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Mills Quarterly Spring 2012




Radio reporting students uncover stories from the heart of Oakland





Mills College gave us a wonderful education. Now it’s time for us to give back. Mills took us on a journey that transformed our lives. That’s why we make gifts to the Mills College Annual Fund. Jasmine Abele, Marjan Soleimanieh, and Amy Duong [left to right], members of Mills’ Class of 2011, are good friends who have already established themselves as supporters of the College.


asmine says, “I see giving as a way to share the positive educational experience I had at Mills with the next generation of students. Our gifts also build a lasting support system for the College. As a class agent, I send a letter in early spring as a way to reconnect with my classmates and encourage them to contribute to the Mills College Annual Fund. I really want people to get involved and be philanthropic— even in the early stages of their careers.”

Join Jasmine, Marjan, and Amy in supporting today’s Mills students. Give to the Mills College Annual Fund by calling 510.430.2366, picking up the phone when a student calls you, or visiting




Mills Quarterly

contents Spring 2012 8 How Mills public radio changed my life by Sandhya Dirks ’10 Strong storytelling and solid research form the basis of the Mills public radio reporting classes. Story subjects—and reporters, too—can find the experience transformative.

11 Paper, video, tweet by Jessica Langlois, MFA ’10 As the world of news and information evolves to embrace new technologies, campus journalists keep pace with the change.

12 The college girl’s record Life on campus a century ago was very different than it is today, but the memory book of a member of the Class of 1910 reminds us how some aspects of college life transcend the ages.

14 Writing her way home by Allison Block Amy Franklin-Willis ’94 captures a uniquely Southern sense of place and personality in her debut novel.

16 Alumna trustee election Vote for your representative on the Mills College Board of Trustees and the AAMC Board of Governors. See your ballot on the inside back cover.

32 Ebb + flow Mills dance alumnae/i staged an impressive display of artistry in a night of performance at Lisser Hall.

Departments 2



Ask Alecia


Mills Matters


Class Notes


In Memoriam

On the cover: Photos by Nick Sebastian from his series Oakland, Black and White, Unposed, Unscripted. See more from this series on pages 8–10.

Calendar Mills Music Now March 8–11  Signal Flow Festival (various times/ locations, free) March 31  Mills Performing Group: Music of Roscoe Mitchell April 21  Songlines: Zachary Watkins (7:30 pm, Ensemble Room, free) April 6–7  X-Sound Festival Volume XCX Number 3 (USPS 349-900) Spring 2012 President Alecia A. DeCoudreaux Vice President for Institutional Advancement Cynthia Brandt Stover Senior Director of Communications Dawn Cunningham ’85

April 15  Sandra Soderlund (4:00 pm) April 16  Songlines: David Mahler (7:30 pm, Ensemble Room, free) All events start at 8:00 pm in the Littlefield Concert Hall (unless otherwise noted). $15 general, $10 senior and non-Mills students, free to alumnae with AAMC card. For information, see or contact Steed Cowart at 510.430.2334 or

MFA Thesis Dance Concert April 19–21, Lisser Theater. $10 general, $8 senior and non-Mills students, free to current Mills students. For information, contact 510.430.2175 or

Center for Socially Responsible Business Conference Investing Within: Innovative Financing for Domestic Social Ventures April 13, 8:00 am–6:00 pm, Lorry I. Lokey Graduate School of Business, Gathering Hall With domestic unemployment and poverty on the rise, traditional strategies are no longer sufficient for building thriving communities and economies. New forms of financing social ventures are increasingly part of the solution. Learn more about who is innovating, what is working, and how we can adapt these innovations to create economic and social value in our communities. For more information, see conference or contact 510.430.3248 or

Managing Editor Linda Schmidt

Commencement 2012

Design and Art Direction Nancy Siller Wilson

Mills College Art Museum

May 12, 9:45 am, Holmgren Meadow

Senior Thesis Exhibition On view March 27–April 15

Contributing Writers Allison Block Sandhya Dirks ’10 Jessica Langlois, MFA ’10 Editorial Assistance Allison Marin ’12 The Mills Quarterly (USPS 349-900) is published quarterly by Mills College, 5000 MacArthur Blvd., Oakland, CA 94613. Periodicals postage paid at Oakland, California, and at additional mailing office(s). Postmaster: Send address changes to the Office of Institutional Advancement, Mills College, 5000 MacArthur Blvd., Oakland, CA 94613. Copyright © 2012, Mills College Address correspondence to the Mills Quarterly, Mills College, 5000 MacArthur Blvd., Oakland, CA 94613. Letters to the editor may be edited for clarity or length. Email: Phone: 510.430.3312 Printed on recycled paper containing 10 percent post-consumer waste.

MFA Thesis Exhibition On view April 29–May 27

Contemporary Writers Series March 6  Achy Obejas March 27  Renee Gladman and Rena Rosewasser All events are at 5:30 pm, Mills Hall Living Room, free. For information, contact Stephanie Young at 510.430.3130 or

Save the dates for

Reunion 2012

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

For information, see or contact 510.430.2164 or The museum is open 11:00 am–4:00 pm Tuesday through Sunday, 11:00 am–7:30 pm Wednesday, and is closed Monday. Admission is free.

Celebrating alumnae from class years ending in 2 or 7, including the Golden Girls of 1962

September 27 through 30 with Convocation on September 28 A Reunion schedule and registration form will be mailed in early summer to alumnae in reunioning classes and alumnae in the Bay Area. For further information, contact the Mills College Office of Alumnae Relations: or 510.430.2123. All alumnae are welcome.


Lecture March 14  Laurel Nakadate, 7:00 pm, Danforth Lecture Hall, free

Ask Alecia

Each month, President Alecia A. DeCoudreaux answers questions submitted by alumnae and friends through the Mills College Alumnae Community website. A selection of these questions and answers is reprinted here.

Q: Will you encourage any new areas of

as well as volunteer support from mem-

services and accommodations, and diver-

study to further prepare Mills students  

bers of the Mills community. I am person-

sity and social justice programs. In an

to thrive in today’s world?

ally looking forward to breaking ground,

email I sent to alumnae on December 7,

getting the farm started, and sharing prog-

I explained that responsibility for these

ress updates as we move ahead.

services has been assigned to other highly

—Diane Mark ’72 A: I am using my first year as president

capable staff. In addition, the Division

to understand better Mills’ strengths and opportunities in consultation with faculty, students, alumnae, donors, and others around the country. I am pleased that Mills has very strong science and math programs—in addition to its long-standing strengths in arts and letters—and that the College is adding Chinese to its language program. I believe that science and language skills are particularly important

of Student Life is currently being reorQ: At the end of November, Mills laid off

ganized to provide even better support

three employees who provide key student

for our students.

services: the director of career services, the director of services for students with disabilities, and the director of social justice initiatives…. How will you maintain

Read President DeCoudreaux’s December 7 email message about the budget at

the quality of the Mills student experience without these staff positions? —Lynda Campfield ’00, MA ’02

in preparing students today for a world

Q: Are there any plans to return Mills   to being primarily a residential college? —Rena Denham ’77

that is shaped by rapidly evolving tech-

A: The greatest threats today to the qual-

nologies and global interconnections.

ity of the Mills experience are the increas-

A: Mills remains primarily a residential

ingly serious budget deficits the College

college at the undergraduate level: 55

has faced in recent years and the rev-

percent of our undergraduate students

enue shortfalls we foresee for the next

live on campus. We encourage students

few years. To ensure that the College will

to live on campus by providing a range

have the resources in the long term to

of accommodations, including traditional

offer the highly interactive, innovative,

residence halls, apartments for students

Q: I am wondering if there are still plans for the organic garden gift my Class of 2010 proposed? —Kim DiGiacomo ’10

supportive education for which Mills

who wish to live independently, and even

A: I am very grateful to the alumnae of the

is known, we had to make structural

a co-op living option in Larson House.

