyclist, and a

nation, praising the College for being

roller derby skater who goes by the name “Kali Kaboom” on the track.

“dedicated to social justice and envi-

The new undergraduate students show a commitment to social justice locally and

ronmental awareness.” The Princeton

globally. Seventy percent have participated in community service projects from found-

Review also included Mills in its Guide

ing a formal dance for special-needs students to making quilts for a neo-natal unit.

to 286 Green Colleges for demonstrat-

Diversity among the student body remains steady as 42 percent of the new under-

ing a strong commitment to sustain-

graduates self-identify as students of color, 36 percent come from a home where a

ability through campus infrastructure,

language other than English is spoken, and 31 percent are first-generation college stu-

activities, and initiatives. Founders

dents. The new students also represent 17 other states as well as Hong Kong, Japan,

Commons, the central campus din-

India, and France. Among graduate students, 36 percent identify as people of color.

ing room, was noted for “throw[ing]

Financial aid packages have enabled many of these new students to attend Mills.

away only 3 percent of its waste” and

A total of $32.3 million in aid was awarded to approximately 97 percent of under-

using biodegradable utensils. Campus

graduate students, and 94 percent of them received aid directly from Mills. In addi-

environmental efforts also earned

tion, about 85 percent of new graduate students received financial aid from Mills;

Mills a place as one of America’s “100

another five percent secured aid from other sources.

Coolest” green schools from Sierra, the Sierra Club magazine.


M i l l s Q u a r t e r ly

Jak ub Mosur

An update from the Presidential Search Committee The Presidential Search Committee has spent the summer and fall in our review of candidates for President of Mills College, to take office in summer 2011. We are very impressed with what we are learning about these candidates. The committee has shown itself to be a congenial group with a shared focus on what is best for the future of Mills College, a focus which so many of you helped us to formulate and articulate through the conversation groups and surveys we conducted in the spring. As I’ve written previously, in order to consider highly qualified candidates who currently occupy key leadership positions, we have pledged strict confidentiality throughout the search process. The candidates will not appear at Mills during the search and we will not reveal any names other than the one selected and approved by the Board of Trustees.

Honoring their causes Two women who have used their influence to create positive change in the lives of others were granted honorary degrees by President Janet L. Holmgren during Convocation on October 1.

Dolores Huerta, President Janet L. Holmgren, Board Chair Kathi Burke, and Muffy McKinstry Thorne ’48.

Activist Dolores Huerta received the degree of doctor of laws for her dedication to promoting women’s leadership, her commitment to education, and her work to establish farm workers’ rights. In introducing Huerta, Holmgren described her as “a lifetime champion of social justice whose courageous leadership garnered unprecedented national support for human and civil rights.” Huerta co-founded the United Farm Workers Union with Cesar Chavez in 1962, has been politically active for nearly a half century, and is now president of the Dolores Huerta Foundation, where she works with her daughter Camila Chavez ’98, executive director. For her years of loyal service to Mills College, Evelyn “Muffy” McKinstry Thorne ’48 was granted the degree of doctor of humane letters. Thorne has served as a governor of the Alumnae Association of Mills College (AAMC), as a class agent, and as a member of numerous AAMC and College committees. She was president of the AAMC during the Strike of 1990 and played a key role in mobilizing alumnae support for keeping Mills a women’s college. A member of the Mills College Board of Trustees since 1992, Thorne was named a Lifetime Trustee in 2001. She was awarded the honorary degree for being a “dedicated Trustee, generous alumna, and passionate advocate for women’s education, whose inspired leadership made history and ensured Mills’ continued commitment to educating and advancing women.”

Please don’t hesitate to email us at Continue to consult our website,

House & garden

presidential_search, where you will find an archive of all communications to date in addition to the presidential profile and a list of the Presidential Search Committee members. And keep an eye on the College’s @mills email newsletter (if you don’t already receive it, write to to provide us with your email address). In between issues of the Quarterly, we will commu-

Magdalena Paul, executive director of the Barrett Foundation; Barrett Scholar Laine Janzen ’11; Richard Barrett, caption TKP ’93; and Barrett Scholar Virginia Fung ’11 at a thank-you reception in October.

nicate about the progress of the search through email.

The Botanic Garden added an important new resource this summer—not a tree or shrub, but a new building to house classes, workshops, and other gatherings.


Gaia House, as the 1,000-square-foot structure is known, provides work space

Wendy Hull Brody ‘68, Trustee and

and storage for garden operations, along with a permanent office for the Botanic

Chair, Presidential Search Committee

Garden coordinator, Christina McWhorter. Named for the Greek goddess of the earth, Gaia House was funded through the generosity of Mills Trustee Richard W. Barrett and his wife, Elaine, P ’93, and June Brooke Schneider ’43. winter 2011


From the faculty: retirements, awards, and other news The campus community bid farewell to

her photographs documenting the

iconic crane images. This fall also saw

several professors as they retired from

construction of the Moscone Center

two solo exhibitions by Liu—one in Hong

their outstanding careers. Jane Bowyer,

into large-scale photographic drawings;

Kong and the other in Miami, Florida.

at Mills since 1975, became professor

the images will then be sandblasted and

emerita of education this summer;

laser etched onto granite panels to line

co-director of

Ron Nagle, at Mills since 1978, became

Moscone Station.

the Center for

professor emeritus of studio art;

As part of an anniversary celebration

Maggi Payne,


and John Vollmer, at Mills since 1970,

of the Kemper Art Museum in Kansas

Music (CCM),

became professor emeritus of chemis-

City, Missouri, Professor of Studio Art

released a solo

try. Dance Department artist/lecturer

Hung Liu adorned a Smart car with her

CD in October.

Judith Rosenberg, at Mills since 1973,

Arctic Winds

also retired. “We celebrate your years of

consists of

dedication to the college, the role you’ve

seven tracks

played as teachers in the lives of gen-

based on recorded sounds of BART

erations of students and in ours as col-

trains, plumbing, and other items or

leagues,” said Provost Sandra Greer. “As

locations; it is available through Innova,

each of you move on to your post-Mills Lecturer Holly Kernan and the Mills

career, the world’s gain is our loss.”

College Public Radio Program were

Meanwhile, faculty in diverse disciplines continue to reap recognition for

honored with an award from the Public

their creative work and scholarship.

Radio News Directors Incorporated.

Professor of Art Catherine Wagner’s

“Fault Lines,” their series exploring the

work will grace San Francisco’s new

roots of and solutions to violence in

central subway line. She has received

Oakland, won first place in 2010 for a

an $800,000 commission to transform

series within their division.

New gifts support student and faculty scholarship Between April 1 and September 30, 2010, Mills received several gifts and pledges of $50,000 or more that are making a signifi-

Student Lounge in honor of their parents. The V & L Marx Foundation made one of the first major gifts

cant impact on student and faculty scholarship. The College

to the new Janet L. Holmgren Presidential Scholarship Fund

gratefully acknowledges the following generous donors:

(see back cover for more information about the fund).

