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Mills Quarterly Summer 2018

Make it possible. Make it Mills. When Dani Toriumi ’18 set out to tell the story of her family’s experience in the Japanese American internment camps of World War II for her senior art thesis, she made use of welding and sewing equipment in the Mills art studios, historical resources in the library collections, and expert guidance from professors and museum staff. She fabricated paper scrolls, a kimono, and other culturally symbolic objects to create her senior art thesis, which also prompts viewers to reflect on the status of immigrant and minority communities today. “It’s important to make work that contributes to these conversations,” she says. Your annual gift to Mills’ Greatest Need helps provide the wide-ranging resources and support that enable students like Dani to explore their creative and intellectual potential, find their voice, and advance issues of importance for all people.

Please make a gift to the Mills College Annual Fund by calling 510.430.2366, visiting, or returning the enclosed envelope.




Mills Quarterly


Summer 2018

8 Toucans and turtles by Susan McCarthy Ecological concepts came alive for students who traveled to Honduras and Ecuador for hands-on learning experiences through Mills’ alternative spring-break classes.

12 Aloha from Oakland by Dawn Cunningham ’85 College founders Susan and Cyrus Mills forged strong ties with Hawai’i and educated the daughters of the islands’ elite. Since then, the stories of Hawaiian students at Mills have reflected the unique—and changing—political, ethnic, and social composition of the 50th state.

18 Better living through history by Linda Schmidt Over nearly a half century as a faculty member, Professor Bert Gordon has made an indelible impression as a knowledgeable and enthusiastic teacher, an experienced and witty colleague, and a great friend and mentor.

32 Striking the mother code A pioneering nonprofit, founded by Tina Lee ’01, MBA ’02, combines technical training and social support to boost moms in launching technology careers.

Departments 2

President’s Message


Letters to the Editor


Mills Matters

22 AAMC News 24 Class Notes 29 In Memoriam

On the cover: Professor of History Bert Gordon in his office. Photo by Allison Novak

A Message from the President of Mills College

Celebrating Commencement— and reshaping pathways to graduation in years ahead By Beth Hillman

Volume CVII, Number 4 (USPS 349-900) Summer 2018 President Elizabeth L. Hillman Vice President for Institutional Advancement Jeff Jackanicz Editor Linda Schmidt Design and Art Direction Nancy Siller Wilson Contributing Writers Dawn Cunningham ’85 Susan McCarthy

With summer on the horizon, it’s time

102-year-old Ms. de Havilland considers

to celebrate the success of another aca-

perseverance the key to success: “This

demic year—and to plan for the future

word illustrates how my mother has led

ahead. Our 130th Commencement on

her life but it is also her legacy to you

May 12 brought more than 500 gradu-

all as you stand on the threshold of your

ates together to celebrate before thou-

own life, as she once did.”

sands of guests. If you didn’t get a

Professor Jayashri Srikantiah, founder

chance to join us, or if you want to revisit

and director of Stanford’s immigrant

a grand day for Mills, you can view video

rights clinic, shared insight earned

of the event or photos on Facebook. A

through cases that her clients won

few highlights:

and cases that they didn’t, noting that

Sarah Adbib O’Neal ’18, shared the

reflection in quiet moments is essential:

power of her experience at Mills: “At

“Quiet moments we start with an inten-

Mills, my voice was affirmed by profes-

tion of love for ourselves, our families,

sors, but, more importantly, by peers.”

our communities. In that silence, we can hear our truth.” One such truth of academic life is

Editorial Assistance Russell Schoch

that the calendar always brings another beginning. This summer is no different,

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 © 2018, Mills College Address correspondence to Mills Quarterly, Mills College, 5000 MacArthur Blvd., Oakland, CA 94613. Email: Phone: 510.430.3312 Printed on recycled paper containing 10 percent post-consumer waste.

(Please use outline)

as we continue to work in earnest toward the promise of MillsNext, a vision for the future. MillsNext focuses on academic excellence, global and experiential learning, and gender and racial justice in the context of Mills’ historic mission. Just one year since the academic reorganization of

Sarah Adbib O’Neal ’18

last summer, the first steps of MillsNext have been taken. We’re off to a good start.

She reminded us to celebrate the differ-

Our faculty and staff are strengthen-

ences among us “to build a future where

ing partnerships with higher education

there are more bridges between us than

institutions in the Bay Area and beyond,

borders and barriers.”

including UC Berkeley and the Peralta

Ricardo Gil Rivera-Padró, MBA/MPP

community colleges, and with the City

’18, spoke about intersectionality: “We

of Oakland. Our School of Education is

all exist in a multitude of spaces simul-

building online degree programs with

taneously. In some, our voices may not

the enthusiastic and financial support

carry, but in others, they reverberate

of the Alumnae Association. We have



launched a flexible path to earning a

with relatively greater amounts of influ-

degree through our Bachelor’s Degree

ence have an obligation to use that on

Completion program, oriented toward

behalf of those who don’t.”

students who stepped away from study



Gisèle Galante Chulack, who accepted an honorary degree awarded to her mother, Olivia de Havilland, told us that 2 


with some college credits, but not yet enough to graduate. Another foundational part of the

Members of the Senior Class Council Amber Hester, Madison Davis, and Casondra Bueche present the Class Gift to President Beth Hillman. As of June 1, this year’s seniors had raised $5049.37 to provide a student scholarship for the upcoming academic year.

Ricardo Gil Rivera-Padró, MBA/MPP ’18

changes already in motion is M POWER, Mills’ signature undergraduate experience, developed by the Provost and Dean of Faculty’s office in partnership with our faculty. If you’d like to participate in one key element of M POWER, consider reading Farm City: The Education of an Urban Farmer by Oakland’s own Novella Carpenter, the book that all new students will read as part of their firstyear experience. M POWER is more than a one-book project, of course. Based, in part, on studies of academic success and

Professor Jayashri Srikantiah

proven models used at other colleges, M POWER presents a holistic set of initiatives that will bolster student retention

and recent grads with alumnae men-

separate services for academic advising,

and achievement throughout their time

tors (keep an eye out for further news

study-away opportunities, and career

at Mills. It guarantees every incoming

from the Alumnae Association of Mills

counseling into a single, integrated, stu-

student access to an academic success

College about how you can take part in

dent-centered space.

team (adding an “academic navigator” to

this exciting effort). To learn more about

faculty advisors), community-engaged

M POWER, see

We’re also investing in our faculty, who are an integral part of every stu-

learning experiences, and a faculty-

To further streamline the student

dent’s experience. To support our fac-

mentored project. M POWER also pro-

experience, we’re even rethinking our

ulty as they seek to meet the changing

vides access to MillsConnect, an online

physical facilities and creating a new

needs of today’s students, Mills won a

mentoring program that pairs students

office space that combines previously

grant from the Council of Independent Colleges and Strada Education Network to enroll 20 faculty members in a national consortium for instructional excellence and career guidance. The many facets of M POWER complement our ongoing work to revise the core curriculum and our recent tuition reset to make a Mills degree more accessible, affordable, and achievable for all students. M POWER and other MillsNext initiatives link Mills’ storied past to its multi-disciplinary present, setting a path to a sustainable future. That future will make a transformative education affordable and accessible to more students as we balance creativity, fiscal discipline,

Gisèle Galante Chulack, center, accepts an honorary degree on behalf of her mother, Hollywood legend Olivia de Havilland, from President Beth Hillman and Provost Chinyere Oparah.

and investment in the years ahead. ◆



Letters to the Editor I would like to make several points

He insists that to be virtuous, “we

regarding the interview with Professor

all have to think together about what’s

Jay Gupta (“To Every Thing There is a

important and good… to help us under-

Reason,” spring 2018): First, Gupta states

stand each other and be understood.”

that “young children are great examples

Gupta should recognize that this idea

of pre-virtuous people. They are ruled

must include citizens who make deci-

by emotions.... In the very young you

sions different from his based on their

can see what decision-making based on

own serious reasoning and delibera-

pure emotion is like.” But psychologist

tion about moral issues. By demeaning

Paul Bloom of Yale University’s Infant

his political opponents, Gupta fails his

Cognition Center writes that “scientists

own definition of virtue and is clearly not “working for what’s good for all of

know that certain compassionate feelings and impulses emerge early and appar-

he does warn against setting oneself up

ently universally in human develop-

as a judge of others.

ment.” He further states, “At birth, babies

Third, Gupta states, “Virtue... involves

are endowed with compassion, empathy,

the maturation of the deliberative part

the beginnings of a sense of fairness.”

us together.”

—Marlene Allen Bates ’65 Port Huron, Michigan

of ourselves.” Values are “based on indi-

I was pleased to be quoted in the story

Second, Gupta says that values are

vidual and cultural experience, perspec-

about Professor Jay Gupta in which he

personal; virtues are based on reason.

tive, and feeling.” Yet, in his view of the

emphasizes the profound role reason

Other philosophers offer different opin-

2016 Presidential election, he uses the

(and reasons) must play in discourse.

ions. Seneca, in Letters from a Stoic,

words “horror” and “reactionary emo-

Given that people’s values are often

says, “No man is good without God....

tions” to describe Trump and his sup-

incompatible, we must resort to reason

[He] prompts us to noble and exalted

porters as being guilty of voting with

as the arbiter between them. Indeed,

endeavors.” The universality of an inner

their values and ignoring the needs of

how to appeal to reasons, evaluate rea-

voice was also important to C.S. Lewis

the rest of society.

sons, and discriminate among reasons is

in his book, The Case for Christianity.

Gupta sees no contradiction in his

what philosophy, more so than any other

“... compare the moral teachings of the

reasoning when he bases his character-

discipline, can teach. I applaud Mills

Ancient Civilizations... how very alike

ization of his political opponents on his

Quarterly for publishing such a story.

they are to each other and to our own.

own “individual and cultural experience,

But it strikes me as ironic that Mills as

The Moral Law, The Rule of Right and

perspective, and feeling.” He describes

an institution remains silent about the

Wrong... must be real, not made up by

his values as virtues because he is ratio-

fact that another tenured philosopher,

ourselves.” Lewis agrees with Bloom, but

nal, but his opponents are not.

among other important tenured scholars, was so recently cut from its rolls: Professor Marc Joseph. If Mills values


story about Dr. Gupta, I believe it bears

These lovely tea towels, printed with the iconic Mills eucalyptus branch, give “home work” a whole new meaning. Made of 100% cotton plain weave, they are machine-washable, measure 17” x 30,” and come with a hanging loop.

mentioning that it has suffered a loss

$18 for one; $30 for two, including handling and shipping. Proceeds benefit

admit members of its community to

by terminating Dr. Joseph. Moreover, the reasons for his and others’ terminations are far from clear. If Mills is committed to equity as it claims, it should the “space” of its reasons by explaining

Orange County Mills College Alumnae chapter activities, including donations towards Mills scholarship.

to the community why the apparently

Please send payment to: The OCMCA, 4812 Wisteria Dr., Yorba Linda, CA 92886

alternative cost-saving plan was pro-

Questions? Contact


philosophy as it appears to based on the


unreasonable decision to cut tenured faculty was made, given that a viable, posed by faculty.

