Wells College Alumnae and Alumni Award Recipients

The Wells College Association of Alumnae and Alumni Award recognizes Wells alumnae and alumni of high achievement in their professions and careers, in volunteer and community work, in service to their alma mater, or in some combination of those endeavors. It honors those who have been uniquely empowered by their undergraduate experience – those who see their Wells education as providing a special foundation or sense of direction and whose subsequent contributions reflect distinction on them as well as on the College. The Award is bestowed at a special Honors Convocation held during Reunion in late spring of each year.

1968 Awards

Margaret Sessions Burke 

Margaret Sessions Burke of the Class of 1925 and a graduate of the New York School of Social Work, has used her professional knowledge and her inherent understanding of people in creative service to Wells and to her community.

In 1927 she became alumnae secretary for a year.  After World War II she successfully reactivated the Alumnae Fund in her two years as chairman.  Later, she served twelve years as a member of the Board of Trustees.  Her loyalty, interest, and energy have always evoked love, respect, and participation.

In her community service, she has made the role of the volunteer one of meaning and of consequence.  As a volunteer, and as a member of the Board of Directors, she has helped to develop the programs of many agencies such as the Young Women’s Christian Association, the Family Service Association, the Junior Service League, and the American Red Cross.  She was a founding board member of the Union County Mental Health Association and she has served on the Board of the New Jersey Association for Mental Health.  She is a member of the Board of Overlook Hospital.  For the past seven years she has devoted regular hours to social work for the hospital as a volunteer filling a professional position.

 To Margaret Sessions Burke, Wells College now expresses its appreciation and esteem.  Her love of life and humanity has had intrinsic bearing on advancing the welfare of her community and of her Alma Mater.

Henrietta Titzel Campbell

Henrietta Titzel Campbell of the Class of 1912, has been officially honored by her state as a Distinguished Daughter of Pennsylvania, by Chatham and Waynesburg Colleges which have given her honorary degrees, and by the many organizations which have entrusted their leadership to her.

Everything she has done, be it for the National Young Women’s Christian Association, the Presbyterian Church, The Chautauqua Institution, or the countless civic and cultural organizations in Pittsburgh, has been carried out with the clear-sighted, unselfish dedication of the true public servant.

To Wells, as a member of the Board of Trustees, she has brought sustained devotion and the wisdom of her experience.  In particular, she created the Robert D. Campbell Visiting Professorship, a pioneer venture which brings annually to the campus an outstanding teacher from another college or university who has reached the age of retirement.  Her gift has so enriched the academic life of Wells College that its success has stimulated other institutions throughout the country to adopt similar plans.

Henrietta Titzel Campbell is here today to be recognized for her public spirit, her unselfish leadership, and especially for her qualities as a person.  She is a generous, great, and modest lady who has brought unique distinction to Wells.

Elizabeth Marshall Clark

Elizabeth Marshall Clark of the Class of 1914, was graduated into a world disrupted by World War I.  From that time on her life of philanthropic, civic, and cultural service has stimulated and inspired others to follow.  A true pioneer, she was first a district supervisor for New York State Charities Aid, a pioneer agency itself.  In 1918 her effective enthusiasm was demonstrated by her organization of and service in the Wells College Red Cross unit which supervised a canteen for the American Expeditionary Forces in France.  This energetic beginning has characterized her varied interests ever since.

A founder of the White Plains Young Women’s Christian Association, member of the Women’s Planning Committee for Japan International Christian University, organizer of the First Connecticut Committee for the “Each One Teach One” literacy program, founder of the Greenwich Committee for Displaced Persons, and founder of the American Festival Theatre at Stratford – these have been but a few of her undertakings.  Her influence in education, social service, and the arts has been boundless.

She was a founder of our Alumnae Association in its modern form and has been a member of our Board of Trustees since 1937.  During the Thirties, on her own initiative, she was a one-woman enrollment committee and made many new friends for Wells in schools throughout the country.  In the course of her travels, she generated tremendous support for the College from alumnae of all ages.

For her loyalty and widespread influence we are profoundly grateful.  In honoring Elizabeth Marshall Clark we indeed honor Wells College.

Mabel Phillips DeVane

Mabel Phillips DeVane has shared her distinctive achievements with Wells from the beginning when she graduated magna cum laude in 1919 and through the years in which she founded the Connecticut Wells Club and has continually furthered alumnae activities.  She particularly contributed to Wells when she encouraged her husband, William Clyde De Vane, the eminent Dean of Yale College, to serve on the Board of Trustees.

She took her doctorate at Yale University in 1925.  She worked closely with her husband on all his scholarly publications and as co-author of Selections From Tennyson.  She assisted him in editing The Yale Review which said in its memorial notes:  “It was usual simply to ask what the De Vanes were taking care of, confident that whatever it was, it would be taken care of promptly, tactfully and superlatively well.”

Her friends agree that her personal warmth and wry wit enliven her many interests.  She served as President of the League of Women Voters, as a member of the New Haven Mayor’s Committee to Revise the Charter, as a founding board member of Recording for the Blind, and as President of the New Have Library Board.  She is currently engrossed in the creative program of the New Haven Arts Council.

In 1966, the Yale Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, unable to resist her intellectual prowess so clearly demonstrated by the cumulative evidence of her broadly-based service to humanity, made her an honorary member of the society, the only woman so recognized in the history of Yale.

 Today Wells College recognizes Mabel Phillips De Vane with grateful respect.  She has reached consistently with sure judgment for new ways to make her wise and visionary common sense serve her community.

Pauline Morgan Dodge

Pauline Morgan Dodge of the Class of 1916, bears a significant name in the history of Wells College.  Her great-great uncle, Lewis Henry Morgan, was member of our first Board of Trustees and her father, William Fellows Morgan, was Chairman of the Board.  Now senior member of the Board and its Vice-Chairman, she has been Wells’ most consistently active alumnae for more than fifty years.  Nothing is too large nor too small to engage her complete and careful attention.  Be it people or lighting fixtures, she has worked continuously, with understanding and diligence, to be sure Wells has the most reliable of each.

She has served the Church, her own community, and the wider community of human need.  She begins at the beginning and assumes increasing responsibility in everything she undertakes.  Her volunteer work with the Young Women’s Christian Association as a young woman led her into chairmanships, board membership, and office-holding in the YWCA of Greater New York and in the National YWCA of which she is now honorary member.

She has given freely of her time, talents, and family home, thus adding dimension to the experiences of all those privileged to work with her.  The new dormitory at Wells which reflects her gracious warmth and hospitality quite naturally bears the name “Dodge House.”

Today Wells pays tribute to Pauline Morgan Dodge for her lifelong interest and tireless efforts on behalf of the College.  Her thoughtful, constructive approach to the many duties she has cheerfully accepted has continually enriched Wells in the quality of its students, faculty, and administration, and in its physical and spiritual well-being.

 Jane E. Doolittle

Jane E. Doolittle of the Class of 1921, is a name synonymous with education in its broadest concept.  After three years of teaching in Persia, she took graduated studies at Union Seminary and Biblical Seminary and received her masters degree from Columbia University in 1925.  She returned to Persia to teach for a year in Faith Hubbard School in Hamadan.  The following thirty-nine years, until her retirement in 1966, she was principal of the Iran Bethel School in Tehran.

With courage, foresight, and imagination, she worked toward educational goals which included not only the minds of her students but also their total lives and those of their families.  Long before the establishment of formalized, alphabetized agencies now supported by our government abroad, Jane Doolittle was working as a dedicated pioneer toward renewed appreciation of the old doctrine mens sana in corpore sano.  She knew the best teaching in the world can do little if students are ill-fed, living in overcrowded conditions, subject to widespread disease.

She inaugurated free distribution of milk, medical supplies, and contraceptives.  Ever increasing testimony to her efforts is the Doolittle Health Clinic in Tehran where more than ten thousand families are represented in her files.  The Clinic was established and named for her by the alumnae of the Iran Bethel School.

Jane Doolitte has not really retired.  As a Christian missionary, she is continuing to accept responsibilities and to bring hope into the lives of others.  With deep pride, Wells College honors this distinguished daughter.

Florence K. Fitzpatrick

Florence K. Fitzpatrick of the Class of 1925 and member of Phi Beta Kappa, has contributed brilliantly to the field of Bacteriology.  She earned her masters degree at Radcliffe College and her doctorate at the University of Pennsylvania.

 In her research, her patient exploration of the unknown has pursued immunology and chemotherapy of bacterial disease.  During World War II, she was largely responsible for an important production of Typhus vaccine used in the immunization of United States military troops.  Subsequently she was involved in a major program on the chemotherapy of tuberculosis and discovered a new substance from a medicinal plant.  She also participated in the laboratory evaluation of the clinically useful drugs now widely used in controlling tuberculosis.  More recently, she has been engaged in studies of experimental pyelonephritis.

A member of both professional and honorary scientific organizations, and author or co-author of more than thirty scientific publications, she is a recognized authority in microbiology and experimental chemotherapy.  She has shared her experience and knowledge with students in expert vocational counseling.

 Wells College claims with pride Florence K. Fitzpatrick, an intellectual and dedicated scientist, who has used her superior gifts to lighten the burden of disease and to enlighten her colleagues and the young people who will continue her work.

H. Tano Jodai

H. Tano Jodai the eminent graduate and recent president of Japan Women’s University in Tokyo, received her masters degree from Wells College in 1917 and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa.  She has taken further graduate studies in the United States and in England.  In 1962, she was honored by Smith College, where she studied University Administration, with a Doctorate of Laws.

Tano Jodai who was born in Izuma Province, the western district of Japan’s most ancient myths, has made a legend of her own life.  She has been continuously active as a leader in education and in movements for peace and international cooperation.  She initiated the Organization of the United Nations Association in Japan and, from 1952 through 1961, she was a member of Japan’s Unesco Council.

From Chairman of the Department of English, in 1956 she became President of Japan Women’s University.  She modernized the administration, introduced graduate studies, revised the curriculum, reorganized the finances, and supervised the building of a library.  Her scholarly publication include a critical Biography of Leigh Hunt and Fifty American Poets as well as numerous essays, lectures, and papers in English and in Japanese.  She has been twice decorated by the government of Japan for her outstanding service to her country as a trustee of educational and scholarship foundations.

The informal sister-college relationship between Japan Women’s University and Wells College now culminates in our formal recognition of this accomplished alumna.  Tano Jodai’s leadership in peace and in education is an inspiration to the modern Japanese and, moreover, to all women.  Her association with our college brings honor and international distinction to Wells.

Helen Millikin Nash

Helen Millikin Nash of the Class of 1914 and member of the Board of Trustees, has filled her life with perceptive concern for others.  In World War I, as a young woman, she was a member of the Wells College Red Cross unit in France.  Later she brought her gift of leadership and incisive action to many of Cleveland’s humanitarian organizations.  Among the many of these organizations are the Visiting Nurse Association, the Beechbrook-Cleveland Protestant Children’s Home, The South Euclid Lyndhurst School Board, and the Health and Welfare Councils.

Her versatile interests also include landscape design, gardening, and nature conservation.  The nationally known Cleveland Garden Center owes much of its growth and distinction to her initiative and tireless efforts.