Ann Sulzberger Wolff ’42 made a sizeable gift to the Mills

The American Chemical Society awarded a grant to Elizabeth

College Annual Fund to support the College’s greatest needs,

D. Kochly, assistant professor of chemistry, in support of her

including student scholarships. Marian Elizabeth Wickline ’35

study “Novel Nucleophilic Trapping Reactions of Carbocations

left an unrestricted bequest for Mills to use where it is most

in Ionic Liquids.” Kochly will involve Mills undergraduates in


this research, providing them the opportunity to gain firsthand

Joanne Regalia Repass ’66 established the Joanne Regalia Repass ’66 Endowed Scholarship for undergraduates who require

experience with scientific inquiry. The Dirk and Charlene Kabcenell Foundation renewed fund-

financial aid, especially first-generation college students. Bonny

ing for the Mills Teacher Scholars Program at the School of

McFadden Henderson ’65 and Florence Owens Dodington ’65

Education. The program helps urban public school teachers in

created the Janet Sutherland McFadden Endowed Scholarship in

the East Bay develop effective methodologies that improve their

memory of Bonny’s mother, and Anne Marie Mersereau Kodama

classroom teaching skills with culturally diversity populations

’91 endowed the Kodama Family Undergraduate Scholarship.

and increase students’ learning outcomes.

The Jean A. Kautz Memorial Scholarship was created by a bequest from Jean A. Kautz, ME ’51. With a gift to the Lorry I. Lokey Graduate School of Business,

The Lumina Foundation for Education made a two-year grant to Mills for a study that aims to identify ways for the College to reduce costs without sacrificing access to or the quality of educa-

the sons of Betty Chu Wo ’46—Robert, Wendell, Michael,

tion. The study is directed by consultant Lucie Lapovsky, an econ-

Bennett, and Scott—named the Robert and Betty Wo ’46 MBA

omist and vice chair of the American Public University System.


M i l l s Q u a r t e r ly

A dynamic dance duo This fall, the Oakland Ballet Company rehearsed its production of The Nutcracker on the Mills campus as part of a model College– community partnership. Mills students benefit from the opportunity to participate in the creation of a large-scale dance production, to train and perform in the production, and to gain hands-on Professor of English Cornelia Nixon’s

production experience as rehearsal

novel Jarrettsville won the 2010

assistants for young students from

Michael Shaara Prize for Excellence

local dance studios.

in Civil War Fiction, administered by

In addition, Mills dance stu-

the Civil War Institute at Gettysburg

dents may participate in technique

College. Nixon received the $5,000

classes taught by renowned choreographer Amy Seiwert and Oakland Ballet’s

prize in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, on

artistic director, Graham Lustig. Advanced students may also join Oakland Ballet

November 19, the anniversary of the

Company classes for the year. Many other aspects of this partnership are in the

Gettysburg Address.

planning stages, including an intensive summer program.

Visiting Assistant Professor of

“When I work with our students, I ask them to challenge their artistry every

Anthropology Rachael Stryker pub-

day like professionals, and when I work with professionals I ask them to be like

lished her first book, The Road to

students, to challenge themselves and be open to new experiences,” says Associate

Evergreen: Adoption, Attachment

Professor Sonya Delwaide, chair of the Dance Department. “In other words, they

Therapy, and the Promise of Family

can both learn from each other.”

(Cornell University Press). 

International partnership highlights women and the economy Mills College has partnered with the International Museum of Women (IMOW) to explore the status of young women in today’s global economy. Other institutions collaborating in the project are the Ayala Museum and Miriam

featured the work of 20 photographers

Young Women Speaking the Economy,

College (Philippines), the Women’s

portraying women working in diverse

in which they will participate in

Museum and Aarhus University

capacities, from salt miners in India to

multimedia forums, dialogue, and

(Denmark), and the Sudanese Women’s

technology executives in California.

projects about their experiences with

Museum and Ahfad University (Sudan).

“This exciting cross-cultural collabora-

the economy with students from

tion exemplifies that global connections

Denmark, the Philippines, and Sudan.

displayed a juried photographic exhibi-

are integral to a contemporary, progres-

Two Mills students will have the

tion entitled Picturing Power and

sive education,” said Deborah Merrill-

opportunity to travel internationally.

Potential at the Lorry I. Lokey Graduate

Sands, dean of the Lokey Graduate

Art and conversations from Young

School of Business in the fall. Presented

School of Business.

Women Speaking the Economy will

To debut the partnership, Mills

by IMOW and the San Francisco Arts Commission Gallery, the exhibition

Ten Mills students have been selected to join the next stage of the partnership,

be featured on the IMOW website,, in April 2011. winter 2011


A matter of principles Strong values build effective leaders, says the new dean of the Lokey Graduate School of Business


By Kate Rix n the mid-1980s , Deborah Merrill-Sands was at work

in Africa with a research organization focused on agri-


In other words, an investment in women as leaders is an investment in an entire society.

cultural development. She was studying how resources

This understanding has guided Merrill-Sands in her ongoing

were being invested to spur sustainable agricultural

study and promotion of women’s leadership. After years in the

production in rural areas and whether those resources were

field of international development, she moved toward aca-

being used most effectively and efficiently.

demia, joining the School of Management at Simmons College

“It became clear that the bulk of small-scale farming in

in Boston in 1998, where she was the co-founder and director

many areas was being done by the women, yet most of the

of a research center on gender dynamics in work organizations

technical assistance was directed to the men. Women were

and how these shape opportunities for women’s leadership.

simply invisible,” says Merrill-Sands. “There had been an

She was appointed dean in 2004 and, during six years in that

important shift at that time to women as primary agricul-

role, realized that women’s perspectives have transformative

tural producers—many men had left their villages to pursue

potential. If, as she argues, most women embrace the idea that

employment in the cities—yet the development world was

power-holders should strive to benefit the whole group, then

blind to that situation.” Merrill-Sands concluded that one

a business program that cultivates women leaders could rede-

reason women were invisible in agricultural development

fine traditional male-centered notions of leadership in busi-

was because so few women were in the technical assistance

ness. It was also at Simmons that she honed a concept she calls

field. She began to redirect her career to focus on attracting

“principled leadership.”

more women into rural development policy and research

Principled leaders, Merrill-Sands says, are women or men

and, for eight years, led a very successful program that more

who are direct, confident, clear about their own aspirations,

than tripled the number of women scientists and adminis-

and effective at integrating multiple perspectives into decision

trators working within a consortium of agricultural research

making. They hold themselves accountable for fostering ethical


decision-making, for responding to the needs and interests of

Merrill-Sands is the new dean of Mills’ Lorry I. Lokey

multiple stakeholders, for promoting inclusivity, and for ensur-

Graduate School of Business and an expert in women and

ing that their organizations not only have strong financial per-

leadership. Her graduate degree, from Cornell, is in eco-

formance but also make a positive contribution to society.

nomic anthropology, so she’s just as sharp an observer of

Without these commitments and proficiencies, even the

cultural dynamics as she is savvy about quantitative return

most intelligent and driven person may not reach their high-

on equity. That moment in Africa struck her as part of a

est potential. Mills, she says, is an ideal environment in which

broader issue—that direct support of the women in that rural

to cultivate such skills. “Until we change the definition of good

community had the power to result in long-term benefits

leadership, it will remain a very masculine concept, and we will

that support for men would not.

confound the efforts of women in leadership roles.”

