Developments Newsletter - Fall 2021

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DE VE LO P M E N TS Fall 2021

WELCOME FROM THE DEAN Welcome to the fall issue of the Developments newsletter. Even as we keep a watchful eye on COVID developments, we are excited to welcome our students, faculty, and staff back to campus and return to in-person community events. This past year, we established a standing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee, which is making progress on various initiatives, including an undergraduate DEI certificate that provides our students with marketable skills and illustrates our commitment to producing ethical, informed, compassionate thinkers. Lela Garcia, profiled below, is a case in point. A special thanks to the donors featured in this issue – Adelaida and Barry Severson, Nancy Kelly, Peg Brand Weiser, and Margy McGonagill and Garry Bryant – for their contributions to various college needs, including technology, graduate fellowships, postdoc positions, and board service. Their generosity advances our research, teaching, and outreach missions. - John Paul Jones III, Don Bennett Moon Dean

Student Spotlight Lela Garcia

SBS student Lela Garcia recently coordinated the college’s JEDI Summer Leadership Academy, which focused on mass incarceration. (JEDI stands for justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion.) Lela is co-president of the SBS Ambassadors, a re-

cruitment intern for the college, and a member of SBS’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee. “Especially with DEI work, the saying ‘ignorance is bliss’ could not be any less true,” Lela said. “Because at some point in one’s life, it’s really important to take the initiative and learn about the injustices that are impacting your community.” Lela is participating in the 3+3 B.A./J.D. program, allowing her to complete her B.A. in law and her Juris Doctor in as few as six years. Her Honors thesis focuses on non-marriage and Arizona’s divorce and community property provisions. She has also conducted research on sex trafficking. Lela is enthusiastic about the supportive community she has found among her professors, advisor, and fellow students. “I love SBS. I consider all the people that I’ve met at SBS to be kind of a second family.”



In the ever-evolving field of journalism, the Severson Family Broadcasting/Podcasting Studio and Lab will allow journalism students to gain real-world experience using current technologies and equipment.

When Adelaida Severson was a child growing up in Hawaii, her mom had her own radio show for the Filipino community working on the plantations. Adelaida decided to follow in her mom’s footsteps, so she majored in journalism and international relations at the University of Southern California. Adelaida worked as a reporter until she had what she calls an “epiphany” when she was covering a fire and felt that some colleagues were more concerned about getting B-roll than the fact that people might be dying. When she ran into a friend starting a satellite communications business – which in the 80s was a new, burgeoning field – she jumped at the chance to work “behind the scenes instead of in front of them.” At the firm, Adelaida met her future husband, Barry, who graduated with a B.A. in mass communication from the University of South Dakota and started his career operating transportable uplinks for major events in the United States. Barry eventually became a freelance satellite engineer/journalist, covering high conflict areas around the world for U.S. and European broadcast networks. In 1994, Adelaida and Barry branched out on their own and founded Bushtex, a satellite communications firm specializing in remote broadcast transmissions worldwide. The company, which is based in Gilbert, Ariz., is involved in the news, entertainment, and sports industries, covering a range of events, including political conventions, Super

“YOU CAN LEARN ABOUT BROADCASTING ALL DAY LONG, BUT IF YOU DON’T HAVE THAT PRACTICAL EXPERIENCE – TOUCH THE BUTTONS AND ALL THAT – THEN YOU DON’T HAVE THE FULL EXPERIENCE OF BEING A BROADCASTER.” - ADELAIDA SEVERSON Bowls, and every Olympics since 1990. They also support the U.S. government with high-level surveillance. Journalism is at the heart of what Adelaida is passionate about, she said. “We need our craft to be able to tell stories. And if you can have the tools to make that story even better and to disseminate it farther, [Barry and I] are all for it.” To provide upcoming journalists with the tools they need to train, Adelaida and Barry donated funds to create the Severson Family Broadcasting/Podcasting Studio and Lab at the University of Arizona. The space will include state-of-the-art technology, green screens, in-room acoustics, and sound and light proofing on the third floor of the Marshall Building on campus. “The video and podcasting studio will have an immediate and long-term impact on students and faculty in the School of Journalism,” said Michael McKisson, interim director of the School of Journalism. “It’s a game changer

to be able to walk from the classroom to the studio and put the skills being taught into immediate practice. This gift will result in students being better prepared for jobs when they graduate.”