Class of 2010 for their thoughtful senior

changes that would reduce our annual

However, one of Mills’ greatest strengths

gift to the College, which we will use to

budget. After careful review of our

today is the diversity of our students. In

establish an organic campus farm. Mills’

options, we eliminated 15 administrative

particular, our community is enriched by

Sustainability Committee has made the

positions on November 30. Though most

the presence of resumer women who have

farm a priority for this year and is cur-

of the eliminated positions were vacant,

arrived at college after holding careers

rently engaged in careful planning so that

we had to lay off six employees, includ-

and raising families. Living on campus

we have the most sustainable, productive

ing the three whom you mentioned. We

is not a viable option for many of them.

farm possible. The first steps have already

have not eliminated any academic posi-

So at the same time that we deeply value

been taken to select a site near the front

tions, which represent the core of Mills’

Mills’ identity as a residential college and

entry gate, test the soil quality, and deter-


encourage on-campus living, our diver-

mine required amendments. We are now

We remain committed to meeting stu-

seeking additional funding for the project

dents’ needs for career services, disability

sity means that some portion of our student body will prefer to live off campus.

sPRING 2012


Mills Matters Mills College joins State Department projects Promoting women in public service On December 16, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced that Mills College, Scripps College, and Mount St. Mary’s College will join The Women in Public Service Project, an initiative to identify and educate a new generation of women committed to public service. Established through a partnership of the US Department of State and the East Coast colleges of Barnard, Bryn Mawr, Mount Holyoke, Smith, and Wellesley, the project aims to create an infrastructure of support and mentoring to enable more women to enter public service and political leadership, with a goal of achieving a world in which political and civic leadership is at least 50 percent female by 2050. The announcement took place at a colloquium in Washington S tate Department

DC, which was attended by Mills College President Alecia A. DeCoudreaux, Lori Bettison-Varga, president of Scripps College, and Ann McElaney-Johnson, president of Mount St. Mary’s College, as well as women leaders from around the world. “Since its founding, Mills College has remained committed to empowering women,” says DeCoudreaux. “We are honored

Increasing STEM study by women from Muslimmajority countries

to be part of this project to encourage and prepare women

Mills College is one of nearly 40 women’s colleges participat-

and public service.”

ing in the NeXXt Scholars Program, an international women’s

from around the world to take on leadership roles in politics See more at

undergraduate education initiative sponsored by the US Department of State. The goal of the initiative is to increase opportunities for women from Muslim countries to pursue undergraduate degrees in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields at US women’s colleges. an American student studying the same field; both will receive

Search to begin for new dean of student life

a five-year membership to the New York Academy of Sciences,

Dean of Student Life Joi Lewis has announced that she will

Each woman accepted into the program will be teamed with

a STEM mentor and networking opportunities provided by the academy, and access to internship and research opportunities. “We are preparing the next generation of women, particularly those from underrepresented populations, for scientific leadership through an environment of rigorous academic study, interdisciplinary scholarship, and unparalleled faculty mentoring,” says Mills College Provost Sandra Greer. Studies show that American women’s colleges have a strong track record of producing female leaders in the sciences, graduating women in the field at up to twice the rate of coeducational institutions. However, women account for fewer than 20 percent of students from Muslim-majority countries who are engaged in STEM fields at American baccalaureate institutions.


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

leave Mills on April 15 to assume a new position as vice president of student affairs and chief diversity officer at Minneapolis Community and Technical College in Minnesota. “I feel a deep commitment to the Mills community and will especially miss Mills students,” says Lewis. “But I am looking forward to assuming this exciting new position and to returning home to my partner and the rest of my family and community in the Midwest.” “While we are saddened by news of Dr. Joi’s departure, we congratulate her on a wonderful professional and personal opportunity,” says President Alecia A. DeCoudreaux. The College is forming a committee with constituent representation to undertake a national search for a new dean of student life.

School of Education benefits local educators Center for Urban Schools and Partnerships launched

Schultz, the dean of the School of Education. “This center

The Mills College School of Education opened its new Center

aims to become part of significant and sustainable change for

for Urban Schools and Partnerships on November 7. The center plans to improve learning outcomes for local youth by building

Oakland and the surrounding area, and for Mills College.”

upon current research by Mills education faculty while con-

Mills receives grant for teacher professional development

vening key leaders and constituencies, including the Oakland

Mills College and its partners, the Oakland Unified School

Unified School District, Oakland’s Housing Authority, and the

District and the Alameda County Office of Education, have

Oakland Education Association. The coalition will identify the

been awarded nearly $250,000 by the California Postsecondary

most pressing needs of Bay Area schools and neighborhoods

Education Commission to prepare Oakland teachers for new

and work to create systematic, sustainable change in under-

Common Core State Standards.

served communities. “A priority of the center will be finding ways to improve

For the Mills project, 50 Oakland teachers will come together for meetings during the school year and week-long institutes

recruiting, training, and retaining high-quality teachers in

during the summer. The teachers will study the new standards

Oakland,” says the center’s director, Ingrid Seyer-Ochi. The

and use lesson study, a process in which teachers collabora-

center will also offer professional development that will build

tively plan, observe, and refine classroom lessons.

upon the Mills Teacher Scholars program, lesson study, and

The Mills team includes Katherine Schultz, dean of the

inquiry into early childhood leadership projects. Other efforts

School of Education; Cynthia Scheinberg, dean of the Graduate

will include urban-focused research projects, speakers’ series,

Literary Studies program; Rebecca Perry, a research associate

and forums open to the community.

in the School of Education; and David Donahue, a School of

Beginning this spring, undergraduate students will conduct onsite service-learning fieldwork with partnering schools and

Education professor.

organizations. In addition, undergraduate and graduate stu-

Children’s School celebrates 85 years

dents will also serve as center research fellows, addressing the

The Mills College Children’s School, recognized as a trailblazer

questions and needs of center partners.

in early childhood development, hosted a gala 85th anniversary

“Now is a particularly promising moment to expand on the

on February 4. Dozens of alumnae/i, family, and friends of the

collaborative work of the School of Education,” says Katherine

school came together to celebrate the school’s rich history of educating both teachers and children alike. The Children’s School is the oldest laboratory school west of the Mississippi. “Since its founding in 1926, the Children’s

During her five years at Mills, Lewis has been instrumental

School has maintained and enhanced its dual mission,” says

in developing new initiatives that have helped achieve sub-

Debra Brown, head of the

stantial increases in student retention. She has partnered with

Children’s School. “Our

the Provost’s Office and faculty members to institute programs

school is a special place

that help students succeed academically, and she played a key

where the children are the

role in establishing the Student Health Center on campus.

teachers as much as they

While the search for a new dean is underway, President DeCoudreaux and the President’s Cabinet will work closely

are the learners.” Today, the school serves

with student life staff to ensure that all services continue

as many as 127 infants,

without interruption and to implement the staffing reorgani-

toddlers, preschoolers, and

zation begun in December. “We are engaged in an ongoing

K-5 elementary students.

assessment and evaluation of existing and potential pro-

Graduate and under-

grams offered by the Division of Student Life so that we can

graduate students use the

strengthen the services we provide to students,” DeCoudreaux

classroom for research and

says. “I am committed to providing the Mills community with

study with the guidance of

opportunities to share input in the process as we continue the

master teachers.

implementation of this organizational change.”



College welcomes recent major gifts Mills College gratefully acknowledges

School District and the National Writing

her husband, Collin Dang, created an

the following gifts and grants of $50,000

Project. Joe Kahne, professor of education

endowed scholarship in their name.

and more received between March 1 and

and director of the Civic Engagement

October 31, 2011, from generous donors

Research Group at Mills, leads this new

tinued his support, through the

and foundations:

initiative to leverage web 2.0 tools and

Barrett Foundation, of the Jill Barrett

practices to provide high school students

Undergraduate Research Program

Education have received new funding. A

with opportunities that support their

through 2011–12. This program,

gift from the Bernard E. and Alba Witkin

development as committed, informed,

established in 1998, awards stipends to

Charitable Foundation supports teach-

and effective civic actors.

Mills students in biology-related fields

Three projects in Mills’ School of

ing assistantships for graduate students

Ann Sulzberger Wolff ’42, one of the

Trustee Richard W. Barrett con-

to conduct original laboratory and field

working with young children in the

Mills College Annual Fund’s most gener-

research during the summer as well

Children’s School’s Preschool and Infant

ous donors, made another leadership

as stipends for professors guiding this

Care Program. The Dirk and Charlene

gift to this important source for student

student research.

Kabcenell Foundation and the Walter

scholarships, academic programs, and

& Elise Haas Fund have both extended

operating expenses for the College.

grants supporting the Mills Teacher

Thomas Mulcahy created the Isabel

Patsy P. H. Peng ’51, MA ’53, made a gift to support the hire of a visiting professor in Chinese language and literature

Scholars program at the College, an inno-

Schemel Mulcahy Endowed Scholarship

for three years. The College intends to

vative professional development program

in memory of his wife, a member of Mills’

hire the new professor in time for the fall

for East Bay urban public school teachers

Class of 1944. Michael Rimar, a friend of

2012 semester, and a search is underway.

designed to improve learning outcomes

the College, created the MWC Fellowship

for diverse public school students. The

in Composition for graduate-level com-

from the unrestricted bequests of Lois

S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation provided a

position students focusing on new music

Mariani Mongan ’34 of San Francisco

planning grant to design a Digital Civics

or music for piano. Just before her death

and Hazel Ziegler Simon, MA ’48, of Palo

Initiative with the Oakland Unified

in August, Jean M. Jue Dang ’57 and

Alto, California.