“Research shows that women, as a group, are more

In conversation, Merrill-Sands conveys both her passion for

inclined to use their leadership not only to strengthen their

her work and her explicit attention to the notion of aspiration.

own organizations, but also to improve the larger commu-

The word comes up more than once, and it is clear that her com-

nity,” she says. “They tend to use their power to enhance the

mitment to women’s leadership stems from a belief that women

world around them.” In the development field, many studies

who know what they aspire to, who know what they truly want

have indicated that women are more likely to direct avail-

to do—not just in business but in all fields—are not only likely to

able resources to providing for the family and tend to invest

succeed but are often generous with their success.

in improving their own capabilities through education for

One of her own professional goals has been to bring innova-

themselves or their children, thus feeding a cycle of raising

tive ideas into a setting where they can help women articulate

the overall quality of life.

and actualize their own aspirations. This process itself, one

M i l l s Q u a r t e r ly

could say, is another aspect of principled leadership: enabling others to produce exceptional results. Merrill-Sands grew up and was educated in New England,

while her professional life has taken her around the globe. After graduate school, she completed her post-doctoral work at the International Service for National Agricultural Research in The Hague. She stayed on to become a senior research fellow, conducting research on rural development and advising organizations in developing countries. She came to Mills on August 1 and is still settling into life on the West Coast, unpacking boxes in her sunny office overlook-

Women, as a group, are more inclined to use their leadership not only to strengthen their own organizations, but also to improve the larger community.

ing Richards Road. But as we sit down to share her priorities for the Business School, she jumps nimbly into a discussion about the growing awareness of how incorporating diversity of all

is to weave it into the fabric of the organization—into all the

sorts is crucial to creating successful businesses.

different dimensions of work, structures, and processes.”

At a recent talk by Joe Keefe, president of the sustainable investment firm Pax World, Merrill-Sands was inspired by both

What do these ideas about leadership and diversity look

of the evening’s messages: international investment focused

like in the classrooms of the Lokey Graduate School of

on women and children yields the highest return, Keefe said.


Further, companies in the developed world that invest in build-

The faculty here is strong, she says, and students receive

ing diverse leadership within their own ranks have stronger

a rigorous education in economics and the quantitative and

financial performance over the long term. Keefe backed up his

analytical skills necessary to move up in business. She points

point by noting two recent studies that show a positive correla-

to the value of Mills’ women-focused program in providing

tion between gender diversity at the top management level and

strong training in leadership skills as well.

a firm’s financial performance.

“Often, as a woman moves up in business, a series of minor

“While the research demonstrates a correlation, not causation,

incidents of bias can accumulate and eventually undermine

a reasonable conclusion is that if you make diversity a priority

her self-confidence,” she says. “At Mills, by putting the focus

then you’re likely to innovate more quickly as an organization,

explicitly on gender, we can help women anticipate these

attract stronger talent, and be more responsive,” she says.

‘small knocks’ and learn strategies to understand and man-

These aren’t new concepts for Merrill-Sands. While at Simmons, she co-authored a paper called “Working with Diversity: A Framework for Action,” which encapsulates her

age these dynamics.” Merrill-Sands further believes that Mills’ unusually diverse student body adds an even greater benefit to students.

observations about effective leveraging of diverse environments:

“In today’s society, we have an incredible opportunity

“It is one thing to create diversity by recruiting people of dif-

to learn to manage within a multicultural environment,”

ferent nationality, cultural background, race, gender, sexual

Merrill-Sands says. “The question we need to ask ourselves

orientation, religion, discipline or work style,” she wrote. “It is

is: are we harnessing that opportunity as much as we can?

quite another to develop a supportive work environment that

Educating Mills students to come out of this MBA Program

enables people of diverse backgrounds to perform at their high-

truly skilled at hearing multiple perspectives and negotiat-

est levels, contribute fully to the organization, and feel profes-

ing among them—as principled leaders do—will put them at

sionally satisfied…. The ultimate goal in working with diversity

a huge advantage.”

photo by S te ve Babul jak

winter 2011



hangein the class

Fresh perspectives and new scholarship enliven learning

By Pamela Wilson


hat does reading Beowulf reveal about race? How can

the literature of the Middle Ages teach us about the modern era? Associate Professor Diane Cady and her students have been pos-

ing these questions—and others—in Survey of British Literature I,

a course she recently redesigned as part of the College’s Curricular

Transformation Initiative.

“We still cover the period roughly from Beowulf to Milton,” Cady says of the reading

list for her survey course, a curricular stalwart familiar to most English majors. “The biggest change I made was to help students make connections between the medieval era and today. Lectures and secondary readings provide a framework for students to see how colonialism, sexuality, and race figure in the primary texts from the Middle Ages.” Mills’ Curricular Transformation Initiative encourages faculty to design courses that introduce different ways of analyzing traditional material—an essential approach to educating students to think critically in a global, multicultural society. The initiative also incorporates into classroom learning an awareness of diversity and support for the principles of social justice, with a goal of making courses more accessible and relevant to students. Cady has seen positive results in the reactions of her students. “Reading medieval literature this way really helps draw students in. They start to think about where some of the ideas of our time—or the infrastructure for these ideas—come from,” she explains. “Some of these very old texts meditate on issues we’re still grappling with today.” Updating courses also helps students keep pace with the latest scholarship. “I was taught to read Beowulf through the lenses of heroism and epic form, but there are other ways to look at the poem,” says Cady. “In the past 15 years, a lot of interesting work has been done on gender and sexuality in the Middle Ages, which I’ve brought into the course through our readings of John Donne and others (see sidebar). With Beowulf, I also bring in race and ethnicity.” In the classroom, Cady’s students ask what, precisely, it is that makes Beowulf’s Grendel monstrous. “We can talk about Grendel as a kind of racial other,” Cady points out. “He is vilified as a ‘monster’ and the Geats and the Danes ostracize him, but, at the same time, the text underscores that they are very similar. They are all human, and they are all involved with revenge. Difference in this poem is constructed and deployed for particular political, economic, and cultural reasons. Race is constructed and deployed in the same way today.”