She has a special talent for combining practicality with imagination.  This talent is truly realized in the Aurora Inn which she helped emerge from its long hibernation into a charming social center for students, their parents, and guests.  The enlarging and redecorating of the Inn in 1958 was effected with intelligence and taste and was given by her and members of her family as a memorial to her mother, Julia Severance Millikin of the Class of 1888, a member of the Board of Trustees for twenty-two years.

Helen Millikin Nash completely exemplifies the Wells concept of a liberally educated woman.  She has rendered service to society commensurate with her many abilities and resources.

Mildred Walker Schemm

Mildred Walker Schemm of the Class of 1926 and member of Phi Beta Kappa, received her masters degree from the University of Michigan.  Wife, mother, novelist, and teacher, she has undertaken each phase of her career with excellence.

Although she started writing at seven, the first official recognition of her talent came with the award of the M. Helena Zachos prize in English at Wells and was confirmed by the Avery Hopwood Award for her first novel, Fireweed.  A later novel, Southwest Corner, was produced as a Broadway play.  The simple listing in Who’s Who of her eleven well-known and internationally recognized novels gives only the quantity, not the perceptive, vial quality of her writing.  Her personal attributes of humility, sincerity, and honesty are reflected in her sensitive interpretation of the human estate.

The naming of places where she has taught, Doshisha Women’s University in Kyoto or many summer writing conferences in the United States, does not reveal her distinction as a teacher.  In her thirteen years of teaching, she has brought to her students at Wells the wealth of her experience as a person and as a writer.  She has opened their minds and senses not only to fine literature but also to the natural world around them and those sentient creatures who inhabit it.  Both gentle and kind as a mentor, she has an iron insistence on excellence and discipline in their performance.

 Mildred Walker Schemm has made our College known in the wide literary world and has extended the richness of her life and person by inspiring two generations of Wells Women.

1969 Award

Eleanor Beckman Martin

Eleanor Beckman Martin graduated with honors with the Class of 1929, further studies at St. Hugh’s College, Oxford University, led to her early success as a professional bibliographer and as a collector.

A lover of literature and the arts, a concerned and responsible citizen, she has been able, through imaginative and intelligent leadership, to translate fresh concepts and exciting ideas into practical realities.  Education in the widest sense has remained the focus in all that she has done, but with a particular concern for the education of women.

To Wells she has given energetic and unwavering support as student, alumna and trustee.  The senior library prize, the Beckman Visiting Lectureship, established with her sisters to bring annually to the campus creative artists and scholars, the close bond effected with Japan Women’s University – all reflect her vision and her ability to develop ever wider horizons.

To her work with educational and cultural groups she has brought insight and perspective, enlivened by her individuality and versatility.  The Beckman Art Library of the Naperville, Illinois, Nichols Library, the Chicago Women’s College Board, the Educational Forum’s Radio and Television Series, the Music Center of the North Shore, and the internationally recognized Fine Arts Quartet, all stimulated by her touch, have grown from tentative beginnings to effective activities and programs.  With her innate competence as a leader, the impact of her participation has been the greater because she has also had the remarkable ability to be an adaptable and enthusiastic follower.

 Her intellectual strength and curiosity have made her a constant searcher and finder.  She has an electric quality in her effervescent enthusiasm which sparks the best effort in those around her.  Eleanor Beckman Martin is a joyous, thoughtful, selfless woman whose talents and interests have enhanced the lives of both individuals and institutions.  Her alma mater claims her with immense pride and appreciation.

1970 Award

Elizabeth F. Boyd

Elizabeth F. Boyd graduated with highest honors from Wells College in 1928.  In 1957 she was made an honorary member of Phi Beta Kappa.  This June she retires as Professor of English at Douglass College, Rutgers University.

She earned the degrees of Master of Arts and Doctor of Philosophy at Columbia University.  In 1936 she was appointed to the faculty at Douglass to which she has devoted virtually all her professional life.  She has been an eminent academic statesman.  The reliance her colleagues placed on her judgment, her fairness, her intellectual integrity, can be measured by her selection, at one time or another, as chairman of almost every vital committee of the college.

As one of their most effective teachers, she was chosen in 1957 from the faculties of Rutgers to deliver a twelve-week television series on the modern novel.  Enthusiastically reviewed by the New York Times, these witty, scholarly lectures were repeated on the air in 1958, and later over fifty-four educational stations across the nation.

Though a busy academic life leaves little energy for scholarship, Elizabeth Boyd’s published works include Byron’s Don Juan, republished twice; “James Joyce’s Hellfire Sermons”, a chapter of Joyce’s A Portrait; and contributions to scholarly journals.

Beyond her contributions to the academic world at Rutgers and her conspicuous loyalty to Wells College, she has been active in the affairs of the Presbyterian Church – as elder, as a member of the Synod of New Jersey – and was Chairman of the Protestant Foundation for Students of Rutgers.

It is not just as teacher, committee chairman, respected author, or even as T.V. star that we delight to honor Betty Boyd today.  It is a person whose quietly philosophical and tolerant approach to life gives her a balance and composure not common in this day.  It is because she has given so generously of her talents of humor, good sense, intelligence and kindness to countless students, colleagues and friends that Wells College alumnae are proud to confer upon her their highest honor.

1971 Awards

Virginia M. Esselborn

Virginia M. Esselborn of the Class of 1930 did not immediately pursue a medical career after her graduation from Wells College.  Instead, due to her mother’s death, she assumed responsibility for shepherding her three younger sisters through school.  During this time she did such outstanding work at the blood bank that it was suggested to her that she go into medicine which she did, graduating from Cincinnati College of Medicine in 1944.  Following an internship at Metropolitan City Hospital in Cleveland, and a residency in internal medicine at Cincinnati General Hospital, she spent two additional years of graduate study in endocrinology at Duke University Medical School.

Upon her return to Cincinnati, she set about establishing a section of medical endocrinology at The College of Medicine.  She assumed the responsibility for planning the schedules of endocrinology teaching and for clinical investigation in the field as well as carrying on a consulting practice in the city.  She opened and supervised the first laboratory to conduct hormone determinations in the city and, in addition, established an endocrine clinic at the hospital.  At the Children’s Hospital, she developed an endocrine section and clinic which has achieved national stature for its teaching and investigational program.  She has become a nationally recognized authority on adrenal gland disorders in children and has published numerous papers in the field of thyroid and adrenal gland disorders.

She has served as instructor, then assistant and associate clinical professor of medicine at the University College of Medicine and as attending physician in the wards and clinics of both the General and Children’s Hospitals.

Her great contributions to her community and her field both intellectually and humanely, coupled with a quiet modesty and genuine sense of humor have earned her the respect and affection of her students, colleagues and friends.  Wells College is proud to count her among its graduates.

Millicent L. Hathaway

Millicent L. Hathaway of the Class of 1920, a member of Phi Beta Kappa and Sigma Xi, Honorary Scientific Society, has contributed significantly in the field of physiological chemistry and nutrition.  She received her master’s degree at the University of Buffalo and her doctorate at the University of Chicago.

Her research in the field of nutrition and metabolism has contributed significantly to the health of infants and children.  In spite of a heavy research load, she has shared herself as a teacher at every academic level, in many institutions of learning, as varied as New York Public School, Wellesley College, Cornell University, and Howard University.

As a member of numerous professional societies, she is also the author or co-author of more than twenty-five technical publications and papers.  For sixteen years she worked for the United States Department of Agriculture as a specialist in human nutrition and was the recipient of the Borden Award, given to her by the American Association of Home Economics in 1947.  Her name has been listed in Who’s Who of American Women and in American Men of Science.

From fulltime teacher and researcher to active retiree, her enjoyment and participation in life have not been diminished.  Not impressed with status, her quiet sense of wit and generous perspective on life have enriched all those whose lives she has touched.  Wells College salutes her unique contributions and claims her with great pride.

1972 Award

Florence Partridge

Florence Partridge of the Class of 1921 has devoted her life to higher education, her community, and the issues of poverty and race.  She has expressed her interest through continuous involvement with colleges, and through Christian service in her community.

She received her master’s degree in 1934 from the University of Chicago, and holds an honorary doctor of laws degree.  Her continuing concern for education is exemplified by eleven years spent as dean at Wells College, Syracuse University and Heidelburg College, followed by many years on the Boards of Trustees of two liberal arts colleges and a theological seminary.

A mainstay of the Hough Avenue United Church of Christ for many years, she served as its first woman president.  Her loyalty to this church has led her into deepening community involvement.  As the poverty area grew around the church building, she remained an active member, devising creative programs to meet the challenges of a changing congregation.  Beyond her deep local commitments, she has served in wider church activities as a general synod delegate for a quarter of a century.  The Board of Directors of the Protestant Ministry to Poverty, and the United Church Women, as well as divisions and departments of the National Council of Churches have benefited from her superb talents.

Among her many other activities, she counts extensive participation on YWCA Board of Directors, and membership in such diverse organizations as the American Civil Liberties Union, The Cleveland World Affairs Council, The Urban League and the Cleveland Institute of Music.

Florence Partridge’s personal stature coupled with her warmth and wit have kept her in constant demand as a public speaker.  Her contributions as a responsible and concerned citizen, the Christianity which is exhibited in all she undertakes are indeed an example to many.  Wells College is very proud to honor her today.

1973 Awards 

Grace Campbell Hand

Through her untiring efforts to protect over five thousand valuable acres of wilderness from commercial exploitation, Grace Campbell Hand of the Class of 1930, exhibited her interest in conservation long before it was a popular cause.  Her endeavors culminated in a ten year campaign to protect the Great Swamp in Morris County, New Jersey, from development, establishing it instead as a National Wildlife Refuge.  Those who worked with her agree that it was her dedication and leadership that publicized the cause nationally, helped raise one and one half million dollars from all over the world to buy the land, and resulted in a wilderness area that attracted sixty thousand visitors last year.

Grace Hand’s interest in conservation developed gradually.  Following her graduation from Wells, she worked for twelve years in the fields of personnel and labor relations.  After her marriage, she and her husband were weekly visitors to the Great Swamp, watching birds and observing the flora and fauna.  She became involved in garden club and the Audubon Society, taking junior Audubon groups on field trips and writing a series of conservation articles for the Madison, New Jersey Eagle.

When in 1959, it was revealed that the New York Port Authority was planning a ten thousand acre international jetport in the Great Swamp area, a group of concerned citizens founded the Great Swamp Committee to raise funds to buy up acreage.  Mrs. Hand was co-chairman of that committee.  She organized a speaker’s bureau which over the next five or six years presented over six hundred illustrated lecture programs in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.  The records that she and her husband had kept for ten years on the birds, trees, shrubs and herbaceous plants in the swamp served as priceless documentation of the value of the area for conservation.  A fund drive was organized that extended throughout the United States and several foreign counties.  College and school support was enlisted; visual displays developed; every possible economic, educational, aesthetic and ecological idea was explored to keep the Great Swamp in the news.  Two television shows were developed, one of which featured Mrs. Hand and which won the Ohio State Award for the Best Conservation Show of the Year.  Grace Hand has also received conservation awards from the New Jersey Audubon Society and the New Jersey Federation of Garden Clubs.  To these Wells College is proud to add its Alumnae Award.