Jessica Lord

The College also received distributions

Cyclones earn athletic recognition The Association of Division III Independents has recognized the Mills College Cyclones in a range of sports for outstanding athletic achievements during the fall semester. The association named several soccer, volleyball, and cross country athletes to All-Independent teams. Cyclone soccer players Chelsea Satterwhite ’13 and Meghan Hinsch ’14 earned spots on the first and second All-Independent teams for their strong performance on the field. The volleyball team boasted three second-team recognitions—for first-year students Amy Fowler, Erika Colstad, and Jessica Lord—and its interim head coach, Darcel Sanders, was honored as the association’s Volleyball Coach of the Year. Two members of the cross country team received honorable mentions for their solid season: Lauren Olsen ’15 and Lizzy Hoyt ’15, who was also voted MVP by her teammates for her great attitude and consistent, smart running. The All-Independent teams are selected by coaches from the Association of Division III Independents member schools. Mills College is among the 11 association schools that have joined together to recognize student-athletes at independent institutions.

k urt loeffler

In addition, Head Tennis Coach Loke Davis ’09 received the


2011 Diversity Committee Leadership Award from the United States Tennis Association, Northern California section. The award recognizes superior coaching, mentoring, and serving as a role model to others through work in the field of tennis. M i l l s Q u a r t e r ly

Lizzy Hoyt

Campus kudos A selection of recent achievements by faculty, staff, and students Campus Architect Karen Fiene was

Professor of Spanish and Spanish

Roscoe Mitchell

elected to the College of Fellows of the

American Studies Hector Mario

American Institute of Architects (AIA).

Cavallari had articles on literature by

Fewer than 4 percent of the more than

Adolfo Bioy Casares and Ana Maria

80,000 AIA members have been so hon-

Fagundo accepted for publication in

ored. Fiene is co-designer of the Betty

the peer-reviewed journals Revista

Irene Moore Natural Sciences Building,

Iberoamericana and Alba de América;

sor of psychology, and her students

the first building in Oakland to receive

he also presented a paper on Julio

Frishta Sharifi ’08 and Sara Harris ’09

platinum LEED rating, and co-author

Cortazar and chaired a session at this

published a paper, “Effects of Weight

of Celebrating the Cultural Landscape

year’s conference of the Pacific Ancient

Consciousness, Circadian Arousal, and

Heritage of Mills College.

and Modern Language Association in

Depression on Young Women’s Memory,”


in Psychology.

Distinguished Milhaud Professor of Music Roscoe Mitchell premiered a

Julie Chen, associate professor of book

Christie Chung, assistant profes-

Professor of Ethnic Studies Julia

new composition at the Angel City Jazz

art, co-chaired the 2012 national confer-

Sudbury Oparah has been exploring

Festival in Los Angeles in October. He

ence of the College Book Art Association

the relationship between gender non-

also performed at the Skopje Jazz Festival

and was a finalist for the Minnesota

conformity, criminalization, and impris-

in Macedonia and held a three-week

Center for Book Arts International

onment in recent publications. Her work

master artist residency at the Atlantic

Artist’s Book Award.

has appeared in Razor Wire Women

Center for the Arts in Florida.

Marc Bamuthi Joseph, lecturer in

(SUNY Press), Captive Genders: Trans

English, received the Alpert Award in the

Embodiment and the Prison Industrial

is on leave this spring in order to be the

Arts, an unrestricted $75,000 prize initi-

Complex (AK Press), and Interrupted Life:

blogger for the 18th Biennale of Sydney,

ated by The Herb Alpert Foundation to

Experiences of Incarcerated Women in the

an international festival of contemporary

rewards experimenters who are challeng-

US (University of California Press).

art in summer 2012. She has already

ing and transforming art, their respective

begun posting at moirarothgleanings.

disciplines, and society.

Moira Roth, professor of art history,

Professor of Mathematics and

Margaret Hunter, associate professor of sociology, published two articles: “Buying Racial Capital: Skin Bleaching

Computer Science Zvezdelina Stankova

and Cosmetic Surgery in a Globalized

of Music Chris Brown (New World

spoke at the opening ceremony and

World” in the Journal of Pan African

Records) features performances by

bestowed awards at the closing cer-

Studies and “Shake It, Baby, Shake It:

William Winant along with current and

emony of the second annual World

Consumption and the New Gender

former Mills percussion students.

Mathematics Team Championship in

Relation in Hip-Hop” in Sociological

Beijing, China, in November.


Iconicities, a new CD by Professor

Shinichi Iova-Koga, visiting artist in dance, was awarded a three-month

Carol George, professor of psychology,

In October, Professor of English

research fellowship in Japan to study

is co-editor of the book Disorganized

Kirsten Saxton chaired a panel at a joint

the folk dances of Japan as well as the

Attachment and Caregiving (Guilford

conference of the Canadian Society for

shared principles between martial arts

Press). She published articles in Journal

18th-Century Studies and Aphra Behn

and dance. His performing arts company,

of Personality Assessment and Family

Women in the Arts. Also participating

inkBoat, performed a new work, Line

Court Review.

were four Mills undergraduates and one

Between, at ODC theater in December.

Professor of English Stephen

MFA candidate. This is a juried inter-

Ratcliffe has two new books of poetry,

national conference at which all other

of music, premiered “Tower Ring”—

Conversation (Bootstrap Press /

participants were doctoral students or

a site-specific work to be heard in cis-

Plein Air Editions) and CLOUD /


terns, caves, and other deeply resonant

RIDGE (BlazeVOX [books]). HUMAN /

spaces—in an eight-story tower created

NATURE, Remarks on Color / Sound, and

Chetkovich delivered the keynote

by artist Ann Hamilton at the Oliver

Temporality, his trilogy of 1,000-page

address at the Genderemergencies

Ranch in Geyserville, California.

books each written in 1,000 consecutive

conference at Linköping University in

days, is now available at Editions Eclipse

Sweden last September. The conference


was part of a research project on gender

Pauline Oliveros, visiting professor

Well Then There Now, a new book of poetry by Professor of English Juliana Spahr, was glowingly

Professor of Public Policy Carol

and rescue services in Sweden.

reviewed in the Nation. SPRING 2012


How Mills public radio changed my life By Sandhya Dirks ’10


’m driving through miles of cornfields, across the state of Iowa. Out the car window, silos and smokestacks rise up to break the flatness of the land. I’m going to meet the news director of Iowa Public Radio. It’s an amazing opportunity, a chance to interview for a job as a reporter at one of the best public radio stations in the country. It is a long way from the sunshine of Oakland and the rolling green of Toyon Meadow, but the journey that brought me here started at Mills. It was 2007 when I stumbled into the public radio reporting class led by Holly Kernan. I thought it would be a lark—I loved public radio, so why not? What I didn’t know was that this class would literally change my life. Mills public radio showed me a world that married social justice and public interest reporting with the art of storytelling. It introduced me to the work of being in the world, rather than just studying it. It also gave me a path, a journey, and now a future. Before I stepped into that classroom I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. Now, just a few years later, I have earned a degree from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism and am on my way to a career. Kernan’s class is not just a window on the world, it is a push out the door. At the heart of the reporting classes is a focus on “organic reporting,” where the stories bubble up from the community. We learned that if you spend enough time with people and genuinely listen to their concerns and ideas, the stories will emerge. It’s the opposite of helicopter reporting, in which issues are seen from a distance, with little detail. One of the toughest first assignments was to call an expert and interview them. It was empowering to master this skill and learn that you have permission to ask questions. Later, Kernan sent us to the field to talk to people and uncover their complex realities, and she gave us the tools to tell their stories.

Q & A with Holly Kernan, lecturer in public radio A radio interview subject turns the tables on reporter Sandyha Dirks ’10.


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

Q: How did the public radio classes come about? Thanks to Professor of Journalism Sarah Pollock and Vice Provost Andy Workman, we launched the public radio courses in 2006. They are now part of the popular journalism minor at Mills. The classes teach students the principles of public interest journalism and give them a chance to connect to the larger Oakland communities. Q: What classes are offered? The introductory class teaches the basics of radio reporting and production: students write non-fiction narratives and do field production. Each produces a story about Oakland during the semester. They learn to ask probing questions, to do research and fact-checking, and to employ different writing styles for

different purposes. In addition, the course allows students to make mistakes and take risks, to follow their curiosity and—this is especially key—to find new voices, including their own. The intermediate class challenges students to delve into big public policy issues and digest them for a broad audience. In 13 weeks these students create a professional documentary series, presenting evidence and multiple perspectives to communicate with an audience of non-experts. Every year, the class is different. Sometimes we focus on a topic, sometimes a geographic area. Our methodology is the thread: find under-reported stories, tell them in depth, ground them in research and context.