M i l l s Q u a r t e r ly

photos by bruce cook

Colonialism and erotic conquest: Diane Cady on the “virginal” New World

room “The curriculum of a college or university is dynamic and evolving,

changing with the times to meet the needs of students and of society,” says Provost and Dean of the Faculty Sandra Greer, who characterizes curricular transformation as “an intellectually exciting process that is essential for the future of our students and of Mills College.” The concept of “curricular transformation” has its roots in the feminist and civil rights movements of the 1960s, when scholars began to recognize that the contributions and perspectives of women, people of color, and other underrepresented groups were overwhelmingly absent from the traditional curriculum. Since that time, numerous universities across the country have embraced curricular transformation and there are several centers devoted to studying research and best practices in the field. Since its founding, Mills has sought to adapt its curriculum to the evolving educational needs of women. In the past two decades, several projects have helped to advance this goal. In 1997, Mills received a major three-year grant from the James Irvine Foundation to support multicultural curriculum transformation. The grant resulted in dozens of new or revised courses as well as conferences, special events, and a commitment to expand the process of change. “At Mills, we have been working to be sure that our curriculum reflects the contribution and perspectives of all ethnicities, races, sexual orientations, and gender identifications,” says Greer. In 2008, in response to a new strategic plan that emphasized the importance of diversity in and out of the classroom, the College launched the current Curricular Transformation Initiative. This has funded course development and brought guest speakers from other universities to share their own experience in making classrooms more inclusive and bringing courses up to date. In its first year, in addition to Cady’s British literature course, the initiative supported development of Professor Elmaz Abinader’s course on poetry by people of color and a course on borderlands—where cultures meet and mix— by Professor Héctor Mario Cavallari. Furthermore, all Mills professors have been urged to redesign their core courses. Associate Professor David Donahue teaches Curriculum and Instruction for Secondary Humanities Teachers, a required

In our class, we discuss John Donne’s fame (some might say infamy) for deploying wildly creative conceits in his poetry. Love is a pesky insect in “The Flea.” And in Elegy 19, a potential and perhaps reluctant lover is depicted as a conquered land: License my roving hands, and let them go Before, behind, between, above, below. O my America, my new-found-land, My kingdom, safeliest when with one man manned, (l. 25-28). We might read these lines as a product of Donne’s fertile imagination. However, in linking colonial enterprise with erotic pursuit, Donne is tapping into a broader cultural imagery: one in which the so-called “New World” is feminized and the act of colonization is seen as a masculine duty and pleasure. A brief survey of other writings from Donne’s contemporaries makes clear that what gives these lands value is precisely the same commodity that gives a woman value in the marriage marketplace of the time: virginity. Walter Raleigh, for example, describes Guiana as “a country that hath yet her maidenhead, never sackt, turned nor wrought.” John Smith writes similarly about the New England coast. These lands are not, of course, virginal in the ways these writers imagine; they were populated well before Europeans set foot upon them. However, the trope of the virginal land sidesteps this rather inconvenient truth and justifies colonial invasion. Indeed, Thomas Morton writes that the New World is “Like a faire virgin, longing to be sped, / And meete her lover in a Nuptiall bed.” The virginal land longs for the potent European explorer to penetrate its shores. Returning to Donne’s poem, we can see that while the poem’s speaker seems to be asking for permission (“license my roving hands”), the lover’s status as a “new-found-land” marks her as a commodity available for conquering, regardless of her desires— just as the passive, feminized land of the New World renders colonialism into a project in which fallow ground needs to be made productive through the seed of European expansion. In these examples, we see how the violence of colonial exploitation is turned into an erotic encounter with an eager mistress.

winter 2011


course for education students pursuing single subject credentials that guides them in considering what and how to teach— and for what reasons. These future teachers learn that the social norms established in the classroom have a strong effect on secondary students. Donahue encourages them to recognize the diversity of learners and has incorporated an awareness of the needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) students. “There has been a significant silence around LGBT issues in secondary curriculum,” says Donahue. “And this has taken on even greater import in light of recent suicides by young gay people who have been bullied by their peers.” Instilling a sense of respect for students of all orientations can help young LGBT people in the same way that providing role models of dif-

Challenging constructed categories: David Donahue on Schools, Sexuality, and Gender

ferent ethnicities helps students of color or that including the achievements of women helps girls. Donahue’s students put their knowledge into action. Last year, his Mills students developed curriculum guides

My Schools, Sexuality, and Gender course brings together history, anthropology, sociology, and cultural studies to examine how schools shape identities and regulate social norms, particularly those of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) students, generally termed as “queer.” The goal of the Schools, Sexuality, and Gender course is to make schools inclusive for all students. An important piece of this work has to do with some of the categories we use when we think about schools—categories that are made to seem natural but which people have actually constructed. We think it’s natural that six-year-olds are in classrooms with other six-year-olds and that we call this “first grade.” But you could just as easily group kids based on their ability to read, or on their ability to sing or dance well. These are all human constructs, and they depend on what society values. In this course, we question certain dichotomies—like male and female or heterosexual and homosexual. We also discover that some things that seem “natural” or normal are open to question and reconsideration. Gender and sexuality have been regulated in numerous ways, from formal dress codes and rules about who can be taken as a date to the prom to informal regulation through homophobic epithets in hallways and locker rooms and peer pressure to “walk like a man.” These explorations are based in an understanding of queer theory and the multiple senses of the word “queer,” all of which have implications for what and how students are taught in secondary school. In addition to its umbrella use to signify LGBT people, “queer” can also mean anything not normative or anything that transgresses boundaries, especially simplified dichotomous ones like male and female or heterosexual and homosexual. Finally, “queer” can be a verb meaning to “trouble” or raise provocative questions about constructs that, through repeated regulation over time, seem “natural.” Queering can lead to deconstructing heterosexuality and homosexuality as well as phenomena and institutions—like schools, curriculum, and pedagogy—that are not directly related to sexuality.

that accompany two DVDs distributed by Frameline, an organization that supports and promotes a wide range of LGBT representation in film and provides free movies to schools in California. The films and accompanying curriculum guides help teachers bring the stories of LGBT people from diverse backgrounds into their classroom discussions. This fall, Donahue introduced an entirely new course, Schools, Sexuality, and Gender (see sidebar), which has proven to be overwhelmingly popular. Originally conceived as a small seminar for 15 students, Donahue ultimately admitted all 30 students who enrolled—a mix of undergraduates majoring in a wide range of disciplines and graduate students in the School of Education. The diverse ages, interests, and experiences of the students bring an added dimension to the class. “The more different perspectives people bring, the more we’re all going to learn,” Donahue says. “It’s great for the traditional-age undergraduates to study with graduate students, some of them much older and many of whom have been teachers, so each group gets to see the perspective on the other side of the desk.” The process of developing this course inspired Donahue to rethink his own teaching process. “If we’re teaching students to question dichotomous categories that have been naturalized,” he notes, “I had to question the student/teacher dichotomy by creating a space where students can teach each other and where I get to learn from them. “Since I’ve been at the College, I’ve seen faculty move away from an approach where we take one week in a given class and address diversity only then,” says Donahue, who came to Mills in 1992 and now holds the Lynn T. White Jr. Chair. “Today, we’re encouraged to think about what we teach from multiple perspectives, which leads us to understand that schools are also places of possibility, and young people, school teachers, and school leaders can all be agents of change.”


