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A president’s year

Fac u lt y r e s e a r c h r e v e a l e d

Award -winning words

Mills Quarterly Summer 2012


DNA of






Mills supports her academic and extracurricular endeavors. Her parents support Mills. Rose Sarinas-Wong ’14 is a sophomore planning to double-major in French and economics. She is thrilled with the academic work she’s doing at Mills and values the supportive relationships she has with faculty members and fellow students. This year, Rose founded a new student club to promote self-awareness and strength through martial arts and self-defense.


ose’s parents, Priscilla Sarinas and Kim Wong, contribute to undergraduate student scholarships through the Mills College Annual Fund so other students are able to experience all the College has to offer. Priscilla says, “Mills is a jewel. The College has been such a source of happiness for Rose, and we want to share it. I think everyone should give according to their capacity and what is in their heart. A Mills education is unique, and it’s worth investing in.”

Help expand students’ access to education at Mills. Make your gift to the Mills College Annual Fund by calling 510.430.2366 or visiting




Mills Quarterly

contents Summer 2012 5

Lessons of my first year by Alecia A. DeCoudreaux

As she approaches her first anniversary as head of the College, President DeCoudreaux discusses the most noteworthy things she has learned about the Mills campus and community.


The DNA of dance by Ann Murphy

The Mills Dance Department was founded on a code of experimentalism and innovation. Today, faculty and students continue to pursue a diverse and dynamic evolution of their art.


Inquiring minds by Kate Rix

Original academic research by three young professors enriches their disciplines and informs their classroom teaching. • Margaret Hunter describes the sociocultural implications of skin tone. • Martha Johnson explains food policy and political power in Africa. • Christie Chung discusses emotional memory in the aging brain.


The write stuff by Maya Weeks, MFA ’12

Selected writings from the winner of this year’s Mary Merritt Henry Prize for outstanding poetry by a graduate student.

Departments 2

Mills Matters


Class Notes


In Memoriam

On the cover: Molissa Fenley ’75 and Peiling Kao, MFA ’10, performed in Lisser Hall in February. Photo by Kurt Loeffler.

The Mills Quarterly has a new online look! Check out the iPad- and iPhone-compatible flipbook style on the Mills College alumnae community,


Mills Matters Mills faculty featured in Princeton Review’s Best 300 Professors Mills College has two of the best professors in the country, according to The Princeton Review. Professor of Mathematics Zvezdelina Stankova and Professor of Anthropology Robert Anderson, MD, are featured in The Princeton Review’s new publication, the Best 300 Professors. Selected for their teaching ability and accessibility, the final group of “best” professors constitutes less than .02 percent of the roughly 1.8 million postsecondary teachers across the United States. The impressive roster of top professors was determined using qualitative and quantitative data collected

Zvezdelina Stankova

from college students by both The Princeton Review and The Princeton Review notes how Stankova expects the best

for being passionate about educating students and building genuine connections to help them succeed. The Princeton

from students, pushing them to reach their potential and

Review editors also note that according to Anderson, “the joy

expand their skills and enabling them to solve mathematical

of being an anthropologist lies in the fact that we study people

problems with self-confidence and maturity. Editors of her

by living in a community.”

profile also point out that, “If she can make her students as

“We are pleased that the extraordinary commitment of two

passionate about math as she is, then something’s gone well.”

of our faculty members has been recognized with the well-

Anderson, who has been teaching at Mills for more than

deserved distinction of ‘best professor,’” says Mills Provost

51 years and is affectionately known as “Dr. Bob,” is credited

Sandra Greer.

You can name a scholarship at Mills College today! Pay tribute to those who inspire you while you open doors for Mills students With a gift of $5,000 or more to the Mills College Annual Fund by June 30, you can name an undergraduate scholarship or a graduate fellowship in honor or in memory of a family member, friend, professor, mentor, or organization. In the fall semester after you make your gift, the entire amount will be awarded to one student.

Join with friends to name a scholarship Last fall, the Alumnae of Color Committee of the Alumnae Association of Mills College celebrated its 20th anniversary by creating the Alumnae of Color Scholarship in honor of President Alecia A. DeCoudreaux. As of May, they had exceeded their original $5,000 goal and raised more than $10,000! Their scholarship will make a tremendous difference in the life of a student.

Create your named scholarship today Call 510.430.2366 or email to find out how! Volunteers, including those pictured here, raised more than $10,000 for the Alumnae of Color Scholarship.

Campus kudos A selection of recent achievements by faculty, staff, and students The staff of the Campanil, Mills’ student

Professor of Psychology

newspaper, took home four awards

Carol George led four sympo-

from the California Collegiate Media

sia at the annual meeting of

Association this year, earning top honors

the Society for Personality

for the best personal opinions column,

Assessment in March; her

best arts and entertainment story, best

book, The Adult Attachment

arts and entertainment column/criticism,

Projective Picture System, was

and best features-page design.

also published that month by

Diana O’Hehir, professor emerita of English and founder of the Creative

Diana O’Hehir, Carol George, and Kristina Faul

Guilford Press. Barbara Li Santi, professor of math-

meetings of the American Association

Writing Program at Mills, has com-

ematics and computer science, has

of Physics Teachers in August 2011

pleted a new book of poems. Walk Me

published With Cream and Sugar:

and February 2012.

to Schenectady is both a collection of

An Introduction to Object-Oriented

elegies for O’Hehir’s husband, Mel Fiske,

Programming in Java, with co-author

Francophone Studies Brinda Mehta

and a work of art in itself: the fine letter-

Lydia Mann (BVT Publishing, 2012).

gave the plenary address at the Arab

press clothbound edition was designed

Associate Professor of Chemistry

Professor of French and

Studies Symposium at Columbia

and produced at Arion Press in San

Kristina Faul and a colleague from the

University in February. She has also

Francisco and published by Depot Books

University of the Pacific were awarded a

been named to the advisory board

in Mill Valley.

two-year, $50,000 University of Southern

of the prestigious Proceedings of the

California Sea Grant to study the role of

Modern Language Association.

The John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation has awarded

small upstream reservoirs in trapping

Ron Nagle, professor emerita of art, with

organic carbon, nutrients, and metals in

Chetkovich spoke on “Social Movement

a 2012 fellowship in fine arts. These

the San Francisco Bay Area. One of their

Theory, Occupy Wall Street, and

prestigious fellowships are bestowed

two test sites is the Leona Creek/Lake

Social Change” at a conference of the

to individuals in recognition of prior

Aliso system at Mills.

Association for Research on Nonprofit

achievement and exceptional promise in a variety of fields.

Dave Keeports, professor of chemistry and physics, presented papers at national

Professor of Public Policy Carol

Organizations and Voluntary Action, held in Toronto in November.

Cost-of-learning adjustment At its meeting in February, the Mills College Board of Trustees approved a modest rise in tuition and fees for the 2012–2013 academic year. Full-time undergraduate students will pay $38,850, an increase of 2.1 percent over last year. This is the lowest percent tuition increase at Mills since 1994 and is less than half of the average tuition increase—5.6 percent—at other Scientific American: More than 150 people attended a lecture by internationally recognized microbiologist Rita Colwell on April 17 in Littlefield Concert Hall. In this inaugural Russell Women in Science Lecture, Colwell described her ground-breaking research on the ecology, genetics, and transmission of the cholera bacteria. Before the lecture, Colwell met with science faculty and spoke with students over lunch about the challenges she has faced in her career as a woman scientist.

California liberal arts colleges. Full-time graduate students

The Russell Women in Science Lecture Series is made possible thanks to the generous support of former trustee Cristine Russell ’71, pictured above left with (left to right) Colwell, President Alecia A. DeCoudreaux, and Provost Sandra C. Greer.

students based on the number of semesters the student

at Mills will pay $28,850, which is a 2 percent increase. Meal plans will increase by 2.8 percent and housing by 2 percent, but efforts are being made to keep room and board prices low. The College is offering discounts on housing options for continuing undergraduate has attended Mills, or a $500 discount per semester for graduate students. Summer 2012



Gifts and grants support College goals Mills College gratefully acknowledges the following grant, gifts, and bequest distributions of $50,000 and more received between November 1, 2011,

Volume XCX Number 4 (USPS 349-900)

and March 1, 2012.

Summer 2012

Education has been awarded grant

President Alecia A. DeCoudreaux

funding from the S. D. Bechtel, Jr.

Vice President for Institutional Advancement Cynthia Brandt Stover

prepare and motivate youth to engage

Senior Director of Communications Dawn Cunningham ’85

the Oakland Unified School District,

Managing Editor Linda Schmidt

media literacy and civic engagement

Design and Art Direction Nancy Siller Wilson

Professor Joseph Kahne and Ellen

Contributing Writers Ann Murphy Kate Rix

Civic Engagement Research Group of

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. Copyright © 2012, 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.