In the spring of 2007 our documentary class set out to explore Oakland’s public schools. There were so many experiments in education happening across the city: from small schools to new budgeting to revamped vocational education. Our eight-person editorial team (otherwise known as “our class”) wrote research papers and invited guest speakers to explain complex ideas like the intricate financing system in the state. And then we fanned out all over the city to spend time in Oakland schools. I realized that I had passed the point of no return when I was interviewing a young woman named Talice at Castlemont High School. Despite her high academic achievement, she was on the verge of dropping out in her senior year. Within minutes of pointing the recorder her way, her whole story tumbled out: Her mom was sick and could barely support the family; Talice had no money to attend prom and little hope for her future. She hadn’t told anyone this before, hadn’t been able to cry about it, but somehow a stranger with a microphone asking for her story gave her a moment of catharsis. It gave me something too—an understanding of the power of radio journalism. The best radio stories revolve around sound-rich scenes and use lean, descriptive prose so that listeners can create pictures and be transported to places they otherwise might not go. These stories are intimate and people-centered. In our reporting on Oakland schools, we learned to explain policy by telling smaller stories that together give you a bigger picture. It was an extraordinary experience creating the final project, a documentary of eight stories we called The Drop Out Dilemma that was aired on Bay Area public radio station KALW. And it was a great honor to receive acclaim for our work. The Drop Out Dilemma won the national Sigma Delta Chi award for radio documentary reporting from the Society of Professional Journalists, the first time that students had ever won this award. We attended a ceremony in New York to receive two Gracie Awards from

Q: What technical resources are available to Mills’ radio students? In the early years, students would narrate their final Holly Kernan stories, talking into a recorder in my car in the quietest place on campus. It’s an old radio field trick. I’m happy to say we now have an edit booth in my office in Mills Hall and a small radio lab; advanced students also use the KALW studios. If students want to hone technical skills, we find internship opportunities for them to do that. We also provide one-on-one tutoring for those who want to practice mixing in the lab.

Bl ack and white photos by Nick Seba s tian

Q: You serve as news director at radio station KALW and are also a lecturer in the Graduate School of Journalism at UC Berkeley. How does your professional standing augment your teaching at Mills? My professional connections allow me to expect broadcast quality from these students. That expectation, coupled the highest editorial standards, has provided the formula for the public radio project. I ask students to explore the changes facing society—and they respond by creating work that many professionals admire. At KALW, we work with student reporters at UC Berkeley, Youth Radio in Oakland, and the San Francisco School District. Our entire newsroom is dedicated to mentoring young journalists, so the partnership with Mills was a perfect fit.

Q: What are Mills public radio reporting graduates doing today? About 100 Mills women have been through the public radio courses, many as part of the journalism minor. They’ve all shown an incredible work ethic and creativity. Sarah Gonzalez ’09 recently completed National Public Radio’s coveted Kroc Fellowship and went on to report for NPR’s StateImpact project in Florida. Lindsey Lee Keel ’11 is now producing for NPR’s Snap Judgment. Thea Chroman ’07 is working on her master’s— in preparation for a PhD—at the University of Oregon and has been asked to create a similar public radio course at that institution. These new voices are already a valuable addition to the airwaves.

sPRING 2012


American Women in Radio and Television. The Drop Out Dilemma was also honored by the National Education Writers Association and the Radio Television Digital News Association, which gave us a Regional Edward R. Murrow Award. I took the next step in my reporting career when Kernan arranged a paid summer reporting fellowship for myself and classmate Sarah Gonzalez ’09. The assignment: spend time on the ground in East Oakland, with a focus on connecting with young people. The homicide rate in this area is often a national news story, but most of the coverage is superficial. Working in partnership with KALW News and teenagers from the local nonprofit Youth UpRising, we spoke with elders and community leaders, with gun runners, ex-cons and police officers, with teachers and preachers about what they thought was causing—and what might be the solutions to—the violence scarring lives in East Oakland. The resulting six-part series, Fault Lines: Community



Violence, explored

police-community relations from the point of view of young people who allege widespread and haphazard brutality from local officers. It featured a profile of one of the new “problemsolving officers” trying to improve strained historic relations in Oakland; an inside look at the illegal gun trade; and a compelling portrait of the complex street economy through which many neighbors earn their living. We facilitated conversations between young people and police officers, allowing individuals who might not otherwise speak to each other a chance to communicate honestly. The understanding that resulted from these dialogues reaffirmed for me the power of in-depth public interest reporting. Sarah Gonzalez ’09 mixes audio files in the Mills radio lab.

That’s why I’m thinking of Mills as I drive through Iowa, preparing for my big interview. The interviewer asks me about the most valuable things I learned from my first news director. I reply that, above all, everyone has a story to tell and, if I work hard, I can do anything I put my mind to. Mills taught me this. The public radio reporting class at Mills provided practical hands-on experience, but the extra attention and relentless expectations of Holly Kernan meant we learned much more than new skills. She presumed us to be brilliant radio journalists, so how could we fail? The answer was simple: we didn’t. We rose to the challenge, and each one of us is better for it. ◆ Postscript: Sandhya Dirks is now a reporter with Iowa Public Radio.


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

Paper, video, tweet Campus journalists adopt new tools to deliver the news By Jessica Langlois, MFA ’10


wo years ago , while pursuing my

By 2003, the Weekly was online, but

As a result, whether in print, on video,

MFA, I agreed to manage the multi-

barely. Laura Cucullu ’05 became online

or by tweet, Campanil staff continue to

media lab for a reporting class taught by

editor that year, bringing with her 10

reflect the core mission of the journal-

Sarah Pollock, professor of English and

years of tech support experience and a

ism program, which emphasizes rigorous,

head of the Mills journalism program.

determination that everything printed

ethical reporting and compelling, well-

She had found it increasingly critical to

in the paper should appear online. “The

structured narratives. These new areas

include digital media analysis in her jour-

people who followed me at the paper

of expression, says Pollock, have “galva-

nalism courses, and was about to launch

grabbed that by the horns and said now

nized a level of engagement that’s critical

a hands-on lab that would support stu-

we need to add in things for online only,”

to the students’ moving on to becoming

dents’ efforts to develop audio and video

says Cucullu, who is now a senior editor

leaders in the world.”


at CNET.

Journalism graduates have gone to

Editors on the Campanil, the student

Today, the Campanil’s website features

top positions in a variety of media: Taigi

newspaper, had already begun publish-

slideshows, podcasts, and video stories,

Smith ’94 has been a senior producer

ing digital stories on their website, which

and staffers employ social media to keep

of the CBS Evening News and 48 Hours

had won an impressive second place in

up with breaking news. Lauren Soldano

Mystery; Tracy Clark-Flory ’06 is a staff

the statewide California College Media

’11 produced video coverage of the recent

writer about relationships, sex, and cul-

Association awards competition in 2005—

Occupy Oakland protests right up until

ture for Salon magazine; and Ariel Gore

beating out larger schools like Stanford,

the camp was cleared away. Cucullu,

’94 is the founder of the national parent-

Cal, and UCLA. (They would place second

who followed the those protests via the

ing magazine, Hip Mama.

again in 2010.) I didn’t hesitate to sign

Campanil’s live Twitter feed, says video

Soldano, who found camaraderie and a

on. The multimedia add-on was such a

and social media have become essential

sense of purpose in the long hours spent

success that we took the concept to the

forms of expression for journalists. These

producing the paper and website with

Associated Writing Programs conference

make written stories more accessible and

fellow editors, intends to seek work with

in Washington DC a year later, present-

immediate, and can sometimes uncover

an organization that teaches underserved

ing a panel on multimedia expression in

bias in print journalism. “You can write

youth to use video to tell their stories.

the writing classroom.

a story that says one thing, but if some-

Cucullu, too, feels compelled to serve

Pollock recalls how students “used

one’s got a video that says something

the public interest. She was spurred to

photo-sizing wheels, exacto knives, and

else, guess what triumphs? The video,”

study journalism after seeing how little

waxers to lay out the newspaper by hand”

Cucullu says.

coverage the mainstream media provided

when she arrived at Mills in 1987 and the

Pollock applauds the way students are

when George W. Bush appointed a reli-

paper was still called the Weekly. They

“taking intellectual experiences they’re

giously conservative doctor of disputed

soon graduated to using desktop pub-

having in the classroom and translating

qualifications to a reproductive health

lishing software, always keeping up with

them using these technologies.” With her

drugs advisory committee. “Journalists

industry standards to produce the paper’s

experience as a senior editor at the Oakland

are a group of really dedicated people

print edition.

Tribune and Mother Jones magazine, she

who believe that information needs to be

also pushes students to think in complex

out there,” says Cucullu. “And they will

ways about how news is delivered.

fight to the death to do that.” ◆ To read the Campanil online, visit To receive Campanil news in your email account or on Google Reader, subscribe to its RSS feed at TheCampanil. sPRING 2012


A few months before Delia Parish entered as a first-year seminary student at Mills College, the Great San Francisco Earthquake shook the Bay Area. President Theodore Roosevelt led the nation, while Susan Mills still served as president of the esteemed women’s institution in the eastern suburbs of Oakland. As different as those times were, the notes and souvenirs Delia left in her scrapbook, now in the Quarterly’s archives, are surprisingly familiar today.