Mary Perley Wakeman

Mary Perley Wakeman of the Class of 1923 has distinguished herself as a dedicated volunteer with prime emphasis on conservation and environmental activities.

In her lifetime she has served in a wide variety of jobs including Board of Directors of the League for the Handicapped of Detroit, Michigan, Vice-Chairman of the Red Cross Motor Corps of Bloomfield Hills, Michigan during World War II and the head of numerous fund drives.

She has been reelected repeatedly to the Vestry of St. Andrews Episcopal Church in Edgartown, Massachusetts for the past eighteen years, is a trustee of the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital, and was a hard working member and now honorary director of the Martha’s Vineyard Community Services Agency, an organization which has served as a model for numerous other community service agencies.  In addition, she is politically aware and a believer in commitment, so it was only logical that she be elected an alternate delegate to the 1960 Republican National Convention.

Her interest in conservation has extended over many years.  As a member of the Martha’s Vineyard Garden Club she was successful in confronting without alienating those who would have practiced the profaning ways of commercialism by erecting signs on the island.  Continued interest led her to become a founder of the Vineyard Conservation Society, whose stature and accomplishments are widely respected and acclaimed.

She later became particularly interested in Chappaquiddick and was named an early member and later secretary of the Cape Poge Wildlife Reservation by the Massachusetts Trustees of Reservations.  As such she produced valuable information and indispensable ingredients for its enlargement and continued protection.  In order to forestall the sale for development of the Wasque Region which is adjacent to Cape Poge it was necessary to raise $170,000 by public appeal to buy the land.  Wasque is the seaward extremity of Chappaquiddick and the Vineyard.  It has come down to the modern era largely unchanged since the time of the Indians and early settlers.  Mary agreed to act as director of the fund raising drive for Wasque.  Her continuous effort, energy and enthusiasm were largely responsible for the success of the drive which added Wasque to the Cape Poge Wildlife Reservation.  For this work and her continuing concern for conservation matters, she received the Massachusetts Trustees of Reservations 1970 Conservation Award.

Not resting on her laurels, she has gone on to become a founding trustee and chairman of the Vineyard Open Land Foundation.  The group was organized to assist in and promote the natural beauty and rural character of Martha’s Vineyard and influence future development by wise planning and balanced use of open lands through purchase where feasible and resale in an ecologically sound pattern.

She is one of those rare persons who combine organizational efficiency and sustained commitment with human wisdom.  She pulls young and old together, inspiring confidence, as she completes jobs surely and with style.  She has consistently done volunteer work of a truly professional quality making her corner of the world a lovelier place to live in, not just in a physical but in a human sense as well.

Wells College is very proud to present its Alumnae Award to her.

1974 Award

Jane Worthington Smyser

Jane Worthington Smyser of the Class of 1936 is a teacher, scholar, critic, writer, wife, friend and a warm and concerned human being.  Her students laud her teaching ability, toughness in expecting top performance, and fairness.  A colleague at Connecticut College, where she has taught for thirty-two years, speaks of her as a perfectionist with deep commitment to excellence; a warm and generous person who listens carefully to opposition and cheerfully accepts decisions to which she is opposed; one of the few people who adjust gracefully to the rapidly changing views and interests of students today.  Fellow scholars call her writings important, illuminating, informative, and praise her creativity, charm, dignity, sensitivity and wonderful sense of levity.

Following her graduations from Wells with distinction in English, Jane Worthington earner her M.A. at Yale University in 1941.  The following year she joined the faculty of Connecticut College and in 1944 received her doctorate from Yale.  In 1949 she married Dr. Hamilton M. Smyser, professor of English at Connecticut and distinguished medievalist.  The Wells Xi Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa elected her to alumnae membership in 1951 in recognition of her distinguished scholarly achievements; and in 1952-1953 she was the recipient of a fellowship from the Fund for the Advancement of Education, one of the 25 women in the United States to be so honored.  The American Council of Learned Societies awarded her a grant in 1959; three years later she became a full professor of English at Connecticut College and in 1969-1971 she served as department chairman.  She has also served on the Academic Policy Committee, the Library Committee and the Admissions Committee at Connecticut and has been an officer of the New London chapters of AAUP and PBK.

Mrs. Smyser’s writings include articles on Wordsworth, Coleridge, and T. S. Eliot.  Her doctoral dissertation was selected for publication by Yale University Press:  Wordsworth’s Readings of Roman Prose appeared in 1946 and received many favorable notices, including that of Joseph Warren Beach, who termed it “A substantial service to Wordsworth scholarship…”.  On January 31 of this year, the Clarendon Press of  Oxford University published the prose works of William Wordsworth, three volumes edited by W.J.B Owen and Jane Worthington Smyser, the culmination of many years of painstaking, creative research.  Reviewing this edition in the London Sunday Times, Christopher Ricks has said, “These prose works…are magnificent and they have been magnificently edited.”

For forty years Jane Smyser’s Wells classmates have called her by the nickname “Worthy.”  Today, the Alumnae Association joins them, her students, colleagues, fellow scholars and literary critics in saying, “She is worthy, indeed.”

1975 Award

Barbara Masten Buchanan

Barbara Masten Buchanan of the Class of 1940 is no stranger to the Wells Community.  She is a devoted alumna, providing creative leadership in the New York City Wells Club and as vice-president and president of the Wells College Alumnae Association.  She has distinguished herself as an innovator in the field of higher education and worked effectively in church and community service.

Following graduate study at Union Theological Seminary and Columbia Teacher’s College, she held social work positions at the Church of All Nations Settlement House on New York’s Lower East Side, in the youth program of the Washington YWCA, and with the American Red Cross.  Later she helped organize and direct the St. Bartholomew’s Volunteer Center and served as chairman of the Executive Committee of St. Barnabas Children’s Shelter, working to improve services to children.

In 1966, through expertise, hard work, and dedication, a small group of women, of whom Barbara was one, brought into being the Women’s Talent Corps, a federally funded, anti-poverty, educational experiment designed to recruit and train women from the disadvantaged neighborhoods of New York City for careers in the human services.  Drawing upon the students’ experience and wisdom, the program offers an interdisciplinary core curriculum integrated with field work in public and private urban agencies.  As Director of Field Placement and Career Development, Barbara was particularly successful in identifying and negotiating for these field experiences, persuading agency administrators to define new jobs and roles for students’ practice and eventual employment.  From this beginning, the Talent Corps has developed into the fully accredited Co-Educational College for Human Services, recognized nationally as a pioneer in competency-based education and faithfully serving New York’s disadvantaged citizens.  The positive impact exerted by these new worker/graduates as well as the enrichment of the students’ personal lives continues to motivate the college toward educational experimentation and social change.

In 1972 Barbara was invited to join the professional staff who were planning The College of Public and Community Services of The University of Massachusetts in Boston.  This innovative college was designed to serve the educational and career goals of the low income, adult population of Boston by developing a competency based curriculum combining the liberal arts with career focus.  Before its opening in September 1973, Barbara was appointed to direct the experimental field education program.  She is described by a colleague as an invaluable resource and very influential in assisting the college in defining the interrelationships between the worlds of academe and work.

Her intense involvement intellectually and spiritually in all she does, her rapport with young and old, her charm and genuine warmth have significantly affected the lives of many and endeared her to them.  It is with great joy and fondness that Wells College bestows this honor upon her.

1976 Awards

Virginia Grace Small

Virginia Grace Small of the Class of 1950 was a History of Art major at Wells, and her life has been devoted to both the visual and performing arts ever since.  In 1958, a group of women in Syracuse began work to provide a series of children’s concerts using area musicians.  Ginny Small was monitor chairman of this group, a task that involved organizing 125 volunteers to supervise 4500 children and their teachers from bus to concert and return.  The concerts proved so successful that they demonstrated the need for a symphony orchestra in Syracuse.  A Symphony Guild was formed.  Ginny was the Chairman of the first Symphony Ball to raise funds for the orchestra, and served as an officer for the first five years of the Guild’s existence.  A fine orchestra was the eventual outcome.

She next turned her organizational abilities to the Junior League of Syracuse, serving as Chairman of several committees, president, and Chairman of the Regional Nominating Committee of the Association of Junior Leagues of America.

In 1966, Ginny was elected to the Board of Trustees of the Everson Museum of Arts.  A capital funds campaign for the new building designed by I.M. Pei was just ending.  Ginny had participated in this as well as having volunteered as a guide in the museum.  As chairman of the Board’s membership committee, she led a campaign to enroll 1500 more families.  A few years later, when the museum was without a director for a brief period, Ginny served as one of a small group of trustees who directed the museum and its staff.  She succeeded to the presidency in 1972 and was reelected for three terms.  As president, she was chief spokesman for the museum:  to present its budget needs to city and county, to appeal to national foundations for funds and to defend its sometimes controversial exhibits from attacks by extremist groups.  The museum is nationally recognized as one with innovative programming to improve the quality of life for all groups of people.

After completing her term as president in May 1975, Ginny raised $120,000 for the museum’s bicentennial project to purchase a Gilbert Stuart portrait of George Washington for its American collection.  The wide segment of the community involved made “Buy George” household words.

During this entire period, Ginny has found time for Wells:  as president of the Syracuse Wells Club, vice president of the Alumnae Association, Chairman of Alumnae Council, and as a member of the initial planning committee for the Wells Creative and Performing Arts Center.

In 1974, Ginny was named Woman of the Year for Cultural Development in Syracuse.  To this outstanding volunteer leader, who in addition helped design and decorate two houses, raised a family, and created personal art work, we are pleased to give the Wells College Alumnae Award of 1976.

Ruth Pfeiffer Smith

Ruth Pfeiffer Smith of the Class of 1938 exemplifies commitment to quality in education on many levels, chiefly in a leadership role.  At Wells, her election to Phi Beta Kappa and reception of the Eugenia Allison Lee Cup foreshadowed her continuing participation in church, community, college and national affairs, always with emphasis on the educational areas of each activity.

Following her undergraduate days at Wells, Pfeife attended the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy.  After earning her M.A. in International Relations in 1939, she taught history and international affairs at Packer Collegiate Institute in Brooklyn.

Some years later, in Dayton, Ohio Pfeife was a leading member of a committee which assumed responsibility for the Marti School, a small independent school, and reorganized it into the Miami Valley School, a coeducational, integrated day school for grades kindergarten through 12, with 300 students.  In this effort, which involved building a new school as well as building enrollment, Pfeife was untiring and unsparing of herself in fundraising and providing counsel, imagination and vision to the other board members.  She has served as trustee as well as member of the administrative, education policy and enrollment committees of the school.

In 1960 Mrs. Smith was honored as Woman of the Year for Community Service in Dayton in recognition of her work with Miami Valley School and many other organizations, some of which include:  Member of the school committee of Centerville, Ohio, for ten years; president of Planned Parenthood of Miami Valley, President of the Washington Township Board of Education, President of the Dayton Council on World Affairs and member of the National Committee for World Affairs Councils, Chairman of the Services Evaluation Commission for Dayton and Montgomery County, Junior and Senior Warden of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church.

