Nimbus 88 Spring 2021

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#88 SPRING 2021

A publication of New College of Florida

DRIVEN TO BE DOCTORS Latina Alumnae Bring Compassionate Care to Underserved Populations

Onward, President O’Shea New College’s Leader Retires After Nine Years

Editorial Staff Abby Weingarten Senior Editor Kim McDonald Associate Director Creative Services Manager Kathleen McCoy Director of Alumni Relations Su Byron Communications Specialist Publisher Office of Communications and Marketing New College of Florida 5800 Bay Shore Road Sarasota, FL 34243-2109 941.487.4153


Driven to be Doctors Latina Alumnae Bring Compassionate Care to Underserved Populations

NCAA Board of Directors Executive Committee Chair – Dan Stults ’77 Governance Chair – Chad Bickerton ’05 Immediate Past Chair – Cindy Hill ’89

21 Profiles

Aleah Colon-Alfonso ’18 Sarah Hernandez Matt Mancini ’17 Bob and Lee Peterson

16 Onward, President O’Shea New College’s Leader Retires After Nine Years

Also inside this issue: On Campus > 1 Op Ed > 5 In the Community > 12 Foundation Focus > 25 Class Notes > 26

Wesley Beggs ’10 Robert Bilott ’83 Hazel Bradford ’75 Benjamin Brown ’05 Doug Christy ’96 John Connelly ’76 Robert Freedman ’83 Eric Gottshall ’79 Chelsea Hall ’02 Miles Iton ’14 Oliver Peckham ’08 Gera Peoples ’94 Leslie Reinherz ’70 Benjamin Stork ’03 New College Leadership Donal O’Shea, Ph.D. President Suzanne Sherman, Ph.D. Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs MaryAnne Young Vice President of Advancement Ann Comer-Woods Director of Communications and Marketing For a listing of the Board of Trustees, visit


Alumnus Michael Freedman ‘84 is giving back to New College through his love of art and memories of New College. Prints of the Palm Court painting are available for purchase and all sales will go to support student scholarships. Visit to learn more!


NCF Students Compete in First Moot Court Tournament or the first time in the school’s history, New College sent students to compete in the Mid-South Regional of the 2020-2021 American Moot Court Association (AMCA) national championship tournament at the end of October. The event empowered six Novo Collegians (Rhys Shanahan, Natalie Kornblum, Natalie Spivey, Rasheed “Zane” DiVita, Isabel Nieves, and KarYan “Max” OoHlaing) to practice their legal skills by arguing imaginary cases. “This was a unique, historic moment for our students,” said David Fugett, New College’s general counsel and the team’s coach. “Moot court is a really good exercise for students to start thinking like lawyers. Our students are extremely bright and well-suited for an event like this, and I’m very proud of them.” New College students were organized into three twostudent teams to face off against 13 schools: Liberty University, Georgetown University, Duke University, Michigan State University, Texas A&M University, the University of Texas, the University of Southern California, Vanderbilt University, Bridgewater College, Marietta College, Regent University, Patrick Henry College and Yale University. “They represented New College against some of the finest moot court programs in the country, and they did so with a professionalism and skill well beyond their years and their experience level,” Fugett said. New College’s involvement in the AMCA tournament is a milestone, and it came only nine months after another


historic event for the College. In February, at the University of Central Florida, the New College Mock Trial Team (including Shanahan and Kornblum) successfully competed in the American Mock Trial Association’s Regional Tournament. It was the first time New College had ever participated in the competition. Novo Collegians went up against the top teams from the University of Miami, Florida International University and Flagler College, as well as a team from England’s De Montfort University (New College outscored law students at the latter by 15 points). Moot court and mock trial training are invaluable for students who are on the pre-law track.




New College Offers Guaranteed Admission to Local Students o garner interest and increase enrollment among local scholars, New College is offering guaranteed admission to students enrolled at six SarasotaManatee high schools. The program was launched in Fall 2020 for attendees of Booker, Lakewood Ranch, North Port, Riverview, Sarasota and Southeast High Schools. Interested students must meet grade point average, test score and course requirements to apply. “New College is eager to attract more students from our surrounding communities who seek an affordable, highly individualized college education that integrates superb academics with career-building experience,” said Damon Wade, Ph.D., New College’s vice president for enrollment management. “For students in Sarasota and Manatee, the state of Florida’s honors college is literally in their backyard.” New College also has a guaranteed admission agreement with State College of Florida (SCF) that is available to students who earn an associate’s degree in two years. In November and December, as part of an effort to spread the word about these opportunities communitywide, New College joined a collaborative initiative called Choosing the College That’s Right for You (CCR4U). During three CCR4U panel-style discussions, leaders from


New College, SCF, the University of South Florida SarasotaManatee and Ringling College of Art and Design teamed up to connect with more than 100 Sarasota-Manatee high school students. As members of the Cross College Alliance (CCA), all four colleges offer cross-registration, allowing students at any CCA school to sample classes from the other three institutions at no additional cost. This partnership gives students access to more than 400 full-time faculty members and hundreds of courses. The CCR4U panels and New College’s guaranteed admission program are just facets of a much larger goal—to continue connecting local high school students with New College and promoting the opportunities it provides.


New College Launches Its First Online Store wag, anyone? It is now as easy as a keyboard click to get branded T-shirts, hoodies and drinkware at the New College online store: “This is something our alumni and students have been wanting for quite some time,” said Ann Comer-Woods, the director of the Office of Communications & Marketing (OCM) at New College. To execute the design and prepare the inventory for the Fall 2020 launch of the site, Follett Higher Education began working in the spring with a team at New College that included Comer-Woods; Kim McDonald, the OCM’s associate director and creative services manager; and Chris Kinsley, New College’s vice president for finance and administration. Prior to the redesign, a limited supply of New College merchandise was available online on the dual site with the University of South Florida (USF) Sarasota-Manatee campus. But the brick-and-mortar bookstore at 6301 North Tamiami Trail on the west side of the New College



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campus was always where most students and faculty members purchased their materials. The physical bookstore at New College continues to remain open in addition to the online option. “What’s great about the new online store is that we’re not confined by physical space anymore,” Comer-Woods said. “And the inventory you could order online [from the old USF-run site] was extremely limited before, so the advantage of having our own online campus store is it allows us to offer a much broader, diverse range of merchandise branded with the New College insignia.” Some of those products include decal magnets, duffel totes, backpacks, hats, scarves and collectibles. There are even items for infants, toddlers and pets, and offerings from brands like Adidas®, Columbia® and Under Armour®. “The other nice aspect of it is that New College donors will be able to get a discount on merchandise through the Novo Perks program,” Comer-Woods said.



“Visions of the Black Experience” Film Series Returns nspiring cultural dialogue was the goal and cinema was the medium as the second annual “Visions of the Black Experience” film series returned to New College in the fall. From November 12 to 22, the free virtual festival showcased 30 selections (including both local and international features and shorts) that illuminated historical, social and cultural aspects of Black life. Organizers hosted 13 dialogue sessions and drew more than 1,500 unique viewers from 10 countries. The overarching themes included social justice, youth engagement and activism, and healthcare in the Black community—all issues that remained at the forefront of the collective conversation throughout 2020. “With many of the selections this year, we wanted to reflect on our history—where our country has been—and to understand the power young people have when they use their voices to stand up and make a difference,” said Bill Woodson,


Ph.D., New College’s dean of outreach and engagement and chief diversity officer. One of the selected films emphatically made Woodson’s point—a documentary entitled Into the Storm, which students at Sarasota’s Booker High School produced in 2019. It is a true story about young activists who fought to keep their cherished, predominantly Black Newtown institution open at a time when court-ordered desegregation led to mass closings of Black schools countrywide. The story is particularly poignant, as it takes place in the same year that Booker’s dominant men’s basketball team ascended to win the state championship. “Today’s political environment has caused many young people to question whether their voice matters,” Woodson said. “Well, this film provides strong evidence that it does.” To delve further into this discussion, festival organizers invited students from Booker, Sarasota and Southeast High Schools (among other institutions) to join a live post-film talk via Zoom.


Career Center Gives Students a Leg Up in Job Marketability ovo Collegians are getting the royal treatment when it comes to intensive career planning—from the first year of enrollment all the way to graduation—with the Novo Career Advantage. Developed by New College’s Center for Career Engagement and Opportunity (CEO), this four-year roadmap for undergraduates (launched in Fall 2020) consists of simple, professional development steps that give students an edge in the ever-evolving job market. “This is the framework we are using to help students tell their stories in a competitive way,” said CEO Director Dwayne Peterson. “We are helping ensure that students are career-ready, with the communication skills they need to make a successful transition after graduation.” The program includes everything from student career assessment sessions to one-on-one appointments with career coaches and resume-building experiences (such as internships, study abroad opportunities and independent study projects). Additionally, in October, the CEO hosted its first-ever Graduate & Professional School Expo to help students explore their post-undergraduate options. Considering 70 percent of Novo Collegians go on to pursue graduate or professional


school within five years of graduation, the CEO team saw a niche that needed to be filled, and the Expo allowed attendees to research a variety of graduate-level programs. Also in Fall 2020, the CEO launched its Professionals in Residence program to pair students with industry leaders. The initiative encourages students to schedule appointments with executives regarding career advice, networking, interviewing practice, and job and internship searching. The five professionals in residence are currently Henry F. Anthony; Angela Haines; Patricia Courtois; Dr. Lisa Merritt; and Dan Stults, Ph.D. “This program is a continuation of our goal to bring more professionals in contact with our students at New College,” Peterson said. “It is a continuation of the New College Mentorship Network, where we already have over 400 people available to offer career advice to students.”



