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I L L U M I N AT I N G R E L I G I O N      A L L A B O U T T H E E U C A LY P T U S P I N      2 0 1 3 G R A D U AT E S

Mills Quarterly Fall 2013

philosophies of fashion

Maria Muto Waterman ’79

Photo by Dana Davis

Program Coordinator at the Orinda Association Donor to the Mills College Annual Fund

“My dollars have a meaningful impact at Mills, and it was a pleasure to make my gift to the College over the phone with the help of a student caller. Hearing about her experiences reinforced my love of Mills and reminded me of how I benefited from the nurturing environment there.” — Maria Join Maria and other alumnae by contributing to the College every year. Your gift—no matter the size—strengthens Mills’ national reputation for outstanding programs and faculty, and sends a message about how much you value your Mills education.

Show how much Mills means to you. Make your gift today. Give to the Mills College Annual Fund by calling 510.430.2366, picking up the phone when a student calls you, visiting, or returning the enclosed envelope.




Mills Quarterly

contents Fall 2013 6

Commencement 2013

We celebrate this year’s Bent Twigs and all new graduates of Mills College.


Building knowledge, understanding belief by Joanna Corman

The study of religion illuminates a wide range of academic subjects, broadens understanding of history and current events, and provides insight on personal identities and motivations. A new minor provides a framework for this complex field of inquiry.


Style and substance by Jessica Langlois, MFA ’10

Graduates working in the fashion industry bring an artistic touch and entrepreneurial spirit to their roles. Most importantly, they say, the right clothing allows everyone to express a true sense of self.


The lady, the leaves, the legacy by Sarah Stevenson, MFA ’04

The eucalyptus pin has become an iconic symbol of Mills College. Here’s the story of the woman who first imagined it and made it come to be.


Mills history through fashion

Historical costume pageants at Reunions past unfolded the story of the College through the material culture of clothing. Take a look back at this alumnae tradition, preserved in photographs.

Departments 3

Message from the President


Mills Matters


Class Notes


In Memoriam

On the cover: A couture dress designed by Lili Butler, MFA ’84, and a custom-tailored suit modeled by Zel Anders, MA ’94, show just two facets of the many ways Mills alumnae are making a statement in the fashion world. Photos by Lili Butler, Dana Davis, Kevin Dyer/

Calendar Contemporary Writers Series October 1 5  LaTasha N. Nevada Diggs Diggs creates poetry and performance using words, sound, and video. 5:30 pm, Mills Hall Living Room, free. For information, contact Stephanie Young at 510.430.3130 or

Volume CII Number 1 (USPS 349-900) Fall 2013 President Alecia A. DeCoudreaux

October 22 and 23  Writers Symposium A two-day symposium of free public talks, readings, and workshops, with the goal of building intellectual community across genre and discipline. Featuring: • Robert Arellano, author of six novels and professor of creative writing at Southern Oregon University;

Vice President for Institutional Advancement Cynthia Brandt Stover

• Layli Long Soldier, a poet, member of the Navajo Nation, and adjunct faculty member at Diné College;

Senior Director of Advancement Communications and Outreach Dawn Cunningham ’85

• Emma Ruby-Sachs, (right) a writer, a lawyer, and a campaign director at, a global advocacy organization;

Managing Editor Linda Schmidt Design and Art Direction Nancy Siller Wilson Contributing Writers Joanna Corman Jessica Langlois, MFA ’10 Sarah Stevenson, MFA ’04 Editorial Assistance Maggie Slover ’14

• Orlando White, author of Bone Light, recipient of a Lannan Foundation Residency, and a teacher at Diné College. October 22: Talks and panel discussion, 2:30 pm–5:00 pm, readings at 5:30 pm; October 23: Workshops, 2:30 pm–5:00 pm and 6:45 pm–9:00 pm. Locations TBA. For information, contact Stephanie Young at 510.430.3130 or

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.

Songlines Series October 14  Now Hear Ensemble Presenting pieces produced in collaboration with composers based at California colleges. October 21  Reinier van Houdt The European-based pianist presents works for extended piano. January 27  Jack and Ben Wright Improvisational works on saxophone and double-bass by a father/son duo. February 3  Bonnie Jones and Andrea Neumann Static, sputter, and crackle produced with piano and electronics. April 7  Shackle Anne La Berge on flute and electronics and Robert van Heumen on laptop-instrument. All events start at 7:30 pm in the Music Building Ensemble Room. Admission is free. For information, see or contact John Bischoff at 510.430.2331 or

Mills College Art Museum Experiments in the Fault Zone September 25–December 8 A multimedia exhibition exploring the innovative history of experimentation and cross-disciplinary collaborative work in the fine arts at Mills. For information, see or contact 510.430.2164 or The museum is open 11:00 am–4:00 pm Tuesday through Sunday, 11:00 am–7:30 pm Wednesday, and is closed Monday. Admission is free.

Copyright © 2013, 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.

(Please use outline)


Celebrating alumnae from class years ending in 3 or 8, including the Golden Girls of 1963

Kimberley L. Phillips

Join classmates and friends for a full weekend of socializing, fun, and events, including Convocation on September 27 featuring speaker Kimberley L. Phillips, new provost and dean of the faculty. For registration and information, see For further details, contact or 510.430.2123.

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

A Message from the President of Mills College

Creating curriculum with a purpose: our strategic plan By Alecia A. DeCoudreaux


n the current era

of massive economic

and minors, and creating new programs

and technological change, I have seen

and enhancing existing programs that

how many voices in the media and

respond to areas of emerging academic

even within the world of academia are

interest and growing social importance.

questioning the fundamental purpose

Reviewing what and how we teach is

of higher education. People are ask-

an opportunity to examine how we carry

ing whether college still makes sense.

out our commitment to the liberal arts

A recent book by former Secretary of

and sciences. The faculty has already

Education William Bennett asks Is College

begun robust conversations about the

Worth It? More concern about the future

hallmarks of teaching and learning at

of higher education is expressed in

Mills, conversations that serve as the

College (Un)Bound, written by an editor at

foundation for re-imagining our curricu-

The Chronicle of Higher Education. During

lum. Our foundation rests on engaged

century. Faculty members are already dis-

times like these, colleges cannot assume

learning, which includes collaborations

cussing possibilities of new configurations

a public that unquestioningly believes in

among students, faculty, and the com-

drawing together arts, social sciences,

the value of a college education.


Read the strategic plan at strategicplan


and the sciences. Students too are taking

While I appreciate the deeper under-

learning, and research; on our history of

the lead on interdisciplinary thinking by

standing that comes from asking critical

experimentation in all the arts and across

creating their own college majors in top-

questions, I disagree with these authors’

all the disciplines; and on our culture of

ics ranging from “sociology of dance” and

pessimism about the future of college,

learning to create a more just, equitable,

“deaf studies and child development” to

particularly the narrow focus on the eco-

and sustainable world.

“public health and social justice.”



nomic benefits. Those benefits are impor-

As we continue in these traditions, we

Where we see opportunities to meet

tant. So is preparation for further academic

anticipate new ways to teach that will

underserved and emerging educational

and professional studies, engagement in

include introducing additional interdis-

needs, we plan to enhance existing pro-

community life, and meaningful, not only

ciplinary majors and minors, establishing

grams and to develop new undergraduate

remunerative, work. “The Mills College

new academic programs, and connecting

and graduate programs. Once again, such

Strategic Plan: Preparing Students for the

curriculum to career paths. In our strate-

programs can draw on Mills’ existing

21st Century” addresses how to develop,

gic plan, we describe these developments

strengths, such as our unique 4+1 model

over the next five years, a curriculum

leading to a “classroom without walls” as

that allows students to concentrate their

serving all these worthwhile purposes in

we meet the needs of students living in

studies to achieve a higher level of learn-

a changing world.

a world where they constantly cross and

ing more quickly.

In focusing on this strategic imperative, Mills has much strength on which to draw.

redefine intellectual, cultural, and economic boundaries.

We will also help students connect their studies to career paths. Our career

We already prepare our students as schol-

Our new majors and minors will draw

services staff has a plan in place to con-

ars and leaders for an era of change, and

on the existing depth of our curriculum.

nect with each student every year during

the attention of the entire community on

Recent minors in religious studies (see

her studies at Mills. We look forward to

this imperative will enhance our national

page 8 of this magazine), queer stud-

strong support among our alumnae to

reputation as a leading liberal arts col-

ies, and urban education are wonderful

create mentor and internship networks to

lege. As we move forward, the College

examples of how faculty and students are

meet this goal.

is preparing a number of actions. These

synthesizing knowledge in multiple dis-

People may still pose the question, is

include reviewing our existing curricu-

ciplines to understand the cultural rich-

college worth it? The answer at Mills, now

lum, developing interdisciplinary majors

ness as well as the challenges of the 21st

and in our future, is definitely yes! fa l l 2 0 1 3


Mills Matters Recent gifts support students, faculty, and programs Mills College gratefully acknowledges

Ann Sulzberger Wolff ’42 made a

the following gifts, grants, and pledges

generous gift to support Mills’ Greatest

of $50,000 and more received between

Need. Geoffrey Evans and his family

January 1 and June 30, 2013.

established the new Martha Amelia

Mei Kwong ’70, a member of the

Miller Evans Endowed Scholarship for

Mills College Board of Trustees, and

students pursuing child development,

her husband, Lawrence Franklin, made

early childhood education, or studio

a gift through the Morris S. Smith

art. Sanford and Roberta Lathrap Davis

Foundation in support of interna-

’71 made a gift to establish the Civic

tional recruitment and outreach, Mills’

Engagement Endowed Scholarship

Greatest Need, and the Lorry I. Lokey

Fund for public policy students.