M i l l s Q u a r t e r ly

AlumnaeAwardwinners reflect thespirit of Mills By Linda Jaquez-Fissori ’92 A record number of alumnae and guests gathered on a

Company in New York. Lori delighted the audience with the

beautiful fall day on Toyon Meadow to honor and celebrate three

story of her dance journey, which began during a family trip to

extraordinary alumnae. The fourth annual AAMC Alumnae

Greece, led her to Mills, and culminated in the creation of a foun-

Awards Ceremony and Luncheon was a highlight of this year’s

dation and dance company dedicated to the life and teachings of

Reunion festivities, which drew 347 alumnae and 99 guests back

Isadora Duncan. Lori calls her students “Belilovables”—a charm-

to campus during the first weekend in October. As president of

ing homage to Duncan’s young students, the “Isadorables,” and

the Alumnae Association of Mills College (AAMC), I was pleased

a testament to Lori’s dedication to her youngest students and

to provide opening comments before proceeding to the main

the continuation of Duncan’s teachings.

purpose of the afternoon: recognizing the great achievements

Estrellita Hudson Redus ’65, MFA ’75, at left above, was honored with the Outstanding Volunteer Award. In 1991, Redus was

and contributions of Mills women. head

asked to co-found the AAMC Alumnae of Color Committee. She

of the Mills College Dance

accepted the charge—one of many she has undertaken in her

Department, presented Lori

decades of service. Redus described a volunteer as “a plant who

Belilove ’76, left, with the

had not been deliberately planted” and challenged the audience

Outstanding Achievement

to nurture our students, water our “plants,” and make them want

Award. Lori is the founder

to come back and volunteer. She also served three terms on the

and artistic director of the

Mills College Board of Trustees and currently sits on the College’s





Diversity Committee. Alumna Trustee Lyn Flanigan ’65, who met

Foundation and principal

Redus their first day on campus as freshwomen and was a Mary

dancer of Lori Belilove &

Morse dormmate, described Estrellita as someone who “never

The Isadora Duncan Dance

meets a stranger and never forgets a friend” before presenting


the award. Leah Hardcastle MacNeil, MA ’51, below, received the

Who should we honor next year?

Outstanding Volunteer Award for her lifelong service to the

You can help the AAMC choose honorees for 2011 by nominating alumna candidates for the following awards:

founding and leading the AAMC Travel Committee for 18 years.

• The Distinguished Achievement Award for distinction in professional fields, arts, sciences, and public affairs;

a Mills professor, that brought alumnae from many generations

• The Outstanding Volunteer Award for extraordinary commitment and service in promoting the goals of the AAMC and the College;

AAMC Travel Committee benefit the AAMC.) She chronicled

• The Recent Graduate Award for volunteer efforts that exemplify a spirit of caring and community to the AAMC and the College. Alumnae/i within 15 years of graduation are eligible.

that upon the completion of her MA

Please send information about each nominee’s achievements and qualifications to: Lynda Campfield ’00, MA ’02, Alumnae Awards Chair, Alumnae Association of Mills College, 5000 MacArthur Blvd., MB #86, Oakland, CA 94613. Please include your name, phone number, address, and email address. Nominations must be received by May 18, 2011, and candidates must be able to attend the award ceremony at next year’s Reunion, September 22–25, 2011. For more information, email or call 510.430.2110.

AAMC as president of the Oakland–Berkeley Branch and for MacNeil has organized hundreds of worldwide trips, often led by together through the discovery of travel. (The proceeds from the her journey from San Jose State to the Navy and finally to Mills, declaring in music she was “so proud to have a degree from Mills College!” Leah’s daughter Lesli MacNeil ’75, who presented the award, described her mother as someone who has a “passion for learning and staying involved with her community.” Former award recipients Leone Evans, MA ’45, Jane King ’42, Peggy Weber ’65, and Thomasina Woida ’80 were also on hand to cheer on this year’s honorees. winter 2011






Reunion ’10


10 11

1 Lucy Do ’75 and Peggy Weber ’65.

8 Felice Movich Pope ’60 and Elaine Marshall Long ’60.

2 Jane Cudlip King ’42 recounts stories from Mills’ past and present as she leads “Jane’s Stroll,” a popular feature of Reunion for more than 30 years.

9 Camille Kaslan ’14 and her mom, Cat Du Ruz Kaslan ’85.

3 Sally McKinstry Hall ’50 and Muffy McKinstry Thorne ’48 at the President’s Garden Reception.

10 1995 class secretary Angela Scarlett. 11 Purple reigned supreme at the Class of 1960’s 50th Reunion.

4 Pat Taylor Lee ’57, Leone LaDuke Evans, MA ’45, and President Janet Holmgren. 5 Suzanne Patterson-Jones ’85 and her children. 6 Susannah MacRae Whitty, MA ’60, feels the rhythm at a drum circle lead by Renée Benmeleh ’00. 7 Strike year alumnae and their supporters gathered at the opening of a Strike memorabilia exhibition.


M i l l s Q u a r t e r ly

Save the date Reunion 2011 September 22–25










12 Class secretary Diana Birtwhistle Odermatt ’60. 13 Sonya Jason ’83 and her quartet let loose with some classic jazz tunes during the “Romp at Reinhardt” happy hour at Alumnae House. 14 Melora Gardner Scharf ’85, Charise Harvey ’85, Christina Nevin and her daughter Tamara Kitka ’85, and Gina Salaices Ney ’85. 15 Stephanie Mazow, MFA ’02, and Redwood Mary Kaczorowski ’04 were among the merry minglers at the kick-off reception for Mills’ new LGBTIQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queer, and/or questioning) alumnae/i affinity group. 16 Members of the Class of 1965 got their hands dirty at a drawing workshop.

photos pages 15 –18 by dana dav is

Alumnae Community membership reaches 1,000 mark Some 1,000 alumnae have registered with the Mills College Alumnae Community since the site launched during Reunion. New members are joining every day to find friends through an online directory, post class notes, and learn about upcoming alumnae events. “The more alumnae participate, the richer a resource the community will become,” says Angelique Di Schino Felgentreff ’90, online community manager. “This is a place where we alumnae can shape the content so it reflects our lives, our interests, our concerns.” In the coming months, new features will be added, and members will play a role in deciding what these features will be. To join, visit, click First Time Login in the upper left corner, and follow the steps for registration. For more information, contact the alumnae community help desk at 510.430.2111 or alumnae-community winter 2011



message from the AAMC president

As I begin my three-year term as


president of the Board of Governors of


the Alumnae Association, I’ve had the sin-

the country, as well as the launch of

cere pleasure of meeting many members

Perfectly Revolting, the memoir of Kristen

of the Mills community, including alum-

Baumgardner Caven ’88, who was a driv-

nae, students, Trustees, faculty, and staff.

ing force in getting the Strike celebra-

It’s an amazing community to belong to,

tions going. The festivities continued at

and one that we all should continue to

Reunion with an exhibit of Strike memo-

cultivate beyond our graduation date.

rabilia; the unveiling of a plaque for the

Our relationships with Mills and with our

Power of Woman statue created by Roberta

Mills friends will be some of the longest

Weir ’86, MFA ’90; and a panel discussion

and most enduring relationships of our

with faculty, alumnae, and staff mem-

lives—and they should be treasured and

bers who played an active role during

nurtured. It is and has always been the

the Strike. These events were a highlight

AAMC’s primary mission to strengthen

for many alumnae and were the success-

these bonds and, since 2007, we have

ful result of input from alumnae coupled

partnered with the College’s Office of

with the hard work of Mills staff.