—Maja Sidzinska ’12 San Francisco

Mills Matters School of Education ventures into the virtual world With the launch of its first fully online degree, the master of arts in educational leadership, Mills will make access to a top-ranked graduate education for all genders more flexible and accessible. The Mills College School of Education is widely recognized as a leader in training educators in the San Francisco Bay Area, and plans to welcome its first online cohort in early 2019. Priced identically to the existing on-campus version, the online MA in educational leadership will still provide the personal attention for which Mills College has long been known, albeit delivered in a new modality. “Offering this online degree with sophisticated digital learning technologies will help educators communicate in a fast-changing world,” said Dean of the School of Education Diane Ketelle ’78, MA ’89. “And we’ll bring Mills to students whose busy lives make pursuing graduate education a logistical challenge.” Provost and Dean of the Faculty Chinyere Oparah added: “Research shows that nearly one-third of all graduate degrees are taken fully online. No institution can afford to ignore a market of adult learners that has clearly indicated its preference for online delivery.” The online program is being developed in conjunction with Noodle Partners, a company that has pioneered online education programs for a decade. The firm brings external expertise in instructional design, digital marketing, student recruitment, and student support to complement the Mills curriculum.

Mills offers flexible options for degree completion Beginning in fall 2018, Mills College will offer a program for women who want to complete their unfinished undergraduate degree. The Bachelor’s Degree Completion Program offers six majors, including business administration; English; ethnic studies; interdisciplinary studies; politics, economics, policy, and law; or sociology. Students who have already completed at least 60 transferable college credits can fulfill their degree requirements in less than two years. To accommodate working adults, courses will be offered primar-

CSRB names a new director for a new direction Darcelle Lahr has been named director of the Center for Transformative Action (formerly the Center for Socially Responsible Business), housed within the Lorry I. Lokey School of Business and Public Policy. Lahr, who holds a BS in mechanical engineering from Stanford University, an MBA from CSU East Bay, and an MA in educational leadership from Mills College, brings a broad range of professional expertise and a keen understanding of micro- and social-enterprise business leadership. She has taught numerous courses as a professor of business practice at the Lokey School and has previous corporate experience in construction, sales, and business strategy. She also serves as president and CEO of Integral Consulting Group and is the founder and executive director of LC and Lillie Cox Haven of Hope, which supports socially-minded entrepreneurs. Lahr assumes leadership of the Center at a pivotal moment. Since the Graduate School of Business and the Public Policy Program merged in 2015, students and faculty reach beyond the traditional label of “socially responsible business” to address broader issues across government, nonprofit, business, and philanthropy sectors. While Lahr will maintain existing programs and partnerships established through the Center for Socially Responsible Business, Darcelle Lahr

she will also oversee the development of new activities to reflect a renewed and expanded mission.

ily at night, with some online and weekend classes. Coursework will include individual projects that reflect a student’s unique interests and goals. In addition, Mills will offer personalized advising to help students identify their best path. Research shows that virtually all job growth in the US since 2007 has come from jobs that require some form of postsecondary education, such as professional and business services, and healthcare. “For adult students, returning to college will inevitably improve their job prospects and raise their pay,” said President Beth Hillman. “Our six majors provide individualized and flexible credit-earning options and a pathway for working adults to complete their undergraduate degree in an inclusive and empowering learning environment.” For application information visit SUMMER 2018


In retirement: ten outstanding members of the academy As sure as spring turns to summer, the

feature story on Gordon is on page 18.)

ful institutional perspective. “My time

close of the academic year brings fac-

Also retiring and assuming the title

has been one of looking for where I

ulty retirements. Ten Mills professors—

emerita/us, are:

could plug in and help Mills be a better

representing a combined 345 years of

Professor of Biochemistry John

institution,” Brabson said at a campus

service to the College—retired from

Brabson, who was integral in reviving

reception honoring all retirees on May

active teaching in May. Their scholar-

the major in biochemistry and molec-

3. He and his wife, Claire, are planning

ship and friendship will be long remem-

ular biology major after his arrival

to move to Washington state to enjoy

bered by colleagues and students.

on campus at Mills in 1985; he also

retirement near their son.

The longest-serving member of this

helped secure funding for new labs

Maggi Payne, professor of music

venerable group is Bert Gordon, profes-

and equipment in the Moore Natural

since 1972, was one of first students

sor of history since 1969. “My retiring

Sciences Building, which opened in

to receive the Mills MFA in electronic

is a significant historical moment,”

2007. Brabson is known as an inspiring

music and recording media. Her compo-

he says. “With me goes the 1960s.” (A

teacher and a colleague with an insight-

sitions have won international acclaim, and she has completed numerous commissions working in collaboration

Farewell to a leader in women’s sport

with artists in dance, film, installation,

Themy Adachi, director of Athletics, Physical Education and Recreation (APER)

inspirational yet rigorous teacher. “It

since 2000 and assistant dean of student life since 2011, retired on June 30.

has been an honor and a privilege to

Adachi has been a consistent advocate for encouraging academic achievement

teach generations of young women, and

and personal growth in conjunction with providing athletic opportunities for all

men, with a sense of experimentalism

students. Moreover, her warmth, friendliness, and enthusiasm have made her a

and creativity that infuses their lives,”

deeply appreciated presence on campus throughout her 36-year career at Mills.

says Payne, who has been co-director,

Under her leadership, Mills College athletics has been a five-time recipient

and performance. Above all, she is an

with Chris Brown, of the Center for

of the National Association of Division III Athletic Administrators/ Josten’s

Contemporary Music (CCM) for more

Community Service Awards, and student-athletes have frequently been recog-

than a quarter century. Payne will

nized for athletic achievement, academic excellence, and community activism.

maintain her association with CCM

When the Mills soccer team experienced derogatory racial and LGBT comments in 2006, Adachi advocated for the NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel’s adoption of a national rule that gave soccer officials the authority to eject a player who “engages in hostile or abusive language or harassment that refers


Professor of Music Chris Brown earned his MFA in electronic music and recording media at Mills in 1985

national origin.”

and joined the faculty two years later. Known as a powerful performer, expert

County Women’s Hall of Fame and has

on world music, and versatile teacher,

been recognized with the Women Leaders

Brown is also an inventive builder of

in College Sports Administrator of the

electroacoustic instruments and pioneer

Year Award for NCAA Division III and the

in utilizing computer networks that

United States Tennis Association Northern

allow performers to share data and cre-

California Trailblazer Award for “growing

ate collectively in real time. Brown has

the sport of tennis in traditional and non-

been central in developing a new art

traditional communities.”

and technology major, and has built ties

Allie Littlefox, who has been at Mills for


digitizing the center’s tape archives.

to race religion, sex, sexual orientation or Adachi was inducted into the Alameda

Themy Adachi

and continue her work preserving and

between the music and computer sci-

five years and currently serves as assistant

ence departments. “We get our students

director of athletics, took on the duties of

to think for themselves, to listen for

APER director and assistant dean of student

themselves—and to listen to the world,”

life beginning July 1. 

he says. “The happiest moment for me

Professors John Brabson, Melinda Micco, Maggi Payne, Bert Gordon, Moira Roth, Chris Brown, and Sarah Pollock at a campus gathering held in their honor on May 3.

eral years. She has a particular interest in American Indian history, multiracial identity studies, film studies and literature, and indigenous women. A founding member of the Grandmothers Group, working at the intersection of environmental justice and spiritual activism, she has been instrumental in creating the annual Mills Pow Wow and in recruiting is when a class performs a concert of

Kroll is also an expert on self-study as a

music and every piece is different.”

research method, continuing education

Native American students to Mills. Professor of Art History Mary-Ann

for teachers, and cognitive development,

Milford, at Mills since 1982, focused

since 1999, has been active as a per-

including language and literacy develop-

her early scholarship on traditional

former, composer, and improviser since

ment. Throughout her tenure, she also

Indian and Indonesian art, later shift-

the late 1960s, starting with the rock

has ably assumed leadership duties as

ing to contemporary art in Asia, with

collective Henry Cow and encompass-

dean of several academic departments

an emphasis on women artists and the

ing hardcore experimental music, songs

and divisions.

artist’s role as socio-political observer

Professor of Music Fred Frith, at Mills

for string quartets and symphonies, and

When Professor of English and

and critic. She has produced dozens

film soundtracks. A dedicated teacher,

Journalism Sarah Pollock joined the

of journal articles, book reviews, and

he integrated the study of improvisation

Mills faculty in 1988, she was already

catalog essays; curated more than

at the undergraduate level and provided

an experienced reporter and editor. On

20 exhibitions; and received grants

students with a vital link to professional

campus, she taught the principles and

from the National Endowment for the

performance opportunities. Frith will

practices of journalism and, as more

Humanities and American Institute

continue to be active creatively and

and more journalism went online, she

for Indian Studies. Among her many

academically through his associations

revamped her courses to encompass

administrative roles, she has been

with the Austral University of Chile;

the tools of digital news and storytell-

on the Study Abroad Committee and

Musik Akademie in Basel, Switzerland;

ing. Under her guidance, the Campanil

served as provost and dean of the

and a vast network of musicians. “Like

became an award-winning student

faculty. She will continue her work with

Maggie and Chris, Fred has not only

newspaper. “It is important to educate

the Asian Art Museum, San Francisco,

strengthened the music community

people who would participate in their

as well as her work with other organiza-

here at Mills but also helped build vast

community and value journalism as

tions and artists.

and growing community of Mills musi-

an essential component of living in a

cians outside the college gates,” says

democratic society,” says Pollock, who

worked in the aerospace industry for

colleague David Bernstein. “I cannot

will return her focus to the world of

a decade before earning his PhD in

think of a more wonderful legacy.”

journalism and writing.

experimental psychology at Stanford

In her three decades on campus,

Melinda Micco, associate professor of

Professor of Psychology John Ruch

University in 1972. In his 45 years at

Professor of Education Linda Kroll has

Ethnic Studies, is a triple-degree holder

Mills, he has focused on visual think-

made a profound impact on the field

in ethnic studies from UC Berkeley and

ing and problem solving and on the

of early childhood education. She is

an enrolled member of Seminole Nation

neurological bases of consciousness

the author of five books and numer-

of Oklahoma. Since coming to Mills

and thought. Ruch also has served on

ous journal articles, served as editor of

in 1993, she has been instrumental in

numerous faculty committees and was

New Educator magazine, and received

developing the core of the Ethnic Studies

director of undergraduate advising from

numerous grants to further her research.

department, which she chaired for sev-

1993 to 2000. SUMMER 2018




TOUCANS TURTLES Students find academic adventure through spring-break courses • By Susan McCarthy In a cloud forest on the western slope of the Andes, in the Mindo Valley of Ecuador, 11 Mills students planted wild avocado seedlings. Taken from an area so thick with young plants that few could survive, these small trees were being moved to a restoration area, once deforested for agriculture. “The soil here is so nutrientrich, it’s easier for new plants to grow and to bring back what was lost. The birds are coming back, the insects are coming back to this ecosystem,” says Alora Stickley, a sophomore biology major. More than twelve hundred miles away, in Central America,

waters off Roatan, Honduras. Each student researched the life

Mills students in scuba gear were 40 feet underwater, care-

and work of a marine biologist, and they prepared short pre-

fully scrubbing algae off supports in an undersea garden of

sentations about some aspect of life in Honduras—from whose

threatened elkhorn and staghorn coral fragments. If allowed to

portraits appear on the currency to what foods are traditionally

grow, the algae blocks sunlight needed for the pieces of coral to

eaten on holidays. They designed research projects: One group

develop. “Part of the reason that coral are dying out is because

planned to monitor endangered sea turtles, another focused on

the fish that eat the algae are being overfished,” says Jamie

reef biodiversity, and a third looked at ocean acidification and

Ziolkowski, a junior majoring in sociology. When the coral

the accumulation of microplastics. Their plans were ambitious,

fragments grow large enough, they too will be transplanted.

says Walter. “I had to guide the students about what was real-

The most disease- and heat-resistant specimens will go to

istic to do in a week.”

zones where coral reefs protect shores from incoming swells.