Graduate School of Business. The Barrett Family Foundation

The College received an unrestricted bequest from the estate of Professor

increased its continuing support of the

Emeritus Ralph DuCasse, who taught

Jill Barrett Undergraduate Research

painting and drawing at Mills between

Program, which offers students the

1958 and 1981 and passed away in

opportunity to conduct research and

2003. In addition, a bequest from the

present their findings to the greater

estate of Emma Jane White ’35 has

scientific community. The foundation

been used to establish the Emma-Jane

also helped underwrite a new project

Peck White and Erwin White Memorial

to increase enrollment in the College’s


MacArthur Foundation backs research on youth and politics The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation has awarded a four-year, $4.9 million grant to continue the MacArthur Research Network on Youth and Participatory Politics, led by Professor of Education Joseph Kahne. This new research phase will build on Kahne’s earlier study that showed that social media is an important factor in mobilizing young adults, and especially youth of color, to become politically involved. The research network, which includes Harvard, the University of Chicago, and other institutions, will develop strong relationships with educators, activists, and youth-serving organizations and collaborate on creating new curricula and resources for youth.

4+1 bachelor and master’s dual-degree programs in education, business, and public policy. The Hellman Foundation funded the Hellman Summer Science and Math Fellows Program for another year. Several grants were awarded to the College’s School of Education: The S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation provided a second year of support for Educating for Democracy in the Digital Age, a partnership between Mills College, the National Writing Project, and the Oakland Unified School District to help students participate in meaningful civic action. The Dirk and Charlene Kabcenell Foundation extended their support of the Mills Teacher Scholars Program. In addition, Alba Witkin contributed to the Mills College Children’s School Scholarship Fund and the Children’s School Preschool and Infant Care Program Assistantship.


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

Alumna’s bequest creates fund for music Beatrice Maxwell Krell ’41, who passed away in 2012, left a generous legacy gift by designating her entire estate to Mills. A large portion of her bequest will establish the Beatrice Krell Fund for Music, which will support the Music Department by sustaining the Mills Music Now concert series, funding scholarships for student music lessons, sponsoring artists in residence, supporting the campus choir, and assisting in attracting talented and ambitious students to the program. In addition, Krell’s gift has already enhanced Music Department programs through equipment acquisition and renovation and increased funding for graduate fellowships. Her love of music and of Mills are clearly expressed through this significant philanthropic investment in the success of the Music Department.

New faculty in English and business

Achy Obejas

Cuban American writer Achy Obejas,

been a distinguished writer in residence

Excellence in Scholarly/Creative Activity

winner of nearly two dozen national

at the University of Hawai’i and Wichita

Award in 2009.

and international awards for her fiction,

State University. She will teach three

poetry, and journalism, joins Mills as

classes each year of her appointment,

Business School as an associate profes-

distinguished visiting writer this fall.

which runs until 2015.

sor of business (leadership and organi-

Ekatrina Karniouchina joins the

Obejas is the author of the critically

Judith Weisinger also joins the

zational behavior). She completed her

acclaimed novels Ruins and Days of Awe

Lorry I. Lokey Graduate School of

MBA and PhD in management at Case

and a best-selling poetry chapbook, This

Business as associate professor of busi-

Western Reserve University and her

Is What Happened in Our Other Life.

ness (marketing), after teaching at Mills

BA in economics from Harvard. With

She has been published in numerous

last year as a visiting assistant professor.

more than 15 years teaching experience

anthologies, magazines, and newspapers.

Karniouchina earned her PhD in market-

at Northeastern University and New

In addition, her translation into Spanish

ing, her MBA, and her BA in finance at

Mexico State University (NMSU), she has

of Junot Díaz’s The Brief Wondrous

the David Eccles School of Business at

been very active in professional and uni-

Life of Oscar Wao was a finalist for the

the University of Utah. Her research has

versity service. She recently chaired the

Esther Benítez Translation Prize from

focused on new product development

Provost’s Faculty Advisory Committee on

Spain’s National Translators’ Association.

and launch. She has also worked with

Diversity at NMSU and was one of the

She edited and translated into English

a Silicon Valley start-up and with First

faculty organizers for a major conference

Havana Noir, a collection of crime

Republic Bank in Moscow. Previously

on diversity in higher education. Her

stories by Cuban writers. A founding

an assistant professor of marketing

research has examined organizational

member of the creative writing faculty at

at Chapman University in Southern

diversity, effectiveness, and the manage-

the University of Chicago, she has also

California, she received that school’s

ment of difference within organizations.

AAMC leadership welcomes new members

Two trustees appointed

The Alumnae Association of Mills College (AAMC), led by President Lucy Do ’75,

Eric Roberts, director of forensic

has welcomed eight new members to its board of governors. Melissa Stevenson Dile ’91 was elected as the new alumna trustee. The following governors also began terms on July 1: • Gloria Fangon-Hitz ’80 of Oakland has worked as an attorney, real estate broker, and art gallery owner. She has been involved in numerous nonprofit organizations and is co-founder of the Filipina Women’s Network and Progressive Oakland Women for Empowerment and Reform. • Toni McElroy ’83, MA ’05, EdD ’13, has been active with the AAMC Alumnae of Color and has extensive volunteer and fundraising experience in educational and political organizations. She lives in Hayward. • Marina Kershaw Simenstad ’68, MA ’11, a Napa resident, has previously served as an AAMC governor and president of the San Francisco alumnae club. Having been born in China to Russian parents and attending Mills in two different eras, she has a great personal appreciation of many forms of diversity. • Pamela Sufi ’91, a marketing manager for IBM, lives in Oakland and served on her 20th Reunion planning committee. She brings expertise in communications and increasing engagement among alumnae. • Susan Thomas ’80 of Hayward works as a budget manager for Kaiser Permanente and has been a fundraiser for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. • Dawna Williams ’13 has been involved with Opera Noir and has launched a co-ed service fraternity. She lives in Pittsburg. • Meghan Hinsch ’14 will represent student interests as student governor.

accounting services group at the San Francisco law firm Morrison & Foerster, joined the Mills College Board of Trustees on July 1. He worked at the accounting firm Deloitte for 29 years and has experience as an expert witness and litigation consultant in a variety of accounting matters. He previously served as a Mills College trustee from 1997 through 2006; he is also chairman of the boards of Pangaea Global AIDS Foundation and of Stiles Hall. Modesta Tamayo ’12 also joined the board as recent graduate trustee. Tamayo has already established a strong record of representing student interests in her previous roles as president of the Associated Students of Mills College and AAMC student governor. She currently works as an academic intervention specialist in the Oakland public school system.

See a list of all current governors under “Leadership” at fa l l 2 0 1 3



Commencement English majors started a new chapter. Biology majors, perhaps, evolved. Music majors modulated to a new key. Whatever their course of study, all members of the Class of 2013 went through a major transformation and joined the extended family of Mills College alumnae when they received their diplomas at Commencement on May 18. Holly Gordon, an award-winning television and film producer, provided the morning’s keynote address. Gordon is executive producer of Girl Rising, a documentary film illustrating how educated girls can become strong, productive, enlightened, and contributing members of society. She is also executive director of 10x10, a global social action campaign to educate girls in developing nations. In an impressive show of giving back to Mills, the senior class surpassed last year’s record-setting class gift participation rate. Sixty percent of the class contributed, and their remarkable progress earned significant gifts from President Alecia DeCoudreaux and Kathleen Burke, chair of the Mills College Board of Trustees. Ultimately totaling $13,242, the class gift will create the F13RCE Fund, a $5,000 undergraduate scholarship to be awarded in the upcoming academic year, and will also support student services. Video clips of all speakers are available at

Congratulations to the Class of 2013! s te v e babul jak

Bent Twigs of 2013


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











A Bent Twig is a Mills student or alumna whose family tree includes another Mills alumna.

1 Ashley Roaseau, MPP ’13, and her aunt, Annie Neves, MA ’12 2 Sonya Temko with her cousins Krista Enos ’95 and Kim Baker ’95 3 Rosa Page and her sister Lily Ann Page ’09 4 Anna Vanderslice with her mother Sharon Callahan Vanderslice ’61 and her godmother Peg Price Trader ’61 5 Laelena Brooks, MA ’13, with her mother, Emily Klion ’80, MA ’85



6 Rebekah Edwards ’94 and her mother, Julie Olsen Edwards ’60 (who came back to campus to celebrate as Bent Twigs this year) 7 Amanda Humphrey with a photo of her grandmother, Mildred Heffelfinger Humphrey ’54 8 Toni McElroy ’83, MA ’05, EdD ’13, with cousin Hadia McLeod-Lambu, MA ’05 (left), daughter Myila Granberry ’05 (third), and cousin Erika O’Quinn ’88 (right) 9 Brittany Watkins and her mother, Loran Caputi Watkins ’84 10 Zoe Schreiber with her mother, Theresa Schreiber ’94 11 Emily Kaput and her sister Danielle Kaput ’12 12 Evan Wolcott Barbour, MFA ’13, with his mother, Ann Condon Barbour ’69 13 Tracy Neal, MA ’13, and her mother, Nancy Meyer Neal ’70, wearing rings made from the Pearl M and class ring of grandmother Eleanor McDonald Meyer ’36


14 Mo Harkness Kaze, right, with her mother, Maurine Martin Harkness ’71, and a photo of her grandmother, Geraldine Stevens Tom ’44 15 Marisol Thomas and her sister Michelle Thomas Kerwin ’85


16 Jane Parton with her mother, Maureen, who is standing in for Jane’s late grandmother, Jane Bourne Parton ’40. 17 Rachel Jensen with her cousin, Bonnie Klocksheim Shaver ’66, and her grandmother Elizabeth Klocksheim Jensen ’40 18 Estrella Fierroz and her sister, Marisa Aurora Quiroz ’01 Photos by Allisun Novak