In 1966, Pfeife was elected Alumnae Trustee from the Middle West at Wells.  After serving two terms, she was elected a regular member of the Board of Trustees and has served as Vice Chairman of the Board.  In 1974 came Mrs. Smith’s appointment as general chairman of the Wells Commitment to Quality $4 million fund campaign.  The goal was topped, and Barler Hall of Music and the Campbell Arts Building stand as living tributes to the energy, enthusiasm, dedication and devotion that went into the campaign.

Scholar, teacher, wife and mother, supporter, fundraiser, guide and leader – Ruth Pfeiffer Smith is all these and more:  she is a lively conversationalist with genuine interest in those she meets and the life of the world around her.  Wells College Alumnae Association is proud to present its Alumnae Award for 1976 to Pfiefe, a true representative of the meaning of quality in education.

 1977 Award

Joan Shepherd Jones

Joan Shepherd Jones of the Class of 1948 exemplifies the term civil servant, both as a volunteer and as an elected representative in the Virginia General Assembly.  As a legislator, she describes herself as a “combination of leader and responder.”  Colleagues cite her sensitivity to people and human problems, the thoroughness of her preparation on issues, her independence and her firm commitment to the advancement of education.  She truly represents today’s new woman in the flair with which she fills the role of wife, mother and homemaker simultaneously with her professional life.

Joan’s election as freshman class president at Wells indicated her propensity for leadership.  Following graduation, she was our first on-campus admissions assistant before moving to Lynchburg, Virginia, where she continued to serve Wells as a class agent and admissions aide.  She also became a member of the Board of the League of Women Voters and the Fine Arts Center, and served as president of the American Field Service and of the Women’s Auxiliary of the Lynchburg Academy of Medicine.  From 1965 to 1971 she served on the Lynchburg school board and then was employed as coordinator of their talent trust program.  During that period, her leadership was instrumental in developing programs of individualized instruction and learning alternatives, some of which received national attention.

In 1973 she was elected to the House of Delegates of the Virginia General Assembly from the 11th Legislative District, unseating a male incumbent.  Her reputation for getting things done, coupled with her warmth and interest in people, contributed to her reelection in 1975 by a sizable majority.  She serves on three standing committees of the Assembly – education; health, welfare and institutions; and claims – and is a member of the standards of quality in public education commission, the solid waste commission, and the task force of the Virginia Crime Commission studying sexual assault.

Joan is also a member of the Board of Fidelity National Bank, of the state advisory board for children with learning disabilities, the central Virginia mental health board and two societies for educators:  Kappa Delta Pi and Delta Kappa Gamma International.  Recently she was appointed to the human resources committee of the National Conference of State Legislators.  At the same time she pursued her master’s degree in education which she received last month form Lynchburg College.

The Wells College Alumnae Association is proud to recognize Joan Shepherd Jones, student and educator, volunteer and professional civil servant with the Alumnae Award for 1977.

1978 Awards

Alice Burgess Hinchcliff

Alice Burgess Hinchcliff of the Class of 1925 is a devoted and hard working alumna for Wells and an exemplary civic leader.  Jimmie, as her friends call her, has devoted a great deal of her time, energy and enthusiasm to serving her alma mater in many capacities:  as vice president of the Alumnae Association in 1950 to 1956 and later president from 1960 to 1968, as associate director of admissions for the College from 1961 to 1965 and director from 1965 to 1966.  Jimmie was highly admired by the whole Wells family for the splendid job that she did.  She was elected to the Board of Trustees in 1967 and served in the demanding position as secretary form 1975 to 1977.  She also has served on numerous special committees at Wells including the task force committee; another trustee wrote that “her tact, patience and knowledgeable input on this assignment is further evidence of her invaluable and dedicated service to Wells.”

Jimmie’s hometown of Cortland, New York has benefited from her service to many civic organizations.  She was president of the YWCA and president of the Board of Directors of the Cortland Memorial Hospital – recently heading a successful building campaign.  Other organizations that have gained from her tireless efforts are:  The College Development Foundation at Cortland, an organization involved with the State University College, the United Fund, the Cortland Council of the Arts, the Women’s Association of the First Presbyterian Church, the Blind Association and the Binghamton State Hospital.

The Wells College Alumnae Association salutes this highly motivated, gifted and responsible Wells graduate.

Ann Roberts Moody

Ann Roberts Moody of the Class of 1939 is a dynamic and distinguished woman in business, education, civic affairs and a current trustee of Wells College.

Since 1959, Ann has been Vice President and a member of the Board of Directors of Edgcomb Steel of New England, Inc. with headquarters in Nashua, New Hampshire.  She is also a member of the Board of Directors of the Public Service Company of New Hampshire; and she is a director of the Souhegan National Bank of Milford, New Hampshire.  As a member of the New Hampshire Commission on the Status of Women she obtained better financial credit terms for women, for which she was cited as “Woman of the Year” in 1974 by the Business and Professional Woman’s Association of New Hampshire.

As a Wells Trustee, she is a valuable member of the Finance Committee, praised for her ideas and efficiency.  In the field of education Ann also has been on the boards of directors of two New Hampshire schools:  White Pines College and the New Hampton School where she is Vice-Chairman of the Board and Chairman of the Planning and Development Committee.

In civic affairs, she has been president of the Girl Scouts of New Hampshire and Southeastern Vermont and is currently a board member; she is assistant chairman for the Republican Party of New Hampshire; and is a special trustee of the Congregational Church of Amherst, New Hampshire.  Other organizations that gained from her wisdom and guidance are:  the Hillsboro South Unit of the American Cancer Society, the New Hampshire Division of the American Cancer Society, the Nashua Memorial Auxiliary and the New Hampshire State Hospital Auxiliary.  This outstanding citizen is also a lay member of the New Hampshire Bar Association’s Committee of Unethical Professional Practices.

When the headmaster of the New Hampton School praised “her energy, wisdom and sensitivity” he expressed the feelings of the Wells College Alumnae Association.  We proudly confer on this truly remarkable woman the Alumnae Award for 1978.

1979 Award

Laura Nader

Laura Nader of the Class of 1952 is described by Harvard professor Beatrice B. Whiting as “one of the leading anthropologists of her generation and a model of what a modern woman can be.”  Laura combines unusually successful careers as an intellectual of international renown, teacher, crusader, wife, and mother of three children.

She graduated from Wells with a major in Latin American Studies and was the recipient of the Morgan Spanish prize.  In 1961 she received her Ph.D. at Radcliffe College and accepted a faculty position at the University of California at Berkeley where she is now professor of Anthropology.  Her many academic achievements include:  a visiting professorship in the Law School at Yale University where she specialized in the relationship of the law to the rapid changes of the 20th century; extensive research in anthropology in Mexico and the Near East; grants and fellowships from leading American universities and research centers; and numerous publications on a variety of topics – anthropology, law, education, sociology, and nuclear energy.  She is a concerned, active member of the Carnegie Council on Children and of the National Academy of Science Committee on Nuclear and Alternative Energy Forms.  In 1975, she was designated by President Frances T. Farenthold as “One of the 44 women how could save America.”

A loyal alumna, who credits her parents for her basic life orientation, Laura served as the College’s commencement speaker in 1971.  As an advocate of better lives for women, she urged at that time that women develop their potential as educated citizens.

The Wells College Alumnae Association is proud to present the Alumnae Award for 1979 to Laura Nader, “Model of what a modern woman can be.”

 1980 Award

Rachel MacKenzie

Rachel MacKenzie of the Class of 1930 contributed greatly to excellence in writing and literary style in America in her career as devoted editor, creative author and patient teacher.

At Wells, Rachel was an English major.  She was active in Kastalia and served two years as Vice President of her class.  Following graduation, she earned a Master’s degree from Radcliffe College.  Her teaching career included positions at Radcliffe, Chin-ling College in Nanking, China, Wellesley College and Wooster College in Ohio, where she also became Dean of Women.  In addition, she served on the staff of the Bread Loaf Writer’s Conference at Bennington, Vermont, and on the staff of the Tufts College Writers Workshop.

In 1956 she began her long association with The New Yorker, a magazine famous for its impeccable style and for often discovering and publishing many of the most distinguished writers in the United States.  At The New Yorker she held the position of Associate Editor of Fiction, enjoying the opportunity to work with some of these talented authors.  A colleague describes her as an “invaluable editor, working effectively and creatively with her many writers, encouraging and guiding them.”  Two of these are Saul Bellow and Isaac Bashevis Singer, both Nobel prize winners in literature.

Her short stories have appeared in various magazines including The New Yorker, Harpers, Women’s Day and Good Housekeeping.  After she had an operation for open-heart surgery in 1970, The New Yorker and subsequently the Viking Press published Risk, a vivid re-creation of her experience told with “precision and an admirable lack of self-pity,” according to the New York Times review.  The American Heart Association honored her with the Howard Blakeslee Award for this book written “with extraordinary sensitivity and dramatic power…Her story provides a penetrating insight to the trauma, people and events related to her illness and the achievements of research which aided her recovery.”

Wine of Astonishment appeared in 1974 and was a selection of the Literary Guild.  Intended as a morality tale, this novel, set in the 1920s and 1930s in an upstate New York town, draws on Rachel’s own background.  Isaac Singer acknowledges that “with this book she has entered American literature.  It is a book deeply rooted in the soil of the country; rich in detail, a work with an address.  It lets the events speak for themselves.  No sociologizing and no psychologizing, just good writing.  Her voice is both tender and vigorous.”

Classmates and colleagues have commented frequently on Rachel’s lively humor, tact and personal warmth, her quick and responsive intelligence, her love of people and life.  Since she was a literary person, it is only appropriate to let her own words, in a letter to a friend, describe her remarkable character:  “to me life is full – not in activity but in creative people I care for and in congenial work.  My job is one of the most interesting in the publishing world, and that I consider a great gift… I have been thinking of the varying scale of values, on which we act out our lives and measure our happiness.  My physical life has been limited for a long time, but I don’t at all feel limited as a person.  I manage what, essentially, I want, I suppose; the rest is acceptance.”

On March 28, 1980, Rachel MacKenzie died.  She knew that she was to be the recipient of the Alumnae Award and told a friend that she was already mentally composing her acceptance speech.  Isaac Singer paid her this final tribute:  “I think that American literature and literature generally has lost a giant, one of the last people who understood literature thoroughly from the beginning to the end…I intend to write about her and think about her as long as I live.”

The Alumnae Association is indeed proud to present the Alumnae Award for 1980 to Rachel MacKenzie whose creative and influential literary career reflects such great distinction on her college.

1981 Award

Mary Davenport

Mary Davenport’s distinguished career in opera, concert and teaching has brought her praise and recognition from critics and fellow musicians, as well as her students and audiences.

A member of the Class of 1940, Mary was encouraged to develop her vocal talent by her music professor, Bertram Hole, to whom she attributes much of her perspective “in music… and life.”  She spent her junior year studying at the University in London and the Royal College of Music.  After graduation from Wells, she was awarded a scholarship as a potential virtuoso to the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia where she was a pupil of Elisabeth Schumann.

