Wells College News Archives 2001
News stories from the College's archives.
$20 million gift to Wells breaks fundraising record
Although not a graduate, Ruth Price Thomas believed in Wells; Cornell University's Department of Architecture also receives $20 million bequest from this local philanthropist
Wells College will receive a gift totaling over $20 million from the estate of Ruth Price Thomas, President Lisa Marsh Ryerson announced today. Mrs. Thomas was a generous supporter of the college for the last three decades who was an honorary Wells trustee at the time of her death. She was a longtime resident of Sennett, New York.
"We are deeply grateful for Ruth Thomas's generosity as well as her belief in our mission and our future. This gift is truly an endorsement of our commitment to the ideals of a liberal arts education for women, " said President Ryerson.
Following the terms stated in Mrs. Thomas's will, $1,250,000 of the gift will be used by Wells to expand scholarships for transfer and other nontraditional students – adding to an endowed scholarship fund for transfer students she first established in 1986. Also following her directive, the remainder of the money she left Wells, approximately $19,000,000, will also be placed in the endowment but will serve a more general purpose: to provide continuing income to support Wells' mission of high quality liberal arts education for women.
"This is the largest single gift Wells has received in her 133 year history," said Amy Robinson, the college's director of campaign development. "Mrs. Thomas never attended Wells, which makes her generosity even more outstanding. She learned about the college in adulthood and came to believe passionately in the work we do." The gift also gives Wells a place in national records of giving.
According to Jadwiga Sebrechts, president of the Women's College Coalition in Washington, D.C., "Ruth Thomas's contribution to Wells is definitely one of the largest ever made to a women's college. This is a wonderful distinction for Wells and her mission to educate women."
Mrs. Thomas was born on April 17, 1913, in Berlin, Germany, emigrated to Cuba shortly before World War II to escape the Holocaust, and then moved to New York City. Trained in graphic arts, she opened a studio in New York specializing in three- dimensional paper window and interior displays for department stores throughout the United States. She went on to become display manager for the Loft Candy Company.
In 1947 she married Leonard Brinton Thomas, an attorney, in New York City. The couple soon moved to Lime Ledge Farm in Sennett, New York, where they resided for nearly four decades.
"Ruth devoted herself to service to others and has been a significant, although humble, philanthropist to organizations in Cayuga County," said Arthur J. Bellinzoni, a professor emeritus of religion who now serves as President Lisa Marsh Ryerson's special assistant for strategic initiatives.
In addition to the gifts to Wells College and Cornell University, Mrs. Thomas gave financial support to the Cayuga Community College Foundation; Auburn Meals-on-Wheels; Cayuga County Red Cross; Merry-Go-Round Playhouse; Cayuga County SPCA; and Schweinfurth Memorial Art Center.
Both she and her husband have made generous gifts to Wells. Her giving is manifested most visibly in the endowed Ruth P. Thomas Scholarship for Transfer and Non-traditional Age students. Before her death, she also donated funds to construct a new science building at the college.
"From her early experience in Germany, Ruth knew firsthand about what it is like to live in fear and why reason and compassion must be encouraged through education," said Wells' President Lisa Marsh Ryerson. "She valued Wells' commitment to reason and humane action because she knew so much of the world."
Mrs. Thomas died at the age of 88 on August 29, 2001, at the Auburn Nursing Home after a long illness.
For more information on the Wells College gift, please contact Ann Rollo, vice president for external relations, at 315: 364- 3416; for information on the Cornell gift, contact Inge Reichenbach, vice president for alumni affairs and development, at 607-255-5142.
Sheradin to lead Alumnae Relations
Pamela Sheradin '86, daughter of Gale and Sandra Sheradin of Walton, NY, has been named Wells College's Director of Alumnae Relations. Since 1994, Ms. Sheradin has held positions of increasing responsibility in the Alumnae Relations Office. During the past year, she served as Acting Director. During her tenure in the office, Ms. Sheradin has strengthened the Alumnae Association's relationship with Wells, provided strong stewardship for volunteers, created the first e-newsletter for alumnae, and designed a new format for Reunion Weekend. While a student at Wells, Ms. Sheradin was an economics major who was active in campus affairs.