Alumnae Relations to bolster alumnae






May across

Linda Jaquez-Fissori

The AAMC Alumnae Awards Luncheon

tional planning by the Office of Alumnae

is another event that demonstrates the

Relations, these efforts result in a truly

This year has seen numerous oppor-

strong collaboration between the AAMC

beautiful event.

tunities for alumnae to connect with

and the College. One of the most popular

The AAMC is an independent organi-

one another. Last spring began a year-

events of Reunion weekend, the honor-

zation directed by a Board of Governors

long celebration of the 20th anniversary

ees are nominated by you, their peers,

consisting of 20 alumnae volunteers who

of the Strike and Mills’ recommitment

and selected by the AAMC Alumnae

guide the AAMC, deciding what types of

to women’s education, beginning with

Awards Committee. Together with excep-

events to host and what new programs


to initiate. Three of these Governors are Alumnae Trustees who are elected by the general alumnae body and sit on the College’s Board of Trustees, ensuring that the voice of alumnae remains strong in the governance of the College. It’s not only a strong partnership between the College and the Alumnae Association that will create the best connections among and for alumnae, but input from alumnae about what they’re looking for in this unique Mills community. You can be a part of this discussion by emailing your comments on how to build the best and most rewarding alumnae




edu; I also encourage you to join the new online community for Mills alumnae at Whether you live around the corner or across the country, we want to hear from you! Sincerely, Dozens of alumnae from the Strike classes gathered during Reunion to celebrate the unveiling of a dedication plaque for the Power of Woman statue by Roberta Weir ’86, MFA ’90. 18 

M i l l s Q u a r t e r ly

Linda Jaquez-Fissori ’92, President Alumnae Association of Mills College

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 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

In Memoriam For notices of death received before September 24. 2010 To submit listings, please contact alumnae-relations or 510.430.2123

Alumnae Louise Badour Farnsworth ’32, April 10, in Ventura, California. Iris Dornfeld McWilliams ’35, July 10, in New York City. She worked as a teacher and in the theater and was the author of two novels. She is survived by two step-granddaughters. Cynthia Lowell Wallace ’39, July 18, in Santa Rosa, California. An energetic outdoorswoman and athlete, she was an early member of the Sierra Club, traveled widely, and participated in several social and civic organizations. She is survived by three children, including Cynthia Wallace ’77, and three grandchildren. Barbara Fairfax Phinney ’40, July 8, in Los Gatos, California. A native of the United Kingdom, she earned a nursing degree and was a longtime historian and conductor for the Billy Jones Railroad in Vasona Park. She is survived by two sons and seven grandchildren, including Larissa Ann Wilson ’95. Sallie Seargeant ’40, November 11, 2009, in Scottsdale, Arizona. In a long career in social work, she worked in hospitals, consulted for the California State Department of Health, and lectured at San Diego State University. Jean Champion Chandler ’41, November 19, 2009, in Fairhope, Alabama. Survivors include a daughter. Barbara “Bobby” Covell Beck ’43, July 1, in Gaviota, California. She was a lifelong volunteer in hospitals and convalescent homes. Survivors include three sons and 11 grandchildren. Geraldine Stevens Toms ’44, June 30, in Sun City West, Arizona. She was an accomplished harpist and pianist. 30 

M i l l s Q u a r t e r ly

Survivors include her husband, James; daughter Maurine Martin Harkness ’71; and granddaughter Mo Kaze ’00. Ruth Whiteside Cain ’45, June 4, 2008, in Sunnyvale, California. Survivors include her daughter Karen Cain ’76. Anna-Lou McDaniel De Lay ’45, July 4, in Pebble Beach, California. A voracious reader and world traveler, she was a fan of the symphony and opera, a member of the Monterey Civic Club, and participated in organizations serving children in need. She is survived by her husband, Paul; three sons; and a granddaughter. Emilie Minaden Grimm ’45, March 16, in Palos Park, Illinois. She is survived by her husband, Wilmer; seven children; many grandchildren; and her sister Edythe Minaden Grant ’40. Betty French Landberg ’45, August 7, in Friday Harbor, Washington. She raised sheep, hens, and goats on her farm and

supported music and athletic teams at the local high school. She is survived by her partner, Esther Plocher, and two daughters. Virginia Robinson Perkins ’45, July 9, in San Diego. She worked as a real estate agent and leaves a daughter and three grandchildren. Joan Gross McCusker ’46, September 5, in Durham, North Carolina. She lived in Italy, Washington, Germany, and Indonesia in the course of her husband’s Foreign Service career, then settled in Pelham, New York. In later years, they moved to Durham, where she contributed to community volunteer efforts. She is survived by her husband, Paul; three children, five grandchildren, and two step-grandchildren. Betty Taves Whitman ’46, September 17, in Carmel, California. Survivors include her sisters Cynthia Taves ’48 and Lynda Taves Ogren ’54.

Harriet Womack Viadro ’46, March 20, 2007, in Redwood City, California. Julia Swift Fekula, MA ’49, September 12, 2006, in Walnut Creek, California. Jean Paul Grant ’49, May 1, 2009, in Walnut Creek, California. She was president of the Berkeley Mills Club in the 1970s. Elizabeth Barber Martin ’52, April 3, in Carmel, California. A talented artist and gifted gardener, she loved traveling to France and entertaining with style. She is survived by eight children and nine grandchildren. Martha Mitchell Gerringer ’53, July 2, in Walnut Creek, California. A special education teacher in San Francisco for more than 30 years, she was an avid traveler and cruised around the world six times on the Queen Elizabeth 2. She is survived by her husband, Bruce; a son; and two grandchildren.

Virginia B. Smith 1923–2010 Virginia B. Smith, president emerita of Vassar College, passed away August 27 in Alamo, California. She served as acting Virginia Smith, at podium, receives a president of Mills in 1990, following the honorary degree from Mills President student strike against coeducation and Janet L. Holmgren subsequent resignation of President Mary Metz, and also was a Mills Trustee from 1988 to 1994. “Dr. Smith will be remembered as an innovative thinker and leader in higher education who served Mills College well at a time of critical need,” said Ramon Torrecilha, acting head and executive vice president of the College. A staunch advocate of liberal arts education, Smith began her academic career in 1947, teaching at College of Puget Sound, Seattle Pacific College, and the University of California, Berkeley. In 1965, she became the first woman to serve as assistant vice president of the UC system. Smith was at the forefront of educational policy throughout her career, joining the Carnegie Commission on Higher Education in 1967, serving as founding director of the federal government’s Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education in 1973, and becoming the second woman president of Vassar College in 1977. She received 11 honorary degrees in her lifetime, including an honorary doctorate of laws from Mills in 1992. Smith also served on numerous boards and commissions, including the Educational Testing Service, the American Association of Colleges and Universities, and the Higher Education Policy Institute. She was a founding board member of the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education, and was senior advisor to the California Higher Education Policy Center. During her time at Mills, Smith observed that women who try female-only education often become very committed to the institution. “The environment provides a special freedom of development. Anyone who has had any contact with women’s education knows it’s a different process,” she once said. She is survived by two siblings and by Florence Oaks, her partner of 57 years.