What’s Happening PERFORMANCE @ NEW COLLEGE Students in [performance @ new college] participate in various shows throughout the spring semester (both in-person and virtually), from Carrie the Musical to The Little Prince.


Marra Piazza Brass, the associate director of Student Disability Services, helped created a comprehensive Disability Awareness Month program throughout March at New College.


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The first multi-school collegiate rowing crew, New Crew SRQ emerged on the Suncoast in March, thanks largely to the vision of third-year student/team founder Antonia “Toni” Ginsberg-Klemmt.


Goodbye and Thank You BY NEW CO LLEGE PRESID E N T D O N AL O’SH E A

THIS YEAR, MY LAST AS PRESIDENT OF NEW COLLEGE OF FLORIDA, is drawing to a close. Its full days and evenings have left me little time to sort through the jumbled thoughts and emotions that separation anxiety and the wee hours bring. But the dominant ones are wonder and gratitude. Wonder at the quality and uniqueness of this remarkable institution, and gratitude for having had the privilege to lead it these past nine years. Let me begin with the wonder. I knew coming in that New College is one of the nation’s most extraordinary liberal arts and sciences institutions. I’d expected brilliant students and faculty, and a dedicated staff. But I did not expect, and still marvel at, the way New College punches way above its weight. Ninety percent of our incoming students expect to continue on to graduate or professional school. New College has the highest per-capita percentage of graduates among all public universities who go on to receive doctoral degrees. We nearly double second-place William & Mary, and we’re way ahead of Georgia Tech and the University of California, Berkeley. Between one-eighth and one-sixth of our graduating students go on to receive doctoral degrees in science and engineering. This is a preposterously high proportion, higher than all Ivy League institutions. The next closest public institution in Florida is a little more than one in 100. That means that, despite our small size, we produce a significant proportion of Florida scientists. The awards our students win tell the same story. In the past 20 years, we have had 80 Fulbright scholars. Only two schools in Florida have had more Fulbright winners over the same period: Florida State University baccalaureate graduates have earned slightly less than 100 Fulbrights, and the University of Florida has had slightly more. Both are more than 50 times our size. On a per-capita basis there, we have almost double the number that Harvard has. Other national awards mirror the overachievement. Our students garnered 32 Gilman International Scholarships and six Udall Undergraduate Scholarships over the same period. We are number two among national public liberal arts colleges in the recently published Washington Monthly, and we occupy number six in this space in U.S. News and World Report (behind the military academies). These outcomes depend on faculty, staff, students, graduates and community supporters (past and present), and the way they work together. It has been a joy to work with such colleagues, and it is a tremendous privilege to count myself a member of the New College community. When I joined New College, Mary and I had three grandchildren. Now we have 10. I look forward to spending more time with Mary and my family, and with friends, old and new. I also hope to catch up on some of the mathematical advances of the last decade, and possibly even return with wiser eyes and new methods to some of the problems that I could never solve. I look forward to watching New College grow, to seeing our alumni continue to prosper, and to reminiscing about (and marveling at) the fact that I was able to spend nearly a decade of my life at such a magnificent institution. Thank you.


Driven to be Doctors Latina Alumnae Bring Compassionate Care to Underserved Populations BY A B BY W E I N G A RT E N ’0 0

As a young girl growing up in rural Colombia, alumna Dr. Valeria Valbuena felt deeply called to take care of her community. When she moved to the Sarasota-Manatee area to attend college, she didn’t speak any English. Today, she is a physician and a general surgery resident at the University of Michigan, and she credits much of her intellectual courage to her time as a “fearless learning” Novo Collegian. “I finished high school in Colombia and moved to Bradenton in 2008, and I got lucky that a world-class liberal arts education was just down the street from where I moved,” Dr. Valbuena said, adding that her father worked a seasonal job on Longboat Key and flew back and forth to South America. “In Colombia, we were in a low socioeconomic class, but there was always a strong push in my family to pursue higher education. There was not really an opportunity to support the academic development of a student from my background in my home country.” But there was in Southwest Florida. Initially, Dr. Valbuena attended State College of Florida, until Jane Pfeilsticker (a now-retired biology and biotechnology professor), steered her toward New College. Dr. Valbuena transferred in 2010 and began pursuing a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry.


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“I always knew I wanted to become a physician. There was a lot of need around me growing up, and I saw the value that the physicians in my community had. But I honestly didn’t know what it took to do that here in the United States,” said Dr. Valbuena, who graduated in 2013. “In Colombia, you finish high school after 11 grades and start medical school right away. When I moved to the U.S., it was a surprise to me to find out that I needed to do four to five years of undergrad first.” Pivoting quickly, Dr. Valbuena found New College to coincidentally be the ideal place to complete those unexpected undergraduate years. “I was attracted to the curricular structure of New College— the opportunity to explore aspects of my education that I wasn’t able to focus on at community college because I was busy checking in boxes for my prerequisites,” Dr. Valbuena said. “I learned how to think at New College because they


wanted me to think, instead of just getting me to answer questions in a multiple choice test. I can’t overestimate the value of having someone challenge me to come up with a question or an answer. This is ingrained in the way New College operates—trying to frame your mind to think. I continue to benefit from it today.” Dr. Valbuena worked alongside New College Biochemistry Professor Katherine Walstrom, Ph.D. and Emeritus Professor of Biology Elzie McCord Jr., Ph.D., and wrote her thesis about invasive Japanese fruit flies. Her research aimed to be a first step to help farmers in Florida’s strawberry fields find better pesticides to keep the flies from damaging their crops. “I spent two years on my New College thesis. The experience of being

mentored to take a project to the finish line, and presenting research at conferences—those are all things I don’t believe students at large undergraduate institutions routinely get, not like we did at New College,” Dr. Valbuena said. “Having that edge—having gone through everything from being in the lab to writing and presenting—allowed me to come into medical school with a whole set of skills.” Dr. Valbuena went on to receive her medical degree from the University of Illinois at Chicago, where she was an

active leader of the Latino Medical Student Association. Her research interests include workforce diversity (focusing on medicine and surgery), healthcare disparities, community-based interventions to increase access to healthcare, and organ donation and transplantation in minority populations. She was selected as part of the 2020-2022 cohort of the National Clinician Scholars Program, where she is completing her Academic Development Time while working toward a master’s degree in health and healthcare research. She plans to pursue fellowship training in abdominal transplantation upon completion of her surgical residency. “My research focus has been on healthcare policy, specifically about the


disparities in access to organ transplantation in Black and Latino populations,” Dr. Valbuena said. “My academic and social mission is to increase access to life-saving transplantation for patients who have a higher incidence of end-stage organ failure as a result of higher prevalence of hypertension, cirrhosis and diabetes. My entire family belongs to an at-risk population, and I’ve always gravitated toward caring for the population I belong to.” Dr. Valbuena explained that access to healthcare is heavily influenced by policy, and that having the clinical knowledge and commitment to change is “incredibly powerful.” “Many of the key stakeholders making decisions about resource allocation and regulatory policy have never taken care of patients. I believe it is very important for clinicians to be involved, and to influence the decisions being made that affect our patients,” Dr. Valbuena said. “The pandemic has shown that Black

and Latino patients are dying at a higher rate compared to white patients, but that’s nothing new. Racism is not new. The problems arising from unequal access to resources and justice, as well as

“I spent two years on my New College thesis. The experience of being mentored to take a project to the finish line, and presenting research at conferences—those are all things I don’t believe students at large undergraduate institutions routinely get, not like we did at New College.” the people fighting for equality, have always been here. Now that there is a renewed societal and academic interest in equity, I’m excited to be able to have a platform from which to advocate for

change, support our minoritized communities, and reform the system that has failed so many.” Dr. Valbuena is also the lead for the LEAGUES Fellowship, a pipeline program designed for medical students interested in the intersection of surgery and racial/gender equity. As the Resident Life Director of Recruitment at Michigan Surgery, Dr. Valbuena hopes to redesign the surgical residency selection process, focusing on a holistic review of applications with the goal of making surgical training accessible to candidates of all backgrounds. Having access to opportunities in the medical field was something Dr. Valbuena benefited from as an undergraduate at New College. The first year Dr. Valbuena applied to medical school, Dr. Lisa Merritt—an adjunct professor at New College and the founder of Sarasota’s Multicultural Health Institute—coached her through the process. “Dr. Merritt took me under her wing

Dr. Valeria Valbuena is a physician and a general surgery resident at the University of Michigan.