18 16

17 fa l l 2 0 1 3


Building knowledge, understanding belief By Joanna Corman Photos by Dana Davis

A new interdisciplinary minor brings an analytical perspective to studying the history and complex effects of religious belief


arjan Soleimanieh ’11 grew up attending an Islamic elementary school but had never studied her religion academically. At Mills, she took five classes

that addressed several religions, including a historical background of the three Abrahamic faiths, a course about women and religion in the Caribbean, and one on women in Islam. “The religious teachings I learned at Mills were really transformative,” she says. Before taking the Islam class, taught by Judith Bishop, Soleimanieh wondered why Muslim women would feel the need to make a public statement about their faith by wearing the hijab, or headscarf, when Islam encourages an internal belief in God. She also felt that Muslim women wearing hijab were sometimes perceived as “weak and powerless.” Bishop’s class, however, gave her a deeper understanding of the issue. Inspired by what she learned, she now feels more connected to her religion and understands that women wear hijab for many reasons, including for modesty. The class even prompted her to wear hijab for a year—an empowering choice, she says, that allowed her to focus on her intellect, not her appearance. In addition to learning about her own traditions, Soleimanieh gained insights on many diverse spiritual beliefs: “There is a difference between being open and being knowledgeable,” she says. “These classes gave me the knowledge to see the commonalities between Islam, Christianity, and Judaism, as well as eastern religions. They have a similar core.” With her strong interest in studying religion, Soleimanieh would have been a good candidate for the religious studies


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

minor the College is launching this year. The foundations for the minor already existed within the College’s current offerings in anthropology, art history,


There is a difference between being open and being knowledgeable. These classes gave me the knowledge to see the commonalities between Islam, Christianity, and Judaism, as well as eastern religions.


–Marjan Soleimanieh ’11

and women’s and gender studies. Bishop, who was instrumental in developing the minor, has launched a new core course,

not teaching a minor in—for example—Christianity, but are talk-

Introduction to the Study of Religions, to provide a framework

ing about many world religions and traditions of spirituality.”

that ties other classes together into a cohesive program of study.

“The academic study of religion does not endorse any one per-

“The academic study of religion encourages students to

spective as universally correct—in fact, it resists that idea,” adds

explore various religious traditions, including their own if they

Bishop, who holds a PhD from the Graduate Theological Union

have one, in order to develop respect for the global diversity of

in Berkeley. “One of the important things about this program is

religious experience and to understand the impact of religion in

making the classroom a place where it is safe to question reli-

the world,” says Bishop, an associate professor of women’s, gen-

gion but also safe to express religious beliefs, to have a discus-

der, and sexuality studies. “Students are curious because they

sion from a plurality of perspectives.”

see this is an issue of growing importance for people who wish to engage in the world.”

Erik Owens, associate director of the Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life at Boston College, a Jesuit Catholic


university, says that academic interest in the subject has been growing as students and administrators have recognized greater

Religious studies focuses on the history and phi-

religious and cultural diversity within the United States and the

losophy of religion, examines the complexity and diversity of

country’s standing in an increasingly globalized world. He calls

religious and spiritual traditions, and explores the influence that

understanding religion a civic imperative. “As citizens, if we’re

religious belief has had on the human experience.

not able to continue a conversation that begins, ‘My religion

“Studying religion is not the same as practicing religion,” says Dean of Graduate Literary Studies Cynthia Scheinberg, who cochairs the minor committee. “It’s a very different concept. We’re

teaches me this…,’ with someone who doesn’t have the same approach, then our society is in great danger,” he says. At Mills, students are actively seeking ways to make such fa l l 2 0 1 3


conversations possible and productive, says Laura Engelken, director of spiritual and religious life. “Part of being an effective leader and citizen of the global community is seeing how religion plays a key role in people’s motivations,” she says. “To create a more just world, people have to be able to share their full selves, including their belief systems.” Religious beliefs are deeply entwined with culture and ethnic identity, and the study of religion provides a way to analyze the intersections of these various identities. “It’s important to be informed about religion in the same way it’s important to be informed about gender and race—these are the some of the main bulwarks that have shaped the development of societies worldwide,” says Professor of English Ajuan Mance, whose World Roots of Literature class is an elective in the minor. “It can never hurt you to be conversant and fluent in ways of thinking, systems of ideas, and identity categories that are outside your own personal experience.” Understanding the world around us must involve understanding the role that religion has played in human existence both for good and for ill, says Owens. In American history, religious belief has both perpetuated social division and birthed movements for justice. Mance points out that the liberation theology of African American Protestantism fueled Martin Luther King Jr. and the civil rights movement, while many Native Americans find power in traditional spiritual practices. Latin American communities in the United States have drawn on religion as a strength in dealing with anti-immigration and racist sentiments. Religious studies at Mills also addresses the complex intersection between religion and gender. Bishop’s Women in Islam class, for example, examines foundational Islamic texts regarding women, interpretations of those texts, and historical evidence of women’s religious activities. “I grew up in the religion but I hadn’t read women authors who write about the Koran. I had never

Part of being an effective leader and citizen of the global community is seeing how religion plays a key role in people’s motivations. To create a more just world, people have to be able to share their full selves, including their belief systems.

thought of that,” says Soliemaniah, who points to the

–Laura Engelken

fact that, although the prophet’s wife was an entrepreneur who asked her husband to marry her, there remains a popular perception that Muslim women are forbidden to work outside the home. “That’s a cultural standard in many Middle


Eastern countries,” she says, “but it’s not based on the religion.”

“The skills that come with studying religions are cru-

Amina Dzano ’13, an international relations major who stud-

cial,” says Owens. “When you approach other cultures and learn

ied religion at Mills, has personal experience of how religion and

about a different belief system and a different set of concepts,

nationality overlap—as well as the shortfalls of assuming a cor-

you develop the ability to interrogate your own tradition and

relation between such identities. Her family fled Bosnia after the

assumptions. You gain a different understanding of logic and

war there in the 1990s.

evidence and dialogue. These are the habitual ways of thinking

“Many people immediately assume that Muslims are Middle

that liberal arts schools like Mills can provide.”

Eastern,” she says. “They don’t think about Bosnians like myself

Rachel Birenbaum, an anthropology-sociology major who will

who are white and Muslim, or about Indonesian Muslims; they

be president of the College’s Jewish Student Collective this fall,

also don’t think about people in the Middle East who are not

has learned a lot about Judaism at Mills. But she also says the


courses that presented religious material enabled her to grasp the


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

basis of different religions. “The Bible as Literature class helped

standings of the relationships between humans and the natural

me see Christianity in a different light. After reading through

world, which lead to differing approaches to ecology. Depending

the gospels, Christianity made more sense to me.” An anthropol-

on one’s beliefs, humans may have a God-given right to domin-

ogy class revealed how portrayals of non-Judeo-Christian belief

ion over all plants and animals, may have responsibility for

systems—such as voodoo in Haiti and African religions—are often

stewarding all creation, or may recognize the smallest insect as

skewed in American culture. She saw how religion can become a

having an equal right to life.

means to ostracize those who are different.

It’s almost self-evident that religious literacy is ever more

Religious studies offers analytical skills that are useful in a

necessary for interpreting current political events. “There’s an

variety of academic fields. Sacred texts, and interpretations of

increased emphasis on religious identity in our news media, in

those texts, present layer upon layer of historic, geographic, and

our civic rhetoric, in our civic debates. Investigating the way

political context that must be decoded by the modern reader,

belief systems operate in a society is important to developing

Bishop says. For example, rabbinic writings from the Middle Ages

good citizenship,” says Bishop.

may have been produced in Spain or Germany, from a Sephardic

Amina Dzano says the Women in Islam class heightened her

or Ashkenazi philosophy. “No reader approaches a text without

awareness about how Islam is presented in the news. “When

bias,” says Bishop. “These rabbis are commenting on a third cen-

extremists and terrorists are referred to as Muslim, that becomes

tury document, but they are commenting on it in the 12th cen-

their defining characteristic,” she says, “as if something about

tury and we are reading their commentary in the 21st century.

being Muslim inherently makes you a terrorist or something

How do those layers influence our understandings?”

about being a Muslim terrorist makes you different from any

Many classic works of literature and art gain levels of meaning

other kind of terrorist.”

from religious references. Scheinberg, who teaches 19th century

“If you want to change a certain structure you have to look at all

British literature, points out that American students, accustomed

of the pieces,” says Rachel Birenbaum. She cites debates around

to the separation of church and state, can have difficulty under-

abortion and Israel as two hot-button topics that have roots in

standing the notion of a state religion. “There are lots of histori-

religious conviction. “Religion is often a big part of how we make

cal moments when political and national identity were also tied

moral decisions and take action on such issues,” she says.

to a particular religious identity,” she says.