"With Pam at the helm of Alumnae Relations, Wells is well-positioned for continued dynamic relationships between the College and one of her most important audiences--our alumnae," said Ann S. Rollo, Vice President of External Relations. "Throughout Wells and the alumnae community, Pam, is a highly-respected negotiator and bridge-builder. Her appointment to this post is exciting for all of us," concluded Rollo.
"I have worked with Pam as an alumna volunteer for seven years. I am thrilled with her appointment as Director," said Patti Callahan '79, Alumnae Association President. "Pam is the ideal woman for the job: forward thinking, quick to respond, with excellent interpersonal skills, and enthusiasm for Wells. "I look forward to working with Pam to develop new initiatives for the Alumnae Association and its members," said Callahan.
"Working with Wells women of all generations and experiences is a true delight," commented Sheradin. "I enjoy building relationships to ensure everyone feels welcome communicating with and returning home to Wells."
Areas of particular interest to Sheradin are establishing new directions for the Alumnae Association, utilizing increased electronic communication, and the development of a comprehensive plan for continuous outreach to alumnae.
For more information, contact the Office of Communications at 315.364.3260.
Wells College in the national news: president Lisa Marsh Ryerson deemed "exuberant" for her plan to help revitalize Aurora
The creation of the Aurora Foundation, a limited liability company intended to "bolster economic activity in the heart of the village," was the highlight of a story today by New York Times reporter Dan Barry. The partnership between Wells College and the Pleasant T. Rowland Foundation receives extensive coverage and village residents have their say. To read more, click here:
To read more about president Lisa Marsh Ryerson and her role in national issues which impact liberal arts education, see the article
Wells College president elected to the board of directors of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities
For more information, please contact the Office of Communications at 315.364.3260.
May 18, 2001
Grammy award nominee Shenandoah to perform, speak at Wells College's 133rd commencement
Hailed by the Associated Press as “the most critically acclaimed Native American singer of her time," Joanne Shenandoah, who has performed at both of President Clinton's inaugurations, is a powerful voice for human rights. A powerful advocate for peace, Shenandoah, who draws on ancient Iroquois songs, is on the board of the Indian Law Resource Center.
Her album, "Peacemaker's Journey," was nominated for a Grammy Award this year. A unique feature of Commencement this year includes a concert by Shenandoah immediately following a reception for seniors and their families under the Sycamore Tree on Friday, May 25. Shenandoah will regale the Wells community with a concert in Phipps Auditorium on Friday, May 25 from 8:00-9:00 p.m. The next day, Saturday, May 26, the Commencement Ceremony will begin at 10:00 a.m. on the front steps of Macmillan Hall. Shenandoah will deliver the 133rd Commencement Address for Wells. The rain location is Phipps Auditorium.
Joanne is a Wolf Clan member of the Iroquois Confederacy Oneida Nation and daughter of the revered clanmother Maisie Shenandoah.
To learn more about Joanne Shenandoah, her life and music please go to http://www.joanneshenandoah.com/bio.htm.
To read news coverage about Joanne Shenandoah's commencement speech at Wells please
Photo of Joanne Shenandoah by Harry DiOrio, Syracuse Newspapers.
May 18, 2001
Wells College president elected to the board of directors of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities
Lisa Marsh Ryerson, president of Wells College in Aurora, N.Y., has been elected to the Board of Directors of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (NAICU). She assumed her new responsibilities on January 31 at the association's 25th Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C.
NAICU serves as the unified national voice of independent higher education, and represents nearly 1,000 private nonprofit colleges and universities on policy issues with the federal government. The NAICU Board sets the association's legislative, research, and communications agendas, and establishes guidelines for accomplishing its priorities.
"The 2000 election brings a host of new opportunities and challenges in Washington, D.C., on the student aid, tax, and regulatory issues that affect every independent college and university," said NAICU president David L. Warren. "I'm delighted that Lisa Marsh Ryerson has been elected by her peers to join the NAICU Board. She will bring leadership experience and a keen understanding of the issues that will face us."
Ryerson was named president of Wells College in 1995. Prior to her appointment, she served as the college's executive vice president and dean of students.
Ryerson is actively involved in local community activities. In 1998, she joined the Metropolitan Development Association of Syracuse and New York, where she helped develop a New York State student retention project to keep local college graduates in central New York.