The gift might surprise those who adhere to a strict University of Arizona vs. Arizona State University policy. Adelaida received her master’s in mass communication and her Ph.D. in public administration from ASU. She and Barry donate generously to its Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, including funding the Adelaida and Barry Severson Family Cronkite Global Initiatives Suite. In 2017, Adelaida was inducted into the Arizona State University Walter Cronkite School Hall of Fame. But Adelaida is more concerned about higher education across the state than school rivalries. She’s also a Wildcat parent – her son, Lars, graduated from the Eller College of Management in 2020. “I feel like the UA tends to be a hidden gem and that their academics has a superior feel to it,” Adelaida said. “We’re just really excited and proud to be a part of this endeavor. We see it as more of an investment, rather than a gift.” Barry concurs. “Growing up in the Midwest, all you ever really heard about was the University of Arizona in Tucson. Our eldest son received a wonderful education here and even landed a great job upon graduation because of it and the networks he made. Our hope is to keep the UA competitive in the journalism and digital world, which is upon us, but ever changing.” The Seversons are committed to contributing to the community, especially higher education and global initiatives. “We have this mantra that if you’re blessed to be able to bless others then it’s a blessing in return,” Adelaida said. Adelaida’s community involvement includes serving as an Arizona State University trustee, former Gilbert Public Schools governing board member, and Gilbert Chamber of Commerce board member. She also mentors other women who want to create businesses. Both Barry and Adelaida co-chaired the Diocese of Phoenix Bishop’s Charity Development Appeal for two years, and Barry has been involved with wildlife organizations in Arizona. “We enjoy being involved,” Adelaida said. “It gives us a pulse of what’s happening in our community instead of being in this cocoon of our business.”


Nationally accredited since 1964, the School of Journalism

prepares students to face the complex challenges confronting journalists. The school has specializations in global, digital and broadcast, and science and environmental journalism and offers students a variety of real-world experiences from hands-on classes to internships. But accessing broadcasting and podcasting space and equipment was a challenge. When Adelaida toured the School of Journalism, she recognized the need for the school to have a dedicated studio. “You can learn about broadcasting all day long, but if you don’t have that practical experience – touch the buttons and all that – then you don’t have the full experience of being a broadcaster,” Adelaida said. “The new podcast and broadcast studio will be a dream come true for everyone,” said Ruxandra Guidi, journalism assistant professor of practice. “It’s going to make such a difference in the quality of our students’ stories and in their confidence as young journalists.” The gift will impact thousands of students, including the 400 students studying journalism, broadcasting, and podcasting, as well as students working for UATV-3 student television and elsewhere in student media. “Having a dedicated space for us to sharpen broadcasting skills will make a huge difference,” said Karl Yares, a journalism student pursuing a career in sports broadcasting. “A controlled studio will make production a more streamlined and polished process, for raw beginners and more practiced students alike. I look forward to further expanding my broadcast repertoire in the Marshall building when the studio is complete.”

Adelaida and Barry Severson

With a seed gift from Nancy Kelly, graduate students in the Southwest Field Studies in Writing Program bridge community engagement and writing – and advance the conversation on environmental and social justice issues on the border.


The U.S.-Mexico border wall. Photo by Francisco Cantú.

“Words, arranged just so, create movements and bend society towards justice,” wrote Logan Philips while he was a Fellow in the Southwest Field Studies in Writing Program, or SFSW. Each summer, the SFSW Program sends three to four University of Arizona Creative Writing MFA student Fellows to research and write on social justice and environmental challenges unique to the U.S.-Mexico border during a two-week residency in Patagonia, Ariz. These students also lead storytelling workshops and engage in hands-on environmental restoration projects with 10 to 15 high school students from underserved border communities, in collaboration with the Borderlands Restoration Network’s Borderlands Earth Care Youth Program. The SFSW Program is led by two award-winning writers: English Professor Susan Briante, author most recently of Defacing the Monument, and English lecturer and MFA alumnus Francisco Cantú, author of The Line Becomes a River: Dispatches from the Border. The SFSW Program launched in 2017 as a companion program to the Field Studies in Writing Program in the Canadian Maritimes, founded by Regents Emerita Professor Alison Hawthorne Deming. The program has received support from the Agnese Nelms Haury Program in Environment and Social Justice and the Arizona Institutes for Resilience.

Recently, Nancy Kelly donated to fund the program for three years. She hopes her gift will inspire other donations that can ensure the long-term sustainability of this unique program.


The SFSW residency includes various hands-on activities. The Fellows have met with groups addressing overgrazing, served food to deported migrants, refilled water tanks for migrants lost in the desert, visited ecosystems destroyed to make way for border wall construction, among other activities. “We are blessed as writers to have the internet at our fingertips to pull up facts and figures,” Briante said. “But there’s nothing that beats being there.” Being immersed in the borderlands is an essential part of the program, certainly. But what makes the program special are the community partnerships and what Briante and Cantú call “reciprocal learning.” “There is a long-standing model where writers and journalists parachute into a community to write about an issue without really engaging or reciprocating,” Cantú said. “But with this program, an exchange happens between the writer and the community.” When Cantú talks about writing about the region, he emphasizes doing so with a sort of humility.