In succeeding years, Mary appeared as soloist with most of the major American orchestras with many noted conductors, including the New York Philharmonic under Leopold Stokowski, the Philadelphia Orchestra under Eugene Ormandy, and the Boston Pops under Arthur Fiedler.  Her ability was recognized by her peers, as noted by Koussevitsky of the Boston Symphony, who said she has “a great voice and a great talent.”

Mary’s years of practice and high standards of technical excellence were evident when she made her debut at Town Hall in New York in April 1950.  Her recital brought forth abundant praise from the critics, such as R. P. in The New York Times, who described her as a “contralto having a silken voice of exceptional range and beauty.”  A highlight of Mary’s early career was her Broadway performance in the title role of Gian Carlo Menottis’ “The Medium” which received wide critical acclaim.  She also sang the role in the original telecast of that opera, and starred in a new mounting of it presented in Los Angeles and San Francisco.

After numerous successful radio and television appearances, concert tours ad recitals all over the United States, Miss Davenport left for Europe in 1953.  Her performances with the National Theater in Mannheim, Germany, led to her affiliation with the State Theater in Zurich, Switzerland, as first dramatic alto, where her contribution to the cultural life of the city was acknowledged by a special citation from the city of Zurich.

For the next few years, Mary sang in all the great opera houses of Europe, returning often to the United States for concerts and appearances.  Of note was her performance of Stravinsky’s “Oedipus Rex” with the composer himself conducting the Santa Fe Opera.

Since 1965, Mary Davenport has been Professor of Music (Voice) at Boston University’s School of Arts, where she is highly regarded, as noted by an associate, as a “very distinguished teacher in an area where distinguished teaching is not common.”  She teaches summers at Boston University’s Tanglewood Institute, and has served as Chairman for the New England Region of Central Opera Service of the Metropolitan Opera, member of the committee and judge of the New England Regional Metropolitan Auditions.

Mary continues to perform with distinction and is a vital part of Boston’s musical life.  In a 1979 review of a recital which appeared in The Boston Globe under the headline, “Divine Miss Davenport”, Richard Dyer said “Mary Davenport still sings with absolute steadiness and security and boldness over a full two-octave range and the clear and commanding quality is pure contralto.”

It is with great pride that the Wells College Alumnae Association presents the 1981 Alumnae Award to Mary Davenport, whose outstanding career as a professional musical artist and educator reflects honor on herself and her college.

1982 Awards

Ruth Richards Penchoen

Ruth Richards Penchoen of the Class of 1928 has used her many talents and abilities in the field of education as teacher and administrator and has been a leader in school, church and community affairs.

After graduation from Wells, Mrs. Penchoen taught in the public schools of East Syracuse.  She was teacher and principal of the Logan School in Auburn and of the Upper School of the Goodyear-Burlingame School in Syracuse.  From 1950 to 1955 she was a member of the English faculty at Cazenovia College, where her talent for communicating with young people in and out of the classroom contributed to the successful revitalization of the college.

In 1955, Mrs. Penchoen joined the faculty of Auburn Community College, now Cayuga Community College.  Here her interest in providing educational and cultural opportunities for students and the community led her to establish the College Cultural Program which brought artists and musicians to the campus.  This program  later served as a model followed by many colleges throughout New York State.  Among her other achievements at Auburn was the development of an innovative program for faculty orientation.  Always aware of the students’ welfare, Ruth also served as advisor to the Student-Alumni Association.

In 1966, Ruth Penchoen was the first faculty member at Auburn to be granted a sabbatical.  She studied methods of teaching English as a second language at the Bourguiba Institute of Language in Tunisia and was named full professor of English the following year.  Her educational accomplishments were further acknowledged when Auburn designated her its first professor emeritus.

Ruth Penchoen’s good judgment and organizational skills have been highly regarded by her community, church and alma mater.  Elected in 1972 to the Board of Directors of the Savings and Loan Association of Auburn, she was the first woman non-employee to serve in such a capacity at any Auburn financial institution.

Long active at St. James Church in Skaneateles, Mrs. Penchoen has been a member of the Vestry and continues to serve on the Altar Guild.

Wells College has directly benefited from Ruth’s incisive leadership as National Chairman of the Annual Fund from 1976 to 1979, and from her numerous contributions of ideas and counsel to the Alumnae Association.

Throughout her life Ruth Penchoen has consistently demonstrated integrity, determination and ability, whatever the challenge.  In recognition of her career as an outstanding educator and her notable contributions to her community and to Wells, the Wells College Alumnae Association is privileged to present the Alumnae Award to Ruth Richards Penchoen.

Elizabeth Koch Darlington

Elizabeth Koch Darlington has been described as a naturalist and educator, but her Wells College contemporaries remember her as an English major in the Class of 1935.  An enthusiastic student, intelligent and inquisitive, she asked searching questions which merited the admiration of her professors and classmates.

In 1939 she received a Master’s degree in English from Radcliffe College and became an assistant dean and tutor at the Stuart School in Boston.  Later she held a position with the Massachusetts Audubon Society and participated in programs of Conservation and Environmental Research and Education from 1958 to 1971.  She was the editor of The Curious Naturalist, a well-regarded publication for junior members of the Audubon Society.

Foraging for useful animal and plant material, Libby acquired knowledge and information with which she entranced her audiences, as she conducted field trips for the Habitat Institute for the Environment, for schools, clubs and other organizations in the Boston area.  These nature walks and lectures on birds, wildflowers and edible plants have enriched the lives of many in her community and at Wells.

Libby has taken an active role in alumnae affairs.  She was President of the Boston Wells Club and served with distinction as a trustee of the College from 1969 to 1978.  Her capabilities, her loyalty and her generosity have made her effective contributions to life at Wells.

Since her retirement from the Audubon Society, Libby has been a member of the Lydian Consort, a group which plays recorders.  Belonging to the Boston chapter of the American Recorder Society, she instructs and demonstrates these instruments to school children.

Mr. Charles Roth of the Audubon Society called Libby “a very real lady, whose radiance, generosity and intellect touched many persons.”  In recognition of her career as a naturalist and Educator, and her loyalty and dedication to Wells, the Wells College Alumnae Association is privileged to present the Alumnae Award to Elizabeth Koch Darlington.

1983 Award

Ellen Mentzer Ironside

Ellen Mentzer Ironside of the Class of 1948 exemplifies the modern woman functioning fully in professional, volunteer and personal life.  Her concentration on continuing education for women is timely and relevant.

Music claimed her early interest at Wells and then Columbia University where she studied to be a music teacher, but unusual opportunities drew her into educational administration.  After completing her master’s degree, she became an admissions counselor at Wells, a museum assistant at the Munson-Williams-Proctor Institute in Utica, and an administrator at the University of Michigan.

When her youngest child entered school, she devoted seven years to the development of innovative instructional programs for elementary grades, focusing on the training of teachers for new roles in the classrooms.  Then, accepting the challenge of continuing education as a field of endeavor, in 1977, Ellen entered the doctoral program in adult and higher education at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  She held an assistantship in the Office of Institutional Research and served as a consultant to the North Carolina Humanities Committee.  In 1980, she led the program committee for a state-wide conference on life-time learning.  Appropriately, the dissertation which last year won her the Ph.D., with faculty citation for distinguished worth, was entitled:  “Career Paths of Women Administrators in North Carolina Higher Education Institutions:  Perceptions of Motivation and Opportunity.”  This study has just won a national award. 

Ellen follows her own path as a woman administrator.  In 1982, she assumed new responsibilities as Associate Dan and Director of Continuing Education and Meredith College for Women in Raleigh.  At the same time, she was elected Vice-President and President-Elect of the North Carolina Adult Education Association.

She also plays a leadership role as a volunteer.  Beyond the musical demands and rewards of church choir and choral groups, teaching nursery school and giving piano lessons, Ellen has had a long association with the League of Women Voters.  She has served on local boards of the League in several states, and in 1968 was President of the League in Chapel Hill.  For the past eight years, she has been a member of the State Board of the North Carolina League, initially as Vice-President and, most recently, as Field Services Director and senior consultant.

Ellen’s devotion to Wells has been constant.  As an undergraduate she was President of Service League and, in music, an originator of Henry’s VIII.  Since graduation, she has been President of two Wells Clubs, class agent for the Annual Fund and for six years Second Vice-President of the Alumnae Association as Director of Alumnae College and Reunion Weekend.

In all these encounters, professional and voluntary, Ellen has displayed one crucial attribute, noted by her doctoral program advisor at the University of North Carolina.  He termed it “personal and professional integrity.”

The Wells College Alumnae Association is proud to confer on this remarkable woman – Ellen Mentzer Ironside – the Alumnae Award for 1983.

1984 Award

Faith Ryan Whittlesey

Faith Ryan Whittlesey of the Class of 1960 is honored this year for her outstanding personal achievements in the fields of law, politics, and government.

At Wells, Faith excelled academically, graduating cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa.  She invested her time, talents, and energy in musical activities as a member of Henry’s VIII and director of the class musical.  She also studied classical piano, an activity she continues to enjoy.

Upon graduation, Faith earned a full tuition scholarship to the University of Pennsylvania Law School.  In 1962, she was awarded a Ford Foundation grant to attend The Academy of International Law at The Hague.  After receiving her J.D. degree in 1963, Faith was admitted to the Bar of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Finding it difficult at that time for a woman to find a job with a law firm, Faith went to work first as a substitute English teacher.  Later she was a legal research assistant and law clerk to a federal judge.  She gained trial experience as an Assistant United States Attorney in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and as a Special Assistant Attorney General with the Department of Public Welfare.

Faith first entered politics in 1972 when she was elected to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives.  She was reelected in 1974.  In 1975, she was asked to run for Delaware County Commissioner in suburban Philadelphia.  She led the successful ticket and was reelected to a second term in 1979, where she served as both chairman and vice-chairman of the Council.  As County Commissioner, she was the highest elected woman of either party in Pennsylvania.  Delaware County is larger in population than five states in the nation.

Faith’s career accomplishments continued when she ran for Lieutenant Governor of Pennsylvania in the  1978 Republican primary.  An elected delegate to the 1980 Republican National Convention, she was an influential member of the platform committee, and served as co-chairman of the sub-committee on foreign policy and defense.

In September 1981, President Reagan appointed Faith Ryan Whittlesey United States Ambassador to Switzerland, where her personal and professional skills made her an effective diplomat.  Since March 1983, Ambassador Whittlesey has distinguished herself as Assistant to the President for Public Liaison, a senior White House staff position.  She has responsibility for explaining the President’s policies to organized interest groups, and acts as a corridor of information from these groups to the President.

In little more than a decade, Faith has risen from relative obscurity, through elected offices and a diplomatic post, to national recognition in the White House.  Through these years, Faith has continued to value and to credit her Wells education for “… a strong intellectual and psychological base to face the challenges of …[her] professional and personal life.”  While in Switzerland, she sponsored a Wells January internship at the United States Embassy in Bern, and she continues to count her Wells classmates among her closest friends.

Widowed at a young age, with three small children to raise, Faith has displayed devotion to her family and their needs, while the demands of her public life have ever increased.  She believes deeply in a strong work ethic and maintains a firm commitment to the integrity and worth of each individual.  Her achievements have come from her own efforts, the values she received from her parents, and from a strong sense of purpose.