She is vice president of the Independent College Fund of New York, and an executive committee member of the Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities in New York. Ryerson is also vice chair of the Women's College Coalition and chair of the Public Leadership Education Network.
Ryerson earned her bachelor's degree from Wells College, and a master's degree from the State University of New York at Cortland.
NAICU member presidents from Region II (Del., D.C., Md., N.J., N.Y.) elected Ryerson to represent them on the association's 44-member board for a three-year term.
For more information, please contact Tony Pals at (202) 785-8866 or the Office of Communications at (315) 364-3260.
May 18, 2001
Kyrgyz pianist Daniyar Mukhtarov makes his United States debut at Wells College in exclusive engagement
Arts and Performance department announces first-ever music and dance exchange between the two countries
Daniyar Mukhtarov, renowned pianist from the central Asian country of Kyrgyzstan,will perform a recital at Wells College MONDAY, MAY 7 at 8:00 PM in Barler Recital Hall. The concert will feature the US premiere of the "Suite for Piano" by contemporary Kyrgyz composer, Murat Begaliev. Piano works by Tschaikovsky, Rachmaninov, Chopin, Scarlatti and Mozart complete the program. The concert is free and open to the public. Mr. Mukhtarov's visit is sponsored by the Arts and Performance Department at Wells College.
Daniyar Mukhtarov comes from a family of musicians. His father, the late Khusein Mukhtarov, was a Soviet National Artist who sang with the Bolshoi and Kirov Theatre. His mother , dramatic soprano Esen Moldokulova, is currently the director of the Kyrgyz State opera. Daniyar Mukhtarov has performed as a pianist and conductor all over the world, Russia, Kazahkstan, Germany, Austria, Italy, Spain, France, Poland and others. A graduate of the Moscow State Conservatory, he was first prize winner of the Soviet National Competition of USSR Composers and has won recognition in Kyrgyz National Musical Competition and The International Casagrande Piano Competition in Terni, Italy. He has performed extensively on State Television and Radio, making his first live television appearance at ten years of age.
Kyrgyzstan, a former Soviet Republic, declared its independence in 1991. It is situated between Kazahkstan, China, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.
During his visit, Mr. Mukhtarov will present master classes and recitals at Ithaca College and Wells College. He will also collaborate with Wells College Associate Professor of Dance Jeanne Goddard and her partner, baritone Steven Stull in a concert at the CRS Barn Studio later this month. Goddard and Stull will travel to Kyrgyzstan in late May, to present concerts of American music and American modern dance. Those performances will be broadcast on Kyrgyz State Television.
For more information about this exciting international exchange, please contact either Steven Stull, CRS Barn Studio at 607.257.2043 or log on at www.lightlink.com/crsbarn or phone the Office of Communications at 315.364.3260.
Renowned typographic designer Carol J. Blinn to deliver lecture, workshop in exclusive engagement at Wells College
"The Susan Garretson Swartzburg ’60 Memorial Book Arts Lecture presents "One Woman’s Work" a lecture by the internationally renowned typographic designer Carol J. Blinn, May 2-3, 2001, on the Wells College Campus.
Proprietor of the Warwick Press in Easthampton, Massachusetts, since 1973, Carol J. Blinn will discuss her life’s work as a typographic designer, book artist, commercial letterpress printer, paper decorator, hand bookbinder, and private press publisher during an exclusive engagement at Wells College on May 2, 2001 at 8:00 p.m. in Cleveland Hall Auditorium. This lecture, "One Woman’s Work," is part of The Susan Garretson Swartzburg ’60 Memorial Book Arts Lecture. A reception in Morgan Hall will follow Ms. Blinn’s talk. Both events are free and open to the public.
On the following day, May 3, the Book Arts Center will host a workshop entitled, "How to Stencil a Duck & Other Good Things." The workshop, led by Ms. Blinn, will be held from 10:30 a.m.-12:00 p.m., and it will be held at the Wells College Book Arts Center, Morgan Hall in Aurora, NY. The workshop is limited to 8 participants. Advance registration and payment are required. The cost is $50 for all members of the general public and $30 for Wells students.