They also became certified scuba divers, a process that

These students were investigating biodiversity first-hand,

started in the deep end of the Mills pool. “When I arrived at

working to restore reefs and cloud forest, and learning about

Mills,” Walter says, “I was surprised to find that we have a beau-

ways ecotourism is used to protect threatened flora and fauna

tiful pool that’s perfect for initial scuba practice—but nobody

as they participated in two “alternative spring break” projects

was using it for that purpose.”

offered in the middle of the spring 2018 term. The courses

Walter herself has been a

moved at an intense pace.

certified scuba diver since

The cleaners in the coral garden were led by Helen Walter,

1985, and is adamant about

visiting assistant professor of biology. Before they left on the

teaching the skill to more

eight-day trip, these students studied not only the biology, but

women—who are underrepre-

also the culture and history of their destination. They learned

sented in marine biology, as

about the roughly 70 marine species they might see in the

in most scientific fields. Scuba


Environmental science major Amina Khribeche ’18 spots a toucan at Paz de Las Aves nature reserve in the western foothills of the Andes.



Students in Helen Walter’s class explore the Honduran reefs.

areas rich with life, including endangered green sea turtles and critically endangered hawksbill sea turtles, which swam by gracefully—sometimes accompanied by remoras—or simply rested on the sandy ocean floor. Ziolkowski’s favorite observation was of a hawksbill sea turtle busily eating a sponge, reaching its hooked bill into the coral where the sponge was growing. “Which is really cool, because a sponge is hard,” she enthused. “The hawksbill sea turtles have that pointy bill specifically for eating sponges. It was intently focused and didn’t care at all that we were around it.” They also saw for themselves how plastic waste can affect turtles. “Plastic gets caught in the algae on the surface and that harms the young green sea turtles, who live in that floating algae.” The class worked with the Roatan Institute of Marine Sciences (RIMS), which was established by a resort on St. Anthony’s Key, which housed the class during their stay. These two entities work together: RIMS uses research and education to preserve Roatan’s natural environment, while the resort caters to tourists drawn by the beauty of that environment. Walter and RIMS enabled students to pack a lot into their short time. They attended lectures on turtles, reef ecology, endangered species, and coral restoration, and worked on their research projects. Then they were permitted to tend to the coral nursery. This restoration work is not something most tourists are able to do. The garden is protected from overuse, and a class is required in preparation for the work. training is useful for anyone interested in ocean sciences, she

“We were privileged to have that opportunity,” Walter says. 

says, and it also “helps you conquer fears, makes you aware of

Such opportunities have made an indelible impression.

your environment, teaches you communication, and improves

Ziolkowski is considering getting certified as a divemaster and

your observational skills.”

working with a hawksbill turtle conservation project. First-

The training continued in the dark chilly waters of Shadow

year student Hayley Chamberlin, who found the exacting work

Cliffs quarry in Livermore. “It was brutal,” says Ziolkowski. By

in the undersea garden “very relaxing,” says the trip reinforced

contrast, the temperate seas of Honduras were considerably less

her goal of becoming an environmental engineer and working

brutal. After arriving there, the students made several dives in

with water filtration systems to help clean the ocean.




environment than exists in the interior. Trees grow differ-

the students in Assistant Professor of Biology Sarah Swope’s

ently because they are exposed to so much more sunlight;

alternative spring-break class (for upper division students)

animals may avoid the zone at the edge because it’s exposed.

clambered through rainforest and cloud forest on the Andean

“So the space is functionally quite a bit smaller,” she says. The

slopes of Ecuador as they visited a series of reserves created by

Maquipucuna reserve, the largest on the itinerary, is home to

local communities to protect and restore the land.

spectacled bears and big cats, though the class wasn’t lucky

“Ecuador is the most biologically diverse country in the

enough to see these elusive beasts.

world,” says Swope. “That makes it very interesting from an evolutionary standpoint, a biological standpoint, even from a geological standpoint.” Ecuador has national parks similar to US parks, but Swope also wanted her students to see how the community-based reserves represent a “very different approach to conservation.” The landowners, deeply dedicated to protecting the land, are also guides and stewards, and have a remarkably thorough knowledge of the wildlife, gained through experience rather than formal education. “Our guides were incredible. They could identify each of the 12 species of hummingbirds by sight,” says Amina Khribeche, a senior biology major. Students were particularly captivated by the involvement of children, from age 7 to the mid-20s, Swope says.  The group’s itinerary included reserves ranging from as small as 160 hectares to as large as 6,000 hectares—the biggest reserve is effectively larger because it borders additional protected lands—which allowed students to consider the influence of reserve size on biodiversity. Small

Spring break students on site in Ecuador.

reserves are acceptable habitat for some species, but completely unlivable for others. (This is one reason backyard elephants are so rare.) The students prepared by reading numerous journal articles

It was in the cloud forest of the Milpe Reserve that students

about ecological concepts, including patch size, border effects,

transplanted wild avocado trees and helped clear trails. The

genetic diversity, and the influence of elevation on species vari-

naturalist guides there showed them where the new little trees

ety, but nothing prepared them for the reality they experienced

were found, how they were prepared for transplanting, and

after a pre-dawn drive to the Rio Silanche reserve, 60 miles

where they were needed to restore deforested land.

northwest of Quito. “The first bird we saw was the toucan,” says

“There’s something absolutely thrilling about seeing things

Khribeche. “You see it in a book, you see it as an emoji, but to

in real life,” says Swope. The impact of being an eyewitness to

actually see something like this from just 20 feet away, and to

things you’ve studied is electrifying. Living creatures and com-

hear stories about how it has been coming back... I get kind

plex places make ecological concepts intensely real. Field biolo-

of emotional just thinking about it.” In fact, they saw many

gists today can’t separate the intellectual inquiry part of their

toucans, with family groups squabbling and birds lumbering

work from conservation, the need to protect and restore the

through the air, weighed down by their heavy beaks. “They’re

natural world. Fieldwork can spark ideas about how to do that.

just really cool,” Khribeche adds.

Students in both spring break classes agree. “You can learn

The Rio Cilantroa reserve, the smallest they visited, was a

about conservation or even individual specific species, but you

chance to witness first-hand the biological effects of patch size.

only get so much from a book,” says Ziolkowski. “Seeing the sea

“You can stand on the edge and see a whole wall of trees next to

turtles in their environment—and how plastic threatens them—

a deforested area converted to rangeland for cows. The reserve

is a whole different experience. It brings a level of reality and

is small enough that we could walk the entire perimeter and

passion to the issue.”

see how the wildlife is boxed in to a very limited area,” explains

“Lived experience is invaluable,” adds Khribeche. “This was

Swope. “I asked my students to consider ‘What are you seeing

a reminder that there is still hope if we take action now. If we

here, and what are you not seeing?’”

work, if we are clever and resourceful, we can reverse the dam-

Alora Stickley noticed how the edge creates a different

age that we have caused as a species.” ◆ SUMMER 2018


from Oakland By Dawn Cunningham ’85

How 150 years of Hawaiian history and social change unfolded at Mills College YOU WOULDN’T BE WRONG to call Mills

as educators on the island of O‘ahu for

increasingly sought imported labor—

a Californian institution—it is, after

four years. At the time, the kingdom of

from China beginning in the 1850s and

all, one of the state’s oldest colleges.

Hawai‘i tenuously maintained its sover-

Japan beginning in the 1860s—for their

But there’s another state whose his-

eignty by keeping the expansionist inter-

sugar plantations and ranches. Though

tory is equally intertwined with that of

ests of Britain, France, and the United

highly stratified, Hawaiian society was

Mills: Hawai‘i. In the late 19th century,

States balanced against each other. Its

already beginning to develop the racial

Native Hawaiian aristocrats studied


mix it is known for today.

side-by-side at Mills with daughters of

the Great, who unified the islands—were

In Hawai‘i, Cyrus Mills served as pres-

the islands’ foreign power elite. Since

supported by a diverse group of cabinet

ident of Punahou School, founded in

then, many of the historical forces—from

ministers, including educated Native

1841 to educate the children of mission-

intermarriage to imperialism—that have

Hawaiian ali‘i (nobles or chiefs) as well as

aries and other foreign residents. Susan

shaped the unique culture of Hawai‘i

Europeans and Americans.

Mills, the first woman on Punahou’s fac-

have been reflected in the tides of students that have passed through Mills.



In the nine decades since Captain

ulty, taught botany, chemistry, English,

James Cook’s arrival in the islands, infec-

and calisthenics, among other subjects.

The link between Mills and Hawai‘i was

tious diseases introduced by European

The couple was highly regarded and

forged by the college’s namesakes, mis-

sailors, merchants, planters, missionar-

forged close friendships with the white

sionaries Cyrus and Susan Mills. Before

ies, and others had decimated the Native

elites, whose children they taught, as

moving to California in 1865, they worked


well as with ali‘i. One of these, the high





chiefess Lili‘uokalani, was tutored by

ing the Millses’ time there and was flu-

tional Hawaiian law. She came to be con-

Cyrus and Susan at Punahou, though

ent in Hawaiian, English, French, and

sidered one of the foremost authorities

officially Native Hawaiians were not

German. She briefly attended the Young

on Hawaiian history and culture.

allowed to enroll.

Ladies’ Seminary in 1866, according to

In 1865, Cyrus and Susan Mills relo-

popular tradition and family lore, but


cated to California and purchased the

her studies were cut short by the death

moved the Seminary to its present location

Young Ladies’ Seminary in Benicia. They

of her father and she returned home.

in Oakland, California, where it became

brought with them a deep personal

There she married twice, both times to

known as Mills College. In 1878, they wel-

attachment to Hawai‘i as well as the loy-

men who, like her, were ali‘i. She bore

comed their first royal guest to campus:

alty of powerful island families. In fact,

nine children and adopted several oth-

Lili‘uokalani, who had recently become

as soon as Cyrus and Susan took control,

ers. Meanwhile, she pursued a remark-

crown princess and heir apparent to her

the Seminary enrolled its first students

able career: serving as lady-in-waiting

older brother, King Kalakaua. The prin-

ever from the islands: Annie and Helen

to the queen; as curator of the Hawaiian

cess had tea with Susan and toured the

Aldrich, daughters of a wealthy banker



College, where she observed the “perfect

who was a cousin of Lili‘uokalani’s

Library; and as a commissioner of pri-

curriculum for young ladies—classical,

Italian-American husband, John Owen

vate ways and water rights, a position in

intellectual, and full of social decorum.”