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and never before has their expertise impacted—and inspired— so many. What does this mean for young scholars—specifically New College students? The latest statistics show a surging interest in the pre-medical academic path and an unprecedented desire to serve the public. “New College has a history and growing number of students pursuing careers in the medical field,” said MaryAnne Young, the vice president of advancement and executive director for the New College Foundation, which channels many resources into the College’s pre-med programs. “The Foundation is pleased to support the tools to help our students succeed.” And those tools are more in-demand than ever, not just at New College but nationwide. At the end of 2020, National Public Radio reported on a growing phenomenon known as “The Fauci Effect”—a significant uptick in students applying to medical school, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC). Prominent figures during the pandemic like Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, have been sparking the wave. This application inundation comes during a major physician shortage (the United States will be short about 54,100 to 139,000 physicians by the year 2033, the AAMC projects). New College students may soon begin filling that void. To this end, in Fall 2020, New College began offering a free, for-credit Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) prep course. This made New College the only institution in the State University System of Florida to do so. Presented by the Center for Career Engagement and Opportunity (CEO), the “MCAT Essentials Live Online” course was designed to prepare pre-medical students for the rigorous undertaking of successfully completing the MCAT exam with a competitive score. “This course is showing the commitment New College has for students’ career planning and preparation. Nowhere else in the state can you take a MCAT preparation course, for credit and at no additional cost,” said CEO Director Dwayne Peterson. “Having an opportunity like this almost guarantees that our pre-medical students are going to score higher, increasing the competitiveness of their medical school applications.” The MCAT is a standardized, computer-based, multiple-choice test that has been a part of the medical school admissions process for more than 90 years. Upwards of 85,000 students take the exam each year, and nearly all medical

schools in the United States require MCAT scores. For New College’s course, a contracted Princeton Review instructor and test expert teaches students online. “If a student took this course on their own, it would cost them about $2,000,” Peterson said. “It’s 72 hours of instruction in preparation for the exam (three hours twice a week).” Lisandra Jimenez, the assistant director and career coach for the CEO, designed New College’s program. “We’ve seen an increase in interest in the medical field, and this is one way we can support students and help them continue on to medical school—particularly students who are not able to afford these kinds of prep courses on their own,” Jimenez said. “The medical school curriculum is extremely rigorous, and having a high MCAT score shows medical schools that students can succeed once admitted.” New College’s strategic plan includes a goal of increasing the number of students that are admitted to medical and law schools, Peterson said. Giving New College students this opportunity is essential to the success of the students and the campus as a whole. Also through New College’s Pre-Medicine Professional Community, the CEO connects students with opportunities for hands-on learning experiences, networking events, and help applying to graduate and professional schools. The Pre-Med Club at New College is an active extracurricular group, and numerous medical schools nationwide recruited students during New College’s first-ever Graduate & Professional School Expo in October. “New College’s liberal arts curriculum allows students to gain a broad range of knowledge and skills that they can take with them to medical school and a career in healthcare or medicine,” Jimenez said. “Students learn to develop their critical-thinking, problem-solving and other transferable skills that will help them tackle the ongoing disparities within our healthcare systems and serve all populations.”


Dr. Analiz Rodriguez is a neurosurgeon and brain cancer researcher at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.

when things weren’t working when I was applying to medical school. She saw the barriers I was facing, and she imparted to me that I had to get into medical school to make a difference in my community,” Dr. Valbuena said. “My mission to be a physician for underserved populations was heightened. She changed my life.” Now Dr. Valbuena is paying this mentoring influence forward. “I’m trying to get minority students into STEM careers. I’m helping to expose students to my field and strengthen their applications. I’m just one cog in the machine of trying to improve this—helping students who can help their own communities,” Dr. Valbuena said. “If there’s anything special about this time in history, it’s that we have reached a point where there is a growing awareness about the pressing need for representation and a renewed interest in taking critical action. I’m hoping we can seize this momentum and change the way we see worth and success in academia, so we can give everyone the same chance at the dream of learning.”

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A Dream Realized

For New College alumna Dr. Analiz Rodriguez—a first-generation American—working as a neurosurgeon and brain cancer researcher is a sacred practice. And she has devoted much of her career to fighting for patients from underrepresented populations. “Early in medical school, I’d go into the operating room and watch neurosurgery cases, and I felt at home and fell in love with it,” Dr. Rodriguez said. “I always felt that there was nothing else I’d rather do.” A medical doctor with a Ph.D., Dr. Rodriguez has been the director of neurosurgical oncology and an assistant professor in the Department of Neurosurgery at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) since 2017. Born in California to Puerto Rican and Dominican parents, she knew from the time she was a child that she wanted to be a brain surgeon. She remembers watching a documentary on The Learning Channel in fourth grade about a child who recovered from severe epilepsy after a brain procedure. In that moment, she asked her mother, “What type of

doctor does that?” and was told “a neurosurgeon.” Ever since, she has single-mindedly pursued that path. “Being committed to helping others is very much tied to my own Catholic faith. And I’m a first-generation American, so I’ve always grown up with this idealism about America,” Dr. Rodriguez said. “I’ve always believed that this is the best country in the world, and that you can make something of yourself here. Being able to get to where I am now comes with a sense of responsibility in terms of wanting to help others too.” A self-proclaimed lifelong “science nerd,” Dr. Rodriguez began entering science competitions in her teenage years. As a high school freshman, she placed in a regional science fair in Florida with her eco-conscious research project (about mealworms consuming non-biodegradable materials like Styrofoam and plastic), and competed internationally. Then, at age 16, intrigued by the academic rigor of New College, she enrolled and pursued a bachelor’s degree in chemistry, working closely with Emeritus Professor of Chemistry Paul Scudder, Ph.D. She wrote her


undergraduate thesis about organic chemistry synthesis—making a nonlinear optical molecule and putting it into polyelectrolyte multilayers. “I feel like New College is a utopia. It’s a place that, every time I vacation in Florida, I always stop by the campus and take pictures and remember the amazing time I had there,” Dr. Rodriguez said. “The types of free thinkers that New College promotes is incredible. It’s an unparalleled environment, and I don’t think I’ll ever be in an environment like that ever again.” While she was a student at New College, Dr. Rodriguez regularly volunteered with the Newtown branch of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Sarasota County, which furthered her interest in serving people of color and groups from lower socioeconomic backgrounds. “I’ve always done a lot of volunteer work and, when you do that, you see how unfair life is for so many people,” Dr. Rodriguez said. “And when it comes to cancer care, someone really will die earlier than someone else just due to the fact that they don’t have insurance or that they live in a rural area or because they are uneducated and can’t understand the pamphlets they are given. These things motivate me to make changes.” Dr. Rodriguez continued making changes after graduating from New College in 2003, matriculating with the Medical Scientist Training Program at Case Western Reserve University (sponsored by the National Institutes of Health) at age 19. She completed the M.D./Ph.D. program in six years. She finished her neurosurgery residency training at the Wake Forest University medical center and was inducted into the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society.

During her residency, she was awarded an American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS) Neurosurgery Research and Education Foundation fellowship for her work in glioblastoma. She also was selected for a socioeconomic fellowship from the Council of State Neurosurgical Societies (CSNS). Dr. Rodriguez is now a Congress of Neurological Surgeons (CNS) leadership fellow and was a member of the Women in Neurosurgery (WINS) executive committee. She did a neurosurgical oncology fellowship at City of Hope—a

“The types of free thinkers that New College promotes is incredible. It’s an unparalleled environment, and I don’t think I’ll ever be in an environment like that ever again.” comprehensive cancer center that specializes in immunotherapy trials. She is on the AANS/CNS Tumor Section and serves as the secretary of the Communications and Education Committee of the CSNS. Along with her oncology clinical practice, Dr. Rodriguez runs a brain tumor research laboratory in the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute at UAMS. “I came to Arkansas for a specific reason. With cancer, if you live in a certain area or have a certain socioeconomic status, you don’t have access to cutting-edge cancer care,” Dr. Rodriguez said. “We have a lot of disease in Arkansas—a lot of brain tumors and cancer—but there’s not a lot of opportunity in terms of clinical trials.” Her greatest career accomplishment, she said, has been building the

infrastructure to provide people— especially those with limited resources in rural areas—with personalized medicine. “Right now, we are looking at tumors and seeing if we can target something specifically for certain patients with these tumors,” Dr. Rodriguez said. “I’ve started a tumor bank that allows me to collect the tumors, grow them in a lab, sequence them, and understand a certain pathway we can target to help the patient.” Her experience at New College contributed greatly to her ability to empathize with her patients, she said. “New College is very different than other places. I feel like you really get a different view of the world and, even if you don’t come to New College one way, you come out more accepting of other people and points of view,” Dr. Rodriguez said. “A large component of taking care of people in medicine is about social interactions. I feel like a typical New College person is empathetic to other groups and is more open to hearing other opinions. That helps greatly in fields like medicine, where you should approach every patient in an unbiased way.” Dr. Rodriguez also believes she developed an intellectual curiosity at New College that continues to serve her daily in her profession. “I really like that New College focuses on self-motivation and the desire to learn. And medicine is a field where you’re constantly learning,” Dr. Rodriguez said. “I constantly have to read and learn for my patients because medicine is so rapidly changing. No one tells me to do it; it’s just that intrinsic curiosity to always learn and look for the answers. New College let me know that that was a valid way to learn, and that has always stayed with me.”



New College prioritizes sociopolitical justice and activism

NCF students encourage the campus community to get involved in political issues during the 2020 election cycle, and—of course—go to the polls to vote.

Politically American Greatness Active New College Students Join Forces By Donovan Brown ’13 American Greatness.