Ms. Blinn studied art at Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts, at the Worcester Art Museum School, and at the Hartford Art School, in Connecticut. It was during her time at Hartford, that she developed an intense interest in sculpture, particularly mould making. Ms. Blinn went on to work in a small print shop, where she gained valuable experience as an offset camera operator, printer, and designer. During this time, she also collected equipment, held multiple jobs, and faced exhaustion. Blinn went on to establish the highly regarded Warwick Press.
"When I think of my work, it is with confusion, hope, frustration, pleasure and joy. My life is filled with all the ‘stuff,’ as I imagine are your lives. What can set me apart is my ability to show myself in a public way by being in print." (Excerpt from a Lecture by Ms. Blinn, delivered to the Honorable Company of Printers, Annual Wayzgooze, Yale University). Ms. Blinn’s talk at Wells will focus on the distinction between life and work, the fears and joys of self-employment, and the distinctions between public and private matters.
Mr. Terrence Chouinard, Victor Hammer Fellow has coordinated Ms. Blinn’s two-day visit to Wells College. The Victor Hammer tradition of high standards in printing and design has made a poignant and profound impact on the Wells community. The holiday card mailed by Wells College President Lisa Marsh Ryerson, featuring the work of J.J. Lankes and Mildred Walker Schemm, was designed at the Book Arts Center by Mr. Chouinard, Wells’ second Victor Hammer Fellow.
For more information on the Susan Garretson Swartzburg ’60 Book Arts Series, please contact Terrence Chouinard, Victor Hammer Fellow, at 315-364-3420 or the Office of Communications at 315-364-3260.
Wells College announces multicultural awareness week
In recognition of the importance of celebrating, honoring, and sharing traditions across cultures, beliefs, and practices, the student group P.O.W.E.R. (Praising Our Work, Ethnicity, and Race) at Wells College has teamed with area residents, campus officials, and other Wells student organizations to present its annual Multicultural Awareness Week. Below, please find a roster of exciting activities.
Sunday, April 8, 2001, 11:00 a.m-1: 00 p.m. Coinciding with Fathers' Weekend, the public and campus community is invited to join members of P.O.W.E.R. for a Unity March from Main Chapel to the Aurora Fire Hall. The march will begin at 11:00 a.m. The overall goal of this event is to increase interaction between Wells' students and the Aurora community.
Sunday, April 8 at 5:30 p.m. in Faculty Parlors, Hillel will both sponsor and prepare a traditional Passover Seder diner. After dinner, please share in a discussion of religious freedom. Passover is the Jewish Holiday that celebrates Moses' leadership in freeing the Jewish people from slavery in Egypt. The Wells Hillel Passover dinner includes traditional Passover foods and vegetarian matzo ball soup, salad and desserts. This event is open to the Wells community and members of the public. Food is limited.
Monday, April 9 at 8 p.m. in the Sommer Center, "Pow-Wow Highway," will be shown. This film explores the lives of Native Americas living on a Montana Cheyenne Reservation. Through a series of unexpected events, the characters face the challenges of being Cheyenne in modern-day America. This event is free and open to the public.
Tuesday, April 10, 5:30-7:30 p.m. in the Sommer Center. Join us for "Yaraana," which is urdu for "friendship." Come enjoy food, dancing and music from the Indian Subcontinent. This event is free and open to the Wells community and to area residents.
Wednesday, April 11, 12 noon-1:30 p.m. "Getting to Know You." Please join us for an informal luncheon which focuses on identity. Let's get to know one another better. This event is open to the Wells community.
Thursday, April 12, 4:30 p.m., Art Exhibit Room, Macmillan Hall, Please join us for a lively talk by Dr. Assata Zerai, Syracuse University. Dr. Zerai will lecture on struggle and progress for African American women in a talk titled, "Making a Way Outta No Way."
Thursday, April 12, 8 p.m., Barler Recital Hall, "Piano Rags and Cuban Danzas." Please come hear renowned pianist and composer Brian Dykstra, a graduate of the Julliard and Eastman Schools of Music, and a professor of music at the College of Wooster in Ohio. Preceding the performance, a sampling of foods from Latin American countries will be served. Voluntary donations for the food will go to help the victims of the recent earthquakes in El Salvador. Dykstra's performance is sponsored by the Wells College Music Department and the food is sponsored by the Latin American students, students of Spanish, and the Spanish Club. This event occurs in conjunction with Multicultural Awareness Week. For more information, please call 315-364-3330.