Dominis; Clara and Marion Rowell,

which she functioned as a water court

She began to dream of establishing a simi-

whose father was a missionary and

judge, using her knowledge of tradi-

lar women’s college in Hawai‘i.








alumna, like Susan Mills; and Mary Rice, daughter of a Punahou teacher who had become a sugar plantation manager. Throughout the 19th century, Hawai‘i (especially Punahou School) sent the Seminary a steady stream of students, despite the time and expense of travelling to California. A steamship took about a week, and the round trip fare was equal to 25 percent of an average American salary. Yet alternative options for college-bound women were even farther away, on the East Coast. As a result, the Seminary had more pupils from Hawai‘i than from any other country or state save California itself. Many of their parents were friends of the Millses and shared their Congregationalist beliefs. Although the majority were haole (white) students like the first group in 1865–66, the Seminary also drew a number of notable hapa haole (half white) students who were descendants of ali‘i and identified strongly with Native Hawaiian culture. The






Ka‘ilikapuolono Metcalf, the daughter of chiefess Ka‘ilikapuolono and American engineer and photographer Theophilus Metcalf. Emma studied at Punahou dur-

Princess Lili‘uokalani and Queen Kapi‘olani at Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee in England in 1887, after they visited Mills. HAWAI’I S TATE ARCHI V ES, QUEEN LILI’UOK AL ANI PHOTOGR APH E XHIBITION



But despite the welcomed presence of such students, some in the campus community, as in American society at large, looked down on full-blooded Native Hawaiians—even




James, biographer of Cyrus and Susan Mills, wrote that during Kalakaua’s visit, “one Southern lady, all aquiver to meet a real king, was terribly put out and bolted from the line when she found he was a colored man.” At the time, racism against Native Hawaiians was pervasive among white Americans in the United States and in Hawai‘i. After visiting US President Zachary Taylor in Washington, DC, in 1850, Prince Alexander Liholiho (later King





kicked out of his train car to New York by King Kalakaua during his world tour in 1881, flanked at left by his aide Charles Judd (uncle and father of several alumnae) and Col. George MacFarlane, whose younger sister, Blanche, attended Mills. HAWAI’I S TATE ARCHI V ES

a conductor who, he wrote, “took me for somebody’s servant just because I had a darker skin than he had. . . . The first time that I have ever received such treatment, not in England or France or anywhere else.” At home in the islands, Hawaiian

In addition to Cyrus and Susan,

rulers had to contend with American

Lili‘uokalani’s friends in the Bay Area

expatriates who not only conspired to

included her husbands’ relatives, the

usurp economic and political power but,



according to historian Gavan Daws, pro-

moved to Oakland, and Mrs. John H.

claimed that they “could ‘never endure’

Coney, also known as Laura Amoy

being ruled by a king who was not white.”




Kekuakapuokalani Ena. The daughter of

For the most part, at Mills, the ali‘i

a chiefess and a Chinese merchant, Mrs.

were exempt from the explicit racism

Coney was living in the city while two of


her hapa haole daughters, Clarissa and

Mills wrote of Lili‘uokalani, “She had

Mary, studied at Mills.

the marvelous bearing of a high chief-



ess, but she far surpassed her race in

did students. In 1881, King Kalakaua

intelligence.” In an 1874 issue of the

visited the Bay Area at the tail end of a

Mills Quarterly, then a publication of the

world tour and was guest of honor at a

senior class, an unnamed contributor

tea on campus. Among the students from

described a visit to Hawai‘i, admitting

Hawai‘i at the time were Ella and Mary

that the natives “remind you less of sav-

Bailey, who descended from ali‘i of Maui

ages than you had thought they would”

and a missionary artist. The year before,

while contrasting them to the “young,

Phoebe and Mary Dowsett, two sisters

handsome, and well-educated” king at

from a prominent part-Hawaiian ranching

the time, Lunalilo. The ali‘i-class stu-

family, attended Mills (four more of their

dents who came to Mills aroused simi-

sisters would follow in later years). Phoebe

lar admiration from some of their peers.

was described by Isobel Field, stepdaugh-

Charmain Kittredge London, writer and

ter of Robert Louis Stevenson, in her mem-

wife of novelist Jack London, studied at

oir: “The Hawaiian strain was evident in

the College in the late 1880s. In her book

her dark eyes and musical voice, and she

Jack London and Hawaii, she fondly

had that trait as peculiar to the islanders

remembered “Mills College, where I met

as thrift in the Scotch… generosity.”

and loved my first Hawaiian girl.”


with Queen Kapi‘olani, Kalakaua’s wife. They were on their way to Britain for the jubilee celebration of Queen Victoria. Among



entourage Lonoikauoalii




who wrote a chronicle of their travels in Hawaiian. Of Mills, he said: Everything we saw was beautiful. There was this schoolhouse, deep in a valley, adorned with climbing roses and with fuchsia. . . .  The winding pathways that led to the building were large and appeared boundless because of the springy grass which spread to their edges, like velvet cloth. Upon our arrival at the schoolhouse, the royal persons were welcomed by Mrs. Mills, the principal, and she conducted us all into the classroom and there the royal persons were introduced to the Hawaiians, the Misses Helen Wilder, Ricky Nolte, May Cummins, and Ida Merseberg. . . . 


More royal visits to Mills followed—as


PRINCESS LILI‘UOK ALANI visited the campus once again, in 1887, this time

Emma Metcalf in 1865, before leaving Hawai‘i for the Young Ladies’ Seminary. CHARLES L. WEED

In fact, the queen and crown princess

In this role, she hired a local Chinese

would have already been acquainted

man, Chang Apana, to investigate crimes

with most of these students as well as

against animals. Her support helped

with two other Dowsett sisters who were

Apana become an officer of the Honolulu

also enrolled at Mills at the time.

Police Department and the inspiration

May was the daughter of a chiefess and a hapa haole noble, John Adams

for the character of Charlie Chan in Earl Derr Biggers’ detective novels.

Kuakini Cummins, who served as King

Helen generated further notoriety in

Kalakaua’s minister of foreign affairs

1899, when she got married and then

and helped him revive Hawaiian cul-

promptly sailed alone to San Francisco

tural practices, such as the hula, that had

to fulfill her dream of enjoying a groom-

been suppressed by the missionaries.

less honeymoon. A few years later, after

The Cummins family often entertained

divorcing, she moved to Santa Cruz

royalty—local and foreign—at their estate

County in California where she lived the

in Waimanalo, on O‘ahu. Following the

rest of her life, much of it with a long-

Native Hawaiian adoption custom called

time woman companion, though she

hanai, May later raised as her own a

took a short break to serve in the Red

cousin’s daughter, Mamo. In the 1930s,

Cross in Russia during World War I.

they moved to Los Angeles, where Mamo became an actor and played opposite


Clark Cable in Mutiny on the Bounty.

brought historic changes to Hawai‘i.

Mills alumna Helen Wilder. HAWAIIAN HUM ANE SOCIE T Y

Ida Merseberg’s father was a musician

Lili‘uokalani became queen after her

who immigrated to Hawai‘i from Prussia

brother’s death in 1891, but two years

without it!—though the others bathed

to lead the King’s Band; her mother was

later a group of American businessmen

only once a week on schedule.”

an ali‘i. Friedericke “Ricky” Nolte later

and landowners—many of whom had

The boost in admission of students

married McGuire, the Irish-Hawaiian

been advisors to Hawaiian rulers—staged

from the islands was no doubt aided


a coup d’etat against her with the back-

by Mills alumnae. The White and Gold,

Helen Wilder was the only one of the

ing of the US military. They proclaimed


group to come from an elite, pure haole

Hawai‘i a republic and appointed Sanford

was then titled, reported in 1902 that

family. Her father was Samuel Wilder,

Dole, brother-in-law of Mills alumna

“the Branch Alumnae Association of

a shipping magnate and minister of the

Clara Rowell Dole, as president. They

Honolulu has taken the initiative in a

interior under King Kalakaua, and her

placed the queen under house arrest and

movement which we hope may become

grandfather was Gerrit Judd, a physician,

forced her to abdicate; her many plans

general”—a movement to form Mills

missionary, and cabinet minister under

for the improvement of her kingdom,

clubs across the nation.

King Kamehameha III. Helen, however,

such as establishing a women’s college,

In 1903, students from Hawai‘i orga-

was openly defiant of the norms of her

came to an end. Despite her efforts to

nized the Kapi‘olani Club on campus,

social class. After Mills, she helped build

convince US Presidents Grover Cleveland

named not after Queen Kapi‘olani but

the Hawaiian Humane Society, which was

and William McKinley to restore the

rather after her great aunt, the high chief-

then part of the police force, and in 1897

monarchy, Hawai‘i was annexed as an

ess Kapi‘olani, one of the first converts to

was appointed a “humane officer” with

American territory in 1898.

Christianity in the early 19th century.

the authority to arrest animal abusers. An article in a mainland paper reported: She is probably the only woman police officer in the world. . . .  She is simply a plain woman with plain ideas, no fuss or fizzle, believing herself on an equality with man. . . .  She doesn’t care a fig for dances, teas or the dilly dallying of society. She snaps her fingers in the face of conventionality without so much as a ‘beg pardon.’ She dons a short skirt, a shirt waist, a military hat and rides her horse with the daring of a vaquero.





After the annexation, Mills College

Members included hapa haole students

saw a fourfold increase in the number of

Zillah Kahalepuna Hart and Caroline

students from the islands—from about a

and Clara Shipman; Violet Damon, from

half dozen to 20 per year—an effect that

a missionary family that had been close

lasted until the end of Susan Mills’s life

to Cyrus and Susan Mills for three gen-

in 1912 (Cyrus died in 1884). Susan was

erations; and Helen Aldrich, a niece of

well known for her indulgence of the

the Helen Aldrich who attended the

islanders on campus. Anna Rice, daugh-

Seminary in 1865. Club gatherings fea-

ter of a coup leader, matriculated in 1900

tured Hawaiian songs, feasts of poi

and later recalled, “Mrs. Mills was par-

and sweet potatoes, and fundraising

ticularly good to the girls from Hawai‘i,

for scholarships. By 1909, the club had

allowing them only to cut flowers from

raised enough money to pay for con-

the garden and to have a warm bath

struction of the Julia Morgan-designed

everyday—they could not have lived

Kapi‘olani Cottage, which still stands



today. Chiefess Kapi‘olani is also memori-



riences living under Japanese occupa-

alized in the campus road named for her.