Gifts in Memory of Mary Ross Daniels ’55, July 20, in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She was involved in Mills activities while living in Indianapolis and in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Survivors include a daughter. Luanne Edquist Gilbert ’56, MA ’58, September 5, in Berkeley, California. She had a long career as a librarian and supported several educational and environmental organizations. Survivors include her partner, Eleanor Cleary, and cousin Barbara Newman Kines ’55. Josephine Troxell Gordon ’60, July 16, in Denver, Colorado. Formerly of Seattle and Olympia, Washington, she earned a master’s degree and was a volunteer in Namibia with the U.S. Department of Education. She is survived by two children and a granddaughter. Julie De Haven Drury ’64, June 1, in Landers, California. Charlene Brandt Taylor ’66, July 6, in Keller, Texas. She earned a master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University, was an active member of the LDS church, and served as a leader for the Boy Scouts of America. She is survived by her husband, Laird; five children; six grandchildren; and her sister, Brandie Brandt Gallagher ’68. Helen Silveira Regalado ’70, September 7, in Merced, California. She worked as a counselor and teacher for children with learning disabilities and was honored as Teacher of the Year during her time at Merced Union High School. Survivors include her husband, Andy, and a step-son. Jane Dye ’73, July 2, in San Jose, California. Survivors include her sister Miriam Dye ’70. Beverly Burger Goddard ’76, March 15, in Berkeley, California. She earned her Mills degree after raising a family, was a founding member of the Hiller Highlands Country Club, and enjoyed sports. She is survived by four children and six grandchildren.

Janet Hamburg, MA ’76, September 4, while traveling in New York City. A professor and longtime chair of the dance program at the University of Kansas, she was certified in Laban analysis and developed innovative movement programs for people with Parkinson’s disease, athletes, seniors, and children with coordination difficulties. She is survived by her partner, Lynn Bretz, two aunts, and many cousins. Tanya Sharp ’98, August 7, in Oakland, California. She was a computer science major at Mills.

Received June 1– August 31, 2010 Nancy Van Norman Baer ’66 by Alan Baer Virginia Vollmer Barr ’46 by Genevieve Smith Hahn ’46 Allen Browne by Kay Miller Browne ’53, P ’83 Trinidad Camarena by Judith Margolin Jane Giddings Carmichael ’46 by Genevieve Smith Hahn ’46 Jane Cassedy ’37 by Jayne DuMont Mack ’67 Colette Christopherson Darocy ’60 by Maurie Davidson ’63 Doris Dennison by Maurie Davidson ’63, Emily Platt Hilburn ’53, Ellen Higginbotham Rogers ’63, Marian Reynolds Singer, MA ’61 Edward Doyle by Mills College Club of New York Marie Everett ’63 by Grace Dote ’63

Christine Sarantakis ’00, August 28, in Castro Valley, California. She was a librarian at Creekside Middle School and co-owner of The Ranch restaurant. She is survived by her husband, Christo, and two children.

Jessica Feller ’09 by Christina M. Halsey, Phyllis Lerner, Park Day School, Inc.

Spouses and Family

Connie Dorn Johannes ’46 by Genevieve Smith Hahn ‘46

Roy Keller, father of Catherine Keller Lowe ’80, June 2, in Los Altos, California.

Arch Lauterer by Helen and Robert Feldman (Helen Fihn ’50)

Professor William A. and Helen Baer Gaw by Jane Farrell Gaw ’52 Elizabeth Raines Harrop ’47 by Anne Nicholson Turchi ’47 Marilyn Heilfron ’46 by Genevieve Smith Hahn ’46 Lynne Honus ’68 by Mr. and Mrs. James Robinson (Toni Marshall ’68)

Jennifer “Jenny” Makofsky ’91 by Sonja Piper Dosti ’92 Boitumelo “Tumi” McCallum ’08 by Fred M. Hayward and Linda Hunter

Faculty and Staff Linda Seltzer Popofsky, associate professor of European history, died September 8 in San Francisco. A Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Wellesley College, she earned her master’s and doctoral degrees in history from the University of California, Berkeley. She taught British and European history at San Francisco State University before coming to Mills, where she taught from 1975 to 1989 and mentored many students in her role as director of the Trustee Scholar Program. She published numerous articles on British legal history and served as a board member for numerous organizations, including Temple Emanu-El, Jewish Vocational Services, the Friends of California History, and the Holocaust Center of Northern California. She is survived by her husband, Larry; two children; and four grandchildren.

Janet McFadden by Florence Owens Dodington ’65, Ellen Ellis, Myra and Larry Promisel Georgiana Melvin by Mariah Imberman deForest ’59 Eleanor “Elly” McDonald Meyer ’36 by Nancy Meyer Neal ’70 Kay Reiten Meyer ’61 by Caroline Papst Corazza ’61 Margery “Footie” Foote Meyer ’45 by Theodosia Van Fossen McConnell ’51, Karen and Roger Moore Madeleine Milhaud by Katherine Farrow Jorrens ’57 Dorotha B. Myers, her mother, by Dorotha Myers Bradley ’61 Fran Napoli by Tari Sigman Bowman ’68 Dorene Burton Settle ’45 by Genevieve Smith Hahn ’46 Marcia Hinderman Smith ’54 by Carolyn Price Dyer ’53, MA ’55 Tomme Jackson Stalker ’41 by Corina Hughes ’92 Nancy Trask by Tari Sigman Bowman ’68 Imogene and Franklin Walker by Katherine Farrow Jorrens ’57 Margariete Montague Wheeler ’60 by Kathryn Mallett Chadwick ’60 Reynold and Helen Wik ’74 Katherine Farrow Jorrens ’57

p=parent; For information about making a tribute gift, contact 510.430.2097 or

winter 2011


Sound off! At Mills, we talk a lot about“women’s leadership.” The termconjures images of powerhouse women in corporate boardrooms or the political arena, but women alsoleadin the arts andnonprofit organizations, in volunteer efforts, in creatingcommunities, andin buildingfamilies.

What is the most important lesson in leadership you have learned or how have you exercised leadership in your life?

The most striking quality I have

with the Archdiocese of Singapore. My

positions in mothers’ groups, church, Boy

seen is that every woman in leadership

desire to become a better mother led me

Scouts, and PTA. I have never given up

wields her power differently. Some are

to not only build a better home for our

and, ultimately, have been effective in

quiet, others are loud; some often say no,

family, but to build a better home for the

bringing my perspective and passion to

others yes; some are patient, others spon-

entire human family.

each organization.

taneous. Universally, I have seen women

My children went on to college—

succeed because they actualize the best

including my daughter Stephanie ’08, a

in themselves, rather than following any

Bent Twig!

one model of leadership.