McNeill has nudged students to further amplify their voices in political matters. She and her staff created New College’s Information Center and partnered with TurboVote to For Rory Renzy, Cristiana Feazell and Marina ThisSidlow, uncertainty civic of deathVoting is as real to a easy To be Black inisAmerica engagement an enduring is to live passion. And theirs BlackisPerson a shared in America make as theitvery airfor students to register, gather absentee ballots and meet primary deadlines. with the fervor that uncertainty has run deeply of death. through It is anNew College’s that gives 61-year us life to “I’m passionate about political activism because I firmly history. inviolable continue on. that everyone should contribute to our democracy,” truth During that the is known 2020 to election every Black cycle,child the threeAnd Novo it isCollegians that, continuingbelieve that makes us Feazell said. “I’m impressed by the students’ passion at New before represented their College—and their generation—as so despised,ardent so they are born. political activists. hated but We persist, we College, create artand andthey make that passion contagious. Voter engagement acts as an effective outlet for that passion.” You “I may haven’t die met a student yet at New College songwho andisn’t story. Sidlow, before your birth. passionate about the most recent political Our issues,” culture saidisFeazell, one of life and joy, ana second-year sociology and philosophy student may die within spirit that will with never the Campus Vote Project, helped host a semi-virtual aYou second-year art history student involved indomitable in the nationwide your house. Campus Vote YouProject—a may die outside student your voter education succumb. program event for National Voter Registration Day in September house. coordinated locally through New College’sSo office we are of Student hated more because 2020—rallying those who students as the fall semester at New College You may die Activities & Campus drinking water. Engagement (SA[u]CE). wish to make us chattel and began. have failed You “New mayCollege, die as an institution, supportsincessantly the intellectually can do “Seeing student participation in activism at New College has from the and curious, foodthat you eat. leaves room for students nothing to be engaged more than look upon givenus mewith a lot of hope for the future of our society—whether You may dieinwalking, politically multiplejogging, ways,” or said runSA[u]CE Assistant awe. WhatDirector rage you mustit feel be students as the only organizing groups to attend a local protest or ning.McNeill. “One of the earliest things I learned Jada thing you from cannot tame, creating our own protests on campus for school-related You may die working at New playing. College is how big advocacy beguile, is for or students. destroy, is the issues,” very thing Sidlow that said. “Political activism is so important to me IYou really maydodielearn at worship. a lot from students about what’s continues happening to influence your because very actions. it is the most substantial way to create change in You maynationally locally, die at work, and because globally.” of work, As your children fawn our society.” Renzy, due Intofact, work. New College students have won numerous to become the awards very thing you wish atothesis rid student in political science and economics, is the chapter president of Democracy Matters at New College. Youtheir for may die political in a cage. initiative and voter turnout. the world New College of. With You may die received national voiceless, accolades from the ALL IN How Campus your culture becomes lessthe campus chapter of the nonpartisan national student Renzy has coordinated petitioning efforts focused on unseen and alone. Democracy Challenge for its high level of student reminiscent voting of what you group, so painstakingly getting corporate money out of politics, and he has organized And your during the death, 2018my election death,(nearly and thetwo-thirds death killed of students and deceived voted). for, how of those The College whom earned come before a platinum and after seal us from ALL yourIN God for achieving on-campus events to engage students in topics such as ranked-choice awill student be another voting rate above 50 percent, as well shrinks as three with every “Bestpassing generation. voting and open primaries. lot of students, myself included, can feel ritualistic in Class Awards” killing placed for theathighest the altarvoting of rateI would amongpity all you but I may “I dieknow doinga so. participating small, public, four-year institutions. powerless at times, especially when they come into contact

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with powerful interests that seem to get their way all of the time. But I think the political tide is turning a little bit, and young people are actively aware of the pull they can have in politics, which is reassuring and inspiring in many ways,” Renzy said. “New College has a lot of political energy that, when channeled in the right ways, can be a force to be reckoned with in the local community.”

New College Partners with Local Memorial for Social Justice

The horrific crime of lynching erases a human life. Far too often, the records of those crimes have been erased from America’s historical memory. That’s a crime in itself. But people are now working hard to set the record straight. And New College has partnered with Sarasota-Manatee’s Boxser Diversity Initiative to commemorate local victims of racist terrorism. It is all thanks to the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) Community Remembrance Project—an initiative that memorializes documented victims of racial violence with narrative markers installed at lynching sites in communities throughout the nation. Racist violence is a long and bloody chapter of American history. EJI studies reveal that more than 4,400 Black people were lynched in acts of racist terror across the South between 1877 and 1950. At least six of those murders happened close to home—in Manatee County, an area that was divided into Sarasota and Manatee counties in 1921. Area civic leaders, activists and educators have joined forces with the EJI to document these acts of racial terror in our region. The Boxser Diversity Initiative has spearheaded this regional effort, which has already received wide community support from many area charitable foundations: Newtown Alive, the Sarasota African American Cultural Coalition, the Sarasota Black Arts Collaborative, the City of Sarasota and New College. “We’re proud to be a part of this coalition,” said New College President Donal O’Shea. “It’s a sign of our college’s shared values. We’re deeply committed to this project.” Jessica Young, Ph.D., an assistant professor of English at New College and a member of the Committee on Campus Climate and Culture (4C), shares that commitment. “To repair the racial injustices of today, we need to remember the racial violence and injustices of the past,” Young said. “Commemorating these local tragedies is an important step in that direction.”

Uzi Baram, Ph.D., a professor of anthropology and heritage studies at New College, has long shown allegiance with area-based racial justice and multicultural causes. His “Looking for Angola” project uncovered the story of the Angola freedom seekers—a group of former slaves who created a community of their own in the Sarasota-Manatee region. Baram describes the Community Remembrance Project as “the first step to commemorate those people who were killed. I’m fascinated by the courage of the local African-American community, and how determined the people were to pass that courage on to their children and grandchildren. It’s vital to remember their names and to recognize their trauma. Knowing about this past helps us build community for those who seek justice.” Bringing the tragic history of local lynching to light demands hard work. Boxser Diversity Initiative researcher Hope Black is still unearthing acts of racial terror in Sarasota-Manatee’s past. Black’s research team has documented six local lynching victims: Henry Thomas, Sam Ellis, Wade Ellis, Ruddy March, William English and James Franklin. The historical marker commemorating their lives will be a part of the future Sarasota African American Art Center and History Museum in the Newtown community. What makes the marker so important? “Because the lost lives it documents were important,” said Dan Boxser, the founder and president of the Boxser Diversity Initiative. “It’s important to fully understand our history and the racial violence that was here, and how we can learn from it. Black lives matter, both yesterday and today. For the healing to begin, we need to remember their names.”

Multicultural Health Institute Scholars Conduct Research on COVID-19

New College alumna Elizabeth Ramsamooj and transfer student Dachnaica Alcius became skilled scientific researchers during the pandemic, studying Florida’s unique experience with COVID-19. The 2020 training was a first for the two young scholars, who worked as interns for Sarasota’s Dachnaica Alcius Multicultural Health Institute (MHI) and the Florida Alliance for Health Professions Diversity Scholars Program (FAHPD).



“When I found out I could help with COVID-19 research, I wanted to get involved,” said Alcius, who is originally from Haiti. “Because I speak Creole, I was able to help research people who were second-generation Haitians born in the United States, and I studied their response to western medicine during COVID-19.” Elizabeth Ramsamooj While Alcius was examining the health disparities within the Haitian community, Ramsamooj was looking at the role of community aid in addressing local food insecurity issues. Empowering students to pursue this type of self-led research is one of the objectives of the MHI internships, which are joint efforts between New College adjunct professor Dr. Lisa Merritt; and Kristopher Fennie, Ph.D., assistant professor of epidemiology at New College. Dr. Merritt founded the MHI in 1995 to support programs that identify health issues affecting underrepresented communities throughout the United States—a topic that often interests intellectually curious Novo Collegians. Ramsamooj and Alcius were both given the freedom to design their own research while building their criticalthinking skills and professional credentials. “My research focused on, if a medical emergency happens, will second-generation Haitians seek western treatment? What I learned was fascinating,” Alcius said. Alcius’ aim was to describe socio-demographic factors among her 86-person sample, and to answer the question, “How does acculturation factor in the decision making of Haitian young adults seeking care during COVID-19?” The answers were eye-opening. “Some of the people said, ‘It’s because I’m Black in America,’” Alcius said. “Race and biases definitely played a

part in the distrust of being treated properly by the healthcare system here.” The commitment to gathering these kinds of insights are part of what makes the MHI such a significant research resource. Its studies shed light on injustice in healthcare and how various populations suffer from racial and socioeconomic bias. “Dr. Merritt is so great at what she does. I learned so much from her and Dr. Fennie, and I would really like to work with the MHI again and conduct more research,” Alcius said. “Before, when I thought about doing research, I thought, ‘You have to be a great scientist to do that,’ but then I realized you really just have to be someone curious with a great mentor. They showed me that.” Ramsamooj coordinated direct-action efforts with the MHI Safekeepers in addressing COVID-19 prevention efforts in the community. She interviewed 43 participants, and learned that the manner in which people access food within their local environment was significantly altered by COVID-19. “I’ve always been interested in working with diverse populations, and I want to use that research to really change policy,” Ramsamooj said. Ramsamooj graduated from New College in May with a bachelor’s degree in sociology and has since moved on to the University of West Florida for a master of public health degree program. “Hands-on learning was one of the reasons I came to New College, but I never would have thought I would Dr. Lisa Merritt have had the ability to lead my own research like I did at the MHI,” Ramsamooj said. “New College gives you opportunities like these—to make the most of what you want to do and to completely personalize your education.”