The Mills College School of

Foundation for a new initiative to better in the democratic process. In partnership with the National Writing Project and the grant will support improved digital across all district high schools. Middaugh, research director of the Mills College, will serve as co-principal investigators for the project. Jacklyn Davidson Burchill ’44 and her husband, Philip, contributed to Mills’ Greatest Need through the Mills College Annual Fund. Betty and Gordon Moore also lent their support to Mills’ Greatest Need as well as to the Hellman Summer Science and Math Fellows Program. The College received a generous

More than meets the eye: At first glance, Sylvia Sleigh’s 1968 painting Lawrence and Susana Delgado in an Interior (oil on canvas, 48 x 72 inches) looks like a typical portrait of two figures. But according to Mills College Art Museum Director Stephanie Hanor in an interview with SF Weekly, a deeper look reveals multiple levels of social commentary. The man’s exposed ankle hints at a vulnerability and objectification usually reserved for women in the long history of art. In addition, the painting intentionally portrays its subjects as equals, though Lawrence Alloway, an influential critic and curator at the Guggenheim Museum, almost surely wielded more power than the Argentinean printmaker Susana Delgado. The Mills College Art Museum received the painting for its permanent collection from the estate of Welsh-born feminist and figurative painter Sylvia Sleigh (1916–2010) because of the museum’s long-standing commitment to supporting women artists and to training art historians. Mills students may see the painting “as an example of how artists can use their work to forward political views and question historical traditions in art,” said Hanor.

bequest distribution from the estate of Jean Carruthers Wilson ’49 of San

the Hung Liu Endowed Fellowship in

Anselmo, California, to support the F. W.

Art, which will be granted every year in

Olin Library.

perpetuity to an outstanding entering

Professor of Studio Art Hung Liu and her husband, Jeff Kelley, have created

first-year student in Mills’ MFA Program in Studio Art.

DeCoudreaux honored by Leadership California In recognition of her dedication to women’s education and her 30-year career of leadership, President Alecia DeCoudreaux received the Trailblazer Award from Leadership California, a 20-year-old organization dedicated to advancing the leadership role women play in impacting business, social issues, and public policy across the state. DeCoudreaux was one of four honorees at the “Legacy of Leadership” awards ceremony in San Francisco on April 30. “It is an honor to receive the Trailblazer Award from Leadership California,” said DeCoudreaux. “Throughout my corporate career, I have had tremendous respect for education. I believe my passion for and commitment to women’s education, as well as my direct experience in the management of a women’s college, will help me build on the successful legacy of Mills as a nationally recognized model for women’s higher education.”


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


of my first year

By Alecia A. DeCoudreaux When I began my role as president of Mills College last summer, I felt a strong identification with the entering Class of 2015. All of us, together, were embarking on a challenging and exciting experience that would introduce us to a world of new knowledge, broaden our perspectives, and enable us to find the inner resources necessary for our success. As we complete this academic year, I’m pleased to share the observations and lessons that I have found most valuable and remarkable during my first two semesters at Mills.

Summer 2012



Campus connections: From left, President DeCoudreaux introduces a panel of speakers during Reunion 2011; on stage at Convocation moments before her inauguration ceremony; speaking with students who completed Oakland summer internships; with her husband, José Andrade, and the Mills Cyclone; and during a special welcome event staged by students last September.


My greatest unexpected pleasure this year has been sitting in on classes.

It has been a joy to see our faculty and our students in action, to


I have seen that one of the greatest points of distinction of the Mills faculty is their commitment to students.

see the faculty members come alive in front of the class, and to

When I attend department meetings, I always hear faculty speak

see the students recognize how their thinking can evolve over

about what students are interested in and how to help students

the course of an hour or a semester. At a ballet class taught by

learn. The consistently student-centered nature of the conversa-

Professor Sonya Delwaide, I saw how much the students ben-

tions has deeply impressed me. It’s clear that the faculty know

efited from having a live accompanist who worked hand in hand

their students—not just that they’re able to call students by

with Sonya. In Professor Greg Tanaka’s class in the School of

name, but that they are cultivating individual learning relation-

Education, I sat in a fascinating small-group discussion between

ships with each one. In return, I have seen how committed Mills

practicing teachers about how best to have conversations around

students are to their studies, even as they juggle classes with

race on campus. To prepare for English Professor Ajuan Mance’s

work and family and all their other activities.

lesson on Zora Neal Hurston’s Mules and Men, I did the assigned


homework beforehand, so during the class I could appreciate how extremely well prepared the students were for the discussion. I even attended Maia Averett’s math class on topology, but

Mills students are unique in their deep commitment to activism and social justice.

There are some colleges where students think and talk about

must admit I had a bit more trouble understanding this material!

issues, but Mills students do something about the issues that

Being with students is always a pleasure—whether in or outside

are important to them. One of my early experiences on campus

of the classroom—and seeing our faculty teach has been a great

was attending student presentations on the summer internships

inspiration for me this year. 6 

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

they undertook to help build a stronger community in Oakland

the kinds of experiences that will motivate students not only to

(see the winter 2012 Mills Quarterly). Their work strengthened

stay through graduation but also to come back as alumnae after

educational opportunity for youth, provided mentorship, and

they’ve graduated. We’ve got to develop the relationships—both

helped maintain the city’s cultural richness. Closer to home, stu-

for residents and commuters—that bring students back as alum-

dents even protested near my front yard following some neces-

nae. That’s how we will feed the future of the College.

sary, but painful, cuts to the campus budget and personnel last


winter. At the same time, they were very respectful in the way they presented their anger and concerns, and the actions paved the way for meaningful dialog. Most recently, this year’s graduat-

We must continue to invest in the primary goals of the College: academic excellence and an outstanding student experience.

ing seniors focused their activism on fundraising for the College:

While it is true that we need to make wise and careful choices

as of Commencement on May 12, a very impressive 42 percent

about our use of resources, we remain committed to providing

of the Class of 2012 contributed to the senior gift campaign,

an exceptional undergraduate education for women as well as

which will fund a scholarship at Mills. This result shows a great

innovative graduate programs for women and men. We must

appreciation for their experiences here and an exceptional level

maintain our tenure-track faculty positions and continue to pro-

of commitment to the College and to women’s education. Mills

vide the necessary support and services that our students rely

students truly rise to a challenge and put their ideals into action.

on. In addition, I recognize the need for Mills to be competitive


with other institutions in hiring new professors and in offering

The most urgent issue facing Mills today is undoubtedly the challenge of balancing our budget.

financial assistance to students who will benefit from the Mills experience. To that end, I have asked the members of my cabinet to think

In September, I announced a significant budget shortfall and,

quite broadly about the strategic investments that will most

since then, we have taken many steps to address it. I know these

effectively advance the College. For example, we could build

are unpleasant circumstances, but this challenge has spurred us

on Mills’ strong foundation in the sciences, particularly in view

to coalesce as a community around our shared commitment to

of the fact that we hear so much about the challenges women

this institution. Many people have expressed their support and

encounter in studying science at large universities. A place like

their desire to help in any way they can. Three staff members

Mills, with the close, supportive relationships that students have

offered to take additional furlough time, saying they wanted to

with their faculty, is a wonderful environment for young women

do more to demonstrate their support. I am so proud of the way

to study science. But we also need to consider investments that

individuals have stepped up—and indeed, of the way the entire

go beyond specific academic programs, such as upgrading infor-

community has come together in the face of this challenge. This

mation technology on campus.

has been extraordinary.

In the fall, the College will begin a new strategic planning

Improving our enrollment numbers is a critical piece in solv-

process, since our current strategic plan will then be in its final

ing our budget issues. We’re currently conducting a national

year. We will engage many voices in this conversation so that

search for a vice president for enrollment management who will

whatever plan we put in place takes into account the diverse

play a leading role in this effort. It is also important to attract

concerns of the Mills community and merits broad support from

more students to the residential options available on campus,

all stakeholders. It will be an exciting opportunity for the com-

both to help with the College’s financial stability and to create a

munity to come together once again and consider what choices

stronger sense of belonging among students. This is just one of

can be made to steer Mills towards a strong and healthy future. Summer 2012



Alumnae will help us propel the College into the future.

Meeting alumnae at events around the world this year has been another one of the great pleasures of my first year as president. From Boston to Hong Kong, it has been wonderful to walk into a room and feel the energy of Mills alumnae. At all of these

Learning from alumnae

gatherings, I’ve asked alumnae to tell me what they value most about Mills. I’ve found that as diverse and opinionated as Mills

Since October, more than 600 alumnae and friends

alumnae are, they value many of the same things, such as the

enjoyed the opportunity to meet President Alecia

independent thinking skills that they developed at the College,

DeCoudreaux at 18 events across the United States

close relationships with professors, the experience of “finding

and in Hong Kong. At each event, the President invited

their voices” here, and the friendships they made. (A report on

attendees to participate in a conversation about two key

these common themes appears at right.) Furthermore, alumnae

questions. Here is an overview of their responses.

want to make sure that current and future students enjoy the same kind of educational experience that they did. At each event, I also felt the excitement that our alumnae

What do you value about Mills?

have about being with one another and heard many express the

At almost every event, alumnae proudly repeated the refrain,

desire to come together more often. Re-engaging alumnae with

“I found my voice at Mills!” Mills shapes women into “indepen-

one another and with the College is critical to Mills’ future. If

dent and fierce thinkers,” said one alumna, a theme that many

more alumnae were to network with each other and with cur-

others echoed: “I learned to think for myself,” “to stand my

rent students, to volunteer, and to make regular gifts, I’m con-

ground,” “to not be afraid of taking risks.” These qualities have

fident that we can preserve those qualities that alumnae most

practical value for careers and the community: “I stand out

value about Mills and continue to meet the evolving educational

significantly among my peers in the workplace; I am valued

needs of our students.

for my ability to speak my mind and say what others won’t.”