—Kathy Kidd Croughan ’83 First, Listen completely and carefully

—Carmen Hartono ’90

to people. Second, do not fear voicing disagreement, but speak in a quiet and

—Margee Churchon ’08 As a leader in both ministry and the

rational, civilized, non-angry way; hold

Mills College has shown me that the

non-profit sector, I have found three key

your own but don’t escalate conflict.

most integral aspect of leadership is ini-

points to effective leadership. 1: Always

These ideas have carried over into all areas

tiative: not just knowing about the open

be available, authentic, and affirming. 2:

of my life and I am grateful for them.

doors of the world, but entering them

Listen to what is being said, not for what

confidently and passionately. The power

you want to hear. 3: Any problem can be

of women’s leadership is in acting on

resolved with some prayer/introspection/

Power is only power when it’s shared;

things you see rather than just absorb-

meditation/juju—whatever you want to

the best leaders delegate and acknowl-

ing them, by rejecting a passive role as an

call it—and a good cup of coffee!

edge the achievements of others.

observer, and by claiming an intellectual

—Nicole Baird Bates ’90

—Sally Woodworth Buffington, MA ’72

—Sally Moses ’90

and social confidence. —Ellen Newton ’11

The most important leadership les-

As a government employee , I stand

son is simply to stay with it. When I was

in the same room with some big-name

Having graduated from an all-girls’

dorm president at Mills, someone didn’t

officials on a fairly consistent basis. At the

high school, I thought it “normal” to

like the way I led meetings and I wanted

end of the day, those leaders who stand

want to study nuclear engineering in col-

to quit. The RA told me that my style was

out as exceptional are those who are able

lege. Imagine my surprise when I found

my style and I needed to stay in there.

to communicate well, take a stand when

myself to be the only woman in some of

Since then, I have held many leadership

necessary, give credit where credit is due,

my classes. I did not finish and decided

and make everyone (regardless of their

to devote myself to my children. But 15

lot in life) feel that their opinion matters.

years after high school, I realized I could

—P.L. Grove ’07

not encourage my children to aim for a higher education if I myself was a “college dropout.” I also wanted to become a better leader in the community that supported our family. I completed a master’s in culture and spirituality, worked with the Catholic Diocese of Oakland, and am now involved 32 

M i l l s Q u a r t e r ly

Want to be part of the next “Sound off”? Sign up for the @mills email newsletter— just send your email address to along with your full name, any previous name, and class year. Write “@mills” in the subject line of your message. We’ll also post the next “Sound off” question on Mills’ Facebook page.

Nominate your choice for Alumna Trustee T h e A lu m n a e Ass o c i at i o n o f M i l l s Co l l e g e N o m i n at i n g Co mm i t t ee is seeking an alumna/us who has demonstrated service and support to the AAMC and the College to serve as Alumna Trustee for 2011 to 2014. We invite you, the alumnae of Mills College, to submit candidate nominations before January 7, 2011. Three Alumnae Trustees sit on both the Board of Trustees of Mills College and the Board of Governors of the AAMC. These volunteers are expected to attend several meetings annually of each board and serve as a liaison between the two boards. The term for the 2011–14 Alumna Trustee position begins July 1, 2011. Contact Viji Nakka-Cammauf, MA ’82, or call the AAMC offices at 510.430.2110 for further information. Nominations may be submitted by mail to the Nominating Committee, AAMC, Mills College, 5000 MacArthur Blvd., MB #86, Oakland, CA 94613, or via Remember, email to Please include your nominee’s name, class the nomination year, address, telephone, and email address, as well as your own name. deadline is Friday, Up to three final nominees will be featured in the winter Quarterly. All January 7, 2011. alumnae are eligible to vote using the mail-in ballots provided in that issue.

Hawaii April 30–May 7, 2011 Explore Hawaii’s rich heritage, spectacular environment, and welcoming spirit of aloha with a week on the island of Oahu, “the Gathering Place.” From your home base in a Waikiki hotel, you’ll enjoy an immense variety of activities and meals all across the island. • Enjoy guided hikes through the lush gardens of Waimea Valley and Lyon Arboretum. • Visit the Manoa Heritage Center and see the ancient heiau and native Hawaiian garden. • Delve into the natural and cultural history of Hawaii at the Bishop Museum. • Explore interactive exhibits on volcanos, oceanography, and more at the Richard T. Mamiya Science Adventure Center. • Take a private tour of Iolani Palace, the only royal palace on American soil, and visit Hanaiakamalama, the summer retreat of Queen Emma. • View the impressive works of Hawaii’s premier fine arts museum, the Honolulu Academy of Arts. Price: $2,400 by check, $2,500 by credit card. Prices are per person, double occupancy, and do not include airfare. A $500 deposit is due by December 27. Additional journeys in 2011: Cruise the Panama Canal, March 6–17, 2011 Cruise Alaska’s Inside Passage, July 21–28, 2011 Danube Grand Passage, September 13–27, 2011

See full brochures for all upcoming trips and new travel offerings online at For reservations or additional information, call the Alumnae Association of Mills College at 510.430.2110, or email

Alumnae tr avel 2011

winter 2011


Mills Quarterly Mills College 5000 MacArthur Blvd. Oakland, CA 94613-1301 510.430.3312 Address service requested Periodicals postage paid at Oakland, CA and at additional mailing office(s)

Two decades of transformative leadership. Two ways of honoring President Holmgren.


oin the Mills College Board of Trustees in honoring the

legacy of President Janet L. Holmgren, who will step down from leading the College in June 2011.

1. Give to the new Janet L. Holmgren Presidential Scholarship Fund This scholarship will advance goals championed by the President throughout her tenure: expanding access to Mills for outstanding students of all backgrounds, empowering women to realize their leadership potential, and ensuring financial stability for students and the College. Mills aims to raise $2 million to endow the scholarship, which will:

• Support up to 25 Holmgren Scholars at any one time. • Range in size up to $10,000 per student each year, depending on financial need. • Be awarded each year to as many as five entering first-year, transfer, and graduate •

students selected for academic merit and promise as leaders.

Be held by recipients as long as they study at Mills; undergraduate recipients may keep the scholarship when they enroll in 4+1 and other graduate programs at the College.

2. Give to the Mills College Annual Fund in honor of President Holmgren The Mills College Annual Fund provides current students with essential scholarship support. A gift of any size, made in honor of President Holmgren, demonstrates your pride in the accomplishments of the last two decades, including Mills’ rise as a national model for diversity and women’s higher education.

Your gift in honor of President Holmgren is a gift to Mills College, a gift to change students’ lives, and a gift to change the world. To contribute, please use the enclosed envelope or call the Office of Institutional Advancement at 510.430.2097. Thank you!

Mills Quarterly winter 2011  

Winter 2011 Mills College alumnae magazine