Understanding religions is a necessary skill in a wide range of professions. From teacher to lawyer, politician to journalist, any

And although the new minor deals with religion

career that involves interacting with diverse people can benefit

exclusively from an analytic point of view, students may often

from increased religious awareness. Bishop explains that reli-

find their personal sense of spirituality and ethics confirmed or

gion can affect health and medical services when, for instance, a

transformed through the act of questioning and learning.

patient’s desire to receive care from a faith-based healer conflicts with the hospital system. Even scientific inquiry can be deeply influenced by religious convictions. Various spiritual traditions present varying under-

“There are many modes of reflecting about one’s place in the world,” says Owens. “The liberal arts tradition that includes religious studies is a crucial way to ask questions of what it means to be human.” Laura Engelken sees this process among Mills students every day. In her pastoral role, she helps students reconcile religious ideologies with intellectual ideals, or find ways to sustain themselves if they do not already have their own spiritual tradition. “I talk about spirituality as meaning making,” says Engelken. “All of us as humans have a need to make sense of our lives, to tie the different threads of experience and knowledge into something meaningful that sustains us as individuals and communities. Some of us do that through religious traditions and others do it through philosophies or a sense of the inner connectedness of life. We all need to critically reflect on our core values and their ethical impact.” Dzano believes that an essential aspect of developing as an informed, inclusive leader involves clarifying your own ethical framework as well as learning about other cultures and religions. It means cherishing differences instead of stereotyping. “Our world is a collection of communities,” says Dzano. “If you extend compassion and kindness to someone who is different from you, if you have an appreciation for diversity and an appreciation for social justice, I think you will have made a change in the world.” ◆ fa l l 2 0 1 3




By Jessica Langlois, MFA ’10

Whether you choose a blazer or a ballgown, fashion insiders say, the most important part of looking good is feeling good


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

As an undergraduate

at Mills, Laura Compton wore a white men’s T-shirt with overalls, an oversized men’s blazer, Doc Martens shoes, and bright red lipstick on her walks between classes and the school newspaper offices. She called it one of her uniforms— an interplay between ’90s style and Northwestern Riot Grrrl culture. Kristin Kramer’s self-chosen uniform, or “armor” as she calls it today, was a business-skirt suit that made her stand apart from the other jeans-andT-shirt-clad undergraduates at Mills in the late 1970s. Lili Butler spent her graduate school years at Mills sewing her own clothes and forming found materials into massive sculptures. And Zel Anders donned tailored men’s suits while reading and rereading Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own in Mills Hall and envisioning her own symbolic moment of “walking across the lawn,” or consciously stepping out of boundaries. While at Mills, none of these women

the late nineteenth century did a few

knew they would turn their liberal arts

women become fashion designers and, in

degrees into thriving fashion careers, but

that capacity, begin to have the possibility

today, all four are leading innovators in

of translating their experiences as women

the global fashion industry. Compton is

into clothing for women.” Crane posits

style editor at the San Francisco Chronicle;

that women’s fashion directly correlates

Kramer is an executive vice president at

with women’s perceived or performed

Victoria’s Secret; Butler created her own

roles, and that periods of social change

to Mills as one of seven fine arts gradu-

eponymous couture brand; and Anders

provide opportunities for interpretations

ate students, where she was encouraged

just launched Tomboy Tailors—the first

of those roles to be re-imagined through

to keep her focus narrow. “When I was

and only storefront that makes bespoke,

fashion. The eras following each of the

in school, I thought of myself as an art-

tailored men’s-style suits for “masculine-

World Wars, for example, saw the rise of

ist, and of clothing manufacturing and

of-center” women.

less restrictive clothing as women were

engineering as a hobby,” Butler said over

increasingly taking on more active and

coffee at her home studio in the rolling

less socially restrained lifestyles.

apple orchards outside of Sebastopol.

Compton is not at all surprised to see so many alumnae working in fashion.

Lili Butler, designer of the dress opposite

“Fashion is a huge industry in this coun-

In this tradition, Mills alumnae work-

Today, Butler has run a successful busi-

try and we need Mills women in it at all

ing in fashion directly reflect the ongo-

ness as a couture fashion designer for

different levels,” Compton says. “If I heard

ing evolution of women’s roles. Despite

the past 29 years, selling to boutiques

that a Mills woman was a top model, that

their wide-ranging roles in the fashion

all over the United States, Europe, South

wouldn’t surprise me either.” It’s also an

industry, Compton, Kramer, Butler, and

America, and Saudi Arabia, and dress-

industry that employs many women at

Anders have a common goal: to empower

ing women for the Academy Awards, the

high levels. At Victoria’s Secret, Kramer’s

women to accurately represent them-

Grammys, the Tonys, inaugural balls, and

boss and most of her colleagues are

selves through fashion and use their style

State Department and White House din-

women; in fact, she’s so used to working

to support the intellectual, creative, and

ners. The signature Lili Butler aesthetic is

in an environment of strong female lead-

innovative work they bring to the world.

fine fabrics pieced together to create origi-

ers that she often forgets how unusual that is in a corporate environment.

nal textiles—torn silk taffeta, silk organza,

Gorgeous and green

and Chantilly lace. These materials, com-

industry for women to advance in, it

Lili Butler, MFA ’84, has been setting

and meticulous embroidery and beading

is also a critical indicator of the global

trends in fashion design and construction

techniques, make Butler’s gowns, tunics,

progress of women. According to a 1999

long before she knew she would build a

maxi dresses, and long coats sculptural

Journal of American Culture article by

lifelong career as a high-end designer.

works of art as much as they are articles of

sociologist Diana Crane, “While women

After studying with top Bay Area figura-

clothing. While the clothes she designs are

have always been dressmakers, only in

tive artists at UC Berkeley, Butler came

vivid and highly textural, Butler prefers to

While fashion is an increasingly viable

bined with her use of boning, smocking,

fa l l 2 0 1 3


I would get clothes that were thrown away and repurpose them into far-out things,” Butler said. “Today, I still can’t wait for my fabric to get down to a couple of yards because then it becomes special. It can be torn into pieces and mixed with other things.” As much as her passions for sewing and art have been at the core of her career as a designer, so is Butler’s deep sense of camaraderie with other women. Several years ago, Butler transitioned from a busy life of operating showrooms around the country and managing a 40-person staff to running a smaller operation focused on individualized fashion consulting. She works with successful, professional women— doctors, judges, CEOs, musicians—helping them choose clothes that make them feel comfortable and confident while also taking risks and exploring new aesthetics. dana dav is

She encourages her clients to stop questioning their own appearance as much Zel Anders with Tomboy Tailors customers

as she coaches them to stop judging the appearances of other women. “Fashion is not a frivolous industry,” Butler contended. “The way we express ourselves

sew more understated clothes for herself—

DeFeo—and DeFeo herself became one

through how we look and how we dress

black linen tunics or long men’s coats.

of Butler’s most valued customers. “Jay

identifies us and also unites us.”

At Mills, Butler was mentored by studio

knew I was dirt poor,” Butler said. “So she

art professor Jay DeFeo, who encouraged

would come over once a month and buy

her to follow her own path—ultimately

one of my pieces of clothing so I could

A boutique of one’s own

combining fine art and fashion design.

pay the PG&E bill in my rented business

The power of personal style as a unifying

“Jay flipped all over the place,” Butler

space.” Butler once created a black and

force is certainly true for Tomboy Tailors

recalled of the artist’s unusual use of

white silk kimono for DeFeo, based on a

customers. Company founder Zel Anders,

materials and technique. “Because of that

swath of golden silk DeFeo had brought

MA ’94, has had problems finding clothes

she was shunned for a long time by the

back from Thailand; when DeFeo learned

that fit her well and suit her taste since

greater art community.” Today, nearly

that she was dying, she asked to be bur-

she was a teenager. By that time, she had

25 years after her death, DeFeo’s work

ied in the garment.

rejected women’s ready-wear and bought

is celebrated globally, with recent major

Butler’s technique of saving and piec-

her first smoking jacket from a 70-year-

retrospectives in San Francisco and New

ing together scrap fabric was a forerun-

old tailor at an Italian menswear shop

York. Under DeFeo’s guidance, Butler

ner to green design, an approach that

in San Francisco. “I was already wear-

created large-scale, found art sculptures

style editor Compton says has come in

ing mostly menswear, so I decided if I

draped in fabric and won exhibitions at

vogue only in recent years. “It’s really pio-

was going to be wearing it I wanted it

California College of Arts and Crafts and

neering that she was doing it that early,”

to look good,” Anders said on a summer

at Apple’s headquarters in Cupertino.

says Compton. The philosophy of reusing

morning over the din of shoppers in San

Though Butler found early success in

materials came from Butler’s mother, who

Francisco’s Crocker Galleria, a few feet

the San Francisco gallery scene, she still

would collect remnants from fabric stores

from the Tomboy Tailors storefront.

made a living by designing clothes for

and buy discounted clothes to dismantle

Anders wore a dark, three button pin-

the prominent women she met through

and sew into something new. “In the ’60s

stripe suit over a pale blue hidden button


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

shirt with French cuffs. Known as Leslie

joke that she stole their idea, saying

ditional gender roles. Anders said rude,

Lewis during her time at Mills, her cho-

they’ve wanted to see a shop like this for

questioning looks and poor customer ser-

sen name, Zel, was stitched subtly at the


vice were a given when she used to go clothes shopping.

edge of the cuff. The entire ensemble was

Walking into Tomboy Tailors, you

a Tomboy Tailors original including her

won’t see racks of jackets and shirts. The

The sentiment must be widely felt,

shoes, Allen Edmonds wingtips that are

shop is inviting with plush sofas, a baby

because Tomboy Tailors opened to a

carried in the store in sizes six and above.

grand piano, and several beautifully

swell of media attention, with write-ups

Anders is also working with other compa-

framed copies of early 20th-century oil

in the New York Times and a mention in

nies to carry men’s shoes in size five and

portraits by Romaine Brooks. A marble

Bitch magazine. Tomboy Tailors was most

even smaller.

table displays cotton, wool, and cash-

recently featured in Entrepreneur maga-

The February 2013 opening of Tomboy

mere swatches in pinstripe, hound-

zine. Anders has been touring regularly in

Tailors has been perfectly timed with a sea

stooth, pinpoint, and plaid, imported

the short months since opening, hosting

change in queer rights and perceptions

from England, Italy, and Scotland. Silk

pop-up fittings in New York, Seattle, and

of women’s fashion. With Proposition 8

kerchiefs, patterned bowties, colorful

Los Angeles. This fall, Tomboy Tailors will

and the Defense of Marriage Act recently

suspenders, and wingtip shoes and loaf-

be part of an LGBT fashion show taking

overturned in the Supreme Court, there

ers are on display near the door.

place in New York during Fashion Week.

is a groundswell of women looking for

Everything else is made to order.