Scrapbook memories from a graduate of the

Class of 1910 Her first impression of the campus , she writes, was that it was “all very beautiful, but rather lonely.” Without a doubt, Delia quickly got caught up in her education, studying algebra, English, French, and violin her first year. She did well under the guidance of her teachers—Miss Ege, whose portrait appears at right, was a favorite—and a grade card from her junior year shows As and Bs in all subjects, along with a “satisfactory” rating for deportment and the notation that she was “a very dear girl.” She soon found friends amongst her classmates, especially those who were athletically inclined. Her book includes the regulations for the campus Walking Club, which stipulate that “Whenever the Walking Club goes for a walk (unless a teacher accompany the Club) special permission must be obtained from the Physical Director, or in case of her absence, from the Dean; and the route for the day must be approved.” Delia also became captain of the Seminary basketball team (she is circled in the photo at left). At the time, Mills enrolled students in separate College and Seminary programs, and each had a basketball team. The two teams made worthy— and convenient—opponents. It was a good-natured competition, apparently, as evidenced by the dinner invitation shown at left. Mealtimes had their own set of regulations. A printed card formalizes some rules of the table, counseling that “chairs are handled with care and gentleness. One gives punctilious care at all times to personal appearance at table; a change of gown is usual for dinner…. At all times noise of the silver and china is carefully guarded. Food is eaten in small mouthfuls and slowly with the lips closed. One does not eat and talk at the same time.”


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

Although the newest communications technology was wildly popular—by the time Delia graduated in 1910, a whopping 6 percent of people in the country would have a telephone—much campus communication took place via pen and paper. Delia’s book contains a calling card from choir master Alexander Stewart kindly informing her of the whereabouts of her misplaced violin. Another card asks her to “Please report to the Dean what you are doing regarding your incomplete mark”—an unfortunate but all too common occurrence for students in any decade. Other notes bear invitations to room parties, special dinners, or simply offer “regrets.” Conventions were such that Delia submitted a written appeal to Miss Ege, chairman of the Regulations Committee, for permission to leave campus early for a weekend trip home to Calistoga: “Having no recitations in the afternoon, would it be possible for me to leave here on the 1:20 car in order to catch the Tiburon Ferry at 3:30 in the city,” Delia wrote on her monogrammed stationery. Automobiles were a rare sight at the time and the bridges across the bay wouldn’t be built until the 1930s, so such a journey would entail significant planning. “The Committee on Regulations is very glad to grant this request,” came the reply.

But life at Mills wasn’t all rules and regulations. A lively social scene is evidenced by the numerous programs for end-of-term concerts as well as student pageants and plays. The Virgil classes in the Latin Department staged Cena apud Caesarum, shown above, which honored the opening of the school’s new gymnasium and featured young ladies sporting togas and beards. Soon enough, Delia neared the end of her course of study. “First semester roomed in old No. 24 Seminary Hall with Ethel McKenzie. Took Violin, History of Art, American History, French IV. Pretty busy most of the time… Enjoyed the term though,” she wrote in the diary of her senior year. “Second semester moved to Room 12 Senior Hall—still with Ethel and we are enjoying it immensely!” On May 16, 1910, Delia and her classmates wore white gowns to their Commencement ceremony in Lisser Hall. Like all graduates before and since, they each must have reflected on all they had learned at Mills and gone out into the world a little older, a little wiser, and filled with hopes for the future. ◆



Writing her way home By Allison Block You can take the woman out of the South , but you can’t take the South out of the woman. Amy Franklin-Willis ’94 is a perfect case in point. The eighth-generation Southerner’s debut novel, The Lost Saints of Tennessee, is a paean to the places and personalities of a childhood steeped in Southern grace. Franklin-Willis, now a Bay Area resident for more than a decade, says her first book is a love letter to the strong Southern women in her life, particularly her paternal grandmother, Lavice MacAlpin Willis Paudert, a bastion of strength and resilience who inspired the author from a very early age. “My father’s mother was an exceptionally strong woman,” says Franklin-Willis, who modeled one of the novel’s most endearing characters, Cousin Georgia, after her. “She supported her family after her first husband, my grandfather, died of a heart attack in his early 40s.” Paudert taught Franklin-Willis how to love others unconditionally, keep calm in the midst of chaos, and certainly not least, bake mouth-watering biscuits from scratch. Franklin-Willis says she felt more at home in her grandmother’s small, eat-in kitchen— with its Formica table and a washer and dryer in the corner—than anywhere else in the world. “She told me news of my cousins, my aunt Bonnie, and my uncle Jimmy. Fed me freshly made cornbread and tomatoes grown down the road by her best friend Carolynn. Loved me in a way I can only describe as pure, devoted, and thoroughly uncomplicated,” Franklin-Willis recalls of childhood visits to her grandmother’s home in Tennessee. “I slept in the back bedroom my father used to occupy and I’d lie in bed listening for the rattle of the nightly Memphis freight trains through the tracks only a block away.” Amy Franklin-Willis ’94 (above) drew inspiration and strength from her grandmother, who lived in Pocahontas, Tennessee (pictured at top). 14 

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

The fictional Tennessee town of Clayton serves as backdrop for The Lost Saints of Tennessee, published in February by Atlantic Monthly Press. The story opens with 40-something Ezekiel “Zeke” Cooper wallowing in despair over the death of his twin brother, Carter, and the demise of his marriage to longtime sweetheart Jackie. With a

copy of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and his late brother’s old dog, Tucker, in tow, Zeke plans to check into a motel room and check out of life. But the world, it seems, is not quite ready to let him go, and he soon finds himself on the phone to his cousin Georgia in Virginia, asking if she might take him in at her farm for a while. It is there that he begins to find passion and purpose again. The Lost Saints of Tennessee strikes a perfect narrative balance—heartbreaking, uplifting, and engaging until the end. Such nimble storytelling is clearly the product of countless hours of hard work. “Writing is one of those things you must be compelled to do,” says Franklin-Willis. “There is no money, no fame. Or, at best, little money and little fame. It is spending hours by yourself working on a story because you feel pure joy in the process of creating it.” Franklin-Willis’s novel took a decade to see print, during which time she faced many challenges of her own, including a series of miscarriages. (She now has three lovely, healthy daughters). She pursued a career in fundraising for educational institutions— including a stint at Mills College. But when it came to writing, she was never deterred. “This story completely captured my heart and my mind,” she says. “There was no choice other than to finish it. I felt a great deal of empathy and responsibility to the characters and wanted to see the project through.”

Franklin-Willis is grateful to the Mills College professors who both educated and inspired her. “Madeleine Kahn taught me how to write a persuasive paper and to analyze literature in a meaningful way,” she says. “Cynthia Scheinberg taught me how to articulate my thoughts with authority and grace. I took every journalism class Sarah Pollock offered. She inspired and still inspires a love of good journalism in her students—telling a story well.” Franklin-Willis transferred to Mills after attending two other coeducational institutions. “I was the Goldilocks of college selection,” she says, “the first one was too small, the second was too big, and Mills was just right.” It was a high school classmate from Oklahoma who attended UC Berkeley who told Franklin-Willis she should check out their “sister” school—Mills. “I came for an admissions overnight. I made my way down Richards Road to the admissions office and, by the time I passed Orchard Meadow, I was in love with the place.” Franklin-Willis is already at work on her next novel, which picks up more than two decades later, with Honora, one of Zeke’s two daughters, all grown up and living in the Bay Area. Franklin-Willis says that the East Bay couldn’t be any more different than the small Oklahoma city where she spent much of her childhood after her parents separated, but she revels in the riches of each. “Things I love about the Bay Area: the gorgeous protected park lands, hiking on new trails with my daughters, seeing water at every turn— whether it’s the Bay, Lake Chabot, or the Pacific. I love the swirl of people from every part of the world here.” But her connection to the South continues to run deep. “I miss the Fourth of July in

Bookshelf Lola, California By Edie Meidav, MFA ’93 Farrar, Straus and Giroux

On its surface, this novel follows a pair of childhood friends from Berkeley in the 1980s to a reacquaintance later in life. But Meidav’s dense, complex writing presents a thought-provoking and entertaining meditation on friendship, personal choice, and California at the end of the 20th century.

The Mangrove Tree By Susan L. Roth ’65, MFA ’68, and Cindy Trumbore Lee and Low Books

Roth’s delightful mixed-media collage illustrations enliven this children’s book inspired by a project that helped people living in an impoverished Eritrean village become a self-sufficient community.

Taking My Life By Jane Rule ’52 Talonbooks

This posthumously published autobiography details Rule’s life up to the age of 21, including her time at Mills. It’s an illuminating look at the formative years of this cultural activist and groundbreaking lesbian author.