Hawaiians made up just one-fifth—their

tion in China during World War II and



In 1903–04, Zillah, Caroline, and Clara

numbers had dwindled to less than

established the Hawai‘i Chinese History

published a series of literary pieces in The

40,000, approximately 10 percent of the

Center in Honolulu. The other was

White and Gold, including translations

estimated population before Captain

Fudeko Tamate ’38, a Japanese American

of traditional mele (chants or songs),

Cook’s arrival. Japanese were the larg-

woman who returned to Hawai‘i to teach.

retellings of Hawaiian legends, and sto-

est ethnic group at over 40 percent,

ries reflecting their own experiences



Asian Americans on the islands faced dis-

on the islands. In stark contrast to the

Hawaiians in number, and Chinese

criminatory policies even after Hawai‘i

Hawai‘i travelogue published in the Mills

made up less than 15 percent. Filipinos,

became a state in 1959. “My husband

Quarterly in 1874, these students cast

currently the largest Asian ethnic group

was one of the first two Asians allowed

Native Hawaiian commoners as heroes.

in Hawai‘i, and Koreans had just begun

into the prestigious Pacific Club, and I

Their interest in legends may have been

to arrive as plantation workers.

was the first Chinese woman invited



Gerry Wong Ching ’57 points out that

inspired by former Mills student Emma

The increasing presence of Asians

to join the Junior League in Hawai‘i in

Metcalf Nakuina, who had been publish-

in the islands, however, was not repre-

1968,” she says. Punahou—which had

ing Hawaiian myths in English for the

sented among students at Mills for many

remained an important feeder school for

cultural edification of non-Hawaiians—a

decades. Because most Asians arrived

Mills and the preferred school for the

ground-breaking approach at the time.

in Hawai’i as laborers, few attained the

descendants of missionary and planta-

wealth to afford a mainland education.

tion families—limited Asian Americans


In addition, US laws prevented many

to 10 percent of the student body.

non-Hawaiians were the majority of the

residents of Chinese ancestry from

Nevertheless, a number of Asian

becoming citizens or travelling to the

American graduates of Punahou made

mainland. An exception of sorts had

their way to Mills. Betty Chu Wo ’46,

come with the first post-annexation

who led alumnae in the Hawai‘i Mills

class in 1898. Among these students

Club for many decades before her death

were Martha and Melanie Afong, whose

last year, was one of them. Gerry was

father was Chun Afong, a Chinese busi-

another. Once at Mills, she became the

nessman who had become the first mil-

first person of color to be elected presi-

lionaire in the islands. Their mother was

dent of the Associated Students of Mills

Julia Fayerweather, a hapa haole who

College. She also participated in the stu-

had been raised alongside Kalakaua. The

dents’ Hawai‘i club. “One year we laid

Afong daughters (12 in all) were society-

out a big luau in the Student Union,”

page stars in Hawai‘i and West Coast

she says. “Our parents sent food, and

newspapers because of their stunning

we even hired a Hawaiian family in

looks and their father’s equally stunning

Oakland to build an imu [underground

promise of a $350,000 dowry for each—

oven].” Although California and Hawai‘i

an amount equivalent to $10 million

were linked by passenger air service

today. Just before Martha’s marriage, the

after World War II, Gerry recalls that it

Los Angeles Herald described her as “a

was still a nine-hour flight and travel-

clever conversationalist, well informed,

ing was a special occasion: “I used to get

and possessed of charming wit. In per-

dressed up for the trip. I wore a silk shan-

son she is of stately bearing, having the

tung dress, high heels, a hat, and gloves.”

appearance of one who considers herself

She adds, mischievously, “And when we

of consequence.” Yet the Herald found it

landed I had fur on my tongue from hav-

noteworthy that “The parents of Lieut.

ing drunk too much!”

Dougherty are in nowise disappointed

Melanie Afong, who attended in 1898–99. HAWAI’I S TATE ARCHI V ES



in the fact that their son is going to wed


a maiden who is half Chinese….” At the

from Hawai‘i to Mills in 1981, and my

time, California law discouraged mar-

sister, Rosanne Cunningham ’90, joined

riage between whites and Asians.

five years later. Much had changed

Another three decades passed before

by the 1980s—the flight took less than

the first two Asian students who were not

six hours, for one. Barriers to Asian

part haole came to Mills from Hawai‘i, in

American achievement in the state had

1934. One was Irma Tam Soong, MA ’35,

been torn down: our governor, lieutenant

who later wrote a book about her expe-

governor, and both US senators were all

A luau at Mills in the 1950s, with Gerry Wong Ching ’57 at far right. COURTES Y GERRY WONG CHING

of Japanese descent. I am a half-Filipina

its historical connection to the islands.

ers who have had little access to higher

hapa haole; other Mills students from

Today she is an associate professor of

education. Raised in Hawai‘i but born

Hawai‘i in my years were of Chinese,

law and directs the Ka Huli Ao Center

in the Marshall Islands (her mother is

Filipino, Japanese, Native Hawaiian, and

for Excellence in Native Hawaiian Law at

president of the island nation), Kathy

Caucasian descent. We came from a mix

the University of Hawai‘i. She also serves

is a poet and environmental activist

of public and private schools.

as legal counsel at Earthjustice, where

who gained worldwide acclaim for her

Yet many legacies of the old Mills-

she developed a special interest in water

2014 poetry performance at the United

Hawai‘i relationship have remained. In

law—like Emma—and worked on litiga-

Nations Climate Summit in New York.

the past 10 years, more students have

tion to return diverted stream flows to

She has also addressed the struggles

come from Punahou than from any

community uses, including traditional

of Marshallese and other Micronesian

other high school in the state (the com-

Hawaiian agriculture and aquaculture.

immigrants in Hawai‘i, where more than

bined Kamehameha Schools, for stu-

Kailani Yamanoha ’16, a nursing

half of Marshallese live in poverty. Her

dents of Native Hawaiian ancestry, are

student, is Emma’s great-great-grand-

poem “Lessons from Hawai‘i” enumer-

the runner-up). Alumnae in the Hawai’i

daughter. Kailani grew up in Northern

ates the everyday ways that other island

Mills Club, now led by Lyn Flanigan

California, where her family was active

residents belittle Micronesians and seek

’65, still help welcome newly admitted

in Santa Rosa’s Hawaiian community

to exclude them from resources such as

students. On campus, the Mills ‘Ohana

(today, 40 percent of people of Native

healthcare. “No aloha for Micronesians

Club (‘ohana means family) draws

Hawaiian ancestry live on the US main-

in Hawai‘i” is lesson #5 in the poem.

islander students together for Hawaiian

land). She spent summers with family on

The notion of aloha—of living with a

food and company.

O‘ahu, where her grandmother would

spirit of good feelings toward others, of compassion—is so essential to Hawaiian

Mills has continued to attract stu-

recount tales from the family’s history.

dents who are the intellectual—and

“I came to Mills because of the strong

values that it is enshrined in the stat-

sometimes genetic—heirs of 19th-cen-

ties to Hawai‘i and my ‘ohana,” she

utes of the state. But Mills alumnae and

tury ali‘i such as Emma Metcalf Beckley

says. “There’s a deeper history of Native

students show that aloha can’t be taken

Nakuina. “Mills helped shape my iden-

Hawaiian students at Mills than at any

for granted. They also understand how

tity, my perspective on who I am as

other Bay Area university.”

much can be gained as we strive, with

a Native Hawaiian woman,” says D.

While this history is a source of pride

aloha, to build a more welcoming, inclu-

Kapua‘ala Sproat ’95, who grew up on

for many Hawai‘i alumnae, Kathy Jetñil-

sive community on the islands and on

Kaua‘i and chose Mills partly because of

Kijiner ’10 speaks up for other island-

campus. ◆ SUMMER 2018


Better living through history 18 


Curiosity and enthusiasm have always driven Bert Gordon’s exceptional teaching and wide-ranging research interests. In his long career at Mills, he has sought to convey these qualities to his students in order to give them deeper, richer lives. BY LINDA SCHMIDT


t’s hard for me to imagine Mills without Bert,”

I also saw how an excellent professor can make history relevant

says Professor Marianne Sheldon, who joined Bert Gordon

to her students,” Gordon says.

as a friend and colleague in the history department in 1975.

He learned, too, that conveying the complexities of history

She has known him not only as a deep source of knowl-

often boils down to a matter of selection. “What makes his-

edge, both historical and institutional, but also as a wellspring

tory perpetually interesting,” he says today, “is that the histo-

of wry humor. Thousands of Mills students can share Sheldon’s

rian’s necessary process of selection itself changes over time.

sentiments: in the nearly half-century since his arrival, in 1969,

A history of any topic written now must be different from

Gordon has led generations of students through the intricacies

a history written 50 or 100 years ago; the telling of history

of European history. In theory, he could have taught a grand-

always reflects the time and place and background of the teller.

daughter of one of his earliest students, sharing his apprecia-

Consequently, it’s always a process of whittling out and trying

tion for the multifaceted, interrelated, and above all, human

to focus on a few themes in order to determine what makes it

forces that have shaped the course of the world. He retired this

all meaningful.”

spring as the longest-serving member of the Mills faculty.

Gordon’s life as a historian

“I grew up in a family whose political views ranged from seems to have been inevi-

moderate to quite liberal, and I came of age during the 1960s,

table. “As far back as I can remember, I was always interested in

when many of my student associates were involved in the polit-

history,” he says. “When my childhood friends were busy cheer-

ical Left,” says Gordon. The academic embrace of the Left, as

ing on the local sports teams in New York City, where I grew up,

an ideology and a focus of study, piqued his curiosity about

I was reading books on the histories of the teams. As a child

the ‘other side’: the Right, and particularly the fascist move-

I devoured our family copy of the World Book Encyclopedia,

ments of the 20th century. “I wanted to try to discover patterns

reading article after article with my father before going to sleep

of authority and their attraction for followers, which I saw as

each night.”

deeply ingrained in both American and European society.”

As a young man, Gordon found himself drawn to European his-

He enrolled in graduate studies at Rutgers University based on

tory, especially that of Central Europe and France, natural areas of

his desire to work with Professor Robert Kann, an expert on the

attention in the post–World War II era. He was further influenced

Habsburg Empire and a refugee from the Nazi regime; completed

by his secondary school teachers who had emigrated from France

his doctorate with a Fulbright scholarship to conduct research

and spoke of their earlier lives there, as well as by European stu-

in Vienna; and examined the role of the lower middle classes, or

dents he met after enrolling at Brooklyn College in 1959.

petite bourgeoisie, in radical revolutionary movements.