“We invite our writers to think of their work as part of an exchange of ideas rather than a definitive representation of this issue or this place,” Cantú said. “And we try to examine nuanced, caring, and careful ways for us to include other people’s stories in what we write.” The value of people telling their own stories drives the storytelling workshops. “We hope that by sharing those tools we are empowering the high school students to realize, ‘You know, I don’t need somebody else to tell my story for me. I’m a person who can shape the story about this place where I live,’” Cantú said. Cantú and Briante challenge the Fellows to push beyond over-simplified narratives of the border and migrants. During her residency, Katerina Ivanov wrote, “This is a violent place, but it isn’t only its violence. To erase the hawks overhead, and the way the volunteers remind each other to drink water, the way Spanish is used freely and sweetly at the convenience store – to erase that creates a caricature of a place, something false and cloying that is easy to mold, to use, to inspire fear.”


During the residency, the Fellows share blog posts on the Field Studies in Writing website. In subsequent semesters, the Fellows work with Briante and Cantú to do additional research and refine their writing for submission to literary publications. SFSW alumnus Gabriel Dozal is about to land his first poetry book with a publisher, and the manuscript was conceived, in part, during his residency. Dozal said that during his time in the program, one particular border inhabitant stood out, a farmhand named Primitivo. “I worked next to Primitivo for several hours helping clear out brush from a piece of farmland. He related his story of making a better life for his kids by immigrating to the U.S and even though I was familiar with this story through my own family and experiences living at the border, I was inspired and thought it wise to name the main character in my poetry manuscript after him.” Former SFSW Fellow Raquel Gutiérrez has also had pieces published that stem from the residency. “I was very lucky to be a part of field studies that gave me an opportunity to be up close to thriving, vibrant communities in Patagonia, as well as Nogales, Arizona,” Gutiérrez said. “I think this program is a hidden gem.” As the program continues, more of these stories and poems will be read and shared and thought about. Hopefully, they will broaden perspectives and inspire action. “I think there’s a really interesting role that literary art can play in helping people feel attached to a place so

that they feel invested in it enough to want to protect the environment and want to care for the other members of the community,” Briante said.

2021 SFSW Fellows learn from a rancher about erosion prevention and sustainable agriculture. Photo by Susan Briante.


University of Arizona alumna Nancy Kelly received her B.A. in journalism and her J.D. from the James E. Rogers College of Law. Kelly – who received a scholarship when she was in law school – established a scholarship in the College of Law with her late husband, Jim, and has a keen interest in supporting graduate students. Kelly also decided to support the SFSW Program because her journalism background emphasized the importance of storytelling. “I think the best writers are the ones that write about things that they’ve experienced,” Kelly said. “I also think that it’s important in our society that we get people talking to people who don’t have the same backgrounds so that we begin to broaden our understanding of each other.” Briante said the reprieve of not having to figure out funding for the next few years is a true gift. “We are so grateful that Nancy could understand our vision,” Briante said. “The gift allows us to begin to dream about what else is possible. It allows us to reflect and refine what we’re doing.” One idea Briante and Cantú are excited to explore is creating a shorter version of the program tailored to undergraduate students. “That way more students have a chance to see how their ability to write and to think creatively can have practical applications in the field,” Briante said.


Peg Brand Weiser

Peg Brand Weiser has “retired” twice already, first from Indiana University and then from the University of Oregon. It hasn’t stuck. Peg is now a laureate professor and research professor in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Arizona, teaching a course on “Philosophy of Sport,” among others.

Peg is fascinated by the passion that sports can inspire, as well as the mind-body dualism involved in the philosophy of sport. “Philosophers don’t usually talk much about bodies,” she said. In Peg’s course, students study various sports-related topics, including sports throughout history; the nature of games and competition; sportsmanship and fairness; the commercialization and marketing of sports; and issues related to cheating, social justice, and transgender and intersex athletes. Much of Peg’s career in the fields of philosophy and women’s studies focused on issues related to aesthetics, feminist art, and beauty. She was the editor of such books as Beauty Unlimited and Beauty Matters and co-editor of Feminism and Tradition in Aesthetics. Her interest in sports came later. Peg’s late husband, Myles Brand, was president of the University of Oregon and Indiana University, where he famously fired the men’s basketball coach Bob Knight (“We had death threats,” Peg said). Myles then became president of the National Collegiate Athletic Association, or NCAA, where he championed diversity and was a stalwart