At the Gates of Dawn: A Collection of Writings by Ella Young Edited by John Matthews and Denise Sallee ’89 Skylight Press

Oklahoma,” she says. “Lawton was an army town and, let me tell you, they know how

Ella Young was an important con-

to do the Fourth of July properly. I grew up attending an all-day picnic out on the base,

tributor to the Irish literary scene

with busloads of soldiers swarming about, beauty queens and bands, and a live perfor-

of the early 20th century. This wide-

mance of the 1812 Overture, complete with a real cannon blast.”

ranging collection makes her romantic

Regardless of their roots, readers will surely relate to Franklin-Willis’s theme of “saints” in our lives that alter our fates in extraordinary ways. “If a person is lucky, someone or

prose and magical poetry accessible to a new and wider audience.

a beloved pet can save us from going over the edge,” she says. “Zeke is fortunate to be surrounded by women who love him—his daughters, his mother, his sisters, his ex-wife. And, of course, Zeke has Tucker, the dog.” May we all be so blessed. ◆

sPRING 2012


Make your voice heard in the AAMC Alumnae volunteers are vital to the success of the Alumnae Association of Mills College (AAMC) and to promoting alumnae engagement with Mills. Across the country and around the world, alumnae are recruiting students, hosting events, and organizing fundraisers to support student scholarships. Active volunteers keep our alumnae community robust and vibrant. I hope you have had the opportunity to meet President Alecia A. DeCoudreaux as she travels to events across the United States. Do take advantage of her visit when she is in your area and make yourself a part of your Mills club events. If you don’t have a local alumnae club, this is a prime opportunity to network with nearby Mills graduates and make plans to start (or restart!) alumnae activities in your region. All branch and club leaders are eager for your participation and welcome new ideas and new volunteers. The AAMC Board of Governors and its committees are also creating new opportunities for alumnae engagement. This spring, the AAMC Alumnae of Color Committee organized a “Day of Action” to promote volunteer opportunities for alumnae to recruit, mentor, and support students, and the AAMC Graduate Committee was recently re-established to promote the interests and needs of our graduate school alumnae/i. Mills is fortunate to have alumnae who are eager to serve the AAMC and the College as alumnae trustees. Alumnae trustees serve as full members of both the Mills College Board of Trustees and the AAMC Board of Governors. The alumna trustee serves as a bridge between the two entities, representing the views and interests of the AAMC and alumnae to the College Board of Trustees and informing the AAMC board of important College decisions and matters. Each of this year’s candidates has a unique set of experiences. Whether you live near or far, this is your opportunity to select your candidate for this very important volunteer position. Sincerely, Linda Jaquez-Fissori ’92 President, Alumnae Association of Mills College


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

The newly elected alumna trustee will serve a three-year term commencing on July 1, 2012, and ending on June 30, 2015. She will join continuing Alumnae Trustees Gayle Rothrock ’68 and Diana Birtwistle Odermatt ’60. At right are the candidate profiles for this year’s nominees: Julia Almanzan ’92 and Molly Fannon Williams ’75. Almanzan currently serves as an alumna trustee. Her term is set to end on June 30. However, AAMC bylaws allow her to serve two consecutive terms if re-elected to the position. Please take a moment to read these statements and complete your ballot on the last page of the Quarterly. The deadline for receipt of ballots is Friday, May 4.

Elect your alumna trustee

Julia Almanzan ’92 (incumbent) Ladera Ranch, California

Molly Fannon Williams ’75 Bridgewater, Massachusetts

Service with AAMC/Mills: Los Angeles Mills College Alumnae

Although distant from the campus, I have been loyal to Mills

(1992–present; president, vice president, recent graduates chair,

throughout my life. Receiving my undergraduate education

nominating chair), Santa Barbara/Ventura Alumnae (2002–

at a small women’s college in California shaped my life and

2010; advisor), Orange County Mills College Alumnae (2008–

career. When I reunite with Mills friends or meet new Mills

present; president), regional governor (2002–2008), alumnae

alumnae, an unmistakable, unique bond is immediately appar-

admissions representative, Alumnae Relations Committee.

ent. Mills alumnae defy categorization but we are comfortable

Since 2009, alumna trustee on the AAMC Board of Governors

with who we are.

and Mills College Board of Trustees.

Although I did serve as a volunteer for Mills in the past, my

Additional volunteer service: Los Angeles County Counsel

community service is currently focused close to home. I am in

Association (2001–2007; executive secretary, vice president),

my sixth year on the board of Bay Farm Montessori Academy

Loyola Law School Board of Governors (2001–2005; Awards,

where my son (now 15) attended school through eighth grade.

Mentoring, and Grand Reunion committees), Constitutional

I have also held leadership positions with the Association of

Rights Foundation mock trial competitions.

Fundraising Professionals; I chaired this organization’s annual

Transitioning into leadership positions post graduation was easy thanks to the leadership opportunities I received at Mills.

conference several years ago, the largest one-day conference in the Boston area.

Similarly, the academic preparation I received in my PLEA

My professional career has been based in the nonprofit

courses prepared me for law school and a successful legal career.

world and I have worked extensively with all types of boards:

At Mills I gained the confidence I needed to explore and pursue

at Wellesley College, as consultant to various nonprofit orga-

my passion for social justice. I am a litigation attorney provid-

nizations, and as executive director of the Bridgewater State

ing legal representation to the Los Angeles Board of Supervisors

University Foundation.

regarding issues pertaining to child abuse. I bring these leadership and advocacy skills to the board.

My career in institutional advancement has given me an understanding of nonprofit organizations and familiarity with the criti-

I currently serve on the Ad Hoc Alumnae Relations, Strategic

cal issues in higher education today. My experience at Wellesley

Planning, and Student Life committees. I serve as co-chair of the

College and with the Wellesley Centers for Women has direct

Student Life Committee and on the Governance Task Force. I

applicability to the kinds of issues and decisions the Mills board

would continue these duties and responsibilities if elected for a

will address. Based on extensive experience with philanthropy, I

second term as alumna trustee.

would be able to help make the important case for private support

My dedication to women’s education and development of

for Mills.

women as strong and proud began as a student. I continue to

As alumna trustee, I would bring regional and demographic

benefit from the rich education I received through the alum-

perspectives to the board. Representing my peers from the

nae with whom I interact. I am devoted to an alma mater that

classes of the ’70s would be a privilege and an appealing oppor-

respects the alumnae who support and honor Mills for the mag-

tunity. I would like to experience what and who Mills is today,

nificent manner in which it encourages and recognizes women

to acknowledge the important role my Mills education has

for their true value. I was a sophomore at Mills during the Strike

played in my own life and career choices, and to make Mills

of 1990 whereby the Board of Trustees voted to admit men to

College a central part of the next stage of my own life. ◆

the College and later reversed their decision. As a result, I remain wholeheartedly supportive of Mills as a women’s institution and its dedication to a strong undergraduate women’s education.



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

Mary E. Lanigar ’38 (1919–2007) Mary grew up in rural northern California. In 1957, she became the first woman partner in a “Big Eight” accounting firm. In 1989, as a Mills trustee, she endowed a scholarship to help other women from the northern part of the state afford a Mills education. In her will, Mary left a bequest to support the scholarship.

Kelsey Lindquist ’10 Kelsey grew up in Shasta County and received the Mary

Generations of alumnae have helped Mills thrive by supporting the College through their estate plans. You can carry on this tradition and ensure that the Mills experience is available for students in the future by including a provision for the College in your will.

E. Lanigar Scholarship in her senior year at Mills. She was hired as a writer at the University of California, Berkeley, soon after graduation.

To learn more about creating a legacy of your own at Mills contact us toll-free at 1.877.PG.MILLS (1.877.746.4557) or 20 

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

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

In Memoriam Notices of death received before December 19, 2011 To submit listings, please contact or 510.430.2123

Alumnae Rebecca Gibson Foote ’35, October 10, in Carson City, Nevada. She was a teacher and homemaker, loved participating in community events, and traveled to 23 countries. Survivors include a nephew. Blythe Miller Grogan ’38, August 29, in Rhinebeck, New York. An actress and singer, she performed on stage and radio, toured with several light opera companies, and was featured as the first voice for FAB detergent. She also worked for many years as a realtor in Darien, Connecticut. She is survived by three children. Helen Wing Hackett ’39, September 1, in Mesa, Arizona. A longtime resident of Hood River, Oregon, she taught sixth grade for 15 years. In retirement, she traveled and cruised widely, and was a competitive bridge player. She is survived by three children and six grandchildren. Georgia “Gige” Willmore Randick ’39, May 19, in Clayton, Missouri. She taught early education and was a founder of the One By One Prayer Movement. Survivors include three daughters and 12 grandchildren. Dorothy Oakley Starck ’39, October 9, in Portland, Oregon. She taught flute and played in local symphonies and ensembles throughout her life. Survivors include her four daughters and their families. Janice Scowcroft Hinckley ’40, October 9, in Fruit Heights, Utah. A gifted mezzo-soprano, she participated in numerous musical and theatrical productions and served as president of both the Utah Symphony Guild and the Salt Lake Music Circle. She is survived by four children and nine grandchildren. Vera “Cherie” Goecken Black ’41, May 25, 2011, in San Mateo, California. She was a world traveler, passionate golfer, and champion bridge player. Survivors include two nieces. Pete Rugolo, MA ’41, October 16, in Sherman Oaks, California. He was a composer and the chief arranger for the Stan Kenton Orchestra from 1945 to 1949, won the DownBeat magazine poll as best arranger five times, and signed Miles Davis to Capitol Records (Rugolo also produced the famous Birth of the Cool sessions with Davis’s group). He recorded numerous albums with his own bands in the 1950s and went on to win two Emmy Awards for his work composing for television, including the themes for the series The Fugitive and Run for Your Life. He is survived by his wife, Edye; three children; and three grandchildren. Ruth Brant-Croal ’43, June 18, in Oro Valley, Arizona. She had a career writing and editing with National DC Comics in New York before returning to her hometown of Fargo, North Dakota. Always interested in learning and reading, she is survived by two grandchildren and several nieces and nephews. Maxine Piness Bookman ’44, October 23, in West Los Angeles. She was devoted to Wilshire Boulevard Temple, where her father and husband both served as presidents of the congregation, and was known for her great personal style and mah jongg skill. She is survived by a son and three grandchildren. Jean Hastings Ayres ’45, October 2, in Charlestown, Massachusetts. She worked as an office manager at one of Boston’s leading architectural firms for more than three decades and was a devoted Red Sox fan, world traveler, and scuba diver—a hobby she took up at age 64. She is survived by two sons and two grandchildren.