Friday, April 13, 3:30-5:30, Sommer Center. Please come and enjoy crafts from all different cultures, including: mehindi (henna), hair braiding, food sampling, origami, decorative paper designs, dancing and much more. This event is open to area residents, the public, and the Wells campus community.
Saturday, April 14, 7:00 p.m. Sommer Center. Fashion Show Extravaganza. Come experience the diversity of colorful fashions from all over the world, plus music and performances galore. This event features an International After-Party at 9:00 p.m. in the Boathouse on Cayuga Lake, Wells College. Music from all over the world will be featured, including, reggae, latin, hip-hop, mbalax, arab, hindi, bhangra, zouk/kompa, and more. The after-party event is open to the public and costs two dollars ($2).
Wells College mourns loss of Emerita Professor Anne Julienne Russ
The Wells College community suffered an irreplaceable loss on Monday, March 5, with the passing of Anne J. Russ, who succumbed after a battle with cancer. At the February meeting of the Wells College Board of Trustees, Anne was named Professor of Sociology and Education Emerita.
The resolution states, "It is impossible to imagine a Wells College without her firm voice and shoot-from-the-hip perspective which always reveals a keen awareness of the political as personal as well as the personal as political." These words reflect the sentiments of many that mourn her passage.
Prior to joining the Wells community, Anne was a classroom teacher in New York, Hawaii, Georgia, and Texas. She gained higher education teaching experience at Southern Methodist University, Dallas County Community College, Tompkins Cortland Community College, and Cornell University. This work enabled her to become the highly capable director of the college's innovative secondary education program, which has grown in popularity among students and made great advancements since she assumed leadership in 1982.
Anne earned her baccalaureate degree from the State University of New York College at Cortland, her master's degree from Southern Methodist University, and her doctorate from Cornell University. During her early academic career, she conducted extensive and important research on the role of women in higher education. Her doctoral dissertation is a study of women's leadership focusing on Wells entitled Higher Education for Women: Intent, Reality, and Outcomes, Wells College, 1868-1913.
She began her distinguished tenure at Wells in 1979 as director of career planning and joined the college's sociology department in 1981 as an instructor. Among many other honors, she was a National Endowment for the Humanities Preceptor in Women's Studies. She advanced quickly and was named assistant professor of sociology and education in 1984, associate professor in 1989, and full professor in 1995. Her involvement has shaped the curriculum, ranging from her efforts that led to the establishment of the women's studies major in 1993 to her more recent work with Wells 101: the college's all- important introductory course for new students.
As her academic career progressed, her research interests turned increasingly toward an exploration of how ethnicity, class, and gender influence organizations and institutions. As a result, she became an outspoken advocate for social justice.
This was reflected in her teaching, which included classes on the sociology of education, Latin America, and women's studies. Anne's passion changed the thinking and lives of her students and colleagues alike. Through numerous publications, lectures (in the United States and abroad), and media appearances, she took her message to a global audience.
Anne's rapport with students was recognized in 1993 when she was named recipient of the college's first Excellence in Academic Advising Award. According to the citation, "Students see her as the model of an accessible faculty member, one who participates widely in many areas of student activity and concern. Her voice has been influential in matters of diversity and student empowerment. As one student wrote, 'Professor Russ has not only been my academic advisor but my life advisor.'"
Anne found energy, strength and support in the Wells community - Aurora became her true home. In a message to prospective students, she described the synergy: "Living and working in the Wells community has enabled me to integrate all parts of myself - as a woman, scholar, and teacher. What I do, what I think, what I feel are all part of a seamless whole. I want my students to find that same unity during their time here and carry it into the rest of their lives."
Anne's friends and colleagues are currently working to establish a prize named in her honor to be awarded annually to a member of the student body, faculty, staff, or administration at the spring honors convocation. The description reads: "The Anne J. Russ Prize for Social Responsibility is awarded annually to that member of the Wells College community who in the course of the year has made the most significant social, political, or ethical contribution, especially involving matters of human diversity and inclusiveness."
President Lisa Marsh Ryerson said, "This prize is appropriate to help us remember Anne because it celebrates active involvement. It demonstrates that our community will forever value her contributions and her commitment to social responsibility." Checks written to Wells College with a memo "Anne Russ Fund" should be sent to Amy Robinson, Director of Development, Pettibone House, Wells College, Aurora, New York 13026.