In addition, “Mills gave me the courage to be an activist,” “to

The greatest skills I have relied on this year have been patience and listening.

make a difference in the larger community,” and “to give back through public service.”

I am learning a great deal from many different people in many

Despite being made up of such fierce thinkers, the Mills

different venues, from alumnae events to faculty meetings to my

community is remembered as “welcoming” and “support-

open office hours on campus. To be certain that I truly under-

ive.” Alumnae value the “physical beauty of the campus”

stand what each person is saying to me–to understand the impli-

and are most appreciative of the “caring,” “family-like rela-

cations of their word choices—I have had to listen more carefully

tionships” they found as students. Classmates have become

than I have ever listened before.

“life-long friends” and professors have continued to be “my


mentors to this day.” Alumnae also value the small class

Finally, I have learned that Mills is indeed a very special place.

Many people told me so during my interviews for the position

sizes that make such relationships possible as well as the role of faculty in creating this environment: “they encouraged cooperation over competition.”

of president and throughout my first few months of visiting the

Alumnae said they benefited from the rigorous academic

campus. At the end of my first year in office, I now understand

standards to which their professors held them. “The faculty

this statement in a much more personal way. As I’ve listened to

really pushed me to work harder and be the best I could

alumnae and other donors tell me why they value Mills, as I’ve

be,” explained a grateful alumna. Another recalled “teachers

watched professors in action in the classroom, as I’ve heard out

who encouraged me to resubmit poorly drafted papers until

the concerns of students, and as I’ve worked side-by-side with

they weren’t just better but excellent.” Among academic

trustees and my staff colleagues, one quality in particular stands

disciplines, the fine arts were most often mentioned as high

out for me: the amazing level of commitment people have to

points of the Mills experience. A number of alumnae also

Mills and to each other. I see this in the enthusiasm alumnae

expressed appreciation for the scholarship support they

bring when they come together and talk about the future of the

received from the College.

College, in professors’ love of teaching, in students’ passion for

The College “opened doors,” said many alumnae. “Mills

making a difference in the world, in all the ways our trustees,

gave me the opportunity to broaden my vision of what was

volunteers, and staff go the extra mile for Mills. This, to me, says

possible,” one explained. The liberal arts at Mills “taught me

a lot about the strength of this community and the potential to

to think critically” and “encouraged creativity”; they also

build an even stronger College.

provided “strong preparation for graduate school” and “to

I have felt warmly welcomed into the Mills community from

compete in the job market.” Another ingredient of the mind-

the start. But now I know how truly privileged I am to be serving

broadening Mills experience valued by alumnae is the com-

this College as president.

munity’s diversity of race, geographic origin, nationality,


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

Faces and places: The President heard from more than 600 alumnae at receptions held throughout the country this past year, including (from top left) Cynthia Jackson Cummings ’88, who described what she values about Mills at a meeting in Oakland. Other alumnae who attended such meetings are Ellen McDaniels Sanford ’88 and Helen Drake Muirhead ’58 in San Francisco; Karen Kang ’76 in Palo Alto, California; (row 2) Laura Custard Hurt ’93 and Linda Pitts Custard ’60, along with Mary Lois Hudson Sweatt ’60, MA ’62, in Dallas; Gertrude Fleischmann Gibbs ’40 in Portland, Oregon; (row 3) Betty Chu Wo ’46 in Honolulu; Marilyn Morris Campbell ’54, Ginnie Dobbins Chappelle ’54, and Gretchen FitzGerald Chesley ’68 in Seattle; and Marilyn Blinn Blen ’88, who presented a shirt designed during the Strike of 1990 to the President. DeCoudreaux has also visited alumnae groups in Chicago, Monterey, San Diego, Los Angeles, New York, Boston, Walnut Creek, Hong Kong, Oakland, Washington DC, Mountain View (California), Irvine, and Denver in her inaugural year as the leader of Mills College.

and age, which creates “the opportunity to hear different voices.”

spoke with pride of their role as class agents in raising annual

Finally, alumnae at almost every event voiced deep apprecia-

fund donations. “Wonderful, empowering feelings accrue when

tion for the “power of a women-only education” where “women

one gives a financial gift to support the College,” explained an

role models” and a “sense of sisterhood” lead to “women’s life-

alumna who asserted that giving “is part of being a woman who

long learning and success.”

understands the role of financial responsibility in our lives.”

How do you want to participate in the College’s future?

in regional alumnae clubs and networks. “I feel re-engaged!”

Alumnae expressed enthusiasm for helping with student recruit-

ister with the online alumnae community,;

ment, including international recruitment. One said, “I speak

keep informed about the College through email and the Mills

well of Mills when I hear young women talk about looking for

Quarterly; and watch more online video of classes and College

colleges; I had a good experience at Mills and I wish the same for


Another common thread is the desire to become more active

others.” They also expressed strong interest in student mentoring and networking. The importance of giving to the College—especially to support scholarships—was emphasized at every event. Alumnae cited the need to “create a stronger culture of giving back to Mills”; several

said many. Other alumnae would like to connect with the Alumnae Association of Mills College; serve on committees; reg-

“College does not stop after graduation,” said one. “I would love to help out in whatever I can do to bring other alumnae ‘back home’ to Mills.” ◆ To learn more about ways to come “back home” to Mills, contact Alumnae Relations at 510.430.2123 or visit Summer 2012


The DNA of


Collaboration and experimentation are the building blocks for an astounding evolution of art By Ann Murphy Photos by Kurt Loeffler


f there are genetic codes

for college depart-

ments, then Mills College Dance Department DNA was encoded more than 70 years ago, when

visionary choreographer, educator, scholar, and filmmaker Marian Van Tuyl arrived from the University of Chicago. She plucked classes out of physical education and placed them into the Division of Fine Arts and, with this bold move, defined the actions of the moving body as worthy of the kind of study previously reserved for “high art.” But Van Tuyl didn’t rest there. She understood, as few in the field at the time did, that dance is capacious, and that all dances, like all people, are worthy of attention and study. Before long she defined Mills as a vital hub of dance diversity, mastery, thought, and experimentation. In the intervening years, innumerable changes have swept through the department as well as the field. Faculty and department heads have come and gone, dance language has constantly morphed, even dancewear itself has radically changed from thick cotton and wool leotards and tights 10 

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

to body-hugging second skins made of nylon. The motifs and

MFA programs in creative writing. They began in Haas Pavilion

concerns so critical to those early days, such as the torso’s con-

Studio 117, where Associate Professor Molissa Fenley ’75 and

traction and release or the portrayal of archetypal figures from

Peiling Kao, MFA ’10, demonstrated excerpts of Fenley’s spare,

literature and legend, are now often hidden among hybrid

poetic dance, while the students responded in writing. Next,

influences, if they appear at all. The curriculum has evolved to

the poets and fiction writers reacted to dance film clips, writing

encompass theater arts classes, including acting fundamentals

collectively within the dictates of a distinct writing genre—from

and costume design, and technology that allows for live video

news to science fiction. What resulted was a rich text collage

feeds in performance.

evocative of far more than the dance alone.

But these changes haven’t altered Van Tuyl’s founding code,

“Over the years we’ve been trying to keep as much collabora-

because what she envisioned and then brilliantly built was an

tion as possible going with the Music Department. Now we’re

evolving formula that subscribed to John Dewey’s conception

working with visual arts and creative writing,” says Fenley, who

of art as a social phenomenon. She believed that “every good

notes that Van Tuyl herself launched similar relationships with

dance has social significance . . .  being ‘a thing of action, pos-

nationally recognized artists—including choreographer Merce

sessed of form.’” In her personal papers, now housed in the Special

Cunningham, composer John Cage, and photographer Imogen

Collections of Mills’ F. W. Olin Library, she explains that a dance

Cunningham—as well as with faculty members such as Professor

or a department is modern because “it subtracts certain elements

Arch Lauterer, who was skilled in set and lighting design, and

from the total scale of possibilities . . .  leaving a structural configu-

composers Darius Milhaud, Lou Harrison, and Henry Cowell.

ration which we recognize as of our time.” Today, with a faculty

This summer, Fenley embarks on a project with photographer

committed to aesthetic and cultural diversity and interdisciplin-

and Professor of Studio Art Catherine Wagner and is already

ary collaboration, that formula is leading to exciting innovations

spearheading an October celebration at the College of renowned

that harken back to the department’s founding while continually

Mills composer Pauline Oliveros, one of the leading avant-garde

moving forward.

musicians of the 20th century (see sidebar, page 12).