Anders, who earned her master’s in

dapper suits to wear to their weddings or

Anders said that women’s clothes,

English literature at Mills after complet-

simply seeking out quality clothing that

which are more susceptible to quicksilver

ing a BA in applied economics at the

reflects their sense of self. Meanwhile,

changes from one season to the next, are

University of San Francisco, said her time

butch and tomboy clothiers are pop-

chronically of lower quality than men’s

at Mills encouraged her to make sure

ping up from coast to coast—including

clothes—a major reason why her cus-

the work she did would create positive

Oakland’s Saint Harridan, run by Mary

tomer base encompasses butch, lesbian,

change. “Yes, we’re helping individu-

Going, MBA ’12—but Tomboy Tailors is

and trans-masculine individuals as well

als get the clothes they want, but I also

the only shop in the nation with its own

as heterosexual women. But the reason

think it will help change social norms in

storefront that offers bespoke suits for

she opened Tomboy Tailors was not sim-

terms of the binary expectations of what’s

women. Still, it’s a trend that’s long over-

ply so that other women could find high-

expected to be worn,” Anders said. Anders

due. Veterans like Butler and Kramer are

quality bespoke suits; it was to provide

sees a clear correlation between properly

excited to see fashion expanding in this

a welcoming shopping environment for

fitted clothing and women’s confidence.

direction, and Anders’s customers often

customers shopping outside of their tra-

“Maybe clothing shouldn’t be important to us, but it does affect our emotional well being,” she said. Even just a few months after opening shop, she is already actively using her position to give back to LGBT and women’s issues. Tomboy Tailors has made a donation to the National Center for Lesbian Rights, and Anders is a vocal supporter of abortion rights and women in politics. Laura Compton, who ran a story on Anders in the Chronicle’s Style section in January, said she’s not at all surprised that Anders is a Mills woman. “It’s a quintessential Mills combination of being independent, filling a niche, and just standing up and saying ‘I don’t like the way this industry is working and I’m going to do something different here.’”

fa l l 2 0 1 3


Confident and in command From her executive position at a leading apparel brand, Kristin Kramer ’79 is driven by a similar independent spirit and sensitivity to the diverse needs of the women she serves. After working as a buyer for Bullock’s Wilshire and I. Magnin department stores in Los Angeles for 10 years, Kramer took a job with L Brands Inc. in Columbus, Ohio—parent company to Victoria’s Secret. Now an executive vice president at Victoria’s Secret Design Studio in New York, Kramer specializes in launch and innovation for bras, bridging designers’ creative visions with commercially viable products. Though she works on the business end of the industry today, Kramer has been engaged in personal fashion since grade school. She recalled taking her first paychecks from three summer jobs during college and buying five new dresses on the spot. Kristin Kramer

Ever curious about changing styles and trends, Kramer sees specialty retail like Victoria’s Secret as an ongoing conversation with the customer. That customer-

fort or visibility of undergarments frees

neering of bras in the company’s New

driven mentality is a reflection of the

women to think about more important

York sample room demands a level of

current zeitgeist in the fashion world. “A

things. While the undergarments that

high-end tailoring that Kramer doesn’t

lot of rules are being broken—color rules,

make some women feel most confident

want to see become a dying skill set. In

fabrication rules, what to wear when,

will be ultra-feminine, for women like

her managerial position, she can protect

what not to wear, casualization,” Kramer

Kramer, the perfect bra will not draw any

the vision of her designers and empower

said in a phone conversation from her

attention so that she can look completely

her associates—almost all of whom are

New York City home. “People feel empow-

in control and feel in command.

women. “I don’t have an MBA, so I learned

ered to be an individual and to do what they want to do.”

Offering a variety of garments and sizes

those communication and advocacy skills

is critical in creating an atmosphere of

through the conversations I was having as a student at Mills,” Kramer said.

Whether she’s chatting with shoppers

inclusion among customers. “We have a

in stores or engaging in live chats with

lot of market share, and we couldn’t do

Kramer feels lucky to use her position

up to 500 credit-card-holding loyalists,

that unless we cater to a lot of women

at a major brand in order to do good.

Kramer is always listening for customers’

and their desires,” Kramer said, adding

Presently, Victoria’s Secret is fundraising

needs. In 2006, she guided the launch

that their products aim to fill different

for the James Cancer Clinic in Columbus,

of one of the company’s most successful

“emotional spaces,” such as romantic,

Ohio. Over $44 million has been raised to

products, the Secret Embrace Bra—a label-

provocative, casual, or effortless. “At the

date by all the L Brands business units;

free bra with no seams or stitches. “You

end of the day, it’s not only about how

the current campaign Kramer is co-chair-

could wear that bra through a 16-hour

that customer is going to look in the

ing for Victoria’s Secret aims to generate

flight to China and feel like you don’t

product, it’s about how she wants to feel.”

another $3 million when matched by the

even have a bra on. There are literally no

Kramer says one of the best things

corporation. She is particularly proud

pressure points,” Kramer said. She empha-

about her fashion career is working cre-

that every dollar raised will go directly to

sized the value of this kind of technology,

atively with her colleagues on products

cancer research.

saying that not worrying about the com-

and aesthetics. The designing and engi-


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

“We used to have a T-shirt that said,

susan farle y

‘Relax, it’s just bras and panties—we’re not

realistic and empowering way.

was larger trend coverage, and a fashion

curing cancer,’” Kramer said with a laugh.

“We’ve certainly seen the ways fash-

editor who was being sent to New York,

“But now we’re literally doing it, and we

ion can encourage destructive behaviors

Paris, and Milan, but there wasn’t cover-

can’t use that phrase anymore.”

and influence girls who are vulnerable,”

age of what I felt was more interesting,

Compton said from her desk in the

which was the start-up, independent,

Chronicle’s bustling newsroom, looking

local designer scene,” Compton said. Even

stylish but comfortable in dark skinny

though she was copy editing stories full-

For San Francisco Chronicle Style Editor

jeans, ankle boots, a black blazer, and a

time for the Datebook section, Compton

Laura Compton ’93, her work in jour-

chunky necklace. “It’s something I always

worked after hours and on weekends to

nalism and fashion has always been a

have in the back of my mind in coverage

generate stories on Bay Area individuals

means to advance equality and justice.

and photo shoots,” Compton said, adding

creating their own labels. “Most of the

She began her career as an intern at

that she would never feature a model in

designers I’ve written about over the years

Newsday’s Washington DC bureau, when

a position that compromised her integ-

have been women who’ve done their own

the paper broke the story of Anita Hill’s

rity or humanity. To illustrate her com-

lines or paired up with a collectively orga-

sexual harassment allegations against

mitment to covering “real women,” she

nized store,” Compton said.

then–Supreme Court nominee Clarence

pulled out the page proofs of an upcom-

Later, as style editor, she ran a story on


Covering real women


ing Sunday Style section spread, featuring

personal stylists helping women address

media attention to harassment in the

a dance troupe in which non-professional

life transitions via their wardrobes—be

workplace. During her three years work-

dancers learn how to be showgirls in

it a stay-at-home mom returning to the

ing at the Sacramento News & Review,

order to gain confidence and celebrate

workplace or a bank executive wanting to

an alternative weekly paper, she intro-

their diverse body types.

express herself in a more feminine way.



duced an annual women’s issue, and, at

After joining the Chronicle in 1998,

Like Lili Butler, who today does more

the Chronicle, she has maintained her

Compton initiated the paper’s coverage

fashion consulting than design, Compton

sensibility for representing women in a

of the Bay Area fashion scene. “There

agrees that women feel best when they are able to portray themselves accurately through fashion and style, and that camaraderie and guidance is important in achieving that. According to sociologist Diana Crane, “In the past, fashion [encouraged] women to be dissatisfied with their appearance and to make regular changes in their clothing in order to conform to changing definitions of style . . . .  [But] fashion [is ceasing] to represent a social ideal and instead disseminates a variety of choices, some of them representing marginal lifestyles.” These choices provide women a path toward their most authentic selfexpression—be it with a seamless bra, an upcycled couture gown, or an expertly tailored men’s suit. “Fashion is not about following the trends. Everyone chooses how to present themselves, and how to express themselves,” Compton said. “It’s about enhancing what you like about yourself, rather than trying to fit into what somebody else thinks you should be.”

Laura Compton fa l l 2 0 1 3


The lady, the leaves, the legacy A brief history of the eucalyptus pin and the woman who created it By Sarah Stevenson, MFA ’04

he late 1940s :

Mills Hall

She thrived in the intellectual and social environment, despite

was a student residence,

missing the “beautiful stone walls and open country” of her



native New England. Though she is modest about her own stu-

bright young women earn-

dent years, her longtime friend Michael May Lovgren Langner

ing an education at one of

’48 describes her as a divergent thinker with wonderful, imag-

the most prestigious colleges on

inative ideas, who could sew like a pro and knit almost any-


the West Coast. The living room was

thing—even, sometimes, knitting at the movies.

a hub of social activity. Kapiolani

“Being at Mills gave her a sense of freedom,” Michael says—

Road was lined with the eucalyptus

freedom that sometimes resulted in mischief. As an undergradu-

trees that gave Mills College one of

ate art major, Binkie’s creative streak occasionally landed her in

its most treasured visual symbols.

the middle of outlandish, often hilarious schemes. One evening,

And an indefatigable class of students

for instance, a group of friends completely emptied the dorm

was preparing to return to the wider

room of a popular classmate, Betty Legge, while she was out on

world—a world still emerging from the

a date. When Betty returned, to her consternation, the only thing

aftermath of World War II.

left in the room was a stripped bed!