Warren Hellman, who built a fortune as an investor and was a leading figure in Bay Area philanthropy, died December 18 at the age of 77. His family ties to Mills reach back for generations, with 10 family members having attended the College. His grandparents, Frances Jacobi Hellman and I. W. Hellman Jr., served as College trustees, as have three other family members including his daughter-in-law, Sabrina. The Hellman family’s philanthropy at Mills has been multi-generational, as well. Warren’s grandmother funded the Hellman pool, his uncles and aunts established an endowed music fund honoring Warren’s mother, and the Hellman Summer Science and Math Fellows program was created with funding from the Hellman Family Foundation. Warren Hellman was chair of the Mills College Board of Trustees during the pivotal Strike of 1990, when alumnae and students rebelled against the board’s vote to admit male undergraduate students. Two weeks later, he stood before a large crowd on campus and announced that board had rescinded its decision. Known for his casual wardrobe—he rarely wore a tie or jacket—and unending sense of humor, Hellman was deeply involved in the civic life of San Francisco, supporting the San Francisco Free Clinic and other efforts. An amateur banjo player, he also established the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass music festival in 2001, which is now an annual three-day event drawing more than 300,000 people to Golden Gate Park. Hellman studied economics at UC Berkeley and received an MBA from Harvard Business School in 1959. At age 28, he became the youngest partner at Lehman Bros. investment bank in New York. Ten years later, he became president of the company. He eventually returned to California and, in 1984, formed the private-equity firm Hellman & Friedman. He often said his philanthropic efforts were more rewarding than collecting expensive cars or art. “It’s fun to be appreciated,” he admitted in a 2006 interview with Forbes magazine. “But the other part is that good things really are growing.” He is survived by his wife, Patricia “Chris” Hellman; a son; three daughters; and 12 grandchildren. sPRING 2012


Anna Rainier Lowe, MA ’46, June 17, in Greensburg, Indiana. She was a dietitian at several colleges and an associate professor of nutrition in the Purdue University College of Agriculture. She served on the boards of the Greensburg Daily News, the Greensburg Carnegie Library, and the YMCA. She is survived by two daughters. Evelyn Peterson Mason ’46, July 31, in Bellingham, Washington. She co-founded the first mental health clinic in the Bellingham community, was a professor of psychology at Western Washington University, and directed Project Catch-Up, a program to help disadvantaged youths continue their education. She is survived by two sons, several granddaughters, and numerous other family members. Barbara “Bobbe” Stanton ’46, September 15, in San Francisco. She had a successful career as a travel consultant and tour guide, was devoted to physical fitness, and was a longstanding member of the San Francisco Metropolitan Club. She is survived by her partner, Ron Noland; two children; and four grandchildren. Betty Ann Jaggard Prescott ’47, October 14, in Angel’s Camp, California. She taught mechanical engineering technology at San Joaquin Delta College for 20 years. A docent and volunteer at Calaveras Big Trees State Park, she served as a board member of Calaveras Big Trees Association, became the first woman president of the Bear Valley Ski Club, and was a leader in the American Association of University Women. She is survived by three sons and four grandchildren. Barbara Burns Johnson ’49, April 28, 2011, in Wichita, Kansas. She lived in St. Louis and Philadelphia, where her husband was a major league baseball pitcher, before settling in Wichita. She was active in the Junior League of Wichita and a member of the Wichita Country Club. Survivors include three daughters, five grandchildren, and her cousins Joan Hinman Gusman ’71 and Elinor Frye Hansen ’49. Sheila Sullivan Dobbin ’50, December 12, in Brookline, Massachusetts. She earned her MSW from the University of Denver and, after raising her own children, worked for a nonprofit providing services for children from low-income families. She was active with the Unitarian Universalist Church and was member of the Folk Song Society of Greater Boston. She is survived by three sons, three grandchildren, and a stepgrandchild. Patricia Peeke Gebhard ’50, October 29, in Montecito, California. She worked as a librarian at UC Santa Barbara, wrote books and articles on a variety of subjects, and contributed time and resources to many community organizations including the Santa Barbara History room. She is survived by two daughters and three grandchildren. Nancy Luby Cummings ’51, April 29, 2011, in Long Beach, California. Pearl Frances Seymour, MA ’51, October 28, in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. An accomplished keyboardist, she taught at Mars Hill College, served as organist for the Olin T. Binkley Memorial Baptist Church, and taught piano students in her home. She is survived by her husband, Robert; two children; and four grandchildren. 30 

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

Joan Baker Surls ’51, October 8, in Kona, Hawaii. A former resident of Walnut Creek, she was a member of Philanthropic Educational Organization, Kona Elks, and an active volunteer in Hawaii. Also an accomplished stained glass artist, she is survived by four children and nine grandchildren. Susan Rubenstein Schapiro ’52, November 11, in Buffalo, New York. She joined the second class of women admitted to Harvard Law School, but abandoned her pursuit of law in favor of teaching—first at Buffalo Seminary, and then as the first female teacher at Nichols School, where she developed new literature courses and was founding head of the Department of Philosophy, Religion, and Social Relations. She earned her doctorate in the philosophy of education at the University at Buffalo at age 61, headed the Junior Board of Albright-Knox Art Gallery, and served on the board of Temple Beth Zion. She is survived by her husband, William; three children, including Mills Trustee Kate Schapiro; five grandchildren; and her aunt, Lucy Cowdin Maisel ’38. Louise Millikin Frost ’53, October 6, 2009, in Weston, Massachusetts. A special education teacher and music lover, she is survived by her children and her sister, Harriet Millikin Chafee ’51. Jean Marples Hammond ’53, October 22, in Portland, Oregon. She was an accomplished pianist and a member of Beaux Arts and the Oregon Music Teachers Association. She accompanied local vocalists and young instrumentalists and choirs, taught piano, and attended the Oregon Bach Festival for 40 summers. She is survived by her husband, Paul; three children; and three grandchildren. Eugene Engen, MA ’55, October 19, in Mitchell, South Dakota. He completed his PhD in psychology at Louisiana State University and served in the Air Force before becoming a clinical psychologist at Yankton State Hospital in South Dakota. In the 1970s, he co-founded the Lewis & Clark Mental Health Center, where he served as executive director for 20 years. He is survived by two sons. Donna Alexander Currier ’56, September 13, in Hillsborough, California. She earned her teaching credential as well as her real estate license, and worked for many years at Grubb & Ellis. She served in the Coyote Point Museum Auxiliary, Lucille Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford Auxiliary, and many other community groups. Survivors include her husband, Bill; a son; and two grandchildren. Marjorie Woolwine Knightly ’56, October 26, in Cochiti Lake, New Mexico. She was a homemaker and frequent camper, mastering the art of propane stove cooking. A life-long volunteer, she served as a den leader in Cub Scouts and was a guide of the historic sites of Santa Fe. She is survived by her husband, William; three sons; and three grandchildren. Edith Venezky Conn, MA ’57, October 5, in Ventura, California. She had a 58-year career as a professor at Ventura College, teaching dance, English, special education, and women’s studies. She served in the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges and was a member of the Modern Language Association, American Association of University Professors, and National Women’s Political Caucus. Jean Jue Dang ’57, August 27, in Rancho Palos Verdes, California. She is survived by her husband, Collin; three children, including Lindy Dang ’86; and three grandchildren. Sarah Lee Blanchard Paterson ’63, September 17, in Montgomery, Ohio. She taught French and social studies. She is survived by her husband, Stuart, and three sons.