The Wells College Alumnae Association is proud to present the Alumnae Award for 1984 to Faith Ryan Whittlesey.

1985 Awards

Ione Tefft Davis Jones

Ione Tefft Davis Jones of the Class of 1931 has demonstrated unfailing service and commitment to Wells College for over fifty years and has maintained a lifelong volunteer involvement in her community.

Ever since her years at Wells, from which she graduated Cum Laude with Distinction in Philosophy and English, Ione has involved herself in professions and projects which benefit others.  Study in library science led her to work as a children’s librarian on New York’s Lower East Side.  While raising her family, she contributed her time to the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Retarded Children’s Association, and over the years assisted with the Bureau of Public Health Nursing, the Henry Street Settlement in New York City, her local church and the Montclair Hospital.  She has served ably as a board member for numerous organizations, including the Montclair Junior League, Mental Health Association, the Montclair Guidance Center and also was a founder of a local chapter of Planned Parenthood.

Ione has always been devoted to Wells College.  A dynamic, persuasive alumna, she has attracted many students to Wells.  She has entertained alumnae in her homes in Montclair, New Jersey, and Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and has worked tirelessly and traveled extensively to speak, to organize and to counsel on behalf of Wells College.

Becoming Alumnae Trustee in 1964, Ione was appointed Secretary of the Wells College Board of Trustees in 1966.  She remained on the Board until 1973, and was made an Honorary Trustee in 1980.

In her involvement with the Wells Development Office, Ione has played a vital role in several important capital fund campaigns.  She was Vice President of the Centennial Development Fund in the 1960s, Associate Chairman of the Commitment to Quality Campaign in the 1970s, and National Regional Co-Chairman in the Wells College Campaign of 1981-83.

Recognition of her volunteer efforts for Wells in many areas was given to Ione in 1983 when she received honorable mention and national recognition from the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) as an outstanding volunteer for her alma mater.

Married to Robert Trent Jones and mother of two sons, Robert Trent Jr. and Rees Lee, Ione’s business acumen has been a valuable asset to her husband’s profession of designing and developing golf courses around the world.

Ione Tefft Davis Jones’ imprint on Wells College is great.  Her enthusiasm is contagious and her support endless.  The Wells College Alumnae Association is pleased to present an Alumnae Award to this outstanding alumna for whom we have special admiration, appreciation and affection.


Constance Macdonald, M.D.

Dr. Constance Macdonald of the Class of 1950 is honored this year for her outstanding clinical practice and achievements in the field of medicine and health care.

After graduating from Wells College, Connie pursued her growing interest in medicine, and, in 1960, she received her Doctorate of Medicine from Boston University School of Medicine.  Since that time, she has served in her chosen specialty of pediatrics.  Since 1966, she has practiced as a pediatrician on the staff of Group Health Cooperative of Puget Sound, which has been a pioneer in prepaid cooperative health care.

Connie has given her time to many professional organizations and community activities.  She was the first woman president of the Puget Sound Pediatric Society, is a past president of the Washington Association for Children with Learning Disabilities, and has made many radio and television appearances on behalf of children with developmental disorders, such as dyslexia and mental retardation.

Dr. Macdonald is also a Clinical Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Washington School of Medicine and School of Nursing.  She continues to be active in the areas of prepaid medical health care and patient education, and, in 1981, Dr. Macdonald was selected as Seattle’s outstanding “Woman of Achievement.”

Above and beyond her credentials, Dr. Macdonald is regarded with great respect by her colleagues as an outstanding pediatrician, and a strong child advocate for improvement in services for children, healthy and handicapped alike.  She is the kind of person who epitomizes an ideal blend of the caring and concern typically associated with the old-fashioned physician, and the skilled practitioner with the knowledge needed in our modern technologically improved medical care system.  She is well known for her caring attitude toward her patients and their families.  Her concerns transcend medical pathology to the stresses caused by illness, the feelings of the persons involved, and the ways in which she can provide comfort and advice.  She works long hours because she takes the time to talk with parents.  Her reputation as an astute diagnostician and excellent therapist for both big and small problems has passed by word of mouth over the years, and has led to a very large and busy medical practice.

The Wells College Alumnae Association is proud to recognize Dr. Constance Macdonald, a sensitive, concerned, and caring child advocate and helper of mankind.

1986 Awards

Florence Charles Faegre

Florence Charles Faegre of the Class of 1938 is a devoted and hard working alumna of Wells and an outstanding volunteer community leader.  Charlie, as she was known by her classmates, and thereafter by her Wells friends, has served her alma mater both in her own community and nationally.  As a “Mrs. Wells” of the Wells Club of Minnesota, she has encouraged support and enrollment.  In the mid-sixties Charlie was one of the National Campaign Vice-Chairwomen, assuming a major task for the college.  In 1968 she began her service on the Wells Board of Trustees.  The Board named her an honorary trustee in 1978, a title she still holds.

Supporting excellence at Wells has been a continued goal of Charlie.  Continuing her active work on behalf of the college, she was Associate Chairwoman for the Commitment to Quality campaign of 1973-74.  She became National Regional Co-Chair in the 1981-83 campaign, and was instrumental in raising over ten million dollars.  By 1984 she was Chairwoman of the Major Gifts Committee, which has raised over three-quarter of a million dollars including two challenge grants for endowment, academic programs, and special projects.

The Faegres have been residents of Minneapolis since John and Florence’s marriage in 1939.  Charlie has been an involved community leader for the past forty years.  From her interest in her sons’ and daughter’s activities, as a leader of their scout troops and President of the Mother’s Association of their school, Charlie extended her commitment to her community.  For over thirty years a dedicated advocate of the Northwestern Hospital, Charlie is now a corporate member of the Life-Span Board.

Her enthusiasm, energy, and leadership instill in those who work with her a grateful feeling for her contributions to her community and inspire us all to keep the momentum of Wells College moving forward.

In 1986, for her invaluable work for Wells College and for her unending community involvement, the Alumnae Association, with gratitude and pride, presents to Florence Charles Faegre the Wells College Alumnae Award.

Eleanor Annable Siewert

Eleanor Annable Siewert of the Class of 1962 is honored this year for her outstanding volunteer work and service to her community.

Coco Siewert’s commitment to public service began at Wells when she volunteered at a home for senior citizens and a community center.  For the past fifteen years, Coco’s volunteer activities have centered in her very special, civic-minded community of Birmingham, Michigan.  From her beginning involvement with Girl Scouts, Sunday School, PTA, and the American Association of University Women, she has extended her volunteer participation to a multitude of organizations which have lasting and positive effects on community life.

Coco has served on numerous Board of Education committees, is a member of the Community Education Central Advisory Council and Chairman of the Interagency Committee, which is a network organization of community groups and agencies supported by the Birmingham Board of Education.  Elected a Trustee of the Baldwin Public Library in 1979, her two terms included her chairmanship of the Building Addition Committee which saw the completion of a 2.7 million dollar addition under her personal supervision.  In 1985, Coco was elected to the Birmingham City Commission.  From 1983-1985, she served as President of Birmingham’s AAUW branch, comprised of over 500 members, after chairing the annual book sale of 50,000 books and becoming a recognized authority on the identification and pricing of rare books.

Coco’s experience in many volunteer organizations led her to an interest in parliamentary procedure, and she is now a Professional Registered Parliamentarian.  Her knowledge of parliamentary rules is valued, and she regularly conducts workshops for various groups.  Coco is presently Chairman of the National AAUW Convention Procedures Committee and will serve in this capacity at the 1987 national meeting.  Coco is also a licensed lay reader for her Episcopal Church and serves on the Board of Directors of The Christian Communication Council of Metropolitan Detroit Churches and chairs the Unit on Social and Theological concerns.

Coco’s outstanding energy, enthusiasm, leadership and involvement have been well recognized by those around her.  She was named Woman of the Year by the Birmingham Community Women’s Center in 1983, and in 1984, she was awarded the Birmingham-Bloomfield First Citizen Award by the Birmingham-Bloomfield Hills Chamber of Commerce and the local newspaper, The Eccentric.  AAUW also honored her with a Named Fellowship Gift in 1985.

Through all her volunteer activities, Coco’s family, her husband and three children, has been her central focus, her pride and joy.  A pillar of her community, with warm humor and an ability to carefully study issues and actively listen to varying viewpoints, then to arrive at fair and independent decisions, she is a leader among leaders and rises to the top of any organization she serves.  Coco leads in a way that inspires leadership growth in others, continuing to build the community she serves by encouraging and challenging others to do likewise.

The Wells College Alumnae Association is proud to recognize Coco Siewert, as she continues her strong dedication to public service.

1987 Award

Suzanne Crelly Nash

Suzanne Crelly Nash, Professor of French in Princeton University’s Department of Romance Languages and Literature and member of the Wells College Class of 1957, has excelled in each of the roles assigned to a university professor:  scholar and teacher, critic and author, mentor and colleague, friend and counselor.  Suzanne is described by her Princeton colleagues as “an intense, creative scholar, who takes intellectual risks and shares them in dazzling lectures that challenge the taken-for-granted.”  A former graduate student describes Suzanne as “always expanding and deepening her interests and expertise, challenging herself, taking risks, growing … the most intellectually alive professor that she has encountered.”

The basis of Suzanne’s successful academic career is her creative interpretation of and expert analysis of nineteenth and twentieth century French literature with special emphasis on poetry.  Literary journals regularly publish her articles and reviews.  Her books, ‘Les Comtemplations’ of Victor Hugo:  An allegory of the Creative Process (1976) and Paul Valery’s Album de Vers Anciens:  A Past Transfigured (1983) have provided important reinterpretations of and illuminations of the writings of two of France’s most important writers.  Her current work, supported by a Guggenheim Fellowship, is a study of French poetry written after World War I and will be the subject of a third book.

Suzanne is a dedicated teacher who shares her time and knowledge generously with her students.  She is one of those rare professors who combine the best of research and teaching and can stimulate in their students the desire to advance their own level of scholarship.  Suzanne offers courses in French literature and literary theory in the Department of Romance Languages and Literature as well as two courses in the Program of Women’s Studies.  Following the same high standards that she sets for her own work, she directs graduate students in their research and scholarly writing.  Students who have earned their doctoral degrees under Suzanne’s mentorship have begun to assume their own academic positions in liberal arts colleges and universities.

Suzanne’s development as a scholar began at Wells College and included a junior year abroad in France.  She majored in French and had a strong interest in theater.  She was recognized for her ability in both areas graduating with Honors in French and named as a recipient of the Gertrude Stouffer Prize for Dramatic Achievement.  She combined her two interests in her senior honors thesis on “The Image of Woman in the Theatre of Montherlant and Giraudoux.”  She graduated cum laude and was elected to membership in Phi Beta Kappa.  In 1963, she was awarded the M.A. from Cornell University and, in 1972, the Ph.D. from Princeton University.  Throughout her graduate career she continued to win recognition for her outstanding achievements.  Suzanne joined the faculty at Princeton in 1972.