“When you think of innovation, it’s not that something is wholly

Collaboration finds further expression in ongoing partner-

new,” explains Associate Professor of Dance Sonya Delwaide, who

ships with external arts and education organizations. For exam-

has been on faculty for nine years and helped maintain and vital-

ple, Patricia Reedy ’80, MA ’00, director of Luna Dance Institute,

ize the department’s commitment to experimentation. “To be innovative you need to be creative all the time—and to recreate with that which you have already created. It’s the day-to-day innovation that matters,” she says. “It’s about not sitting in your chair.” Such experimentation was on display this spring, when dance faculty got out of their chairs to conduct a joint seminar with the Bodies in motion: Judene Small, left, performs at the MFA dance concert in April. Marian Van Tuyl in the 1940s and Cuauhtemoc Peranda in 2012 (above); Alexandra Michel, Elizabeth Morales, Nataly Morales, Ada Langley, Alana Giannatto-Ortiz, and Ashley Ramirez (right). Next page: Also appearing in the 2012 MFA concert were Kristin Torok; Carly Boland; Judene Small, Deanna Bangs, Caitlin Savage, and Ashley Yee. Summer 2012


joins the department every year as an adjunct to teach pedagogy and place Mills dance students in local schools as apprentice teachers. Other alumnae bring their high school students to campus to learn and view performances, while during National Dance Week in April, people from the community are invited to classes in the Mills dance studios. The department has also expanded to include acting classes through a partnership with Berkeley Repertory Theater and has become the home base for a renascent Oakland Ballet. These and other collaborations break down barriers between disciplines, departments, schools, and geographical locations, and encourage Mills dance students to see themselves in fluid relationship with the community. Collaborations are also a locus of invention and sharing and, often, a source of magic and surprise.


n h e r year s as h ead of t h e de part m e nt ,

Delwaide has

never forgotten the importance of invention to dance making. She has nurtured a faculty of accomplished

Yes We Canfield!

artists and scholars who make experimentation their lifeblood because, she believes, the most meaningful innovation arises from a ground of artistic mastery. The impact on the students of such mastery is significant, she says, because “students are then

A dance event in honor of Pauline Oliveros

learning from highly skilled people who are in constant touch


Pauline Oliveros turns 80 this year. To honor her, the Fine Arts Division will mount Event with Canfield, a site-specific work using elements of Merce Cunningham’s dance, Canfield, as it was performed by the Merce Cunningham Dance Company at the opening of Mills’ Haas Pavilion in 1971.

with the art’s developments and who are pushing themselves

Mills dancers will be accompanied by professors from the Music Department, who will interpret a madcap score by Oliveros, originally commissioned by Cunningham. The score, In Memoriam: Nikola Tesla, Cosmic Engineer, calls for the musicians to roam Haas Pavilion with oscillators and walkietalkies in order to discover the resonant frequency of the venue.

has asked his Mills colleagues to take turns coming to rehearsals

Former Cunningham dancer and visiting artist Holley Farmer will set and oversee the production. The Art Department will recreate the lighting design of the first performance of Canfield, based on drawings by conceptual artist Robert Morris. Earlier in the week, Oliveros and her collaborator, Carol Ione, will lead workshops on Deep Listening and Listening to Dreams on campus.

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

to respond to those shifts. They are then able to bring those impulses into the classroom.” But the students aren’t the only beneficiaries. Faculty members interact to discover ways in which their differences can foment creativity in the classroom, in the department at large, and in their own work. Visiting Artist Shinichi Iova-Koga, for example, to “wreck” his work­­—pulling it apart and reconfiguring the parts— in order to inject the unforeseen into the pattern and shake up his own dancemaking habits. It is one version of a vibrant model that prompts everyone to push his or her own limits and to value failure as much as success and questions over answers. With this example before her, the student ballerina who studies dancehall

or the Graham dancer who plunges into hula comes to under-

for her to budge as Sisyphus’ massive rock. Her invisible partner

stand that she isn’t going to lose what she loves; she is going to

was yet more formidable: each time Torok conjured up enough

challenge, question, and expand it.

existential will to shove the boulder into the abyss beyond the

“I don’t know what art is without experimentation,” says

back curtain, some inexorable force hurled it back onstage.

Fenley, who continues to create and perform widely with her

Again and again, the trial continued until at last she ignored the

own company. Much of Fenley’s work reveals deep Yoruban

rules of this absurd universe, effortlessly picked up the burden,

dance and music influences absorbed during her childhood

and walked off as the front curtain came down.

in Nigeria that are, in turn, fused with modern dance forms

Ada Langley, MFA ’12, a gifted costume designer who grew up

she acquired as an undergraduate at Mills. “In the Mills Dance

in Tennessee, took inspiration from early 20th century German

Department, this tenet is quite pronounced; we acknowledge

expressive dance and applied cartographic concepts of space in

experimentation and give it a name.”

order to invest direction and location with symbolic, not sim-

In such a climate it becomes unexceptional for students to

ply utilitarian, significance. Caitlin Savage, MFA ’12, a burlesque

create sound compositions as they choreograph a group dance,

dancer in her spare time, explored gender identity with pathos

or to bring voice and drama into an assignment. In one of Fenley’s courses, students take concepts central in the work of a visual artist like Cindy Sherman or Vincent Van Gogh and translate them into solo work. In criticism and theory class, they view live dance performances then write news reviews, poetic responses, and theory-driven analyses, probing how writing genres alter the focus and tone of the dance conversation. In general, it is these kinds of hybrid discourses both in the studio and in the classroom that prompt students to grow exponentially as artists and to evolve into intensely inquisitive, eloquent, and thoughtful citizens. Perhaps nowhere are the results of that process more graphic and exciting than when graduating MFA candidates present their concert work. This year, on a Friday night late in April, the

and irony. Carly Boland, MFA ’12, explored family tragedy and

rich aesthetic and movement diversity of Mills’ small cadre of

endurance, while Elizabeth Morales, MFA ’12, drew out the cor-

student dancers demonstrated the outcome of multiple points

respondences between dance and architecture. Judene Small,

of collaboration and experimentation. A small army of students

MFA ’12, meanwhile, merged her experience of Jamaican dance-

ran the show featuring 14 dance graduate students, a half-

hall and abstract modern dance into a complex whole.

dozen undergraduates, composers from the MFA programs in music, and several videographers.

When Van Tuyl came to Mills more than 70 years ago, she spliced creative ferment into the department’s DNA, expressed

In the plaza outside Lisser Hall, about 100 people were invited

through an ethos of openness, courage, and innovation. Today,

to gather in a large circle, standing shoulder-to-shoulder, facing

each Mills dancer keeps that legacy alive as they blend genres,

inward, and slowly rotating clockwise. Cuauhtemoc Peranda,

create modern rituals, and open themselves to the new and

MFA ’12, entered the ring and began his solo to the sound of

unknown, pouring intelligence and eloquence into physical

electric pow-wow, weaving together motions from the round

expression. Every day they explore an art form that puts the soul

dance, the gestural language of voguing, and abstractions of

as well as the body on the line and, as they do, they never stop

Aztec Huitzuilopochtli or hummingbird dance. Having come to

searching for an apt understanding of dance in our time. ◆

Mills two years ago directly out of Stanford, where he majored in chemistry, Peranda also incorporated dance vocabularies

Ann Murphy is a nationally known dance critic and writer

that included extensions and curves of Merce Cunningham’s

trained in both ballet and modern dance. An assistant professor

angular technique and classical ballet steps. From this mix, he

of dance at Mills, she teaches dance history, theory, criticism,

devised his own hybrid language that celebrated multiple cul-

and dance theater and will head the department in fall 2012.

tures and temporal realities.

She and Molissa Fenley have recently completed “Rhythm Field:

When Kristin Torok, MFA ’12, took to the stage, her only visible partner was a chunk of styrofoam that seemed as hard

The Dance of Molissa Fenley,” a book profiling the artist’s 35-year career. Summer 2012



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

Inquiring minds Research projects by three professors challenge the status quo By Kate Rix    Photos by Dana Davis From the lecture hall to the seminar room, Mills professors are known for their great teaching, but they’re also deeply engaged in research that enriches their field and student experience. Some of the freshest scholarly work happens all across the Mills campus, adding new dimensions to the College’s already robust academic culture. We recently sat down for conversations with three young faculty members and asked them to describe their research focus, their studies before Mills, and what excites them about their work. It came as no surprise that each of these women conducts research that challenges the status quo within their disciplines. Each has undertaken pioneering lines of inquiry that leave no assumption unexamined and often fly in the face of conventional thinking. Margaret Hunter, associate professor of sociology, looks at the tangible benefits of lighter skin and Caucasian facial features in the global market. Along with examining issues of gender and race, Hunter has also published cutting-edge research on the sociology of hip-hop culture and serves as a peer reviewer for nearly a dozen academic journals. Martha Johnson, assistant professor of government, focuses on Africa and the continent’s complex policies related to food and agriculture. Combining her extensive field research and data analysis, she has discovered surprising trends: rather than being dictated by foreign governments, international agencies, and entrenched systems of favoritism, African democracies are far more independent and responsive to citizen lobbying than previous studies suggest. Finally, Associate Professor of Psychology Christie Chung shared results of her studies on the changes in emotional memory that take place with aging. Chung, who has taught previously at Claremont Graduate University and California State University at Fullerton, involves her students directly in research studies and has © iS tock Tja sa Zurga

listed two Mills students as co-authors on published papers. The relevant and insightful studies by these professors is the heart of the vital teaching and research at Mills. Inquiry such as theirs is taking scholarship to another level, a deeper level, where humanism and the intrinsic value of critical thinking thrive.