When one of his undergraduate professors focused on the

Gordon’s interest in the hard-right fascists eventually led

conflicts citizens experienced during England’s 17th-century

him to focus on the World War II French “collaborationists,”

civil war, he saw a parallel in his father’s desire to support a

those who were ideologically aligned with Nazi philosophy,

New York teacher’s strike in 1962 but not to partake in illegal

rather than those who cooperated with German forces as a

strike activities. “In her class I learned about the often com-

matter of economic benefit, self-preservation, or social conve-

plex struggles people undergo in making political choices, and

nience. During several research trips to France, he interviewed




“The ongoing value of Mills is that we do a great job of educating students from all kinds of different backgrounds so that they can have deeper, richer lives.” some three dozen people who had been involved with collab-

at Rutgers with Professor Traian Stoianovich, a proponent of

orationist groups. The result was his book, Collaborationism

analyzing history from a broad social and cultural perspective.

in France During the Second World War, published by Cornell

“Stoianovich opened my eyes to the fact that the story of the

University Press in 1980.

human past is far richer than only its political history,” says

“I sought to study the personalities of the collaborationists

Gordon. “I came to appreciate the significance of meals and their

and how their innate characteristics emerged in times of crisis

preparation, religion and food taboos, and gender and social sta-

during the interwar and wartime years. I wanted to profile the

tus in the preparation and consumption of meals.” What and

‘other,’ the true believer,” he says. What he found was both

how people eat reflects economic patterns, political power, and

disturbing and perplexing. “I was treated very kindly by virtu-

social attitudes. And, he says simply, “It’s interesting!”

ally all of my interviewees,” says Gordon, yet anti-Semitism and

A growing awareness of the role of the everyday would ori-

anti-Communism were constant topics of discussion, and none

ent all of Gordon’s subsequent work. His paper on California

of his subjects expressed any regret about the atrocities of war.

cuisine, published in 1986 by the Revue Française d’Études

Moreover, several interviewees were eager to talk about their

Américaines, shows his wide-ranging grasp: he cites sources

wartime experiences in hopes that their stories would become

including conference speakers, cookbooks and restaurant

more believable if told by an American too young to have been

menus, display ads in telephone books, in addition to academic

involved in the war.

papers and economic reports.

“I learned that lining up personality types with political

At Mills, Gordon’s teaching has kept pace with his eclectic

convictions was more complex than I had originally thought,”

research. Although hired initially to teach German history,

he says. “Years later, I still struggle to reconcile their gracious

over time his course offerings expanded to include general

behavior toward me with their wartime actions.”

European history, along with the history of France, Spain, England, and Russia. “You’d imagine that someone who has

Gordon’s research and scholarship

is marked by an

taught for 49 years might just recycle their old yellowed notes—

innate curiosity and a willingness to follow any line of inquiry

but not Bert,” says Sheldon. “One of the things that’s most

wherever it may lead. His secondary research focus, though

impressed me is his willingness to adapt, to change, to use

one for which he is perhaps equally well known, is the study

new technology. He’s been creative and responsive to student

of food history. He first encountered the notion when studying

needs, and has evolved his thinking over time.” Gordon has also led classes on cuisine history, Marxism, travel and tourism, and the history of Mills College itself—a course that then-President Janet Holmgren requested he develop to mark the College’s sesquicentennial in 2002. And yet he missed the event that defines the modern history of Mills: Gordon was on sabbatical in Europe during the 1990 Strike. In those pre-Internet days, he heard about the anticoeducation protests from Shlomo Ben-Ami, a historian on fascism who was then serving as the Israeli ambassador to Spain (and later became Israel’s foreign minister). Gordon recalls feeling that things had changed when he returned to Mills for the fall semester. “There was a heightened awareness that this wasn’t just a first-rate college, but a first-rate women’s college,” he says. “It made me work harder to make sure my courses covered gender history. And it affected not just how I teach, but how I think. I became much more aware of women’s issues— though I hate to call it that, because they’re really everybody’s issues.”



“The story of the human past is far richer than only its political history.” Though Gordon has officially retired from the College,

the College over the past half century—its increase in ethnic

he will maintain an active involvement with Mills. He plans to

diversity, the greater number of resumer students, and a sig-

teach his food history course next spring, and will continue to

nificantly larger percentage of first-generation students—all of

be an advisor to Phi Alpha Theta, the national history honor

which, he believes, have deeply enriched the college experi-

society, and to other students as an academic advisor. In addi-

ence for everybody, teacher and student alike.

tion, he will guide an alumnae association trip to Paris and Burgundy in September 2019.

His students over the decades have been grateful: “Professor Gordon was my favorite at Mills,” said one. “He’s extremely

He also will be able to spend more time with his wife,

kind, helpful, funny, engaging, and really cares about his stu-

Suzanne Perkins, who is an accomplished artist. His new book,

dents.” A history major who took nine of his classes said she

tentatively titled “War Tourism: Second World War France from

“loved every one. He’s on top in his field and knows more about

Defeat and Occupation to the Creation of Heritage,” is sched-

history than any other person I’ve met.”

uled for publication by Cornell University Press in November.

The last word belongs to Bert Gordon: “It’s hard to express

And he will continue to lead Osher Lifelong Learning classes,

the joy of interacting with colleagues and, especially, stu-

as he has for many years, and to be active with the tourism

dents.” he says. “It’s been nearly half a century and Mills stu-

studies working group at UC Berkeley and the International

dents continue to be fantastic—not just their academic quality,

Commission for the History of Travel and Tourism.

but their quality of character. They are bright, industrious,

Looking back at his long campus career, he says: “How can

motivated, and serious about their work. The ongoing value

you not fall in love with the Mills campus? It’s gorgeous, like

of Mills is that we do a great job educating students from all

a botanical garden.” He points out that he has been present

kinds of different backgrounds so that they can have deeper,

though the enormous changes in the social composition of

richer lives.” ◆ SUMMER 2018


AAMC NEWS & NOTES Dear Alumnae, One of the things I most enjoy about being a Mills graduate—

in person. In March, in collaboration with the College’s Office

and about being president of the Alumnae Association of Mills

of Alumnae Relations, AAMC representatives hosted the annual

College (AAMC)—is making connections between people in the

Pearl M Dinner and Lantern Procession in celebration of the

Mills community. In fact, the power of Mills alumnae to acti-

senior class. As usual, we presented a Pearl M pin to a senior who

vate our connections is one of the greatest strengths we offer

has given exemplary service to the association and the College.

the College and each other.

This year, the recipient was the extraordinary Melissa Berkay,

Today, the global network of Mills alumnae includes more

who overcame a period of home-

than 25,000 people. Activating relationships within this net-

lessness to study at Mills, become

work can connect students with outstanding role models and

a world record-setting swimmer,

mentors. It can connect the College with prospective students,

and volunteer with the AAMC. In

volunteers, and donors. And it can simply reconnect old friends.



In May, I had the pleasure of inviting one of my own first





of the

Mills friends to campus and introducing her to President Beth

Phenomenal Women of Color

Hillman. More than 35 years ago, Dina Kawar ’83 and I were

Celebration (see story on opposite

both international students at the College, sharing the experi-

page), and in May we helped stu-

ence of immersion in American culture and campus culture. Today, Dina is ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary of the Hashemite Kingdom of

Pearl M recipient Melissa Berkay

dents get through finals by handing out bags of nourishing snacks. And even as this year’s gradu-

Jordan to the United States of

ating students prepared to leave

America. She previously served as

campus, the AAMC helped build

the permanent representative of


Jordan to the United Nations and,

admitted for the fall semester.

in that role, became the first Arab

We partnered with the College

woman ever to preside over the

in April to host a reception at

UN Security Council. She’s one

Reinhardt Alumnae House that

of the most inspiring role models

brought parents of admitted

I know for Mills students—or for

students together with alumnae

anyone who aspires to achieve

of various class years. Parents

their greatest potential!







about Mills, and alumnae gave

I believe the AAMC has much to


insightful answers. We hope to


do this again!

our “connectional intelligence,” as management thinker Erica

This has been a memorable

Dhawan calls it, to create oppor-

year for the AAMC, and for me

tunities for students and alumnae and to help secure the College’s

Mills College President Beth Hillman, Ambassador Dina Kawar, and AAMC President Viji Nakka-Cammauf

in my role as president. Our governors and other volunteers have given generously of their

financial well-being. One way we are doing this is by building an online career

time as we completed this year’s significant milestones, includ-

mentoring platform to connect students and graduates with

ing negotiating a new Memorandum of Collaboration with the

alumnae who can provide the advice and support they need

College. I’m deeply blessed to have worked alongside four gov-

to steer their professional lives. Hundreds of alumnae have

ernors whose terms have just ended: Dorothy Lawrence ’11,

already contributed by responding to our surveys, volunteer-

Pierre Loving ’77, Lenore Tate ’74, and Alumna Trustee Susan

ing to beta-test the platform, or participating in the contest to

Ardisson ’77. I look forward to all that our four new governors—

name the platform. I am grateful to you all. The winning name

introduced on the opposite page—will bring to the AAMC, and

for the platform is, appropriately, MillsConnect. Keep an eye

I am eager to connect with other new volunteers!

out for your invitation to join MillsConnect later this summer. At the same time, the AAMC continues to organize traditional campus events that bring students and alumnae together 22 


Warmly, Viji Nakka-Cammauf, MA ’82 AAMC President

Twenty-nine graduating students proudly display their Phenomenal Senior of Color awards at the Phenomenal Women of Color Celebration in April. Organized by the Alumnae of Color Committee of the AAMC, the celebration also honored Melinda Micco, a respected professor of ethnic studies who retired at the end of the semester. More than 100 guests gathered in the Student Union to congratulate Micco and the students.

AAMC welcomes new governors At its annual meeting in May, the AAMC announced the appointment to its board of four new governors who began their three-year terms on July 1: • Debra Connick ’85 has extensive management experience in state government, particularly IT management. She serves as statewide program manager for cybersecurity maturity metrics at the California Department of Technology and was pre-

Debra Connick

viously vice chancellor and chief information offi-

Miki Hong

Kristen Oliver

Cherlene Sprague Wright

cer for the California community college system. • Miki Hong, Post-Bac Pre-Med ’95, is a public health educator and scholar as well as a volunteer on several AAMC committees. She serves as an adjunct faculty member in Mills College’s Public Health and Health Equity Program and serves on the board of directors of the Diversity in Health Training Institute. Her research areas include refugee health and health policy. • Kristen Oliver ’16, MPP ’18, has been active on campus as student life ambassador, Chapel programs assistant, founder of the Mills Pagan Alliance, and member of the AAMC AlumnaeStudent Relations Committee. She is also associate operations director of the Patrick McCollum Foundation for Peace. • Cherlene Sprague Wright ’92 recently started up Crack’d Toffee Company with her husband, Alex, after working for two decades as a deputy probation officer for San Mateo County. Her volunteer activities include serving as class secretary at Mills and as chairperson of the Redwood City Housing and Human Concerns Committee. A fifth new governor, Pam Versaw ’73, was elected by the alumnae community at the start of June. She will also serve as an alumna trustee on the Mills College Board of Trustees.

Come back to Mills as an auditor— with help from the AAMC! Last spring, four alumnae audited courses in business, public health, and tennis at Mills. They attended class alongside enrolled students, but were not graded and did not receive credit. Instead of paying the usual $750 auditing fee, their cost was just $250—thanks to a $500 stipend from the AAMC. The AAMC will again offer $500 stipends to alumnae auditors for the fall semester. You can audit just about any course at Mills, provided the instructor approves your application. Stipend/audit application deadline: September 4, 2018, for fall 2018 courses. Applications must include the instructor’s signature. To learn more and get the application form, go to www.alumnae.mills. edu/auditing or contact the AAMC at or 510.430.2110.