supporter of athletes being students first. Myles’ passion for the important role of sports in society fueled Peg’s interest, along with a sports-loving stepson. She began co-teaching classes with Myles on the topic and also discovered areas of overlap between sports and feminist aesthetics. She’s written on the challenges women in elite sports have faced with respect to their gender identity within a society that perpetuates misleading norms of beauty. As a long-time academic and former “first lady” of major universities, Peg is well aware of the importance of philanthropy and has contributed generously to higher education. Peg and her husband, Ed – a retired physician who teaches medical ethics in the philosophy department – decided to fund the Peg Brand Weiser Postdoctoral Research Fellowship in Philosophy of Sport to help advance the field and the career of a new Ph.D. Peg also wanted to support the university where she started her academic career 40 years ago. Peg and Myles were stationed at the University of Arizona from 1981 to 1986. Peg was an instructor in the College of Humanities and Myles was chair of the philosophy department and dean of the College of SBS. Her stepson, Josh, graduated from the university in 1988. “I’m both happy and proud to be back at the UA in my current position and able to ‘pay forward’ to develop a new area of philosophy that indirectly pays tribute to my late husband, Myles,” Peg said.

Board Profile

Margy McGonagill and Garry Bryant

In 1974, Margy McGonagill drove to Washington, D.C., in

her yellow VW convertible, with $20 and expired license plates. With a sociology degree from the University of Texas, Austin, and a few jobs under her belt, she found a position as a clerk typist for Congressman William D. Ford (D-MI), progressing to be his chief of staff. It was during her time in D.C. that Margy met her future husband, Garry Bryant, who was litigating and lobbying on behalf of migrant farm workers. To talk to Congressman Ford, Garry had to “get through” Margy. In 1983, Garry moved to Tucson to try cases in front of a jury, and Margy soon followed. She developed deep ties with UArizona and was the assistant vice president of federal relations for 16 years, a position that allowed her to use her political experience to support the university. Once retired, Margy began volunteering with the Women’s Studies Advisory Council, or WOSAC, and was a member of the executive committee that created the Women’s Plaza of Honor. Margy says the experience of creating this meaningful and beautiful space on campus was a thrill. “When we saw the design for the Plaza, we all stood up and just clapped, vigorously,” Margy said. Margy has also been involved in various political and women’s causes over the years, including Arizona Women’s Political Caucus, Planned Parenthood, and Parkinson’s Action Network. Margy’s work with WOSAC led to her position on the SBS Advisory Board. Garry also joined the board after he discovered his own passion project in SBS. Garry had been volunteering as a reading coach at Myers Ganoung Elementary School, as part of the Reading Seed Program run by Literacy Connects, a Tucson-based nonprofit organization. He offered to help revitalize the school’s dormant garden. During the process, he met Moses Thompson, who helped found the acclaimed Manzo Ecology Program and is now the director of the university’s Community and School Garden Program, or CSGP.

Garry received a tour of the Manzo garden from a charming and knowledgeable fourth grader, and Garry was sold, making a generous donation with Margy to CSGP. “The kids are just magnetic,” Garry said. “They are excited about the garden, and it’s kind of an infectious thing.” Margy and Garry also support the College of SBS and its students through the Magellan Circle. Lunch with their Magellan Circle scholar, Sterling, was one of their last outings before the pandemic hit. They also love Magellan Circle excursions and have been on trips to the Galapagos Islands, Turkey, Mexico City, and Vietnam. “The trips are magnificent,” Garry said. “You get to know and bond with some of the other board and Magellan Circle members, many of whom have become dear friends of ours.” Margy says their involvement with SBS has been a benefit and “is a tribute to JP [SBS’s Dean] – his leadership, dynamic personality, and the visibility he has brought to SBS. He just gathers people around him with such skill.” “JP makes supporting the university easy and fun and rewarding,” Garry added.

Margy and Garry during Magellan Circle trip to Vietnam


P.O. Box 210028 Tucson, AZ 85721-0028






We are excited to bring the annual Downtown Lecture Series back to the historic Fox Tucson Theatre this fall. The free series, titled “Compassion: A Tool for Human Understanding and Liberation,” will be held live every Wednesday in October at 6 p.m. The talks will also be recorded for those who can’t join us in person. The lectures will examine the power of practicing compassion in community, the ways our brains are wired for compassion, the shifting U.S. conversation about Palestinians and Israelis, and compassion as a tool for racial justice forged out of anger and frustration. The college is working with the Fox Theatre and Pima County Health Department to apply COVID safety measures for the event, including mandatory use of masks,

limiting seating to ensure social distance, and other mitigations suggested by current medical advisories. As required by the Fox Theatre, attendees must show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test. Updates will be posted regularly on the event web page. Thank you to our sponsors, including Mike and Beth Kasser and the Holualoa Companies, Barbara Starrett and Jo Ann Ellison, and TMC HealthCare. For more information and to reserve tickets, go to

How to Give

Donating to the College of SBS is making an investment in the future! You can donate online at If you would like to discuss giving to the college, please contact Ginny Healy at: 520-621-3938 or

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