One of those soon-to-be graduates was

The most memorable “incident” for the Class of 1948 involved

Nancy Butts. In those early days, before she

a cow. At the time, the College president was Lynn Townsend

became Nancy Whittemore ’48, the staunch East-Coaster

White, a medieval historian who, Michael recalls, could wax lyri-

alliteratively introduced herself as “Binkie Butts from Boston.”

cal about the humble horse stirrup. He was doing just that dur-

The first time she did so—at a freshman meet-and-greet—there

ing a campus gathering for seniors at Lake Aliso as the sun went

was a long silence. Then a few giggles erupted. Soon the room

down and the students got restless.

was full of laughter, a warm acceptance into the fold. Nobody, of course, ever forgot her name.

While Dr. White was orating, Michael says, she and Binkie, along with Redi Elliot Leake and Mary Alice Garms Ramsden,

Nor did they forget the tragedy that brought their class

decided to make their own adventure. “We went to get Mrs.

together. Later that year, the war claimed the life of Binkie’s

Moo from a couple that lived up the hill from campus. When

youngest brother, bringing harsh reality home to everyone in

we returned with the cow, we entered singing.” The lyric? I Never

Mills Hall.

Saw a Purple Cow, of course—most appropriate for the class

“We were a wartime class, an amazing and very active class,”

whose color was purple. The prank would later be immortal-

Binkie says. These classmates have remained close-knit over

ized in the form of a souvenir gift for the class’s 35th Reunion: a

the years, despite having gone their separate ways. Binkie her-

sweatshirt silkscreened with 48 purple-and-white cows.

self ultimately returned to New England. She attended business

As their innovative class secretary, Binkie was the one respon-

school at Harvard/Radcliffe, and later became an administra-

sible for the sweatshirts, and for numerous other Reunion gifts,

tive assistant and mother of two; a busy go-getter and an ener-

including one of Binkie’s personal favorites: small silver wine

getic volunteer who found a calling assisting the Red Cross and

tasters made using 1948 quarters. But the popularity of their

countless other organizations.

50th Reunion token would far surpass the gifts of previous

Before that, however, Binkie made a place for herself at Mills. 18 

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

years, and the gifts of years to come.

Susan Farle y

Nancy Butts Whittemore ’48 gladly shows her pin at home in Sandy Hook, Connecticut, above. The legend of the purple cow lived on when the Class of 1948 celebrated their 60th Reunion in 2008, left. A recent graduate accessorizes her cap with a silver pin, upper left. See inside back cover for information on ordering a pin of your own.

That 50th reunion gift was the eucalyptus pin. Binkie

they produced 100, each one unique, mounted on a card

had seen jewelry made from leaves on the East Coast, and the

and sold within the class for $10. But their popularity soon

aesthetic appealed to her. She wasn’t the only one to love the

blossomed. Now, the pins are a token of Mills that, like

idea—after the initial batch created for the Class of 1948, the

the Pearl M, is familiar to anyone in the extended Mills

class and the AAMC together have sold close to a thousand

College family.

eucalyptus pins to students, alumnae, and faculty. Professor of Economics Nancy Thornborrow, who purchases

Michael credits Binkie’s ingenuity for the success of the eucalyptus-leaf pin. “It happened because she has

pins every year for her graduating seniors, hopes the pins will

wonderful imagination and creativity, and she sees

serve as reminders to her students of all the Mills women who

things through,” she says.

have come before and those who will come after them. President

Now in her late 80s, Binkie lives in Sandy Hook,

Alecia DeCoudreaux has bought several, even gifting one to for-

Connecticut, just a half mile from the site of the

mer Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who has used her col-

school shooting last year in Newtown. Her volun-

lection of pins to convey subtle diplomatic messages throughout

teer activities, says classmate Marilyn Newland ’48,

her career.

directly involved her with the recovery effort, sort-

For Mills women, however, the meaning of the eucalyptus

ing donated items for the community where her

pin is clear. “The pins have promoted a oneness, a belonging,

own grandchildren live (although they attend a

a pride,” says Michael. “They represent our shared experience.”

different school).

The pins themselves are unique, too—striking and beautiful,

Binkie still plays a vital role in the production

and eminently recognizable as a symbol of the College. (Celia

of the eucalyptus pins. She even uses the same

Wetzel Taylor ’48 was once complimented on hers by a com-

jeweler after all these years—despite the fact that they’ve

plete stranger in an elevator!) The story of their creation is just

never met in person.

as remarkable. In 1998, Binkie—working long-distance from her home in

“We’re getting to be great buddies over the computer,” Binkie says, with dry humor.

Connecticut—consulted with Michael and arranged for the col-

Her sense of humor may be one of the qualities her peers

lection of over a hundred eucalyptus leaves from the Mills cam-

remember most clearly, but it’s her determination—along with

pus and other nearby locations. Michael became an expert leaf

her dedication to her classmates and to Mills—that made the

scrounger, sending the best specimens to Binkie, who would sort

eucalyptus pins a reality.

and trim the leaves, then iron them flat on a wet paper towel, her entire house redolent of eucalyptus. The leaves were then sent to a jeweler, strengthened with copper, and dipped in either silver or gold. That first year

It’s also a reflection of the entire Class of 1948, a wartime class who supported one another through hardships and happier times. The eucalyptus leaf pin is a perfect symbol for their class—and for everything that makes Mills alumnae shine and persevere. fa l l 2 0 1 3


I’m leaving a legacy so future students will discover what they love at Mills.

Molly discovered crew at Mills. I joined Mills’ crew team in my senior year, and rowing has been part of my life ever since. I contributed to my 50th Reunion class gift with a charitable gift annuity. It was a good deal: my gift qualified for a tax deduction the year I made it, and the annuity generates some handy income for me each quarter. The remainder of my gift will benefit the College. The best part is, it was easy to set up. No red tape! – Molly Upton ’65

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 recently included Mills in your estate plans, please let us know.

To open a charitable gift annuity, you transfer cash or publicly traded securities to Mills. In exchange we guarantee to pay you a fixed income for life or a term of years. The rate is based on your age at the time you begin receiving income. A significant portion of the income is tax exempt. Not available in some states. For more information visit


The magnificent M for super seniors


The Alumnae Association of Mills College (AAMC) gathered to welcome this year’s graduating students to the alumnae family at the Pearl M Dinner and Lantern Ceremony on April 25.

Viji Nakka-Cammauf, MA ’82, chair of the AAMC’s Alumnae Student Relations Committee, shared the history of the Pearl M pin before awards were presented to two outstanding seniors who have exhibited exceptional service. Rebecca Freeman ’13 received her pin, donated by Emma Jane Wilder ’41, from Michelle Balovich ’03. Freeman majored in child development with a concentration on child life in hospitals. As student governor for the AAMC last year, she made great strides in connecting alumnae and students. Cynthia Guevara ’04 pinned Dawna Williams ’13, who majored in political, legal, and economic analysis, with a concentration in legal analysis. Williams served on the senior class council and was involved with the AAMC’s Alumnae of Color Committee; her pin was donated by Elizabeth Church King ’50. 1  Students gathered during the Lantern Ceremony. 2  Among the AAMC governors, current students, and College staff who hosted the Pearl M Dinner were Michelle Balovich ’03, Rose Lopez ’14 (student), Darice Balbanis, MBA ’08, Linda Jaquez-Fissori ’92, Lucy Do ’75, Viji NakkaCammauf, MA ’82, Lesli MacNeil ’75, Allison Marin ’12 (staff), and Lynda Campfield ’00, MA ’02.


3  Pearl M recipients Dawna Williams ’13 and Rebecca Freeman ’13.


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

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

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

In Memoriam Notices of death received before June 21, 2013

Virginia Clotfelter Waring ’36

To submit listings, please contact or 510.430.2123

Virginia Waring was an internationally acclaimed classical pianist who first earned recognition in the 1930s and ’40s as Virginia Morley. She toured on the Columbia Artists circuit with Livingston Gearhart (shown at right) and, in 1954, married the popular musician and bandleader Fred Waring, after appearing regularly on his television show. She became his music director, ran his highly regarded Shawnee Press choral music publishing company, wrote a biography of her husband (who also developed the Waring blender), and served as chairman of Fred Waring Enterprises. In 2001, at age 85, she helped revitalize the Joanna Hodges International Piano Competition. Renamed the Virginia Waring International Piano Competition, the event is now considered one of the top five international piano competitions in the United States.