The Wells community is pleased to know that Suzanne Crelly Nash will continue to enlighten the men and women of Princeton University and that she will continue to contribute to the world of literary criticism and analysis.  The Wells College Alumnae Association is proud to present to her the Alumnae Award for 1987.

Liesel Moak Skorpen

Liesel Moak Skorpen of the Class of 1957 has contributed greatly to the field of children’s literature.  She informs her stories with grace, wit, intelligence and insight.  Her respect for and love of children weave wisdom and joy into the rich and colorful tapestry of her writing.

At Wells Liesel was a philosophy major, graduating Summa Cum Laude, and contributing to the intellectual and imaginative ambiance of the college.  She continued her studies as a Woodrow Wilson Fellow in philosophy at Yale University.

Liesel began her writing and publishing in Nevada where she worked with drug addicts and criminals in rehabilitation.  Her first book, “If I Had a Lion,” was published in 1967.  During the next ten years there were fourteen more books for young children published by Harper & Row, Dial Press and Coward McCann.  “Mandy’s Grandmother” was made into a short film which was nominated for an Academy Award in 1981.  Two of her books, “Charles” and “Michael” were selected by the Library of Congress for its “Children’s Books” list in 1971 and 1975, respectively.  The International Reading Association also selected “Michael” for its “Classroom Choices, 1975” and “His Mother’s Dog” for its “Children’s Choices, 1979.”  Her latest book, “Grace,” a novella for older children, was published in 1984.  Many of her books have been printed in foreign translations including Afrikans and Japanese.

Any list of her published, popular and award winning books gives only the quantity, not the quality of the perceptive, tender teaching of her writing.  A colleague writes “…they are full of quiet, compassionate humor …never, never clichéd or the least bit sentimental …she has a hard eye for the truth and forgives despite the blindness which often inhabits her adult figures.”  In Liesel’s own words …”I like children and would rather write for them than anyone.  When they like a book, they really like it.  They study it, they sleep with it, they stand on it and they sit on it, they nibble it.”

Liesel is regularly asked to lecture and give readings at libraries and high schools.  In 1971 she was the Alumnae Lecturer at Wells and in 1982 she launched the Linda Hale Memorial Lecture Series at the University of Nevada at Reno with a lecture on “Learning to Write.”

Liesel and her husband, Erling, a philosophy professor at the University of Maine, have raised six children and live in Bucksport, Maine where Liesel has developed a new skill as a serious equestrian.  In the past three years she learned to ride, chose the difficult discipline of dressage and is now competing at the Second Level, placing consistently in state and national shows.  Lendon Gray, her instructor and former Olympic team member, says of Liesel:  “It takes a lot of courage for an older adult with limited experience to compete against professionals like myself and talented juniors.  She does it with guts, grace and success.”  Liesel and her horse, Seasmoke, are the Maine 1986 Second Level Champions.

By entering, dwelling in and learning from the world of children Liesel Moak Skorpen has given to the Wells Community and to the larger world a lasting gift.  We are delighted to confer on her the Wells Alumnae Award for 1987.

1988 Awards

Jeanne Bahn Hutchins

Jeanne Bahn Hutchins of the Class of 1943 is honored this year for her civic leadership in her community of Rochester, New York, and for her service to Wells.

Long active in government, business, education, science, church and community affairs, Jeanne graduated from Wells as a Pre-Med major, later studying Urban Policy at a two-year seminar conducted by the Brookings Institute, then receiving her Master of Public Administration from the State University of New York in 1980.

With her diversity of interests, talents, and skills honed through the years, a former Trustee of Wells College, currently Jeanne serves as a Trustee of Colgate/Rochester/Bexley Hall/Crozer Theological Seminary, Monroe Savings Bank and the Center for Government Research.  She serves on the Board of Directors of Health Care, the parent group of Rochester General Hospital; the National Board of Family Service of America; St. Ann’s Home for the Aged; and Compeer, Inc.  Jeanne is Warden of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church where she has served as Treasurer and on its Vestry.  She is also Past President of the Council of Social Agencies, the Junior League of Rochester and the Rochester Female Charitable Foundation.  She is former Director of the National Commission on Social Careers and of the United Way and many of its funded agencies, including Planned Parenthood, Visiting Nurse Service, Northaven Adoption Agency and the Family Service of Rochester.

A legislator in local government, Jeanne was re-elected to her fourth four-year term as a Councilwoman of the town of Brighton, New York in November 1987.

To each of these responsibilities Jeanne has brought a sharpness of mind and a vision, articulateness and an ability to research and to document the problems and the situations which she finds.  She then inspires those organizations to go on from those studies, to change and grow.

Together with her husband, Frank M. Hutchins, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Hutchins/Young and Rubicam, Inc., Jeanne was awarded the 1986 Civic Medal in Rochester, in recognition of her long and distinguished service to the Greater Rochester Community.  Jeanne has also received the Grant Garvey Award from the American Society for Public Administration, the First Shumway Distinguished Service Award from Family Service of Rochester and the Forman Flair Award for outstanding community service.  Jeanne is also listed in Who’s Who of American Women.

Above and beyond her credentials and her expertise, Jeanne is lauded by her colleagues as a torchbearer for Voluntarism.  As such, she contributed an important essay on her personal philosophy of “Voluntarism:  A Matter of Choice and Privilege” which was published in the November 1985 Wells Express.  In it she challenged each person to decide for herself how to wrestle with the problems of Human Welfare, and then to use her own best skills and resources to help make the world a better place in which to live.

With her acuity and gift of leadership, Jeanne is a problem-solver, a volunteer who has indeed made a difference to her community.  Yet, in all her pursuits, Jeanne’s support of her husband and four daughters, and now eight grandchildren, has been a central focus of her life, a source of great pride and joy and strong family ties.

The Wells College Alumnae Association is proud to confer on Jeanne Bahn Hutchins an Alumnae Award for 1988.

Lillian Vitanza Ney

Lillian Vitanza Ney of the Class of 1960 is honored this year for her invaluable work in and contribution to the field of Cardiac Medicine in particular and Health Care in general.

After graduating from Wells College with a Pre-Med major, Lillian received her medical training, including a degree in Medicine, an internship and residency in Internal Medicine and a Fellowship in Cardiology at the University of Buffalo.

From 1969 to 1974 Lillian was engaged in private practice.  There she experienced the growing dedication and depth of commitment to her chosen field which led her to accept the post of Director of Medical Education at Women’s Christian Association Hospital in Jamestown, New York in 1974, and, subsequently, in 1979, the post of Director of Cardiology.  At the present time Lillian serves W.C.A. Hospital as Director of Cardiology, Head of Quality Assurance, President-Elect of the Medical Staff and Director of Wellness.  The latter post reflects Lillian’s enlightened commitment to educational outreach to the lay public in order to develop healthy habits and lifestyles in an effort to prevent sickness and hospitalization.

Lillian is a member of many important professional organizations.  Foremost among them is her election in 1976 to Fellowship in the American College of Physicians.  This Fellowship is the highest award given by the organization and is only bestowed on some 200 physicians yearly in the United States.  It is given in recognition of attainment of the highest medical skills and continuing growth in medical knowledge and achievement.  In addition, Lillian is a Fellow in the American College of Cardiology and holds numerous other memberships including the American Medical Association, the American Heart Association, and the Women’s Medical Society of New York State.  In January of 1987 she was elected to Fellowship in the Council on Clinical Cardiology of the American Heart Association, a recognition by her peers of the highest degree of competency in Cardiovascular Disease Consultation.  She is also a member of WAND – Women’s Action for Nuclear Disarmament, and the Physicians for Social Responsibility.

This astonishing list of achievements and commitments notwithstanding, Lillian makes time for extensive community involvement.  She speaks to many fraternal and women’s organizations, runs Stress Management, Eating Disorders, and other Wellness Seminars, and she is also involved with the Visiting Nurses’ Association.  Lillian’s non-medical activities include board work for her local library, Family Service of Jamestown, and Jamestown Area Youth Orchestra.

The listing of Dr. Ney’s professional and community achievements gives only the quantity, not the vital, energetic, and compassionate quality of her efforts which is, not surprisingly, the heart of her work.

Lillian’s superior accomplishments in her field and in her life have been and continue to be a singing celebration of the nature and essence of Wells College.  For it was here, at a time when such decisions were lonely and brave ones, that she made the choice through the clarity of her vision and the depth of her understanding of herself to know and to practice medicine.  She thus made the choice to lead in the struggle of human beings to fashion a more decent life.

On May 18, 1960 a good friend of Lillian’s wrote this in her diary:   “… today was a beautiful day to end – full of sunshine and greenness and youngness and happiness.  We had a picnic by the waterfall.  We agreed how much we would miss Wells and each other, how safe and sheltered we felt.  Then Lil said, ‘life is always a chancy, changing pursuit – all this structure just makes it seem safe and ordered.  Next year’s going to come and I’m glad – you know what I really want to do?  I want to learn how to keep people as healthy and happy as we three are right now.’”

Today, with this award, The Wells College Alumnae Association celebrates and affirms the reality of those words which Lillian Vitanza Ney has made true for so many people long after a day in May by a waterfall at Wells.

1989 Award

Pleasant Thiele Rowland

Pleasant Thiele Rowland, Class of 1962, is honored this year for her contributions to children and to learning, as an educator, author, publisher, and creative entrepreneur.

Graduating from Wells with a degree in English, Pleasant embarked on the first of many careers:  teaching in the elementary grades.  From this experience she developed a curriculum of reading instruction for kindergarten students which addressed the lack of phonics instruction in reading programs.  Recognizing that learning must be fun, her approach included an array of audio-visual and multi-sensory activities.

She applied her communications skill as a reporter and anchor for ABC-TV in San Francisco then returned to education and authored and published her innovative plan for a phonics-based reading program.  Beginning to Read, Write and Listen continues to be the largest selling kindergarten program and has introduced millions of children to the joys of reading.  Between 1973 and 1981, Pleasant authored The Addison-Wesley Reading Program for kindergarten through sixth grade.

As a publishing entrepreneur Pleasant has developed Pleasantry Press and Children’s Magazine Guide.  She founded Pleasant Company in 1985 to produce “and market The American Girls Collection, a line of historically accurate books, dolls, dresses and other delights” to teach American history to girls ages 6 to 11.  Under Pleasant’s direction the company has grown to a 25 million dollar enterprise, employing 150 employees, 85% of whom are female.

Her community activities include service on many corporate and non-profit boards, especially those that benefit women, children and families.

Pleasant has been a tireless contributor to Wells as class secretary, local admissions worker, fund raiser, class organizer for her 25th reunion and speaker at “Beyond Wells” career day in the spring of 1987.

Pleasant Thiele Rowland is known by her peers and friends as creative, innovative and energetic.  In a career dedicated to educating children she has embodied the Wells motto, “Habere et dispertere” – to have and to share.  The Wells College Alumnae Association is proud to present her the Alumnae Award of 1989.

1990 Awards

Corinne Howard Farnham

Corinne Howard Farnham, Class of 1950, is honored this year for her outstanding contributions to the community of Syracuse and for her loyal and steadfast service to Wells College.