Summer 2012


Pale by comparison Margaret Hunter on skin tone and privilege There’s an expression: The darker the berry, the sweeter the

In college she worked on a project studying skin color strati-

juice. It can mean that things get better with age—the riper, the

fication for African Americans in schools. While in graduate

better—or that it’s what’s on the inside that counts. Or it can be

school at UCLA, she expanded her work to compare skin tone

a compliment about the beauty of dark skin.

in the Latina population of Southern California.

Margaret Hunter offers this expression as an exception to

In one study, she found that of women of color with similar

the rule in our society. It’s an anomaly, she says, for darker to

family backgrounds who have the same level of education and

be more desirable. In general, it’s quite the opposite.

live in similar types of cities, the lighter-skinned women earn

Hunter came to Mills in 2007 and is now head of the Department of Sociology and Anthropology and holder of the Edward Hohfeld Chair. As a mixed-race person, she wanted to

about $6,000 more a year than the darker-skinned women. “I was surprised myself,” she says. “Everyone senses that it’s true, but these statistics quantified that understanding.”

understand the dynamics of skin tone—specifically the benefits

Her findings dovetail with work by other researchers that

that light skin and Anglo facial features confer—and has inte-

shows that lighter-skinned men of color receive more lenient

grated that inquiry into her sociological research on gender

prison sentences than darker-skinned men for similar crimes.

and race relations.

And the list goes on: Lighter-skinned people achieve more

“Lighter-skinned people of color enjoy privileges that dark-

years of education, marry higher-educated spouses, and live

skinned people of color do not,” Hunter says. “We know this

in more integrated neighborhoods. They also suffer from less

because we see such different outcomes for people of color

depression and have higher self-esteem.

based on skin tone.”

Hunter’s research has found links between skin tone and what a potential employer or teacher might call a “cue of competency.” Lighter skinned people are more associated with qualities like ability, intelligence, and kindness. As one example, she asserts that teachers are more likely to send darkskinned children to the principal’s office. “Light skin is a form of social capital,” she says. “In our society there is discrimination against darker skin even within racial groups.” This work has evolved into a broader look at the concept of beauty as an investment. Women spend mightily on their

“Light skin is a form of social capital. In our society there is discrimination against darker skin even within racial groups.”


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

“Skin tone is connected to status and labor,” Hunter says. “In former colonies, people may be trying to look like the group who was in charge.” Another major point of inquiry in Hunter’s work brings a fresh, scholarly examination of the ways that race, gender, and conspicuous consumption intersect in the media of the hip-hop movement. Her course on the sociology of hip-hop looks at the roots of the movement and its trajectory into a multi-billion dollar music industry. “I grew up on early hip-hop,” she says, “which grew out of the end of the civil rights movement and the divestment of public services in the 1980s.” Race and gender representation in hiphop music have always been problematic, she notes, but with huge commercial success certain themes have surfaced, particularly in music videos, invoking imagery from strip clubs and pornography. “The ‘rap lifestyle,’ marketed to consumMargaret Hunter

ers through multiple media outlets, focuses on the consumption of designer clothes, jewelry, cars, and liquor, often sold by the rap moguls’ companies,” Hunter wrote in

appearances because they expect a return on their money

an article published last year in Sociological Perspectives. “Rap

spent. They’re more likely to get that return, Hunter argues,

music videos advertise these products, as well as the consump-

if they invest in plastic surgery, hair straightening, and skin

tion of women of colors’ sexual performances.”

lightening products. The global marketplace favors Caucasian features, Hunter argues, and around the world people of color will go to great

Some of the world’s wealthiest entertainers are successful hip-hop artists. Some, including Snoop Dogg, even produce their own porn videos.

lengths to make themselves look whiter. Creams that actu-

“They are shot drawing from the conventions of porn,”

ally bleach the skin are less common in the United States,

Hunter says. “He’s called the host and he’s surrounded by a

largely because the FDA does not approve their active ingre-

cadre of scantily clad women.” These videos are extremely

dients—some of which can potentially damage organs or cause

lucrative—so much so that Forbes magazine features the “Cash

cancer—but in India, Latin America, and Japan, the market is

Kings” list, an annual accounting of hip-hop’s top earners.

exploding. By 2015 the global market is expected to reach $10

“This rap culture isn’t the only expression of hip-hop today,

billion, due in part to a growing market for products aimed

but it’s the most popular and has edged out much of the diver-

at men. (In India one of the most popular products is “Fair &

sity of earlier hip-hop,” Hunter says. “The more violent and

Lovely,” which has a companion product for men called “Fair

crazy and outrageous, the better. Everybody seems to like

& Handsome.”)

things that are over-the-top.”

Summer 2012


A chicken in every pot Martha Johnson on food policy and political power in Africa In the academic field of African studies, African governments are commonly described as corrupt and motivated by patronage. Martha Johnson’s research looks at the exceptions to that rule. An assistant professor of government at Mills since 2010, Johnson’s work examines African continental politics on several levels, but most extensively focuses on food policy. In particular, she studies the ways that West African governments have responded to increased imports of food from the United States and Europe into Senegal, Ghana, and Cameroon. By comparing these three countries, Johnson’s research reveals shifting incentives and sources of political influence. “So much of what is written about African policy describes it as being dictated by outside countries and international agencies,” Johnson says. “In fact, the cases I studied looked a lot like politics in any developed country.” Since the mid-1990s, West African countries have experienced major surges in food imports. Many food staples entered the region from Europe and the United States at such a high rate that domestic food producers couldn’t compete. Imported chicken, onions, rice, wheat, powdered milk, vegetable oil, and tomato paste filled marketplaces at prices African consumers couldn’t refuse. In some communities, imports began to replace local products and undermine domestic food production. Johnson has examined how West African governments responded to the import surges and, more specifically, to demands for stricter trade policies from domestic producers. Rather than following the narrative of past research of African politics, Johnson’s analysis reveals an ideological shift in Africa itself.


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

Martha Johnson

Each of the three countries she studied demonstrated

in North African politics. As a graduate student in

a high degree of trade independence; each gover-

political science at Berkeley, she worked with politi-

nement was motivated not by patronage or outside

cal science professors David Leonard and Leonardo

pressure, but by citizen lobbying.

Arriola and spent time in both Senegal and Burkina

In Ghana, farmers went directly to the government to push for a new tax on imported chicken. In

Faso as a research associate with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization.

Cameroon, farmers developed a media campaign to

She continues to collaborate with Arriola in an

convince consumers that imported chicken was dan-

ongoing survey of female political leaders in Africa.

gerous to eat. Senegalese poultry producers took this

By combing through a massive data set drawn from

strategy a step further, lobbying their government

47 countries between 1975 and 2005, Johnson and

to enforce the “cold chain” of refrigeration require-

Arriola are determining the conditions that make a

ments. These inspections were so cumbersome and

country more likely to have women in executive gov-

expensive that imported chicken disappeared from

ernmental posts.

the Senegalese market for a brief period.

“The true measure of political worth in African pol-

“Much of what is written about African policy describes it as being dictated by outside countries and international agencies. In fact, the cases I studied looked a lot like politics in any developed country.” “I was surprised to find that these changes did not

itics is becoming a minister,” Johnson says. “Members

come from the outside,” Johnson says. “There is in

of parliament are elected, but they just provide a rub-

fact a larger shift taking place in a growing number

ber stamp. Ministers are appointed. This study will

of Africa’s countries that looks different from the

measure women’s political influence.”

colonial model. Senegal and Ghana have been demo-

Becoming a minister requires a level of political

cratic for a while. People in those countries talk about

acumen typically reserved for men in African coun-

median voters and public opinion. Cameroon is more

tries. Ministers generally act as agents on behalf of

authoritarian, but even they were responsive to lob-

presidents, working in the home districts to bring in

bying by the public.”

votes. The process of cementing and maintaining dis-

Across the region, West African chicken farmers organized and conducted trainings in how to

trict power is highly fraternal, and female politicians have typically struggled to compete for power.

lobby government and do public relations. They also

Women can achieve a certain level of political

coordinated with political activist groups in Europe.

momentum and clout, but they come up against age-

Democracy, especially in Senegal and Ghana, is

old customs that reward bosses, brokers, and “big

mature enough at this point to foster this type of citi-

men” with political posts in exchange for services and

zen initiative, Johnson says.

favors. The only exception, Johnson says, are coun-

She published the results of this research late last year in the Journal of Modern Africa Studies and is developing a book that builds on her work comparing the lobbying strategies of West African farmers.

tries that have committed to maintaining a certain quota of women in governmental leadership. “It doesn’t matter how wealthy a country is, or how literate its female population may be,” Johnson says.