More information about Versaw and other new College trustees will follow in the next issue.



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 April 20, 2018 To submit listings, please contact or 510.430.2123 Maxine Taylor Clarke ’42, January 9, in Evanston, Illinois. She earned her MD at the University of Minnesota and did her residency in anesthesiology at the University of Chicago, where she met her future husband. They both loved their careers and had a happy marriage. She is survived by two daughters and two grandchildren. Jean McMinn Greenwood ’43, January 27, in Monterey, California. She grew up on the Mills campus, where her father, Howard McMinn, was a professor of botany. She loved nature, especially her family’s cabin at Sliver Lake and, later, Pt. Lobos. She taught nursery school in Vallejo during World War II, raised her family in Pennsylvania, and retired to Carmel Valley. She is survived by three children and two grandchildren. Virginia Wilder Hayes ’43, March 12, in Carmel, California. She was an accomplished painter, lifelong gardener, astute investor, and world traveler. She is survived by a son and seven grandchildren. Lenore Bales McClister ’43, February 1, in Fort Worth, Texas. She was a founding member of the Jewel Charity Ball, benefitting Fort Worth Children’s Hospital, and a board member of the Fort Worth Zoo and the Fort Worth Art Association. She is survived by a son, daughter, and stepson, as well as three grandchildren. Virginia Grace Butterfield ’44, March 4, 2017, in Santa Monica, California. She worked as a writer for the Margaret Arlen Show on CBS radio, was a proficient potter and painter, and later became a magazine editor. She is survived by five children and seven grandchildren.

Elizabeth “Liz” Hind Thompson ’44, January 24, in Carnelian Bay, California. Born and raised in Hawaii, she raised her family in Orinda, California, where she was involved in the local schools, Boy and Girl Scout activities, the Orinda Community Church, and the Lindsay Wildlife Museum. She is survived by four children and six grandchildren. Phoebe Wilson Hoss ’46, December 13, 2017, in Saugerties, New York. She had a long career in publishing in New York City, serving as editor of the classic book Gödel, Escher, Bach, by Douglas Hofstadter, and working with other scholarly authors, including Derrick Bell, Irvin Yalom, Robert Jay Lifton, and Ruth Cowan. She also was the co-translator of The View From Afar, by Claude Lévi-Strauss, and published six books of her own, spanning children’s books, a memoir, poetry, and an adult fable. She is survived by her daughter, granddaughter, and sister, Judith Wilson ’51. Stella Wyatt Inge ’47, March 23, in San Francisco. Survivors include three children and her cousin, Carol Ann McColm ’51. Katherine Marshall Lawler ’47, February 12, in Grass Valley, California. She had a long career as a professional concert pianist and later became a private music teacher. She also was an avid student of poetry and drama and active in many community organizations. She is survived by two sons. Ann Bugbee Tausch ’47, December 5, 2017, in Houston. She earned her MA from Rice University, worked as an executive secretary, and was a faithful member of the Episcopal Church. She is survived by a son and two grandchildren. Barbara Luke Tom ’47, January 5, in Honolulu. She was an orchid enthusiast who collected and lovingly cared for her plants. She is survived by four children and four grandchildren. SUMMER 2018


Gifts in Memory of

Luella Wong Mak ’86 by Stephanie Leong ’70, P ’94

Received December 1, 2017–February 28, 2018

Eloise Randleman McCain ’57 by her husband, Leonard McCain

Mary “Curry” Woodin Babcock ’39 by Mary LeDonne ’84, MA ’88

Diane McEntyre by Liz Kelley Quigg, MA ’89

Nancy Van Norman Baer ’66 by her husband, Alan Baer Betsy Parker Belles ’48 by her cousin, Mary Parker Lawrence ’57

Janet Sutherland McFadden by her daughter, Bonny McFadden Henderson ’65

Marilyn Frye Bettendorf, P ’75, by The Frye Foundation

Christina Miller ’71 by her sister, Kathleen Miller Janes ’69

Chana Bloch by Maria Salaices Dinella ’81

Katherine Morikami by her daughter, Amy Morikami ’87

Erica “Rita” Weber Brevet ’51, P ’76, by Kathleen Miller Janes ’69

Anna Murch by Susan Magnus, MFA ’92

Trisha Brown ’58 by Mills College Club of New York

Robbyn Panitch ’79 by Betsey Shack Goodwin ‘76

Sally Matthews Buchanan ’64 by Mura Kievman ’64

Nancy Parker ’52 by Mills College Club of New York

Mary “Liz” Ellis Cavana ’58 by her sister, Patricia Ellis Severn ’64

Charlotte Reed ’14 by Lori Damrosch, P ’15

Kathleen Boyle Champlain ’64 by Colta “Tiki” Feller Ives ’64

Noramah Sumakno Reksopoetranto ’56 by Donna “Dee” Dorfler Burch, MA ’57

Carol Copenhagen ’77, P ’10, by Lesli MacNeil ’75 Elizabeth Abreu Cravalho ’60 by Betty Anne Mathewson Mahoney ’60 Diane David-Healy ’73 by Cynthia McLaughlin ’74 Jamai Deuberry ’90 by Nancy Foster Sackett-Goss ’90, P ’90 Grace Dote ’63 by Dorothy Cathcart Seagle ’63 Isadora Duncan by Melinda Green McGee, MA ’81

Marilyn Mary by Susan Magnus, MFA ’92

Leanne Haney Rhodes ’62 by her daughter, Alisha Rhodes ’93 Donna Riback ’61 by Ann Gordon Bigler ’61, Elizabeth Frederick ’61, Caron Glickman ’85, Mary Doerfler Luhring ’61, Stuart Johnson Sliter ’61 Jill Nathanson Rohde ’64 by her husband, Ronald Rohde Rena Ellis Rossi ’55 by her sister, Patricia Ellis Severn ’64

Patricia Ducommun Frey ’56 by Ruth Lima ’56

Walter Sablinsky, husband of Content “Corky” Mott-Smith Sablinsky ’56, by Barbara Johnson Lewis ’56

Elizabeth “Betts” Hansen Friday ’50 by Mills College Club of New York

Eleanor Marshall Schaefer ’29 by Nicole Bartow

Melody Fujimori ’69 by Joan Bolton, Ann Tucker Ratliff ’69, Laurie Sachs Travers ’71

Stefani Schatz-Duggan ’84 by Joon O’Connor Yeider ’85

Sally Robinson Geist ’58 by her sister, Nancy Robinson Logan ’60 Martin Nelson Gibbs by his daughter, Jennifer Gibbs Connie Gilbert ’61 by Mills College Club of New York Steven Givant by Carol Chetkovich, Diane Ketelle ’78, MA ’89, P ’16, Ellen Spertus

Rodney Skjonsby by her daughter, Kristen Skjonsby ’11 Vivian Stephenson by her partner, Margarita Gandia Suzanne M. Stevenson ’88 by the Stevenson Family Marian Sudbury by Kathleen Burke Mary Lois Hudson Sweatt ’60, MA ’62, by her husband, James Sweatt

Denyse Gross ’72 by her husband, Kenneth Morrison

Tomoye Tatai by her daughter, Sharon Tatai ’80

Joan Gayle Brown Jensen by Ann Gordon Bigler ’61

Nancy Thornborrow, P ’93, by Brisen Vannice Brady ’93, Ellen Deitch ’91

Josephine Webber Jepsen ’39 by her daughter, Margaret Jepsen Bowles, MA ’65

Harold Thorne, husband of Evelyn “Muffy” McKinstry Thorne ’48, by Sharon Tatai ’80

Brigitte Frey Kelley ’50, P ’76, P ’77, by Ben Clay, Susan Haupt, Jacqueline Markarian, John Wyatt

Ben Umeda by his wife, Yoko Kawasaki Umeda ’53, P ’78

Carolyn Clothier Killefer ’45 by Lola Crawford, Joan Lewis Danforth ’53, Dick and Anne Gould, Janice Kelly, Stephen Meagher, Barbara Parsons Sheldon ’56, Carla Soracco Jane Cudlip King ’42, P ’80, by Barbara Hunter ’57 Mary Ann Childers Kinkead ’63 by her son and daughter-in-law, Cary and Tina Kinkead Betsy Bamberger Lesser ’44 by Fay Pfaelzer Abrams ’63, P ’92 Janice Robison Liascos ’57 by Mills College Club of New York Alice Kendall Lind ’54, MA ’57, by Donna Dorfler Burch, MA ’57 Neil MacNeil, husband of Leah Hardcastle MacNeil ’51, P ’75, by Anne Sherwood Copenhagen ’44, P ’77, P ’74, P ’86, N.T. Lucy Do ’75, Mary Schratter Hale ’82, his daughter, Lesli MacNeil ’75, Kathleen Sanborn ’83



John Van Atta, husband of Pamela Kreis Van Atta ’61, by his sister-in-law, Deanne Kreis Newman ’60 Robert and Nancy Warner by their daughter, Nangee Warner Morrison ’63 Sarah Washington-Robinson ’72 by Sharon Tatai ’80 Arloine Naplin Webber ’43 by her niece, Margaret Jepsen Bowles, MA ’65 Margariete Montague Wheeler ’60 by Kathryn Mallett Chadwick ’60 Stanley Wilkerson by his wife, Margaret Wilkerson Betty Chu Wo ’46 by Janet Holmgren, Amy Morikami ’87, Leonora Wee Joan Brown Worthington ’52 by Elizabeth Frederick ’61

P=parent. For information about making a tribute gift, contact 510.430.2097 or

Donaldeen McNeill Bera ’48, December 17, 2017, in Vallejo, California. She danced with the USO during World War II, taught elementary school in Vallejo for nearly 40 years, served as a docent for the Mare Island Historical Society, and was recognized by Kaiser Hospital in Vallejo for more than 1,000 hours of volunteer work. She is survived by five children and eight grandchildren. Alene Jensen Parsons ’48, March 27, in Buttonwillow, California. She served on the Buttonwillow School Board, helped start the Buttonwillow Recreation and Park District, and established a local Camp Fire Girls group. She is survived by six children and 12 grandchildren. Norma Feinn Rose ’48, November 17, 2017, in Mason, Ohio. Margaret Clarke Umbreit ’49, March 25, in Prescott, Arizona. She played viola in orchestras until the past year and was involved in many civic groups, freely serving others in need. She traveled the world with her husband of 64 years. She is survived by three children and two grandsons. Dorothy Deatherage ’50, December 30, 2017, in Long Beach, California. In 1955, she joined the faculty of the fledgling Long Beach State College (now CSULB), where she helped develop a competitive sports program for women. Survivors include her cousin, Shirley Ann Nason ’52. Ann Pearcy Davies ’51, January 7, in Daly City, California. She had a 65-year career as an interior designer, was a patron of the San Francisco Opera and museums, and enjoyed the finer things in life. She is survived by a son, three grandsons, and her sister, Martha Jane Pearcy ’53. Mary Louise Smith Riley ’51, January 18, in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina. A longtime resident of Santa Barbara, California, she helped establish Planned Parenthood in Santa Barbara; was a docent at the Santa Barbara Art Museum; and was involved with Junior League and the Colonial Dames. She served Mills as a class agent. Survivors include three children, four grandsons, cousin Frances Turner Anderson ’71, and stepsisters Marietta Covell ’52 and Elsa Bartholomay Hackett ’56.