Join the Legacy Challenge! Include New College of Florida in your estate plan and the College will match a portion of your future gift today — to the department, program, or area of your choice! Intrigued? Please contact MaryAnne Young at 941-487-4800 or

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The New College Board of Trustees is vested with the authority and responsibility to do all things needed to administer New College. Of the designated 13 members, five are alumni: Mary Ruiz, Board Chair ’73 Ron Christaldi, Vice Chair ’89 Charlie Lenger, Board Member ’78 Sofia Lombardi, New College Student Alliance President The New College Foundation Board of Directors manages an endowment and a collection of funds that are invested for growth. The Foundation raises money for scholarships, professorships, research, travel and capital improvements that are not funded through other sources. While many non-alumni community members are Board of Directors members and officers, the Foundation Board includes many alumni:

A Message from the Chair Dear Fellow Alums, You have just elected a new cohort of members to the New College Alumni Association Board of Directors. Thank you to the candidates who put their names and aspirations forward. Thank you to all who voted for the members. Thank you to those elected who will contribute over the next three years. We hope that the coming period will offer greater security, healing, health and opportunity for all. As we make progress against the pandemic, alumni remain a tremendous source of leadership and service to our beloved New College. Preserving the best of what New College was and is, and potentiating the best of what New College can be, requires the collective effort of many. Alumni play key roles in supporting New College. Three boards (the New College Foundation’s Board of Directors and Board of Trustees, and the Alumni Association’s Board of Directors) are populated with alumni working in collaboration with community leaders. These leaders deliver the conceptual, philosophical, administrative and financial elements that enable a New College education. Our alumni are amazing. You are amazing. Your help is guiding and nurturing New College and ensuring that the unique New College experience will be available for generations to come.

Mary Ruiz ’73 Susan Burns ’76 Glen Hendrix ’76 Raymonda Burgman ’91 Sharon Ramey ’65 Henry Smyth ’76 Robert Turffs ’74 Charlie Lenger ’78 Chuck Hamilton ’64 Charles Raeburn ’64 The New College Alumni Association Board of Directors engages alumni and represents the perspectives of alumni back to New College. The Board works with the Foundation to sponsor local events and reunions, participates in New College’s mentoring network, supports fundraising for the New College Fund, and reminds constituents about the best features and benefits of a New College education. Dan Stults, Chair ’77 Leslie Reinherz, Interim Chair Elect ’70 Chad Bickerton, Governance Chair ’05 Wesley Beggs ’10 Hazel Bradford ’75 Robert Bilott ’83 Benjamin Brown ’05 Doug Christy ’96 John Connelly ’76 Robert (Bob) Freedman ’83 Eric Gottshall ’79 Chelsea Hall ’02 Miles Iton ’14 Oliver Peckham ’08 Gera Peoples ’94 Benjamin Stork ’05

—Dan Stults ’77, chair of the New College Alumni Association


“Dr. O’Shea has been a joy to work with. Not only is he generally student-facing but he also genuinely cares about each and every student. At the beginning of every meeting we have, he takes a few minutes to check in with me about my life, academics and family. His common phrases of ‘Holy cow!’ and ‘Jeepers!,’ while listening to my concerns, never fail to make me smile. I could not have asked for a more pleasant president to work alongside.” —Sofia Lombardi, president of the New College Student Alliance

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Onward, President O’Shea New College’s Leader Retires After Nine Years BY A B BY W E I N G A RT E N ’0 0

DEEPLY COMPASSIONATE. MATHEMATICALLY BRILLIANT. A strong leader with a tireless work ethic. These are just a few of the ways New College colleagues have described President Donal O’Shea over the years. But, while his reviews from others may be glowing, O’Shea is not inclined to boast about himself. He is known for deflecting attention away from his own accomplishments and toward those of New College—a place he proudly led since 2012 before stepping down at the end of the 2020-2021 academic year. “It has been an enormous privilege and pleasure to have served in this role for nine years,” O’Shea said. “I am deeply grateful to all who have made that possible.” Trained as a mathematician with a bachelor’s degree from Harvard University and a Ph.D. from Queen’s University in Canada, O’Shea arrived at New College with a passion for promoting academic rigor and the life of the mind. He has co-authored seven mathematics books, won two prestigious mathematics publishing awards (the Peano Prize in 2007 and the Leroy P. Steele Prize in 2015), and held tenured professorships on the mathematics faculty at both New College and Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts. At the latter, O’Shea served as the dean of faculty and vice president of academic affairs for 14 years. During his near-decade as president of New College, O’Shea moved the institution toward a path of significant

growth. He helped the College acquire $10 million from the state legislature to increase enrollment to 1,200 students and boost four-year graduation rates to 80 percent by 2028. He secured funding for a Heiser Natural Sciences Complex addition and the launch of the data science graduate program; two $750,000 grants from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to support the arts, humanities and community engagement; and several private gifts for student scholarships. A firm believer in collaboration, O’Shea spearheaded the creation of the Cross College Alliance—a consortium of five

“My memories of Don are twofold: his accomplishments and his temperament. First, Don left New College much improved. He strategically placed talent in critical positions, he strengthened college funding, and he developed and implemented a plan to deliver a preferred future. For more, we cannot ask. Second, Don approached all things with gentleness. Yes, he always had a ready smile, and yes, he could easily and quickly fall into conversation with anyone. Most importantly, Don’s ability to engage in challenges without defensiveness—and with grace, with humor, with intelligence and with humility—set a bar to which most others aspire.” —Dan Stults ’77, chair of the New College Alumni Association



“I’ve known Don for over 35 years. I’ve worked for seven college presidents over my career and he’s the eighth. What are the things I admire most about Don? He’s a true renaissance man and is brilliant yet down-to-earth. He genuinely cares about people and will go to great lengths to help someone. He cares deeply about people as individuals and humans. He can talk with anyone about any subject in an engaging way, whether it’s physics, philosophy, economics, cooking or opera. His brain is always 500 steps ahead of what he’s saying. He has a love of learning and the inquiry of the mind. He is a voracious reader. When he was provost/dean of faculty at Mount Holyoke, he would read every new publication, book and article of the faculty. He would write up a brief synopsis of that work and compile it several times a year; it would be shared as part of his report at faculty meetings and then with the campus. Honestly, we all looked forward to reading this part of his report, as it spurred many of us on to read books we might not have. Here at New College, he is quite skilled at engaging with current and new supporters. They truly enjoy talking with him, as he brings the College to life through stories about the academic rigor, our brilliant faculty, and our incredibly smart and talented students. He has specific stories about any area of study, our students’ academic work, the artistic and cultural events on our campus, faculty research and teaching. It has made the work of the Foundation more effective with a stronger outcome for the College. He is such a fierce advocate for liberal arts, and for New College.” —MaryAnne Young, vice president of advancement and executive director for the New College Foundation

Sarasota-Manatee colleges and universities that provides course cross-registration, faculty collaborations and social activities. He oversaw the launch of a dual-degree program with the University of Florida (UF), in which students can earn a bachelor of arts degree in liberal arts from New College as well as a bachelor of science degree in engineering from the UF Wertheim College of Engineering in five years. O’Shea led the development of New College’s 10-year strategic plan, “Cultivating Curiosity. Unleashing Potential,” which lays out the College’s roadmap for achieving its long-term institutional goals. Under his watch, the College’s curriculum expanded with the addition of new areas of concentration, minors and certificate programs. He created the position of dean of outreach and chief diversity officer (held by Bill Woodson, Ph.D.), and led the College through the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. “One thing I never could do here at New College, which I regret, was teach. I’m sorry I missed that,” O’Shea said. “There’s still a lot still to be done at New College—a lot I’ve wanted to do—and I have very mixed feelings about leaving.” When O’Shea first announced his retirement, New College Board of Trustees Chair Mary Ruiz told the campus community, “This is a fitting time to express gratitude for [President O’Shea’s] vision of an expansive future for New College. In choosing his successor, our task is to bring the future to realization.” Ruiz helped assemble a Presidential Search Committee to find O’Shea’s replacement, which was comprised of students, faculty, alumni, trustees, and members of the New College Foundation and the local community. The executive search firm, WittKieffer, was hired to lead the candidate recruitment process. The Foundation decided to host one unified event at the end of the academic year, in lieu of the annual Clambake, to celebrate O’Shea’s retirement (with the goal of raising $1 million for scholarships in his honor). O’Shea hopes to see his successor steer New College toward more accessibility, visibility and prestige. “There’s a role New College and its students should be playing in the community. I think there are real obligations to educate all comers who are willing to do the work,” O’Shea said. “We should be doing more to make New College financially affordable. I think it’s so important that students without a large amount of means can get a really first-rate education here. That’s so critical to our future, to Florida, and to the U.S.” As for O’Shea, there were many reasons for his retiring— chief among them, health and family. “I did have a number of health issues that made me realize


I’m a little more mortal,” O’Shea said. “It made me realize I’m 68 now and I don’t have forever.” Also, O’Shea now has 10 grandchildren (he only had three back in 2012) who live with his four children in Massachusetts, Ohio and Wisconsin—places O’Shea hopes to travel. More time will also afford him a much-anticipated opportunity to pursue his mathematics interests. “I’m taking a sabbatical and I’m going to do a lot of mathematics, and I want to write a couple books,” O’Shea said. “There’s a whole pile of mathematics that I worked on with different teams of people, and a lot has been discovered