Johnson first became interested in Africa as an

“What does seem to have a political effect is whether

undergraduate at Smith College, where she worked

the country has a quota to guarantee more women

closely with a government professor who specialized

in legislature.”

Summer 2012


The persistence of memory Christie Chung on aging and cognition Whether you’re likely to describe gray hair as distinguished or dowdy, the changes to our bodies and brains as we age are inevitable. Some would even say depressing. But there’s one change we can look forward to. Research shows that as we get older we experience fewer negative emotions. It’s not that we don’t retain sad memories; we simply choose not to retrieve them. The phenomenon is called the positivity effect. “Older people do tend to regulate their emotions better,” says Associate Professor of Psychology Christie Chung. “The brain shrinks and there is some loss in short term memory. Perhaps we don’t want to use those limited resources to remember negative things.” Chung, who joined Mills faculty in 2007 and directs the Mills Cognition Laboratory, studies changes in emotional memory throughout aging. Her research is now focused on asking, Does this effect exist across cultures, and does it influence an older person’s attitude about aging itself? Collaborating with student research assistants to select test participants, conduct interviews, and process results, Chung has interviewed older adults in the United States, China, Hong Kong, and Afghanistan, and has found that the positivity effect is widespread, but not universal. Her two most recently published scholarly articles were co-written with student researchers from the Mills Cognition Lab. This year, the International Journal of Aging and Human Development is publishing “A Cross-Cultural Examination of the Positivity Effect in Memory: U.S. vs. China,” which Chung co-authored with Ziyong Lin ’12. Another research assistant, Frishta Sharifi ’08, traveled to Afghanistan to interview elders. Sharifi’s first surprise was that she was not able to find many adults over the age of 70. The second was that she found no positivity effect at all among those interviewed. “It was very sad. The war likely affected older adults’ Christie Chung

way of processing emotional memory,” Chung says of the Afghani subjects.


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

Their comparative work has revealed other differences. Older adults in both the United States and China

with them,” she says, “yet they were surprisingly similar to older adults born in the United States.”

clearly demonstrated the positivity effect in the types

Chung became interested in memory while studying

of memories they recalled, but their shared positivity

cognitive psychology at the University of Toronto, where

didn’t extend to their attitudes about aging. When asked

her thesis advisor was Professor Lynn Hasher. Hasher

to give five words or phrases to describe the changes

developed the Inhibition Deficit Theory, which proposes

that take place as we age, American adults used negative

that as we age we aren’t as good at regulating which

terms. Chinese older adults used more positive words

information enters our working memory, making us

like “wisdom” and “helping others.” Not only was their

more distractable. Chung’s interest in aging and mem-

outlook on aging significantly rosier, they also recalled

ory was also spurred by her own grandfather’s struggle

less negative information.

with memory loss. “My grandfather was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s dis-

“My grandfather was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. I wanted to learn more about cognitive aging so that I could understand the reasons for his sufferings. I was also determined to examine the cross-cultural effects of aging.”

ease and spent the last few years of his life in a nursing home in Hong Kong,” Chung says. “I wanted to learn more about cognitive aging so that I could understand the reasons for his sufferings. Due to some of his experiences, I was also determined to someday examine the cross-cultural effects of aging.” She completed her graduate work at Claremont Graduate University and post-doctoral research at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and now teaches courses in the fundamentals of psychology, statistics, and cognitive psychology at Mills. She is also a frequent speaker at College and alumnae events and has presented her research at conferences of the American Psychological Association, the International Neuropsychological Society, and others. For all of the nuanced ways that older people struggle to keep their brain capacity strong and robust, there

“This shows that cultural differences do make a differ-

are also some real physiological benefits to a few more

ence in cognitive processing of information,” Chung says.

candles on the birthday cake, Chung adds. As the brain

Interestingly, her work also found that Chinese-

ages, it shrinks—but not uniformly. The hippocampus, a

American immigrant elders have a negative view of

part of the brain that is involved in forming and storing

aging, reflecting western culture, even if they live exclu-

memory, doesn’t shrink much. Neither does the amyg-

sively with other Chinese-American immigrants.

dala, which processes emotion.

The attitudes of a person’s current geographical loca-

“Older adults can remember bigger vocabularies than

tion, Chung says, is a much bigger factor in determining

younger people. Our semantic memory increases as we

a person’s attitude about growing old than researchers

grow older,” Chung says. “Our memory function does

expected. “You would expect that immigrants who have

change, but those changes may not be as big as people

just come here from China would bring their attitudes

used to think.” ◆

Summer 2012


Wynetta left a legacy for Mills students. You can too.

Wynetta Spencer Kollman ’73 (1952–2009) Wynetta studied chemistry at Mills and earned a PhD in the same subject at Howard University. She had a long career with the California Department of Pesticide Regulation. Wynetta drew up her will at age 44 and included a bequest to the College to create a scholarship for women of color majoring in science.

Cynthia Alcazar ’12 Cynthia, a biology major from San Diego and a member of

A will allows you to provide security for the people you love, pass on favorite possessions, and identify and support the institutions that are important to you, including Mills. You can leave a lasting legacy at the College with your planned gift.

Mills’ soccer team, was awarded the Dr. Wynetta S. Kollman Scholarship in 2010–11.

To learn more about creating a legacy of your own at Mills contact us toll-free at 1.877.PG.MILLS (1.877.746.4557) or

If you’ve already included Mills in your estate plans, please let us know.

In Memoriam Notices of death received before March 26, 2012 To submit listings, please contact or 510.430.2123

Alumnae Dorothy Shubart Rosenwald ’36, March 11, in Kansas City, Missouri. She was a local president, national VP, and a life board member of the National Council of Jewish Women, which honored her with the Hannah G. Solomon Award in 1973. She also served on the board of several social welfare and service organizations. Survivors include a son and a grandson. Alexandra Oates Outram ’37, November 22, 2011, in Surrey, England. Survivors include a daughter. Ida Shimanouchi ’38, January 20, in Medford, New Jersey. Billie Bell Woolworth ’38, January 11, in San Leandro, California. A lifelong teacher in the Berkeley and Albany public schools, she also hosted several foreign exchange students. She is survived by three children and five grandchildren. Claire Rubendall Hoppe ’39, January 2, in Lincoln, Nebraska. She enjoyed golf, cards, yoga, volunteering, and travel. Survivors include three children and three grandchildren. Elenore Davis Smith ’40, March 12, in Glendale, Missouri. Survivors include three children and eight grandchildren. Margery “Diz” Disman Anson ’42, March 19, in San Francisco. She was a creative metalworker, a member of the Concordia Club, and a volunteer for the Emanu-El Residence Club, Homewood Terrace orphanage, Mount Zion Hospital, Strybing Arboretum, and the Institute on Aging. She is survived by two sons and four grandchildren. Kathryn Lee Holcomb Dole ’42, December 29, 2011, in Santa Barbara, California. She supported her husband’s career as an artist and academic; she also was involved with cooperative nursery schools and developed a line of children’s dress-up clothing. She is survived by seven children and 17 grandchildren. Charlotte “Jeanne” Metz Sellers ’42, November 24, 2010, in Downs, Kansas. Marcia Gambrell Hovick ’43, January 31, in Monterey, California. She worked on and off stage at Golden Bough Circle Theatre, founded Staff Repertory Players, and ran the Children’s Experimental Theatre for half a century. She authored many original works. She is survived by three children and several grandchildren. Frances Smyrl Jennings ’44, May 22, 2011, in Tucson, Arizona. She owned the Roswell Trading Company and worked for 20 years with state agencies serving children and people with developmental disabilities. Also a volunteer for the library, hospice, zoo, and botanical gardens, she is survived by two children and two grandchildren. Persis Ritchie Ledbetter ’44, December 19, 2011, in Lodi, California. She was active in the Lodi Women’s Club and Omega Nu philanthropic organization, was a charter member of the Squares Dance Group and the Woodbridge Golf and Country Club, and sat on the Lodi Memorial Hospital Board of Directors for 20 years. Survivors include her husband, Keith; a daughter; and two grandchildren.

Mary Parker Grady ’46, March 18, in McMinnville, Oregon. She is survived by two children and her niece, Jennifer Rugg ’79. Joan Bromley Burke ’47, MA ’49, January 22, in San Francisco. She worked with Bank of America in Japan for many years; later in life she aided seniors with their financial management. Survivors included a son. Doris Ellsworth Rogers ’47, February 6, in Las Cruces, New Mexico. She taught piano for over 20 years and served multiple terms as president of the Las Cruces Piano Teachers Association. She is survived by her husband, Joe; four children; and two granddaughters. Jeanne Nelson Szabo ’47, March 10, in Brunswick, Georgia. An artist and teacher, she ran her own gallery and art studio and was a grand master at bridge. Survivors include her two sons. Barbara Norman Makanowitzky ’48, November 18, 2011, in Philadelphia. She wrote several books, including Tales of the Table and Requiem for a Spanish Village, and translated many Russian classics for publication. She also worked for the US State Department and was fluent in Russian, French, Spanish, and Catalan. Barbara Foster Krattli ’49, October 31, 2011, in San Diego. While her husband’s naval career took their family to many homes, she took jobs and volunteer opportunities to help her children and community. She is survived by three sons and three grandchildren. Alicia Kircher Lydon ’49, February 1, in Lake Forest, Illinois. She lived in Rome and London for several years; after settling in Chicago, she supported the Art Institute and was a docent at the Botanic Garden. She is survived by three children and four grandchildren.

