Campus Panorama


* Besting heavy competition, Ford Foundation Professor of History Joseph Ellis [right] was awarded the prestigious National Book Award Nonfiction Prize in November for American Sphinx: The Character of Thomas Jefferson (published by Knopf). Even before receiving the award, Ellis had become a figure on the national media scene. He traveled to twenty-seven cities for lectures, book signings, and readings, and his media appearances included NPR's Fresh Air and the News Hour with Jim Lehrer on PBS. Despite all the attention, Ellis remains self-effacing. "Heavens no, I'm not a star; maybe more like a comet or meteor," Ellis muses. "But during the time I'm blazing, I'm going to have a good time." [PHOTO BY FRED LEBLANC]

* Bill Clinton wasn't the only president at the Renaissance Weekend held in Hilton Head over New Year's; our president was there, too. Joanne Creighton and others dubbed "innovative leaders" were invited to the weekend's off-the-record events, which included panels and discussions as well as lighter activities. For Creighton, the highlights question-and-answer session with the Clintons on New Year's Eve. "I was impressed with [Bill] Clinton's articulateness and mastery of a wide range of topics that he was questioned about," Creighton noted. The Clintons also attended a session titled "If these were your last remarks..." in which Creighton was a panelist. She also reports that although the president's new dog, Buddy, was there, she didn't meet the First Pup.

* A new Adaptive Technology Lab with specialized computer hardware and software is helping students with a range of disabilities gain independence in completing their MHC work. For example, students with visual impairments can magnify sections of a computer screen up to sixteen times their original size, or scan printed text and hear it "spoken" by a computerized voice. There are about one hundred current students with learning and/or physical disabilities eligible to use the new equipment.

* March marks the centennial of student government at Mount Holyoke. In 1898, the same year that the Curies discovered radium and the first flash photos were taken, five seniors successfully petitioned President Mead to form the Students\'d5 League. The League\'d5s powers grew beyond supervising chapel attendance and dorm regulations, and in 1922 it reorganized into a student-faculty group called \'d2The Mount Holyoke College Community.\'d3 Seeking greater independence, the student body eventually seceded.\ \tab The Student Government Association (SGA), the latest incarnation of student government, was established in 1945 and is today led by Avery Ouellette \'d598. SGA still champions the ideals of its forebears: to promote College unity and loyalty and to encourage personal responsibility based on an honor system. }

Devotees in the Garden of Love* This marble portrait head of second-century Roman empress Faustina [left] was purchased by the art museum after a multiyear search for the perfect Roman portrait. Faustina was an important empress, and the sculpture is of very high quality, noted especially for the intricate carving of her braided hairstyle. As associate professor of art Bettina Bergmann put it, "I think Faustina has expanded the boundaries of the Roman empire much farther than she could ever have imagined."

* Two visiting theater arts professors helped students turn history into drama during fall semester. Emmy Award-winning director Rena Down's students studied the time abolitionist Sojourner Truth spent in Florence, Massachusetts, information they then turned into plays they're directing spring semester. And Obie Award-winning writer, actress, and director Robbie McCauley worked with MHC students to take the basic story of Shays' Rebellion, a 1786 armed uprising of poor Massachusetts farmers, and transform it into a performance piece staged in November.

* Eight new members have joined the board of trustees. The new "class" includes Alumnae Trustee Barbara McClearn Baumann '77, vice president of Amoco Corporation's San Juan Business Unit; Young Alumna Trustee Ashanta N. Evans '95, a law school student at Vanderbilt University; Janet C. Hall '70, a federal judge presiding in the U.S. District Court in Bridgeport, Connecticut, and president of the MHC Alumnae Association; Gloria Johnson-Powell '58, professor of child psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and senior adviser on community and public policy research at Judge Baker Children's Center in Boston; Eileen S. Kraus '60, chairman of Fleet National Bank in Connecti-cut; Robin Neustein '75, managing director and firmwide chief of staff for Goldman, Sachs & Co. based in New York City; Richard F. Seamans, founder and managing director of Seamans Capital Management; and Harriet L. Weissman '58, director of the Museum Gallery of the White Plains Public Library and vice president, secretary, and director of the Paul and Harriet Weissman Family Foundation.

* When President Creighton deliver official greetings from Mount Holyoke and the "seven sister" institutions at the December inauguration of Bryn Mawr College's new president, they were all the more meaningful because the president, Nancy Vickers, [right] is a 1967 MHC alumna. [PHOTO BY LAURENCE KESTERSON]

* Nine seniors have been elected to the academic honor society Phi Beta Kappa based on six semesters of study at MHC. The new members are Emily Crooks, Lynn Fletcher, Emma Kuipers, Hu Imm Lee, Southey Lewy, Mizue Morita, Lydia Okutoro, Zhiqi Qiu, and Sujata Srivastava.


* Shamshad Sheikh [above] began work in November as Muslim religious adviser and adviser to the Muslim student group UMMA. She is an active member of the Islamic Society of Western Massachusetts, where she is involved with the West Springfield mosque's cultural programming for young people. It is believed that Mount Holyoke is the first college or university in the Northeast to have a religious adviser for Muslim students.

* MHC faculty voted to support a proposed new Five College Program in Culture, Health, and Science that would allow students interested in health issues to earn a Five College certificate in addition to a degree in their chosen MHC major. The program expects to award its first certificates to eligible MHC graduates in the class of 1999.

* This winter, the National Commission on the Cost of Higher Education was considering, among many issues, the relationship between research and undergraduate teaching and learn- ing. Several MHC women wrote eloquently to defend the cost of making research opportunities available to students and faculty at undergraduate colleges. Neelanjana Ray '98 wrote that hands-on research "is crucial to a well-rounded academic experience. It complements all the theoretical information and knowledge gained through courses, and adds a sense of reality to this knowledge."

* At three informal gatherings this fall, members of the campus community brainstormed what women's education at MHC might look like in the twenty-first century. Reimagining women's education is one of the goals of the Plan for 2003, and this was a first step at that redefinition.


* Despite pouring rain, seventy-five plucky runners and walkers [above] trekked the four miles from the base of Mount Holyoke's namesake mountain to Mary Lyon's campus grave as part of the "Marython." The event closed a year's celebration of the College founder's 200th birthday, and celebrated the 125th anniversary of the MHC Alumnae Association.

* Interest sparked by professor of psychology and education Beverly Daniel Tatum's book on racial identity development continues to propel her into the national spotlight. In December, she joined President Clinton and other panelists in Akron, Ohio, for the first of several televised "town meeting" discussions on race. Her photo and comments also were part of a November 24 Time magazine report on kids and race. In the article, Tatum argues that silencing children's questions about race leaves them without the skills to deal with racial issues. The book that prompted all the attention is Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? And Other Conversations About Race (published by BasicBooks).

* MHC students often go far, but Hannah Thomas literally went to the end of the earth to further her education. The junior geology major was selected for the Antarctic Research Project in a national competition funded by the National Science Foundation and the Girl Scouts of America. Thomas emailed from the south pole that she's involved with research on topics including "the impact of organic enrichment on the fauna of McMurdo Sound, antifreeze proteins in fish, geologic core analysis, paleobotany, and penguin distribution."

* Professor of Psychology and Education Beverly Daniel Tatum [right] will become the next dean of the College this July. In her new role, she will oversee the offices of the dean of students, religious life, career development, and the health center, as well as the academic advising system. She will also be an advocate for students' interests with the faculty and the senior staff. President Creighton called Tatum "passionately committed to building community at Mount Holyoke and to fostering the personal and academic development of MHC students." [PHOTO BY FRED LEBLANC]

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