Julie Sorenson Julson ’58, March 1, 2017, in McMinnville, Oregon. In 1975, she founded the Yamhill County Humane Society (now Homeward Bound Pets) to find homes for dogs and cats. Survivors include her sisters-in-law Martha Julson Gale ’64 and Ann Julson McGlashan ’64. Sally Litzer Parks ’58, February 21, in Seattle. She was a social worker in hospital and school settings, then trained as a Jungian analyst and had a successful psychoanalytic practice for 27 years. Survivors include her husband, Richard; two children; and two grandchildren. Jean Harrison Flake ’65, February 15, in Globe, Arizona. She was very active in her children’s education and as a faithful member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She is survived by her husband, J. Dee; four daughters; and 20 grandchildren. Cornelia “Nena” Geddes Dasher ’71, January 6, in Corte Madera, California. She worked as a teacher’s aide and reading specialist, and was a docent for the de Young Museum and Legion of Honor. She is survived by two children and five grandchildren. Diane Webb Turner ’71, January 6, in Syracuse, New York. She had a business as an interior designer, was an award-winning gardener, and was a member of the Park Central Presbyterian Church, where she was active in the choir and in missionary work. She is survived by two stepchildren, two step-grandchildren, and her sisters Melanie Webb Gustin ’69 and Wendy Webb ’74. Lee Ann Tegart Labby ’75, January 11, in Portland, Oregon. She developed exhibits at the Oregon Historical Society, loved art and antiques, and had a fondness for roadside attractions and obscure historical sites. She is survived by her husband, Paul, and two sons. Lou Ann Lucke Aaberg ’76, February 17, in Oakland, California. A lifelong supporter of music and the arts, she had a career as a nonprofit consultant, grant writer, and mediator, helping individuals and organizations work towards personal and institutional transformation. She is survived by three sons.

Sharon Smilie Clausen ’52, January 16, in Naples, Florida. She joined PEO, taught Sunday School, and was involved in community activities in the several places she called home. While living in San Jose, she was active in the start of the Gilroy Garlic Festival. She is survived by her husband of 56 years, George; two children; and three grandchildren.

Phillip Brown, MFA ’90, August 16, 2017, in Nevada City, California. He served as an adjunct art professor at Sierra College and also taught at the Center for the Arts and in his own studio. An accomplished bluegrass musician, he also was recognized by the South Yuba River Citizen’s League for his work painting over 400 images of the Yuba River. He is survived by his wife, Barbara; a son; and a grandson.

Martha Rich Deets ’52, December 12, 2017, in Kalispell, Montana.

Diana Wolfbear, MA ’93, November 29, 2017, in Berkeley, California.

Margaret Anderson Radunich ’52, March 1, in Pacific Grove, California. She endowed a pair of scholarships to support Mills students and was on the board of the local symphony.

Marie Siegenthaler ’11, March 26, in Fairfax, California. She worked as the buyer for the body care department at the Good Earth Market in Mill Valley, was knowledgeable about health and nutrition, and loved to travel. Survivors include her parents and three siblings.

Gail Inman Hallgren ’53, March 14, in West Jordan, Utah. She was an active member of the Soroptimist Society International and the Sonoma Valley Hospital Association. Survivors include four children and nine grandchildren. Barbara Browning Flynn ’54, April 6, in Bryan, Texas. She shared her passion for music through private piano lessons, as a church music director, and as a public school teacher. She is survived by her husband of 58 years, Robert; five children; and eight grandchildren. Karen Lanza ’55, November 11, 2017, in Los Angeles. She was a nun of Self-Realization Fellowship in Los Angeles since 1961 and was much loved by all who knew her. Dorian Hunter, MA ’56, January 15, in Fullerton, California. She owned an art gallery for more than 30 years and won awards for her work in interior design.

Faculty and Staff Kathleen McClintock, professor of dance at Mills for 27 years, died April 15 in Sebastopol, California. She attended the University of Utah before joining the Utah Repertory Dance Theatre in 1967 and spending seven years performing, touring the country, and teaching master classes. She also danced with the Julliard Dance Ensemble, Donald McKayle Dance Company, and the Bill Evans Dance Company before joining the Mills faculty in 1979. Dedicated to mentoring, creating, and innovating, she chaired the department for many years, organized the Repertory Dance Company, and collaborated with campus colleagues in music, art, and dramatic arts on multi-dimensional performance projects. She is survived by her husband, Michael McCormick, and two brothers. SUMMER 2018


< Striking the mther cde > A few months after Tina Lee ’01, MBA

they need to work in tech. She launched

as MotherCoders founder and CEO.

’02, had her second daughter, in 2013,

MotherCoders with a pilot group of

This spring, the pioneering program

she also gave life to MotherCoders, a San

six moms. Since then, more than 200

vaulted to a national presence when

Francisco-based nonprofit that trains

women in the Bay Area have attended

Lee appeared on the Today show and

moms for technology careers. While on

MotherCoders’ workshops, meetups, and

in Good Housekeeping, Redbook, and

maternity leave from her job as direc-

nine-week training programs featur-

Woman’s Day magazines.

tor of outreach and innovation for the

ing on-site childcare. Some have landed

As MotherCoders has grown with the

California State Controller’s Office, Lee

jobs or apprenticeships right away, while

help of such publicity as well as gener-

planned to refresh her computer pro-

others have continued on to advanced

ous donations, Lee has tapped the exper-

gramming skills. But it was harder to do

training programs. “Given tech’s fast-

tise of Mills alumnae. Her collaborators

than she expected. “I was exhausted, try-

changing landscape and vast array of

include Director of Marketing Kriz Bell

ing to practice coding in between breast-

roles, it’s often difficult for moms at

’99 and Director of Instruction Jodessa

feeding sessions at night, and I was

the beginning of their journey to know

Lanzaderas ’12. “Because of my Mills

lonely,” she says. She met other moms

where to focus their efforts,” says Lee.

education, I had the intersectional lens,


“We help them sort that out and put

the audacity, and the leadership skills

them on a path to success.”

to build an organization that takes on



that contribute to the underrepresentation of women in technology.

Lee has earned a Google Impact

Lee’s solution was to start an organi-

Challenge prize and a place in Yerba

zation to help mothers gain the skills,

Buena Center for the Arts’ annual list

knowledge, and community support

of cultural innovators for her work



systemic and cultural barriers keeping women on the sidelines,” says Lee. —Dawn Cunningham ’85

AAMC Travel Programs Our selection of upcoming journeys offers adventure, historical insight, camaraderie, and fun for alumnae of all ages. We’re especially excited to include two exclusive trips enriched by the knowledge of Mills faculty members. Make your plans now to join us in 2019!

Wonders of the Galapagos Islands January 14–22 This is a nature lover’s dream destination—and your exploration vessel is equipped with gear and certified naturalists to help you make the most of it. Pre- and post-tour options available.

Legends of the Nile Jan. 29–Feb. 9 An expert Egyptologist will guide you through magnificent ancient wonders, including the Pyramids of Giza. This trip also features a four-night Nile River cruise.

Jane Austen’s England June 10–24 With Professor of English Kirsten Saxton Adventure into the thatched country villages, green countryside, and small parish churches that make up the idyllic world of Jane Austen. The itinerary includes a visit to a regal estate used for recent film versions of her works as well as stops in Bath, Salisbury, and Stratford-Upon-Avon to discover more about the novelist and those who inspired her. Professor of English Kirsten Saxton ’90, an expert on 18th-century British literature, joins the tour to provide literary commentary and color.

Croatia & the Dalmatian Coast April 22–May 3 From the old capital of Zagreb to the crystal blue waters of Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia offers a rich landscape with a vibrant cultural heritage.

Greece May 16–24 Ascend the Acropolis in cosmopolitan Athens, then experience the slower pace of island life on Poros, an ideal base for exploring the theater at Epidaurus and the ruins of Mycenae.

Italian Riviera June 15–23 Relax along this beautiful coastline, renowned for turquoise seas, sun-drenched beaches, and postcard-perfect towns.

Paris: The African American Experience September 8–16 Walk in the footsteps of luminaries such as Josephine Baker, Langston Hughes, Miles Davis, and more as you learn about the influence of African American arts and culture in 1920s and 1930s Paris.

Portugal’s Romantic Douro River September 17–28 Portugal led the world during the Age of Discovery. Now you can rediscover the country’s scenic beauty, rich tradition, and most famous product: the fortified wine, port. No single supplement.

Food & Wine of Paris & Burgundy Sep. 24–Oct. 8 With Professor of History Bert Gordon Professor of History Bert Gordon, who has studied the food and wine of France for decades, guides you through a remarkable and delicious sojourn! Your week in Paris includes the city’s famous sights along with visits to gourmet food shops, special cooking classes, and memorable meals. Your gustatory journey continues in Beaune, where you’ll immerse yourself in the history, technique, and delights of Burgundy’s world-renowned viticultural area.

Cruising Coastal Vietnam and Angkor Wat November 5–19 Discover an intriguing blend of French and Asian heritage in Hanoi before exploring three UNESCO World Heritage sites and the magnificent temples of Angkor. Extensions in Hong Kong or Bangkok available.

See the Alumnae Association of Mills College travel website at or full itineraries of these and other upcoming trips. For reservations or additional information, call the AAMC at 510.430.2110 or email

Mills Quarterly Mills College 5000 MacArthur Blvd. Oakland, CA 94613-1301


SEPT. 27–






2018 U NIO

REUNION 2018 Thursday, September 27, through Sunday, September 30 Honoring the Golden Alumnae of 1968 and alumnae from class years ending in 3 or 8 All alumnae are invited to join together for a full weekend of fun and festivity! Social opportunities • Class dinners and photos • Mills After Dark at the movies • Cyclone picnic • Residence hall receptions • Class luncheon and AAMC awards ceremony Art & sporting events • Book art open studio and gallery • Volleyball, soccer, swimming, tennis, rowing, and a fun run • Darius Milhaud concert • Writers’ Salon, dance performance, art exhibits and auction Campus leadership and learning • Reports from President Hillman and other College leaders • AAMC update • Public Health and Health Equity Program report • Alternative spring break presentation • Campus farm open house • Farm City book discussion

LISSER HALL GRAND REOPENING CELEBRATION Visit for the full schedule and updates

Friday, September 28

Reunion hotline: 510.430.2123

Join us as Lisser Hall rises from the construction dust as a renewed locus for the arts in the heart of campus. After a year-long renovation, this historic performance venue is once again ready for the spotlight!

Email: Web: Brochures with full schedules and registration information have been mailed to all alumnae from class years ending in 3 or 8; they are available to other alumnae by request.

Mills Quarterly, Summer 2018  

Mills College alumnae magazine

Mills Quarterly, Summer 2018  

Mills College alumnae magazine