Lydia Nelson McCollum ’43, a longtime leader of Mills alumnae in Colorado, died December 22, 2011, in Denver. McCollum worked as a travel agent for several companies, including McCollum Travel Agency, which she owned with her husband. She also served on the board of the Rocky Mountain Chapter of the Arthritis Foundation and was a member of the Montview Boulevard Presbyterian Church. But she put her dedication to Mills into action in her years of service as a class agent and regional governor of the Alumnae Association of Mills College. A generous donor to the College, she and her husband endowed the Lydia Nelson McCollum Scholarship to support undergraduates from the Rocky Mountain region. She is survived by four children, including Mary Lou McCollum Steenrod ’70, and seven grandchildren.

Summer 2012


Diana Wu Liu ’51, December 24, 2011, in Edmonds, Washington. She was a well-known Chinese-cooking instructor and co-authored the Gourmet Guide to Chinese Cuisine with her sister. She frequently hosted fundraisers and befriended visiting Chinese students and creative artists. She is survived by three children, including Debra Liu ’77; a granddaughter; and her sister, Lily Wu Tang ’51. Margaret Steven Prosser ’51, November 8, 2008, in Mercer Island, Washington. Survivors include a son and her sister, Kathleen Steven Hoch ’53. Jocelyn Martin Mannell Mendel ’54, March 6, in Sausalito, California. She is survived by her husband, Jim; four children, including Meagan Mannell-Julian ’78; and 10 grandchildren. Phoebe McCabe Wiethoff ’56, March 19, in Wayzata, Minnesota. She was a seasoned traveler, avid movie buff, loyal Neil Sedaka fan, and a dedicated wife and mother. She is survived by two daughters. Robert Nelson, MFA ’59, January 9, in Laytonville, California. Trained as a painter, he collaborated with other artists, the San Francisco Mime Troupe, and the composer Steve Reich, MA ’63, to create witty and popular experimental films. Survivors include three children.

Robert Foote, MA ’99, January 18, in Sunny Isles Beach, Florida. Yasmeen Vaughan ’03, December 15, 2011, in Oakland, California. Survivors include her father and mother, Deborah Brooks Vaughan, MA ’71.

Spouses and Family William Browning Barnes, father of Diantha Browning Mollahan ’83, October 27, 2010, in Capitola, California. Harper Bates, son of Marlene Allen Bates ’65, December 6, 2011, in Portland, Oregon. Charles Fortmiller, husband of Gladys Aronson Fortmiller ’49, November 3, 2011, in Talent, Oregon. Cameron Fuller-Holloway, son of Melody Fuller-Lewis ’82, January 15, in California. Richard Hunter, father of Sandra Hunter ’91, May 22, 2011, in Yountville, California. Nancy Parsons Jones, mother of Margot Jones Mabie ’66, February 14, in Rochester, New York.

Janine Semereau Freyermuth ’68, December 4, 2011, in Belvedere, California. She devoted much of her time to family and friends and throughout her life maintained a dedication to the welfare of animals. She leaves behind a daughter, a son, and three grandchildren. Suzanne DuPrau Rogers ’68, March 9, in Belvedere, California. She earned a master’s degree in early childhood education and made a career working with young children and those with disabilities. She was also a talented writer, humorist, and graphic artist. Survivors include her daughter and two sisters. Cheryl Scott ’69, April 1, 2011, in Berkeley, California. Christina Ward Miller ’71, December 25, 2011, in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She was the manager of library and information services at the Prevention Research Center in Berkeley before moving to Albuquerque, where she worked as a taxonomy editor. A world traveler and animal lover, she is survived by her sister, Kathleen Miller James ’69. Nancy Martin Harper ’80, February 3, in Pleasant Hill, California. Survivors include her daughters Kristin Harper Bush ’78 and Kim Harper Brooks ’90, and nieces Marian Harper Weldin ’62 and Nettie Harper ’65.

Gifts in Memory of Received December 1, 2011 – February 29, 2012 Timanna Bennett ’02 by Marcia Randall ’02 Marilyn Frye Bettendorf by her daughter, Marilyn “Lyn” Barrett ’75 Lois Mitchell Blackmarr ’40, MA ’42, by Jane Van Rysselberghe Bernasconi ’53 Doris “Dorie” Hillman Blackwell ’41 by Jane Cudlip King ’42, P ’80 Dorothea Blocher by her daughter, Alice Knudsen, MA ’05, EdD ’07, P ’05 Darl Bowers, husband of Anita Aragon Bowers ’63 and father of Jeannette Bowers ’84, by Ellen Locke Crumb ’59, P ’94, Deborah Zambianco ’70 Linda Nelson Branson ’77 by her husband, James Branson Terry Foskett Camacho ’61 by Mary Doerfler Luhring ’61 Marian Van Tuyl Campbell by Rebecca Fuller, MA ’54 Evelyn “Peg” Deane ’41 by her sister, Margaret Deane

I first met Maryvonne Gelly Mardaci ’52 during a research stay in Paris in 1989–1990; my wife, Suzanne, and I maintained a steady and treasured friendship with her in the years that followed. Our get-togethers included a stay with her at her family home in Brittany and many visits with her and her family in the Paris area. Madame Mardaci was a loyal friend and supporter of Mills. During our occasional hostings of alumnae in France, she was invariably present and always up-to-date on events at the College. A precious member of the extended Mills community, she passed away in Boulogne, France. —Remembered by Professor of History Bert Gordon


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

Doris Dennison by Rebecca Fuller, MA ’54 Susan Dickson ’63 by Anne Williams Nash ’63 Sybil “Syb” Johnson Dray ’41 by her sister, Sarah Johnson Stewart ’56 Virginia Fleming by Anne Lehmer ’89 Ernest Flores by his sister, Joan Flores ’01 Mr. and Mrs. Frank Fong, parents of Borgee Chinn ’41 and grandparents of Nancy Ng, MFA ’92, by Gaynor Chinn and Momi Chang ’74 Charles David Fortmiller, husband of Gladys Aronson Fortmiller ’49, by Pauline Royal Langsley ’49, P ’78, P ’83 Timothy Francis by his mother, Jamey Coopman Francis ’60 Barbara “Bobby” Coleman Frey ’68 by Patricia Abelov Demoff ’68

Corinne Marsh Keith, mother of Rebecca Marsh Shuttleworth ’64, October 1, 2011, in Greenwich, Connecticut. Miklos Kossa, father of Christina Kossa ’89, December 18, 2011, in Berkeley, California. Frank Laycock, husband of Lenore Mayhew Laycock ’46 and father of Vera Laycock Lethbridge ’70, January 2, in Oberlin, Ohio. Goodwin Pelissero, father of Candace Pelissero ’68, February 8, in Santa Barbara, California. Cecil Riley, father of Susan Riley Levy ’80, December 29, 2009, in Orinda, California.

Faculty and staff Gloria Hermsen Edick, December 10, in San Leandro. She spent her career as an executive secretary at Mills College, Holy Names College, and Samuel Merritt College in Oakland. She is survived by her husband, Donald; two children; and two grandsons. Julia Mies, March 10, in Oakland. A former director in the Office of Institutional Advancement at Mills, she served the College from 2002 to 2009 with creativity, perseverance, and humor. A Rockridge area resident for more than 30 years, she was active in school, community, and rebuilding efforts from the 1991 Oakland Hills fire. She leaves behind her husband, Will, and two children.

Vivienne “Bubbles” Sigman, mother of Tari Sigman Bowman ’68, April 24, 2011, in Sherman Oaks, California. Nancy Warner, mother of Nangee Warner Morrison ’63, January 18, in Buffalo, New York. Kwong Choi Yue, father of Ruby Yue Sze ’72 and Josie Yue ’78, in Hong Kong.