“President O’Shea is a brilliant mathematician and a gifted, inspiring, strategic academic leader. A voracious reader, he knows something about almost everything and can have deeply-informed conversations on a plethora of topics with true subject matter experts. I have consistently been awed by his knowledge of science, history, literature, politics, music…the list goes on and on. Frequently, I had to confess that I did not have a clue what he was talking about when he was pontificating on one subject or another. One of the days with Don that I will treasure was on Jan. 11, 2018. New College was presenting a talk by Pam Fiori, the former editor of Town & Country Magazine, who had just written a book about Audrey Hepburn. I had the opportunity to sit at Ms. Fiori’s table with her friend, Rose Marie Bravo, the former CEO of Burberry. Early in my human resources career, I worked for Macy’s in New York, and Ms. Bravo was one of the most senior female leaders in the company and a true role model for me. We had a lovely time catching up before the lecture, and our table talked about fashion and celebrity. At the lecture, Ms. Fiori shared pictures and anecdotes about Audrey Hepburn. As a longtime fan of Ms. Hepburn, I was transfixed and able to answer some questions that Ms. Fiori posed to the audience. After the session, I caught up with President O’Shea, and he looked truly befuddled. I asked him why and he said, ‘I did not understand what anyone was talking about at that lunch or know anything shared at the lecture. It was like a foreign language.’ It was the first, and possibly last, time I experienced knowing something that Don did not. Truly a day worth remembering.” —Felice Schulaner ’78, former chair of the New College Board of Trustees

in the last nine years (a lot of new techniques). If you do math, you’ve always got a kind of problem in the back of your head and it becomes a bit of an obsession. I want to look at some of those things I haven’t been able to look at.” It won’t be easy to leave New College, especially during a pandemic, but O’Shea has faith that his successor will lead the institution to future greatness. “I will miss New College. I will miss the faculty. And I will really, really miss the students. They inspired me so much,” O’Shea said. “I think New College is a marvelous institution and it has a very bright future ahead.”

“Among the many initiatives Don brought to us was the Daughters for Life (DFL) project, which brought students to New College from a number of countries in the Middle East. Don hosted a casual dinner with the DFL students and a few of us (who were their academic advisers) at a local Middle Eastern café, where we bonded over hummus and shawarma. A student mentioned missing lamb dishes from home (lamb was not on the menu). After talking with Don, my spouse and I arranged a dinner at our house for the students (which Don and his spouse, Mary, attended), and we grilled and served lamb. One of the things Don loves is good food, and he never arrives for a meal without bringing something to share—fig and almond cake, seaweed appetizers, etc. There’s something about eating together that creates community and connection (our deepest memories are tied to taste and smell) and Don understands this. From the barbeques on the bayfront with outdoor furniture to this kind of more targeted gathering, I’ll remember some of the good meals we’ve shared.” —Miriam Wallace, Ph.D., professor of English and gender studies at New College



“Don’s deep understanding of the liberal arts has allowed New College to dream big. We have the funding for a growth plan, a collaboration with three other local colleges and an initiative for supporting liberal arts graduates in their careers. Personally, what I will always remember most about Don is his deep compassion for each member of the New College community. Don really cares.” —Mary Ruiz ’73, chair of the New College Board of Trustees

“As Don starts the next phase of his career with his promotion back to the faculty, I want to thank him for everything he accomplished as president of New College. He was great to work with and he has given the entire campus community tons of memories to relive and cherish. I am so very appreciative of the kindness, life lessons and honesty he provided over the years we worked together. I want to thank him for being a tireless professional, a helpful boss and a good friend. Now he’ll have time to focus on enjoyable academic endeavors instead of administrative headaches, plus spend more time with Mary and his family. I can only imagine the kinds of mischief he’s going to get into. May much success, happiness and cold beer find him in all his future endeavors.” —John Martin, retired vice president for finance and administration for New College

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“Don is a renowned mathematician and a distinguished scholar, so it’s hardly surprising that he can be methodical and linear in his thinking. The surprise is that Don is also an improvisor—someone who thinks in the moment and is ready to throw the script aside and engage others in a kind of dance. I learned this about Don when we first met—the day I interviewed him for the position of president. What began as an interview quickly evolved into a working session, in which we didn’t simply discuss topics so much as explore possibilities together. That was the moment I knew that Don and I would make a good team. Don’s ability to improvise proved critical on June 22, 2016, when he and I made a presentation to the Strategic Planning Committee of the State University System of Florida Board of Governors. The topic was New College’s annual workplan, which entailed a discussion of the College’s scoring on the performance-based funding metrics from the previous academic year. While the College had scored well on some of the metrics, we were prepared for criticism on several fronts, and were armed with facts and figures to bolster our case. Midway through the presentation, Don suggested that some of our challenges (with retention and graduation rates) stemmed from our small size. If our enrollment were larger, some of these problems would go away. Don had sparked the interest of the Committee, and we did our best to stoke this tiny flame, hoping that it might catch fire with the rest of the Committee—and it worked. Committee member Ned Lautenbach eventually said, ‘You’re clearly underfunded to do what you’re supposed to do. I think you should give us a proposal and tell us how much money it would take.’ Before Lautenbach had even closed his mouth, Don said, ‘$6 million.’ Don’s response was so swift and so specific that some people in the room started laughing. But the Committee took him seriously and began to consider Don’s off-the-top-of-his-head figure. The meeting ended with Lautenbach reiterating his request for a written proposal. That proposal was ultimately accepted by the Committee, supported by the full Board, and passed by the Florida Legislature. Because Don was willing to dance with the Committee, they started to see the appeal of a larger New College that very afternoon. Because Don didn’t hesitate, because he was willing to think and act in the moment, New College would be changed forever.” —Stephen Miles, former provost and vice president for academic affairs at New College


Ethics in Action Sarah Hernandez Brings Diversity to the Forefront of Academics BY S U BYRO N

Underrepresented Groups (FOCUG) at New College. She is also a co-director (along with New College Associate Professor of Sociology Queen Zabriskie, Ph.D.) of the Initiative on Diversity and Equity in Academics (IDEA). Hernandez and Zabriskie are both recipients of Sarasota Magazine’s 2021 Unity Awards, which honor individuals in the Sarasota-Manatee area who fight for social justice. The FOCUG formed in 2017 as a common-cause collective for New College faculty members, and IDEA grew out it. What’s the big idea? Creating clarity on diversity and equity, and doing so across New College’s academic curriculum. “We address those issues in a number of courses,” Hernandez explained. “But that knowledge is fragmented—in bits and pieces. We offer courses on gender studies, African-American studies and so on. What we lack is a unified, theoretical understanding across COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES ACROSS THE NATION strive to the curriculum. To make that happen, you need a formal foster the values of diversity, inclusion and equity on their structure in place to look at the big picture.” campuses. But what does that mean in practical terms? Hernandez and Zabriskie were already doing some of that For Sarah Hernandez, Ph.D., an associate professor of work on an unofficial basis. In October 2020, the College sociology and Latin American and Caribbean studies at New made it an official position. As IDEA’s official co-directors, College, it’s more than an academic question. It’s a question Zabriskie and Hernandez have been working hard ever since. of applied ethics. “We’re developing an interdisciplinary course on race and “You can’t be a detached observer when it comes to these ethnicity,” Hernandez said. “We’re mapping out which issues,” Hernandez said. “There are times you have to stand academic programs up and take sides. If you refuse to take sides, you’re already on currently deal with the wrong side.” “You can’t be a detached these subjects. What Hernandez learned that lesson early. A childhood memory observer when it comes to do we offer and what burned it on her brain. She remembers sitting in a bus in Mexico City and, outside her window, she saw a man viciously these issues. There are times are the gaps? We’ll study that, and then beating another man. The crowd stood by and watched. you have to stand up and fill in the gaps.” Nobody stepped in to help. Why not? Her young mind found take sides. If you refuse to But how can it difficult to grasp. take sides, you’re already on professors teach “That incident stuck with me over the years,” Hernandez the wrong side.” students to think said. “If you don’t intervene, you end up being a conduit to about diversity? harm. I vowed that I would never do that. I can’t stand and do Changing attitudes is only part of the equation. Institutions nothing while somebody else is being victimized. I don’t want have to be changed as well. Creating a never-ending dialogue to be a conduit, so I try to do what I can.” is a key element of New College’s mission—even when Hernandez joined the New College faculty in 1996. She diversity, inclusion and equity are hard to discuss. brought her sense of ethical engagement with her. It also “We still have a long way to go,” Hernandez said. “But we’re informs her work in two game-changing faculty groups. off to a very good start—and that really takes courage.” She is a co-creator and member of the Faculty of Color and



Entrepreneurial Spirit Aleah Colon-Alfonso Builds Two Companies in College BY ABBY WE INGA RTE N ‘0 0