Alumnae Eleanor Stein Rusnak ’36, March 28, in Highland Park, Illinois. She received her MA in social work, served as president of the Women’s Board at Mt. Sinai Hospital and Highland Park Hospital, and was an alumnae admission representative for more than 20 years. Also a member of the North Shore Garden Club, she is survived by three children, six grandchildren, and her niece, Terrilyn Cutchen ’81. Marian Beckman Menzies Schoel ’38, December 7, 2012, in Tacoma, Washington. She is survived by two children and two grandchildren. Margaret Sonoda Komuro ’38, May 25, 2013 in Arvada, Colorado. She was active at Harris United Methodist Church in Hawaii and Simpson United Methodist Church in Colorado. She is survived by two daughters, three stepchildren, and five grandchildren. Thelma Houseman McArthur ’38, October 19, 2012, in Columbia, Missouri. A life-long lover of books, she worked at the Columbia Public Library and started a book lending cart for patients at University Hospital. She was a founding member of the Columbia Unitarian Church and an active part of the community. Survivors include a son, a daughter, and two grandchildren. Elizabeth Cooper Bunker ’42, October 12, 2012, in Glastonbury, Connecticut. She was a Wave lieutenant in the US Navy during World War II, and later taught art education and art special education. She is survived by five children and six grandchildren. Mary Jane Hart Clark ’42, March 26, in Kent, Connecticut. A polyglot, traveler, and gardener, she spent her summers on Martha’s Vineyard. She enjoyed horseback riding and was spotted on her bicycle well into her 80s. She is survived by three children and five grandchildren. Betty Mae Cameron Harbord ’42, December 18, 2012, in Victoria, British Columbia. She was an avid equestrian, an active member of the Victoria Golf Club, a skilled amateur photographer, and a strong supporter of organizations that help children. She is survived by five children and six grandchildren. Peggy Moynihan McCaffrey ’43, June 10, 2012, in Montrose, Colorado. A member of the Women’s Airforce Service Pilots program—for which she was awarded a Congressional Gold Medal in 2009—she served in Europe with the Red Cross during World War II. She was later a junior high school teacher and established a homebound teaching program. She is survived by her husband, John, and five children. Jean Murnen Lynn ’43, in July, 2012, in Tacoma, Washington. She met her husband while working for the Red Cross at Madigan Hospital and especially loved spending time with the family at their Fox Island beach house. She is survived by five children and 14 grandchildren. Edith Brooks Stone ’43, November 27, 2012, in Pine River, Minnesota. She is survived by four children; nine grandchildren; her sister, Elizabeth Fahr ’42; and her niece, Nancy Fowler ’69. Jane Melin Wilday ’43, June 10, in Springfield, Illinois. A charter member of the Springfield Junior League as well as an active member of PEO, King’s Daughters, and Westminster Presbyterian Church, she was also a skilled bridge player and sports fan of the first rank. She is survived by her husband, Jim, two sons, and five grandsons. Adelaide Ward Demere ’44, June 27, 2012, in Menlo Park, California. Survivors include a daughter.

Virginia Waring died June 2 in Rancho Mirage, California. She is survived by three children and two grandchildren.

Lucene Lide Billing ’47, January 23, 2012, in Phoenix. She was a retired teacher of the El Paso and Phoenix Union High School Districts. She is survived by a daughter and two grandchildren. Gloria Chew Yee ’47, March 5, in San Ramon, California. Survivors include her husband, Fred Yee-Dong; daughter, Michelle Dong Hill ’72; and her sister, Herlinda Chew Leong ’46. Sallie Broadbent Ayres ’47, June 11, in Decatur, Georgia. She was born on Maui, Hawaii, and had a career as a therapeutic dietician at Grasslands Hospital, Phelps Memorial Hospital, and Nyack Hospital in New York. She enjoyed parties, travel, and knitting and always tended a large collection of orchids. Survivors include two children and three granddaughters. Charlotte Sommers Wyman ’48, April 16, 2012, in Lexington, Massachusetts. A bird watcher and Red Sox fan, she is survived by four children and 12 grandchildren. Margaret “Markee” Coles Bol, MA ’48, May 6, in Skillman, New Jersey. She was a guidance counselor at Montgomery High School and chaired a committee of the College Entrance Examination Board. In retirement, she became an excellent weaver. She is survived by her husband, Kees; four children, including Stacy Bol Stahl ’73; and four grandchildren. Anne Wilbor Lunghino ’48, June 1, in Sarasota, Florida. Survivors include a son. Virginia Perry Ainsworth ’49, March 9, in Denver. A gifted musician, she played with the Honolulu Symphony and the Brico Symphony in Denver. She earned an MA in librarianship, was a teacher in Hawaii for several years, and volunteered with Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic. Survivors include two children and several grandchildren. Yvonne Mero Baker ’49, April 14, in San Francisco. She was the society editor for the San Francisco Chronicle in the 1950s and ’60s and went on to write and publish the Diners’ Diary, a popular guide to Bay Area dining. She was a longtime supporter of the San Francisco Opera, Symphony, Museum of Modern Art, and was on the board of the Community Music Center for many years. She is survived by her sister, Anne Mero Adelmann ’52, and several nieces and nephews. fa l l 2 0 1 3


Gifts in Memory of Received March 1–May 31, 2013 Virginia Perry Ainsworth ’49 by Polly Royal Langsley ’49, P ’78, P ’83 Laura Lundegaard Anderson ’45 by Carol Ries Paul Armstrong, husband of Joan Thompson Armstrong ’51, by Leah Hardcastle MacNeil, MA ’51, P ’75 Yvonne Mero Baker ’49 by Polly Royal Langsley ’49, P ’78, P ’83 Laura Balas, MA ’94, by Helen Hovdesven Marilyn Carlson Baldwin ’55 by Harrie Cheim Kordelos ’54 Lynne Bantle ’74 by Liesje Cattaneo ’74 Dave Brubeck, MA ’46, by Judith Ireland ’56 Ann Jones Cahill ’48, P ’76, by Nancy Butts Whittemore ’48 Terry Foskett Camacho ’61 by Ann Gordon Bigler ’61 Mary Yin Kyau Chong by Diane Mark ’72 Willa Wolcott Condon, MA ’ 32, by her daughter, Ann Condon Barbour ’69 David Davis by his wife, Andronike Janus ’64 Martha Miller Evans ’63 by her husband, Geoffrey Evans, and daughter Kirsten Evans-Orville Jean Groschupf Frost ’49 by Polly Royal Langsley ’49, P ’78, P ’83, Paula Merrix Sporck ’46 William Gaw and Helen Baer Gaw by their daughter-in-law, Jane Farrell Gaw ’52 Denison Glass ’83 by Lisa Gleaton ’85 Beate Sirota Gordon ’43 by Margaret Backman, Alla Basis, Barbara Blum, David Dunlap, Michiko Vigden David Gordon by his sister, Karen Gordon ’14 Vanessa Grutman ’99 by her partner, Adelfa Delgado Glynda Cober Hardin ’77 by her niece, Christina Walker ’08 Jean Logan Henderson ’34 by her daughter, Judith Whitehead, MA ’97, Anne Sherwood Copenhagen ’44, P ’74, P ’77, P ’86 Joan Cummings Hobbs ’48 by Sally Mayock Hartley ’48 Ruth Hutchinson by Frances Hitchcock Lorraine Eisenberg Iverson ’48 by Nancy Butts Whittemore ’48 Harriet “Penny” Fagan Johnston ’41 by Jean Morgan Randall ’41 Baki Kasapligil by Marina Kershaw Simenstad ’68, MA ’11 Sally Miller Kell ’57 by her sister, Kay Miller Browne ’53, P ’83

Mary Ann Childers Kinkead ’63 by Alan Baer, Anita Aragon Bowers ’63, P ’84, Kelly Drew, Michael Kelly, Bette Krause Spagel ’63, P ’79, Judith Salzer Warner ’63, Peggy Weber ’65, P ’02 Betty Pease Krahmer ’51 by Jane Simonton Abts ’51 Edward LeFevour, father of Julianna LeFevour Francis ’90, by Leslie Woodhouse ’90 Sandra Cowan Long ’61 by Ann Truax ’63 Catherine Macey ’66 by Farol Johnson ’66 Audrey Magee by her daughter, Catrelia Magee, MA ’75 Boitumelo “Tumi” McCallum ’08 by Dennis Coll Diane McEntyre by Lydia Mann ’83 and Barbara Li Santi Shona McEntyre by Lydia Mann ’83 and Barbara Li Santi Sara “Sally” Stepp McLeod ’41 by Barbara Hunter ’57 Madeleine Milhaud by Marina Kershaw Simenstad ’68, MA ’11 Zoe Townley Murray ’50 by Malcolm Tucker John Peck, father of Mary Peck ’76, by Mills College Club of New York Linda Popofsky by Sarah Lehman ’86 Daphne Richmond Rockwell ’41 by Jean Morgan Randall ’41 Gretchen Gladstone Ross ’57 by her husband, Franklyn Ross Eleanor Stein Rusnak ’36 by Diane Heller, Edith and Bernard Kaye, Herb and Nancy Kirchheimer Hollins, Ann Roth, Rosita Montalvo Schloss ’57, Linda Cohen Turner ’68 William and Susan Rubenstein Schapiro ’52 by Helen Drake Muirhead ’58, P ’88, P ’93 Carolyn Louis Shultz ’63 by Carol Chinn Chiu ’63 Barbara Sweetland Smith ’58 by Molly Fairbank Grassi ’59, Martha McMaster Quimby ’51, P ’85 Hans-Peter Solle, husband of Judy Knaus Solle ’64, by Helen Peterson Brainerd ’64 Lisa Terhorst by her daughter, Melissa Bland ’13 Mary Ausplund Tooze ’44 by Mary Parker Lawrence ’57, Elizabeth Wilcox Lyshaug ’51, P ’81, Barbara Christy Wagner ’59, Katharine Mulky Warne ’45, P ’83 Frances Weiler Varnhagen ’52 by Donna Hovie Chan ’90 Margariete Montague Wheeler ’60 by Kathryn Mallett Chadwick ’60 Emma-Jane “Emmie” Peck White ’35 by Timothy and Lorinda Bader Reichert ’67 Jack Woida, husband of Thomasina Woida ’80, by Barbara Hunter ’57 Gloria Chew Yee ’47, P ’72, by Marilyn Gomez

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

Jean Groschupf Frost ’49, May 1, in Portland, Oregon. She was a high school teacher, counselor, and college advisor for over 25 years. An active PTA parent, she was appointed to the state water policy board in 1975 and was deeply engaged in political, community, and environmental causes. She is survived by four children, eight grandchildren, and her sister, Joan Groschupf Craig ’46. Jean Stevens Taylor ’49, May 4, in Chehalis, Washington. She received her MA in music education from Stanford in 1958 and was a music teacher, both in schools and through private lessons, throughout her life. She is survived by two children and a grandson. Margaret Middleton Tyler ’50, March 23, in Oakland, California. She is survived by three children and six grandchildren. Barbara Lewis Woolley ’50, May 15, in San Diego. An English teacher at Monte Vista High School for almost 20 years, she loved reading, music, and travel. She is survived by two children and four grandchildren. 30 

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

Joan Brown Worthington ’52, March 27, in Jacksonville, Florida. She had a career as a social worker, teacher, and school counselor. She was also a board member of the Jacksonville Symphony Association and president of the Opera Guild. Survivors include her daughter. Eleanor “Sally” Vilas Whiffen ’53, May 13, in Madison, Wisconsin. She was a board member of several environmental organizations and the driving force behind legislation increasing protection from logging in Wisconsin state forests and parks. She won her age group multiple times in the American Birkebeiner ski race and is survived by two children, four grandsons, four stepchildren, and eight step-grandchildren. Jack “Rik” Gwin, MFA ’58, March 23, in Redmond, Washington. He was a respected artist and educator in the Pacific Northwest. Among his significant collection of works was a sculpture commissioned by the US Navy honoring 50 years of naval aviation. Survivors include his wife, Cheryll Leo-Gwin.