Janine Semereau Freyermuth ’68 by Susan Stern Fineman ’68

Margery “Footie” Foote Meyer ’45 by Tom Van Saun

Denison Glass ’83 by Lisa Ellerbee Gleaton ’85

Judy Mollica by April Ninomiya Hopkins, MFA ’03

Rheta Dattner Goldberg ’61 by her daughter, Rae Ann Goldberg ’73

Evelyn Oremland by her husband, Jerome Oremland

Caroline Goodwin ’22, P ’52, by her daughter, Alice Goodwin Lenz ’52

Linda Popofsky by Lisa Borden ’84

Denyse Gross ’72 by her husband, Kenneth Morrison

Rosemary Brusso Purser ’57 by Diane Lindner Reuler ’58

Mildred Rodgers Hauck, MA ’39, by the Mills College Club of New York

Mary Seber Ryan by her son, Dan Ryan

F. Warren Hellman by Marc Fairman, Barbara Hunter ’57, Sue Ann Tucker ’68

Eleanor Marshall Schaefer ’29 by Nicole Bartow

William and Jacqueline Hennigh by their daughter, Susan Hennigh ’72

Susan Rubenstein Schapiro ’52 by Kathleen Burke and Ralph Davis, Lawrence Lee, Evelyn Moore, Helen Drake Muirhead ’58, P ’88, P ’93, William Schapiro

Merrill “Jane” Bristow Hintikka ’60 by Joyce Howard ’72 Corinne Marsh Keith by her daughter, Rebecca Marsh Shuttleworth ’64 Elizabeth Trowbridge Kent ’23 by Ann Eddy Smith ’59, P ’82 Marjorie Woolwine Knightly ’56 by Sarah Johnson Stewart ’56 Teri Lauderbach, mother of Nicole Harrison ’96, by Heather Herrera ’94 Eleanor Lauer, MA ’40, by Rebecca Fuller, MA ’54 Edward LeFevour, husband of Julia Darley LeFevour ’73 and father of Julianna LeFevour Francis ’90, by Leslie Woodhouse ’90

Nancy Schalk ’49 by Pauline Royal Langsley ’49, P ’78, P ’83

Margaret “Peg” Hudelson Scherer ’49 by Pauline Royal Langsley ’49, P ’78, P ’83 Anne Sherrill by Cynthia McLaughlin ’74 Vivienne “Bubbles” Sigman by her daughter, Tari Sigman Bowman ’68 Claire McAdam Smith ’44 by Karen Gillogly Lang ’74 Kathryn St. Clair Anderson by her daughter, Maren Anderson Culter ’69

Sylvia Jaureguy Love ’47 by her husband, William Love

James Wanzer by his mother, Sue Ann Coopman Peterson ’55

Jennifer “Jenny” Makofsky ’91 by Lisa Bach ’90

Nancy Warner, mother of Nangee Warner Morrison ’63, by Susan Stern Fineman ’68, Los Angeles Mills College Alumnae

Eloise Randleman McCain ’57 by her husband, Leonard McCain Boitumelo “Tumi” McCallum ’08 by Lynn Andrews Lydia Nelson McCollum ’43, P ’70, by Pauline Royal Langsley ’49, P ’78, P ’83 Diane McEntyre by Elizabeth Kelley Quigg, MA ’89 Georgiana Melvin by Mariah Imberman deForest ’59

Hugh Wass by Warren Wass Juliette Perrin Weston 1907 by her daughter, Nancy Weston’s estate Christina Wolfe, mother of Shannon Wolfe ’96, by Kayvaan Ghassemieh Billie Bell Woolworth ’38 by her son, William Woolworth p=parent; For information about making a tribute gift, contact 510.430.2097 or

Summer 2012


The write stuff Named for a fictional character, Maya Marie Weeks, MFA ’12, writes to prove that she actually exists. Born and raised on the central coast of California, she has lived as far north as Copenhagen, Denmark, and traveled as far south as Santiago, Chile. Oakland is the farthest she has ever lived from the ocean. These works are excerpted from the collection of poems that earned her Mills’ 2012 Mary Merritt Henry Prize for outstanding poetry by a graduate student.

Anachronism just the ticket to Strasbourg. A phantasmagoric commute, no space between here and now. Seersucker boundary. Alsatian Riesling/sixteen years of chickens. Pop cork, cue, enter recurring dream. Girlghost in undergrowth. A silhouette without a head. The body ticking. Platform transient. Sweltering country in aftermath of 24 Hour Fitness. A swimming pool! No, a lake. No bush around which to beat. Superhuman tastebuds annex faulty Bordeaux to well-adjusted fowl. Glass doors a shadow slips through.

Despite a common misconception that different sections of the tongue specialize in different tastes, all taste sensations come from all regions of the tongue More cognac, sure—I want my glass as full as everyone else’s; I want Gaspard to continue in caricature: Gallic mustache, cooking and accent. For a man whose nose is his work, vanillin is a no-go. Ampersand satellite trapped in media discourse between a vitriolic diatribe and Captain James Cass, hoping for a phone call. He who prefers dreams to death reacts to the future.

Being Maya I’ve had it with illusion. There are things we can do in the world and together: Make a trip to Home Depot. Construct walls and windows. $600 still seems like an awful lot for a space in a warehouse. If you’re offering me gifts, just get this: I’d always rather have food than flowers.

Things come together Packed for Yosemite as if going to Iceland for the weekend. California refinance 2.75%: budget for a newer, more beautiful future. Los Banos: A Chevy Kind of Town. Wind at 60 miles per hour, hotter than the burgers coming straight out of the drive-thru. It’s a wonderful feeling to leave the car at home. Some of our friends are too good to be true. Career strangers go hiking together. The atmosphere is ripe with topics to talk on that we pick at like yesterday’s poultry.


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

Alumnae tr avel 2013 Australia and New Zealand This 14-day land and sea journey includes four nights in New Zealand’s spectacular Southern Alps and a special scenic cruise on breathtaking Milford Sound. In Australia, enjoy three nights in Sydney and a threenight cruise aboard the 25-cabin Coral Princess, which is specially designed to navigate the waters and wonders of the Great Barrier Reef. January 17–30, 2013 From $3695 (not including airfare, taxes, and fees)

Treasures of Ecuador Explore Quito’s Centro Historico, the vibrant city of Cuenca, and the Amazon rainforest. Stand at the equator at the Middle of the World Museum! This tour is limited to 28 travelers. February 5–16, 2013

Sorrento on the Divine Amalfi Coast Discover five UNESCO World Heritage sites from your home base at the deluxe Hotel Plaza Sorrento: Amalfi Coast, the historic center of Naples, the amazing Greek ruins in Paestum, and the well-preserved ruins of Herculaneum and Pompeii. Groups are limited to 36 travelers on this Alumni Campus Program. April 17–25, 2013

From Cannes to Venice: Jewels of Antiquity Sail along the beautiful French Riviera. Immerse yourself in the charm of Provence, the spirit of Cannes, the beauty of Florence, the history of Rome, and the romance of Venice—plus visits to several additional ports aboard the MV Aegean Odyssey. May 28–June 12, 2013

Cruising the Baltic Sea: Changing the Tides of History Mikhail Gorbachev and Lech Walesa are exclusive speakers for this tour; travelers will also enjoy special early entry to the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg and a private concert in the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki. Round out your journey of this richly historic region with stops in Helsinki, Tallinn, Riga, Gdansk, Copenhagen, and Oslo. June 13–24, 2013

Waterways of Russia from Moscow to St. Petersburg Join President Alecia DeCoudreaux on this cruise aboard a 56-cabin deluxe river ship, featuring visits to several UNESCO World Heritage sites and extensive guided tours of Red Square, St. Basil’s Cathedral, and the State Hermitage Museum. July 24–August 3, 2013

The State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg

See the AAMC travel website at for dates, prices, and full itineraries as they become available. For reservations or additional information, call the Alumnae Association of Mills College at 510.430.2110 or email

China: The Yangtze River Discover the secrets of China’s mystique and its timeless treasures, from Beijing’s Tian’anmen Square and the Forbidden City to the Terra Cotta Warriors in Xi’an and Buddhist cliff carvings in Dazu. Explore world-class cities and famous landmarks, including the Summer Palace, the Great Wall, and the Three Gorges region as you travel by land and water. September 10–23, 2013

Villages and Vineyards of the Mosel, Rhine, and Main Rivers cruise The Mosel River is perhaps the most beautiful river in Germany, winding between steep, vine-laden banks. The mighty Rhine offers charming towns and the legendary Lorelei Rock. The Main River flows past storybook villages and pristine countryside. Enjoy them all on this seven-night cruise aboard the 146-passenger MS Amadeus Brilliant. October 14–22, 2013

Treasures of East Africa featuring Tanzania and Kenya Your wilderness dream becomes reality on this once-in-a-lifetime adventure. Spot zebra grazing across grass-filled plains, cheetahs stalking their prey, or lions stretching lazily in the sun as you explore the spectacular national parks of Tanzania and Kenya in custom 4x4 safari vehicles with expert guides. Excursion limited to 28 travelers. October 19–November 12, 2013

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)

Reunion 2012 September 27 through September 30 Every alumna is invited. Honoring the Golden Girls of 1962 and alumnae from class years ending in 2 or 7 Highlights include:

• Convocation on September 28 • Updates from President DeCoudreaux, members of her cabinet, and leaders of the Alumnae Association of Mills College • Class Luncheon and AAMC Awards Ceremony

For more information Reunion hotline: 510.430.2123 Email: Web:

• Special gatherings for MBA alumnae, Golden Girls, alumnae of color, and LGBTIQ alumnae • Alumnae volleyball match and Mills community tennis tournament • After-hours drinks and music at Reinhardt Alumnae House • Class dinners and photos • Faculty and student presentations about their academic projects • A celebration of Julia Morgan, including a guided tour of the Julia Morgan-designed buildings on campus and an exhibition of drawings and photographs • And much, much more! Schedule updates will be posted online at

Brochures with full schedules and registration information have been mailed to all alumnae from class years ending in 2 or 7 and all alumnae in the Bay Area; they are available to other alumnae by request.

Mills Quarterly summer 2012