Colón-Alfonso’s illnesses may be inconvenient (oftentimes it takes hours for her to get on her feet in the morning) but she does not view them as hindrances. If anything, they make her more of a goal-setter and visionary, as they push her to raise public health awareness and promote social change. “I don’t let my illnesses stop me from doing anything,” Colón-Alfonso said. “I think that being so sick for so long gives you an extra sort of motivation. It’s a very good distraction to have goals I know I can hit, even when my sickness acts up.” Stay Safely Away is the manifestation of that. After more than a year of work (including website creation and social media marketing), NEW COLLEGE THIRD-YEAR ALEAH COLÓN-ALFONSO, an requests for Colón-Alfonso’s self-designed products began immunocompromised student with an entrepreneurial rolling in from across the globe. Her website officially passion, is designing health-centric products to help people launched in July, and her most popular item is a face mask like her thrive. that asserts “Science is Real.” During her collegiate studies, she already built two “It’s surreal to see my ideas out there. It’s amazing,” companies: Aleah Wares (a line of patient-friendly sweaters) Colón-Alfonso said. “Everyone I know is on social media and Stay Safely Away (wearable merchandise—from T-shirts platforms, sharing my ideas.” to masks—that allows customers with immune issues to “stay And Colón-Alfonso’s ideas are numerous. As a student, distantly social” during the pandemic). She began working on she is pursuing a biopsychology/neuroscience area of the latter company while in quarantine when she evacuated concentration, along with a from the New College campus in March 2020. “I had been noticing the lack of mask wearing and social “It’s surreal to see my focus on Theatre, Dance and Performance Studies. She also distancing in Sarasota, and I just wanted to wear a sign ideas out there. It’s holds a black belt in taekwondo around my neck that said, ‘Please, I don’t want to be on a amazing. Everyone and is president of the Aikido ventilator’ to try to encourage people to have better I know is on social Club at New College. behaviors,” Colón-Alfonso said. “So clothing became my Biology Professor Tiffany wearable sign.” media platforms, Doan, Ph.D. is cheering Colón-Alfonso has small fiber neuropathy, Lyme disease sharing my ideas.” Colón-Alfonso on, both in the and accompanying secondary illnesses. She received these classroom and on the mat diagnoses before the age of 18, and was in a wheelchair for (Doan is the sensei for the Aikido Club). much of her senior year in high school in New Jersey. “Despite having chronic illnesses, Aleah has persevered “I’m no stranger to infusions and long-term treatments. through all of her New College classes, often while in pain and After being diagnosed with neuropathy, I was prescribed unable to walk,” Doan said. “Just like she will not let any weekly immunoglobulin infusions (IVIG) to help heal my nerves,” she said. “The infusions have many side effects similar illness hold her back, she makes products to encourage people to live their best lives in safety and comfort. I’m very proud of to chemotherapy, including severe temperature changes, the work she is doing.” fever, nausea and fatigue.”

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Physics Phenom Mentored by His New College Professor, Alum Matt Mancini Breaks Records BY AB BY WEINGA RTE N ‘0 0

WITH A PROVISIONAL PATENT IN THE WORKS and a multitude of publications to their credit, New College Professor of Physics Mariana Sendova, Ph.D. and 2020 physics graduate Matt Mancini are elevating the science landscape as collaborators. Their paper, Direct Surface Area Measurement from Digital Images via Brightness Histogram Method (published in July in the Measurement Science and Technology peer-reviewed journal), is on the patent track—and its findings could ultimately reframe the study of environmental impacts related to climate change. “We’ve developed an algorithm for efficient and ready measurement of surface area from 8-bit grayscale digital images, and we’ve discovered a new way to directly measure the surface area of large bodies of land or water,” Sendova and Mancini explained. “The reason this is worthwhile to patent is because this measurement helps researchers understand the depth and topography of—for example—lakes when they shrink—which is very helpful for scientists studying climate change.” This discovery is among multiple groundbreaking research efforts to come out of New College’s Optical Spectroscopy and Nanomaterials Lab—a resource so spectacular that New College was the first and only undergraduate liberal arts college in the nation to open one. Sendova was the pioneer behind the experimental physics space when she joined the College more “Matt graduated with two than 20 years ago, and it has become already published papers, a springboard one under review, and for students like another three manuscripts Mancini (who almost ready to be submitted. has broken Such a research record is truly publishing records for exceptional, unheard of undergraduates anywhere, nationwide.” at New College in his highly advanced academic field). “Matt graduated with two already published papers, one under review, and another three manuscripts almost ready to be submitted. Such a research record is truly exceptional, unheard of anywhere, nationwide,” Sendova said. “In general, in our area, a Ph.D. candidate is required to have two to three

publications. Matt received his B.A. in physics with more publications than a Ph.D. student.” As he was finishing his undergraduate career, Mancini had already published one paper with Sendova and was in the process of working on three other publication projects with her—regarding novel nanoparticle synthesis processes and materials characterization methods. The two are still editing and submitting papers together, even as Mancini is pursuing a Ph.D. degree at Penn State University (PSU). He is in the top-ranked National Science Foundation (NSF) research graduate program for materials science and engineering, on a Shively Weyl Endowed Research Assistantship to study in the lab of John Mauro, Ph.D. Mancini is currently researching the development of a lower-energy-cost soda-lime glass alternative to help reduce the carbon footprint of industrial glass manufacturing, and examining a 2-D Ge-Se glass matrix for photonics and optoelectronic applications. He has been greatly inspired by the tenacity of Sendova, who already boasts two United States patents and more than 80 publications in renowned journals. “Mariana’s door was always open any time I had a question [at New College]. She is an experimentalist and that is very different from a theorist. Theorists marinate on a problem but experimentalists have to be willing to throw spaghetti, and we did,” Mancini said. “When you’re doing that, you need somebody else to tell you, ‘That’s not even close to the wall’ or ‘That really hit.’ Your bad ideas get quickly thrown away and you get down to what’s really gold.” Together, Mancini and Sendova found that gold. They look forward to sharing it with the world.



A Game-Changing Gift Bob and Lee Peterson Donate $4 Million to New College BY ABBY WE INGA RTE N ‘0 0


philanthropists J. Robert “Bob” Peterson and Pasqualina “Lee” Peterson donated $4 million to New College in December through a bequest gift from their estate. It was the largest gift in the College’s 61-year history. “We are thrilled and humbled by the extraordinary gift from Bob and Lee Peterson, as well as the support of their children,” said New College President Donal O’Shea. “This is a game-changer for New College and will make all the difference in the way that we can support our students.” The Petersons previously made significant gifts to New College, and the Lee & Bob Peterson Residence Hall on campus is named in their honor. Bob Peterson spent many years serving on the New College Board of Trustees, as he believed in the transformative power of education. “We were stunned by the Petersons’ generosity. They were known in Sarasota for their incredible philanthropy. Through the Petersons’ foresight, they made a transformational gift to New College, which will serve generations of students in the future,” said MaryAnne Young, the vice president of advancement and executive director for the New College Foundation. “It couldn’t have come at a better time, as our students’ needs increase in every regard. We are so grateful to the whole Peterson family.” Young said the funds from the gift will likely be used to support New College students, endowments, and other critical elements of the College, as per the wishes of the Peterson family. “My father was a visionary and a philanthropist who believed in giving back, whether it was to help those with mental illness or to improve the quality of teaching and research,” said Jeffrey Peterson, president of the Lee and Bob Peterson Foundation. “His gift to New College, where he was a member of the board of trustees, exemplifies his philosophy

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that philanthropy was a requirement of success. He was an extremely passionate and fearless advocate for what he believed in, whether it be education, the arts or mental illness.” For decades, the Peterson family has been a pillar of philanthropy in the community—a legacy that began when Bob and Lee Peterson first moved to Sarasota in 1993. Bob Peterson of New Jersey was a Navy veteran of World War II and the Korean War, who spent 33 years with the United Parcel Service (ultimately becoming the senior vice president and general counsel). Lee Peterson was originally from Manhattan and a trained opera singer, who performed with the Amato Opera and After Dinner Opera companies in New York. The two were married for 58 years. Bob Peterson passed away in 2012 at age 88 and Lee Peterson followed in 2017 at age 90. Together, the Petersons were co-presidents of the Asolo Repertory Theatre. Lee Peterson served on the boards of the Sarasota Opera Association, La Musica Festival and the United Way Foundation. The Petersons founded Sunshine From Darkness, hosting symposiums to increase awareness around mental illness. They also served on the board of National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression (NARSAD), which is now the Brain & “We were stunned by the Behavior Research Petersons’ generosity. Foundation. They were known in “As philanthropists, Sarasota for their incredible Bob and Lee Peterson were not only philanthropy. Through the generous but also Petersons’ foresight, they thoughtful in supmade a transformational porting what they gift to New College, which believed to be the will serve generations of highest benefit to the community and the students in the future.” world,” New College Board of Trustees Chair Mary Ruiz said. “We are so very grateful, not only for their wonderful gift, but also for their faith in the New College educational philosophy to carry out part of their legacy.”


Ready for the Legacy Challenge?

Great news! In honor of New College’s 60th anniversary, the New College Foundation recently launched the Four Winds Legacy Challenge. Headed up by Francine Blum, the chair of the Four Winds Society, this matching gift program allows you to document bequest commitments or other planned gifts—to be matched with current funds that will be directed immediately to New College. For every $10 of your documented planned gift, $1 of Legacy Challenge matching funds (with a cap of $10,000) will be directed to the New College area you select. For instance, if you document a $100,000 bequest to New College, you can direct $10,000 of matching funds immediately to scholarships or any other New College need. We currently have a pool of $150,000 in matching funds that are available. Ready for the challenge? Call 941-487-4800 or email

The Foundation Welcomes Two Directors of Philanthropy

We are pleased to welcome Declan J. Sheehy and Marcia Crawley as directors of philanthropy. Crawley is the proud parent of a New College graduate and joins us with a built-in passion for our mission. She brings years of expertise in development, as the proprietor of her own consulting business and with the philanthropic Declan J. Sheehy Marcia Crawley consulting firm Grenzebach, Glier and Associates. Crawley has held advancement leadership roles in both higher education and the arts, and she is a former journalist for WFLA News Channel 8 in Tampa. Sheehy most recently served as senior advancement officer at the Bishop Museum of Science and Nature. He also served as associate director of development at The Ringling and assistant director of the Smith Fund at Smith College. Sheehy is the state president of the Florida Jump$tart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy and serves on the board of Charitable Gift Planners of Southwest Florida.