It was Anne's wish that, in lieu of flowers, contributions be made to one of the following: Hospicare Residence of Tompkins County, 172 E. King Road, Ithaca, NY 14850; Hospice of the Finger Lakes, 1130 Corporate Drive, Auburn, NY 13021; or The Anne Russ Social Responsibility Prize, Wells College, Aurora, NY 13026.
Faculty, staff and students at Wells will convene on Thursday, March 8 at 2:45 p.m. for a special tea in the Art Exhibit Room to honor her memory.
A service in celebration of Anne's life will also be held on Friday, March 30 at 11:00 a.m. in Phipps Auditorium, Macmillan Hall on the Wells College campus. For more information, please phone (315) 364-3260.
March 7, 2001
Wells College announces plans to revitalize economic activity in the heart of village of Aurora
This week, Wells College announced a comprehensive plan for revitalizing and renovating the Aurora Inn and other commercial properties in the heart of the Village of Aurora. While final details are still under negotiation, the Board of Trustees unanimously endorsed a plan that allows the College to enter into a not-for-profit partnership with the Pleasant T. Rowland Foundation. This partnership enables the two to combine efforts to create a separate foundation, tentatively titled the Aurora Foundation, which will be a not-for-profit real estate title holding entity.
President Lisa Marsh Ryerson and Pleasant Thiele Rowland, a Class of 1962 Wells graduate, met with village officials yesterday to discuss the plan which aims to bolster economic activity in the heart of the village. President Ryerson outlined the College’s goals and invited input on next steps toward the shared vision for the success of the village.
“This plan eliminates both fiscal liability and responsibility for the day-to-day management of commercial enterprises and expenditures related to renovation and refurbishment,” said President Ryerson. “It allows us to free up much-needed college resources and fortify investments in academic program planning, while continuing to benefit from rental income from the properties,” Ryerson stated.
“My love for Aurora began years ago and continues to this day,” said Pleasant T. Rowland. “I am delighted to help Aurora become one of the most vital, historic villages and college homes in America.” Rowland has a deep interest and extensive involvement in historic renovation on the Wells College campus and other projects throughout the country. Rowland also has a demonstrated track record in entrepreneurial ventures as evidenced by the success of American Girl, the company she founded to teach young girls about history.
The Pleasant T. Rowland Foundation is noted for its extraordinary generosity to preservation,
cultural, and civic endeavors, and will provide the funding for this project to preserve
the character of the village.
Aurora Inn history
The Aurora House, as it was called during its completion in 1833, was refurbished in time for an 1881 commencement. Extensively remodeled in 1958 with funds from the Millikin family, (a dining room, terrace, and bar was added), The Aurora Inn was gifted to the College by trustee R.L. Zabriskie in 1943 and opened to the public that same year. During that year, the Inn was identified as a separate corporation and more alterations and renovations followed. In 1976, Sissy Farenthold assumed the presidency and faced a sizable deficit. She chose to close the Aurora Inn for a while, as the College was losing money on it. The Inn did not reopen until 1979.
Photo of the Aurora Inn and downtown Aurora in the early 20th century. Please click
on photo for a larger version.
Aurora foundation discussion off to a strong start
In 1979, management was turned over the William Eberhardt, who operated several business establishments in the Finger Lakes. In 1991, then-President Plane signed a long-term agreement with an outside manager and the Inn opened again in 1992. Unable to fulfill the terms of that agreement and faced with fiscal challenges, management of the Inn reverted back to the College in 1995. Last fall, the Inn closed its doors again, for many of the same fiscal reasons President Farenthold faced.
Throughout its history, the Inn has been a gathering place for students, residents and visitors. Although the dining room, with a breathtaking view of Cayuga Lake, has been one of the area’s most popular dining venues, the Inn is currently in need of extensive renovations and repairs. President Lisa Marsh Ryerson’s decision to renovate and reopen the Inn through the Aurora Foundation will be of mutual benefit to the College, the Village of Aurora, and its visitors. The Aurora Inn is scheduled to re-open in spring 2002.
For more information, contact Ann S. Rollo, Vice President of External Relations at 315.364.3416.
February 15, 2001