Gretchen Gladstone Ross ’57, March 5, in Windsor, California. She was an elementary teacher and school principal who helped found the California Kindergarten Association and developed a nationally recognized reading program. An avid writer, she was involved in the Episcopal Church, Rotary, and Park Boosters. She is survived by her husband, Frank; three children; and four grandchildren. Barbara Sweetland Smith ’58, March 12, in Portland, Oregon. She taught Russian history at the University of Alaska, Anchorage, authored award-winning books on the Russian Orthodox Church in Alaska, and curated national exhibits on the Russian presence in America. She received the Russian Order of Friendship and was a leader in several community service groups. She is survived by her husband, Floyd; two daughters; and two grandchildren. Gretchen Gover Fronterhouse ’58, August 15, 2012, in Dallas. A tireless volunteer and fundraiser for the Easter Seal Society, she was active in several social and service clubs as well as in the Methodist Church. She also obtained her real estate license and learned to fly an airplane. She is survived by her husband, Jerry; two children; and nine grandchildren. Janice “Booie” Waddle Forbes Geil ’60, June 4, in Auburn, California. She was the founder of Sierra Heritage magazine, which she published for 30 years, and publisher of the Auburn Sentinel newspaper. She also was a founder and first president of Sierra Business Council, past president of the Placer Community Foundation, and a supporter of the Auburn Symphony. She is survived by her husband, Ken; two grandchildren; and her niece, Jennifer Armitage Withseidelin ’84. Carol Davis Anderson ’61, May 18, in South Beach, Oregon. She and her husband were wheat farmers in Spring Valley; she also worked at the Whitman College bookstore and was a gracious hostess. She is survived by three children and four grandchildren. Mary Jane Jackson ’63, May 27, in Springdale, Arkansas. A travel agent and international tour guide for much of her life, she traveled extensively before returning to her native state in 1998. She is survived by her brother and a niece.

Jeannik Méquet Littlefield, MA ’42 A prominent patron of the arts whose generosity to Mills College was instrumental in the restoration of the Music Building, Jeannik Méquet Littlefield passed away at her home in San Mateo, California, on May 24. Born in Paris and raised in Geneva, she studied at Barnard and Wells, two women’s colleges in New York, and completed her MA in French at Mills. Fluent in four languages, she soon chose to support America’s war effort by working as a translator. After being transferred to Washington DC, she met her soon-to-be husband, Edmund Wattis Littlefield. The Littlefields returned to the Bay Area after the war and, while her husband was busy as CEO of a successful mining and construction company, Jeannik became a leading supporter of the cultural community. She served as a board member of the San Francisco Opera from 1977 to 1992, was an ongoing supporter of the Symphony and the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, and her patronage of the San Francisco Ballet resulted in the world premieres of several new works by noted choreographers. She also took great joy in her support of educational institutions, and her two passions found a perfect expression when Mrs. Littlefield contributed $4 million to restore the majestic Spanish Colonial Music Building on the Mills campus. “This gift means a lot to me,” she said at the time. “I just love music. When I toured the building, I saw that it obviously needed help. I’m delighted I could do it.” In honor of her commitment to the College, the Music Building’s Concert Hall was renamed the Jeannik Méquet Littlefield Concert Hall. She is survived by a daughter, a son, and eight grandchildren.

Mary Hensler Neiswonger ’64, January 1, in Inverness, Florida. A retired college teacher, she is survived by her husband, Kenneth, and a son. Joan Hanson Nelsen, MA ’66, May 18, in Staten Island, New York. She started her own freelance textile design company and was one of the founding members of the Preservation League of Staten Island in 1977. Susan Roe Lathrop ’69, April 15, in Fremont, California. She earned a master’s degree at UC Berkeley. Survivors include her husband, David, and two children. Jaimee Lynn Karroll-Smith, MA ’96, June 14, in El Cerrito, California. A college writing instructor and lifelong advocate for survivors of violence, she edited several books on topics of violence and abuse, sponsored conferences on these issues, was board chair of Bay Area Women Against Rape, and worked with prison inmates to examine the impact of their crimes. She is survived by her husband, Randall, and numerous extended family members. Vanessa Anne Grutman ’99, October 9, 2012, in Martinez, California. Survivors include her partner, Adelfa Delgado.

Spouses and Family Paul Armstrong, husband of Joan Secor Armstrong ’51, May 25, in Walnut Creek, California. Francis Chim, father of Katherine Chim ’87, April 22, in Hong Kong.

Thomas Jackson, husband of Patricia King Jackson ’69, June 13, in Compton, Maryland. Laurel O’Siochain Oglesby, mother of Tara O’Siochain ’89, July 5, 2012, in Pleasant Hill, California. James Redman, husband of Elizabeth Druehl Redman ’49, December 21, in San Diego. James Warkomski, husband of Anne Sisson Warkomski ’54, December 22, 2012, in Litchfield Park, Arizona. John Young, husband of Sally Collins Young ’57, May 21, in Menlo Park, California.

Faculty and Staff Annis Aiyar, June 28, in Oakland, California. She was a gift processor on campus since 1999, working first with the Alumnae Association of Mills College and then with the College’s Office of Institutional Advancement. Always cheerful and enthusiastic, she shepherded all gifts with care to ensure that each was processed accurately and that every donor received the same level of attention. She leaves behind her husband, Venkatram (Venky), and her son, Michael. Memorial gifts may be directed to undergraduate scholarships at Mills.  fa l l 2 0 1 3


Mills history through fashion

Reunion 1953

Mills students and graduates have created many traditions in the 161-year history of the College. Some long-standing traditions—like the wearing of the Pearl M and the Lantern Ceremony (see photos on page 26)—are still celebrated every year. Other traditions are preserved in photographs and in the memories of the alumnae who participated in them. At historical costume pageants at Reunions past, alumnae and students would don the styles that Mills women wore in previous years or decades, unfolding the history of the College through the material culture of clothing.

What is your favorite memory of a Mills tradition? Share your story with the Mills Quarterly. Send your photographs and write to us at or Mills Quarterly, 5000 MacArthur Blvd., Oakland, CA 94613. And please return to campus for Reunion 2013 from September 26 to 29. Share your stories in person! Reunion 1985


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

Alumnae tr avel 2014 Cruise the Panama Canal •✴ •January 5–18, 2014 Celebrate the 100th anniversary of this true wonder of the modern world.

Wonders of Galapagos •✴ •January 24–February 1, 2014 Experience the unique biology of this fascinating natural realm.

Normandy: the 70th anniversary of D-Day •✴ •April 22–30, 2014 Honor the courageous World War II soldiers who fought to liberate Europe.


Croatia’s Adriatic Coast •✴ •June 9–20, 2014 Explore the vibrant cultural heritage and stunning landscapes of this ancient region.

Great Journey through Europe •✴ •June 24–July 4, 2014 Cruise the beautiful Rhine River, then traverse the Swiss Alps via legendary railways. 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 Sicily

Show your

Mills pride! The eucalyptus pin, left, symbolizing the beauty and spirit of Mills College, makes a great gift for yourself or a friend. It is available now from the Alumnae Association of Mills College in either silver ($30) or gold ($35). The AAMC is also pleased to announce three new offerings in its line of unique Mills merchandise: The AAMC t-shirt, left, is adorned with a spray of eucalyptus leaves

$30, for sizes S through xxL

Mills College notecards include four sketches of campus buildings

$18 for a set of 8, two sets for $35

The handy bag-in-a-bag helps the AAMC and the environment

$10, two for $18

To order: Contact Lesli MacNeil ’75 at the AAMC, or 510.430.2110. All proceeds from the sale of these items support alumnae and student activities such as professor talks, book discussions, social gatherings, the Pearl M Dinner, and the Winter Celebration for December Graduates. See a full line of items at our website,

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)

Friday, September 13

Mary Halvorson Trio Jazz-based improvisations on electric guitar, bass, and drums

All performances are at 8:00 pm in the Littlefield Concert Hall

Saturday, October 5

$15 general, $10 seniors and non-Mills students, free to alumnae with AAMC card

A performance by the author of Handmade Electronic Music: The Art of Hardware Hacking

For details or to purchase tickets, see or contact Steed Cowart, or 510.430.2334.

Saturday, November 2

Nic Collins, David Tudor Composer-in-Residence

Mills Performing Group I Music by Makiko Nishikaze and Lois Vierk

Saturday, November 16 Friday, September 27  ■  Reunion Weekend

Music by Darius Milhaud and Dave Brubeck

Mary Halvorson

Nic Collins

Paula Matthusen and composers from the Center for Contemporary Music Experimental electronic and electroaucoustic music

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Mills Performing Group II: Joan Jeanrenaud and William Winant An evening of works for cello and percussion

William Winant

Dave Brubeck

Profile for Mills Quarterly

Mills Quarterly, Fall 2013  

Mills College alumnae magazine

Mills Quarterly, Fall 2013  

Mills College alumnae magazine