Jack and Priscilla Schlegel Pledge Matching Grant to “Pei for the Future”

Join the all-new New College Mentorship Network & Alumni Directory! Connect with classmates and serve as a career resource for current students. Visit to join today!

Our “Pei for the Future” campaign launched in December with Monica Van Buskirk as the campaign director. The campaign has been going full steam ahead, and we are thrilled about the enthusiastic support we have received in such a short time. That support grew exponentially thanks to a $50,000 matching grant from Jack and Priscilla Schlegel for gifts over $1,000. “The outpouring of support for this transformative campaign has been deeply inspiring,” Van Buskirk said. “We are so deeply grateful to Jack and Priscilla, and to all of those who passionately support our mission to breathe new life into the Pei residences. Having such champions on our side is truly inspiring.”



1960s Kathleen Coty ’64 I’m semi-retired but still working part-time as a psychotherapist, living and loving DeSoto Acres in Sarasota (two acres of Florida native land right near New College). After the first two months of the shutdown, I started to expand my social network to six small, socially distanced dinner parties and soirees. I bought a grand piano so that I can have musicians here to play. I found the slowdown a gift but have so much sorrow and grief in my heart for the many who lost so much. As you can imagine, as a therapist, I have been busier than ever, with little time for my fused glass artistry. I’m going to a twoday glass workshop to stimulate my artistic spirit. I miss most the connection with students (I used to host small dinners for them but that has not been possible). So I’m alive and well. Glenda Cimino ’64 I’m living in Ireland. In December 2019, I was invited to give a paper in Athens at a Myth and Art Conference based on my play, Puppets of the Gods. During the third COVID-19 lockdown in Ireland, prohibiting most normal human contact and activities, I have been writing with a

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considerable degree of success at publication. I have had poems published in the Bealtaine Workshop pamphlets, a haibun in the international Haibun Journal, haiku in Seashores, and senryu in Failed Haiku online. My documentary film, Donnybrook’s Hidden Treasure, about an ancient cemetery in Dublin, has been shown in festivals and won third place in the international Spotlight Festival in Atlanta. My short play, Deja Vu, was shortlisted in the international Short and Sweet festival last year, and another haibun won an honorary mention in the 2021 Genjuan International Haibun Contest. And yet I feel I am doing nothing at all except attending Zoom meetings and sometimes walking the dogs. I now have three young Irish grandchildren, who I hope to visit when the present lockdown ends (they live on the other coast in beautiful Dingle).

we have presented a series of events, including concerts, lectures and art exhibitions—starting with a large show of more than 30 American and European artists entitled Metamorphosis and the Living Forces of Nature. This was followed by a first-time exhibition of Swedish artworld sensation Hilma af Klint, as well as works by M.C. (Mary Caroline) Richards (author of Centering, which was very popular with New College students in the late 1960s); Judy Pfaff; and numerous other artists, including some that were shown in the United States for the first time.

David Adams ’67 After several years of planning, I helped purchase an approximately 9,000-square-foot, 19thcentury commercial building in 2019 in the downtown historical district of Hudson, New York. That December, some local artist friends and I opened a new multi-purpose visual arts center called Lightforms (lightformsartcenter. com). Since then, despite the pandemic,

Although retired now from nearly 30 years of teaching art history, I continue to edit, do layout, administrate and often write for an international visual arts magazine called the Art Section Newsletter (which, like Lightforms, emphasizes artwork created out of spiritual or idealistic inspiration, especially relating to anthroposophy). Recently, Lightforms was added by


Artforum to its listings of the best places to see art in upstate New York. If you are ever nearby Hudson, please stop by 743 Columbia St. I still live in California.

2000s Justin Clark-Doane ’01 After 7½ years as a tenure-track assistant and then associate professor in Columbia University’s Philosophy Department, Justin got tenure! He is ecstatic about the intellectual freedom that this promotion facilitates, and has already begun branching into the foundations of physics. He thanks his great professors and friends at New College for setting him on this exciting life course. Lauren Keenan ’02 moved to the following address in July: 69 Harmon Ave., Pelham, NY 10803. In October, her second son, Charlie, was born. Maia Valkuchak Hinkle ’05 accepted a position at Vizient, Inc. as the senior director of CRM Strategy and IT BRM in July 2020. In 2019, she and her husband (Don) and son (Max) welcomed Elizabeth Grace Hinkle, thanks to modern science with in vitro fertilization. They are all surviving

COVID-19 as a unit and enjoying the time they would have lost on commutes. Maria looks forward to rejoining the New College Alumni Association Board of Directors in the coming election. She and her family are still in North Dallas, Texas, and would welcome anyone traveling or studying in the area to visit. Timothy Richardson ’09 is pleased to let you know that, after quite a few years of working for another financial adviser, he has started his own business, Greenspace Financial. Greenspace is here to make tax preparation, investments and insurance as easy as it can be for the client. Not only are taxes, investments and insurance complex, but they are deeply intertwined. Timothy is joining forces with accountant and financial expert Francine Cornaglia to bring comprehensive services to clients. Francine originally inspired him to join the financial services industry nearly a decade ago when he saw how much she loved working with her clients. At Greenspace, the team optimizes tax filing, builds and manages a tax-smart investment portfolio, and develops financial plans to help clients’ goals come to life. Timothy is currently accepting new clients, so if any Novos need help with their money, he would be happy to lend a hand.

2010s Sean Patton ’11 has an environmental consulting company called Stocking Savvy (stockingsavvy. com) and recently finished a research paper on floating butterfly gardens! How cool is that?! Robert Manley ’11 recently became the sole owner-operator of the Sarasota-based Boombacha Kombucha, which was previously available at local farmers’ markets. Since the pandemic began, Rob has been focusing on expanding the wholesale side of the business, and his kombucha is now available at several local restaurants. Direct-to-consumer sales are also available within the general SarasotaManatee area via Instagram @ BoombachaKombucha. Alexis C. Jenkins ’16 ( author/alexisjenkins) is proud to be a self-published children’s author and illustrator with 16 books on the market. Jenkins graduated with a bachelor’s degree in economics and is so thankful to have had the instructors, mentors and friends she made at New College.


In Memoriam

Chris Garside, son of James (Jim) Ackerman ’64, sends word that his beloved father passed away on March 15, 2021. Garside writes: “He lived an amazing and colorful life— from Lake County, Oregon, through Wavy Gravy’s soup kitchen in San Francisco, to Mexico and back, and to Washington D.C. and back and back again—singing and writing, creating and learning until the very, very end. A skilled researcher and seeker of truth, writer and musician, carpenter and highly skilled artist and craftsman, one-of-a-kind and perhaps the nearly last of a breed, forever shaped and etched into the minds of many. Fare thee well, Great Traveler, upon your final journey from this plane.”

Headstone By James Ackerman When I saddle up my spavined old nag And totter off across the pasture where they Put you out to if your galloping days Are done and you lost your knack at the stud, Point me toward the sun. The time to brag Is done. Hooves crash to earth with a dull thud. The herald trumpets blare without the praise Of glory in the fanfare, timbre gray As lead and heavier, bluegrass gone tan, All the fences unjumpable and stout, The gate locked behind you. I have a plan And a favor I would ask roundabout. The theme: Give my headstone a bit of grace. Here a good man lies, may he rest in place. Diann Inge ’67 passed away on March 18, 2021. As this issue of Nimbus was going to print, we learned of the passing of Sharon Matola ’78 on March 21, 2021 in Belize. We will share a full tribute to her in the next issue.

New College Foundation and Alumni Association Events The New College Foundation’s October Annual Fund 1960 Campaign was successful and exceeded expected goals. Many Foundation Board of Directors members and alumni helped rally donations totaling $51,239. The New College Alumni Association held a Town Hall on October 14, hosted by President Donal O’Shea. A College update and conversation were enjoyed by 35 alumni. The Alumni Relations and VISTA staff teamed up in November for a two-week fundraising event that raised more than $2,000 in donations for the campus food pantry. The Alumni Association Board of Directors and the Foundation staff participated in a “Thankful Tuesday” event on December 2, calling and emailing donors to thank them for their support of New College. The Alumni Relations staff facilitated a virtual talk on December 3 entitled “COVID-19: An Interdisciplinary Approach to the Pandemic.” The panelists were three New College professors directly involved in the creation of the course: Manuel Lopez Zafra, Ph.D.; Queen Meccasia Zabriskie, Ph.D. and Jing Zhang, Ph.D. Maneesha Lal, Ph.D., associate director of faculty development and associate director of corporate and private Foundation relations, moderated. This event was virtually attended by 30 alumni.

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PLEASE, REMEMBER TO GIVE. Your support of New College is vital to our mission to prepare intellectually curious students for lives of great achievement. For more information, or to make a gift, visit or mail a check in the enclosed envelope in this issue of Nimbus. Thank you!


Connect with New College, @NewCollegeofFL


Preserving the legacy of I.M. Pei The New College Foundation has launched a $15 million fundraising campaign to refurbish the College’s residence halls, which were designed by renowned architect I.M. Pei. After 55 years, these iconic structures are showing their age, and the Foundation invites the campus community (and beyond) to participate in preserving Pei’s work. Campaign funds will be used to replace roofs, seal buildings against water intrusion, install new cooling and heating systems, renew the courtyards, and renovate and upgrade the dorm rooms.