Gifts in Memory of

Marjorie Woolwine Knightly ’56 by Mike Shaw Swan ’56

Received September 1 – November 30, 2011

Jennifer “Jenny” Makofsky ’91 by Lisa Kosiewicz ’91

Ruth Allen, grandmother of Sally Collins ’91, by her daughter, Rose Allen Dorbin

Boitumelo “Tumi” McCallum ’08 by her mother, Teboho Moja, Steve Burrell

Shirley Barnes by Elizabeth Barnes ’74

Paul Metzelaar, husband of Betty Viergutz Metzelaar ’43, by Los Angeles Mills College Alumnae

Patricia Beckman ’55 by John D. Taylor Doris “Dorie” Hillman Blackwell ’41, P ’75, P ’77, by Jean Morgan Randall ’41

Alden and Clotilde Miller by Kay Miller Browne ’53, P ’83 Judy Mollica by Yuri Chiamori Mok ’60, P ’91

Phyllis Lupton Brislawn ’52 by Jacquelyn Jagger Parsons ’52

Isabel Schemel Mulcahy ’44 by her husband, Thomas F. Mulcahy

Mary Lou Brooks ’61 by Linda Rooney Markstein ’61

Henry Nervino by Adrianne Calonico Rose ’74

Mary Arch Bye ’61 by Linda Rooney Markstein ’61

Carol Pringle by her niece, Rebecca Murillo-Starr ’02

Terry Foskett Camacho ’61 by Marcia Lu McElvain ‘61

Carolyn “Deanie” Rapp by Yuri Chiamori Mok ’60, P ’91

Jessica Marie Feller ’09 by her parents, Alice and Fred Feller

June Burley Rensch ’52 by Jacquelyn Jagger Parsons ’52

Mary Jean “Rosy” Rosenberry Ferris ’45 by Kathryn Boyles Joan Butner Glascock ’46 by Helen Haigh Mills, MA ’46

Susan “Sue” Rubenstein Schapiro ’52 by her aunt, Lucy Cowdin Maisel ’38, Christian Thwaites

Shirley Grantham by Joyce Grantham ’61

Margaret “Peg” Hudelson Scherer ’49 by Danusia Zaroda

Elaine Johnson Gutleben ’44 by her husband, Chester Gutleben

Sara “Sally” Taylor Swift ’52 by Nancy Parker ’52

Bobbie Haig by Kazuko Tsunematsu Tajima ’69, MA ’71

Louise Mertz Tompkins ’34, by her daughter, Pamela Tompkins Dixon ’63

Sabina Malatesta Hancher ’51 by Nancy Kenealy Soper ’51

Reva Twersky by Jerome D. Oremland

Lienfung Li Ho ’43 by Betty Chu Wo ’46

Lisa Christine Valdez ’85 by April Hamilton ’85

Sally Miller Kell ’57 by her sister, Kay Miller Browne ’53, P ’83

Jean Grossberg Weeks ’44 by Janet Andrew

Elaine Larson Kievman, P ’64, by her daughter, Mura Kievman ’64

Elinor Whitman by Mary Whitman Temple ’44

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

Barbara Woodbury ’74, October 11, in Park City, Utah. She is survived by her husband, Dennis Bird, and her sister Diana Woodbury Inagaki ’83. Karin Mulloy ’00, November 1, in Alameda, California. An English major, she loved reading and writing and took glee in discovering typos in signs and menus. Survivors include her husband, Sean Cottriel, and her mother, Suzanne DeLilo, MA ’01. Kathleen Washington Woods ’06, MBA ’07, October 7, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Spouses and Family Dorothea Ernst Blocher, mother of Alice Blocher Knudsen, MA ’05, EdD ’07, October 20, in Potomac, Maryland. Vaughn Brown, husband of Jeanne Knudsen Brown ’43, June 28, in Buena Park, California.

William Earle, husband of Andrea Byron Earle ’49, October 9, in Grass Valley, California. David Ford, husband of Anna Lou Fields Ford ’52, September 13, in Plymouth, Minnesota. Teri Roos, mother of Nicole Harrison ’96, November 14, in Gardnerville, Nevada. Paul Porter, husband of Anne Harrington Porter ’67, March 10, 2010, in Placentia, California. Carolyn Rapp, mother of Judy Rapp Smith ’60, October 12, in Redondo Beach, California. Hiroshi Takasaki, husband of Asako Nakayama Takasaki ’51, in Hamamatsu, Japan. Edmund Wilkins, father of Anna Wilkins Henderson ’80, December 3, in New Brunswick, Canada.

sPRING 2012


Ebb + flow Decades of artistic innovation were on display in

Lisser Hall as more than a dozen dancers showcased their skills at Ebb + Flow, the inaugural Mills dance alumnae/i concert. The February 3 performance was conceived and curated by Ashley Trottier and Jochelle Pereña (pictured on the table of contents), both of whom received their MFA degrees at Mills last year, as a way to display the versatility, spirit of experimentation, and multi-faceted artistry of the College’s longestablished dance program. The evening included an installation, film, duets, and solos with live music collaboration as well as a site-specific work. Featured alumnae/i artists were Alyce Finwall, MFA ’11; Bianca Brzezinski ’10; José Navarrete, MFA ’08 (below); Leyya Mona Tawil, MFA ’03 (top right); Associate Professor of Dance Molissa Fenley ’75 (middle right, with Professor Emerita of Dance Rebecca Fuller); Peiling Kao, MFA ’10 (bottom right); Nora Chipaumire-Sanders, MA ’00, MFA ’02 (in an autobiographical dance film); and Sheena Johnson, MFA ’10 (in a multimedia installation). The Mills College Dance Alumnae/i Group hopes to make this concert an annual event. Alumnae/i interested in joining the group or participating in next year’s concert should email millsdancealum@ Look for “Mills College dance alumni” on Facebook, too!

The concert was co-sponsored by the Mills College Dance Department and the Office of Alumnae Relations and was generously supported by the Momenta Foundation.


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

photos by K urt Loeffler

Alumna Trustee Ballot Nominee statements are printed on page 17. Please indicate your choice for 2012–15 alumna trustee below:

  Julia Almanzan ’92

  Molly Fannon Williams ’75

IMPORTANT: • Please mail ballot in a private envelope to the Alumnae Association of   Mills College (AAMC). Pre-addressed Mills College Annual Fund envelopes are supplied for donations only. • Only ballots cut from the Quarterly will be counted. The ballot is printed on the inside back cover of the Quarterly. No ballot will be accepted without the mailing label on the reverse side. In order to maintain voter confidentiality, the association’s mail opener will verify that the mailing labels are authentic and then ink out voter names before passing ballots on to the Nominating Committee chair for final count. • No faxed ballots or call-in or email votes are valid.

Upon request, the AAMC will send a spring Quarterly to replace the one from which you have cut this ballot. Call 510.430.2110 or email

Ballots must   be received at  Reinhardt Alumnae   House by 5:00 pm,   Friday,  May 4, 2012

Mail your ballot to:

Chair, Nominating Committee AAMC Mills College 5000 MacArthur Blvd., MB #86 Oakland, CA 94613

Alumnae tr avel 2012 Paris and the villages and vineyards of France Discover the bucolic countryside, picturesque vineyards, and charming towns of Champagne and Burgundy. Begin your exploration in Reims, once the coronation site of French kings, and your gateway to the idyllic landscape and renowned champagne houses in the area. Visit the towns of Dijon and Beaune, and travel the legendary Route des Grands Crus. Conclude with three nights in Paris, the City of Light, and discover the highlights of this cosmopolitan capital. September 21–30, 2012 11 days, $4,495 plus airfare and VAT if booked by May 15, 2012 See the AAMC travel website at for dates, prices, and full itineraries as they become available. For reservations or additional information, call the Alumnae Association of Mills College at 510.430.2110 or email

Alumna   trustee   election   inside See candidates on page 17,   ballot on inside back cover

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

Join us for the inaugural Russell Women in Science Lecture

A Changing Climate in Human Health Empowering Women in a Global Society Tuesday, April 17, Littlefield Concert Hall, Mills College 5: 00 pm; doors open at 4:30 pm for pre-lecture reception RSVP online at by April 9

Dr. Rita Colwell has led groundbreaking research on the transmission of cholera and how the ecology of this disease-causing bacteria is altered as a result of global changes in climate and weather. She has also worked to combat the spread of cholera by training women in the villages of Bangladesh to remove the pathogen by filtering their drinking water through folded sari cloth. In this address, Dr. Colwell will explain how educating women in basic scientific concepts empowers them to take control of their lives and improve the health of their communities. She will also discuss the challenges she has faced throughout her career as a woman scientist as well as the current state of women working and studying in scientific fields. Dr. Rita Colwell is a renowned microbiologist whose career has focused on solving global infectious diseases, water, and health problems. She became the first female director of the National Science Foundation in 1998 and is currently Distinguished University Professor both at the University of Maryland at College Park and at Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health. She is also president and CEO of CosmosID, Inc.

The Russell Women in Science Lecture Series is made possible thanks to the generous support of Trustee Emerita Cristine Russell ’71

Mills Quarterly spring 2012  

Spring 2012 Mills College alumnae magazine

Mills Quarterly spring 2012  

Spring 2012 Mills College alumnae magazine