Long active in community affairs, both as a professional and a volunteer, Corinne’s accomplishments and activities are numerous and varied and clearly illustrate her resourcefulness, devotion to others, and unusually generous spirit.  In her community of Syracuse she has served as an active board member and president of the Junior League, as board member and fundraiser for Planned Parenthood, as a volunteer and director of the Community Nursery School, and the Huntington Family Center, and as coordinator of volunteers for the Christmas Bureau of the Volunteer Center.

Corinne’s contributions to the Episcopal Church have been equally notable.  She has served on the Standing Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of Central New York – a group of eight who serve as a council of advice for the Bishop - , as delegate to the Triennial Meeting of the Women of the Episcopal Church as chair of the Convention Agenda and Arrangements Committee.  In her own Saint David’s Church of Dewitt, she has served on the vestry for many years and also as the president of the Altar Guild.

A loyal and enthusiastic alumna of Wells, Corinne has been a class agent many times, co-secretary of her class and president of the Syracuse Wells Club.  She has dedicated her fundraising skills to the Restoration ’87 campaign and various Capital Campaigns.  She served on the Annual Fund committee and for three years was Chair.  Today she is a member of the recently formed Pettibone House Steering Committee, responsible for obtaining funds for the restoration of PH.

To each of these undertakings Corinne has brought wisdom, intelligence, initiative, willingness to serve and an unusual ability to organize and take charge.  She has met tough challenges with modesty, grace and originality.  Two examples:  the organization of the first leadership dinner for the Syracuse Interreligious Council, which is now a highly successful annual event, and the merger of two independent hospital auxiliaries in Syracuse, an achievement of outstanding skill and tact.

Corinne and her husband, John H. Farnham, Jr., an insurance executive, are parents of three sons and a daughter-in-law.  Her dedication to her family through the years has been as strong and as deep as to her community.

It has been said that Corinne is “taking care of the world.”  Her unselfish devotion and service to others have been major factors all her life.  She lives in the belief that each person has the responsibility to give back something to the community where he or she lives.  She shines in her world as a loving helper and friend, as an important and valued person, and as a fine representative of the Wells community.

The Wells College Alumnae Association is proud to present Corinne Howard Farnham as Alumnae Award of 1990.

Sally Doerschuk Ketchum

Sally Doerschuk Ketchum, Class of 1947, is honored this year for her outstanding and dedicated volunteer contributions to her community of Pittsburgh and for her devoted service to Wells.

After graduating from Wells, where she served as president of the Collegiate Association, Sally returned to her other alma mater, the Winchester-Thurston School in Pittsburgh, to teach English and Drama.  Her gift of leadership then led to an active career as a community volunteer.  Sally’s activities covered the spectrum from infant to elderly, including The Children’s Home of Pittsburgh, where she served as chair of the Board of Managers; the Planned Parenthood Association; the Social Service Board of Presbyterian-University Hospital; and the Jane Holmes Residence for the Elderly.  She also became engaged in a successful entrepreneurship called “Sophistikits”, a venture in needlepoint.  In politics, Sally organized volunteers and did research for the successful Pennsylvania gubernatorial campaign of Richard Thornburgh in 1978.  Always interested in horticulture, perhaps her most significant community contribution was being a founder and first president of Phipps Friends, a volunteer organization which provides active support to the century old Phipps Conservatory in Pittsburgh.

In 1988, she was named Alumna of the Year at the Winchester-Thurston School.

Sally’s devotion to Wells has been constant.  She has served as president of her local Wells Club, as class secretary, as delegate to Alumnae Council, as chair of the Alumnae Awards Committee, and as a participant in numerous annual and capital fund-raising campaigns for Wells.

Sally has become chair of almost every group she has joined, an indication of her ability to lead and organize, and of her willingness to undertake responsibility.  Her enthusiasm, energy and leadership instill in those who work with her a grateful feeling for her contributions to her community and to Wells.  Through her activities, Sally’s family – her husband David, daughters Louise and Laura, granddaughter Eliza, and her mother Ethel Timmerman Doerschuk of the Wells Class of 1917 – has been the central focus of her life.

The Wells College Alumnae Association is proud to confer on Sally Doerschuk Ketchum an Alumnae Award for 1990.

1991 Award

Kathryn Walker

Kathryn Walker, Class of 1964, is honored this year for her creative contributions to American theater and literature and for sharing her special insights with the Wells community.

While at Wells Kathryn played major roles in student productions, directed her Junior Stunt, served as president of Kastalia and Phoenix, organized poetry readings, and won prizes for dramatics and translation.  After graduating Phi Beta Kappa and cum laude with Distinction in English, Kathryn went on to earn a Master’s degree in Celtic Studies from Harvard University.  She won a Fulbright Fellowship to the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts, and her activities there sealed her fate as a professional actress.  After her return to the United States, she worked at Princeton’s McCarter Theater and the Theater Company of Boston and then settled in New York City to continue her career.

Kathryn has made many important appearances on and off Broadway, on television, and in films.  Her theatrical credits include roles in plays from William Shakespeare to Neil Simon.  She has had leads in various films, most recently in The Last Resort, directed by Julia Reichert and to be released this fall.  Among her many television credits are a principal role in the NBC miniseries, The Murder of Mary Phagan, which won an Emmy Award for Best Show, and several important roles on public television.  She is best known for her compelling portrayal of Abigail Adams in the PBS series The Adams Chronicles, for which she won an Emmy Award for Best Actress.  In addition, she has been the narrator of prize-winning films about Gaugin and Monet and of the PBS show, Dance in America.

The creation of dramatic and literary programs has been an abiding interest for Kathryn.  She has been active in the Poet’s Theater in Cambridge and most recently founded the Athens Street Company, a group of actors, writers, and teachers interested in performing poetry in the theater.  The Company’s most recent project was an evening of poetry on the subject of Enlightenment performed at the Harvard Divinity School Chapel in May.  This season she also performed in a program celebrating the Baroque poetry of Suor Juana de la Cruz, the first feminist in the Americas.

Upon several occasions Kathryn has returned to Aurora to share her insights, experiences, and ideals with the Wells community.  She has addressed the Honors Convocation in 1971, delivered the Commencement Address in 1982, and participated in an Alumnae panel in 1988.  Kathryn’s sister, Sally Walker Fowler, is also a Wells alumna, Class of 1961.

Even with a busy career and considerable traveling, Kathryn devotes much time and energy to significant social issues, as does her husband, singer and songwriter James Taylor.  Kathryn is especially concerned with animal rights and is founder of a charitable organization called The Dobbin Society, a retirement fund for New York City carriage horses.  She also serves on the Board of Cleveland Amory’s Fund for Animals.

Anyone who speaks with Kathryn Walker must be struck by her rare intelligence, her lively enthusiasm, and her passionate interest in literature and the world of ideas.  The Wells College Alumnae Association is proud to present her the Alumnae Award in 1991.

1992 Awards

Raquel Davenport Boehmer

Raquel Davenport Boehmer, Class of 1959, is honored this year for her enthusiastic advocacy of natural foods and the protection of the environment, as expressed in her writing, her radio program, and the way she leads her life, both at home and in her island community.

Many of Raquel’s interests took hold and were nurtured at Wells, where she was president of her junior class and enjoyed singing with the chorus and Henry’s VIII.  She loved Aurora – the Canada geese on the lake, learning to know townspeople through work in the dining hall, spending vacation time with her Zabriskie relatives, and participating in Canterbury Club at the Episcopal Church, where she met her husband, Peter Boehmer.

After living in the metropolitan New York City area for several years following graduation, in search of a more peaceful environment and meaningful life, Raquel and Peter moved their three children – Kris, Louisa and Tim – to Monhegan Island, Maine, in 1967.  Living 12 miles from the mainland, without the benefit of regular electricity, the Boehmers learned to fend for themselves and make do with the resources at hand.  Most dramatic were changes in food preparation and eating habits.  Prepared foods were eliminated, and the grinding of grains, pressing of wild fruit juices, and chopping of vegetables were done by hand without labor-saving devices.  The Boehmers designed their house to accommodate this focus on food preparation – kitchen and living room are essentially the same place.

With characteristic energy and creativity, Raquel began to turn the basics of her home life into professional projects, beginning with a weekly radio program, “Whole Foods for All People,” which she has produced since 1977 for the Maine Public Broadcasting Network.  The program is heard in the Northeast and Maritime Canada as a part of National Public Radio’s “Morning Edition.”  In 1982 her book A Foraging Vacation, Edibles from Sea and Shore was published by DownEast books.  A growing interest in seafood led to television work and to additional books:  Raquel’s Main Guide to New England Seafoods and the revision of All Maine Seafoods, which she edited, as well as the Boehmer’s bimonthly consumer recipe newsletter, “Seafood Soundings.”  Raquel is committed to advising the consumer on low-in-fat, easy-to-cook seafood recipes, and the interchangeability of seafood species.  The newsletter includes topics that range from emphasis on the connection between habitat degradation and seafood safety – stressing the consumer’s participatory responsibilities – to insights into the fishing industry.

Her work has been recognized both in the Northeast and on a national level.  She received the Maine Nutrition Council’s Public Service Award in 1987 for “outstanding contributions to nutrition and health for Maine people,”  In 1986 she was a speaker at the Los Angeles “Seafare.”  She is currently a member of the board of the Women’s Fisheries Network (NE) and has served as seafood consultant for the Maine Department of Marine Resources and to the Natural Resources Consultants of Seattle.  In 1982 Raquel was sent by the state of Maine to Japan to observe domestic use of seafoods and the seafood and aquaculture industries.  She and Peter have been featured in articles in National Gardening, Yankee, and Downeast magazines.

On Monhegan, Raquel has been chair of the school board and co-chair of the Monhegan Garbage Committee.  She maintains her love of music by playing fiddle and by leading a weekly hymn sing at the Island church on summer Sunday evenings.  The Boehmers have recently provided their island with a cottage to be used as a center for an artists-in-residence program run as a joint-venture with the Farnsworth Museum of Rockland, Maine.

Raquel Davenport Boehmer’s life and accomplishments reflect with luster the wisdom contained in her keynote speech for Beyond Wells Day in 1988:  “The main secret to living is to do all of it with joy.  Wells and the liberal arts do not guarantee a standard of living, but a quality of life.”  The Wells College Alumnae Association is proud to present her the Alumnae Award of 1992.

Otile McManus

Otile McManus exemplifies the liberally educated woman at work in today’s world.  She is honored for her more than twenty years as a writer and editor with The Boston Globe, a career which reflects her Wells experience in its range of interests, its intellectual strength, its broad perspectives, its concern for individuals and the quality of life.

Otile’s particular achievement has been her focus on two crucial sets of issues for our time – the roles and rights of women, and the livability of our cities.  She has been an advocate for both, and yet a voice of moderation and common sense.  That approach has fostered not only public awareness, but understanding, and created a climate for change.

Otile, an English major at Wells, joined The Boston Globe the summer after her graduation.  Even early in her career her skill as an interviewer was apparent – a combination of being a good listener and being able to ask just the right question.  As her husband, Robert Turner, a political columnist at the Globe, has observed, “Personally as well as professionally she has an amazing ability to touch people directly.”  From her first story about the poet Anne Sexton, she went on to profile other well-known novelists, actors, artists, community leaders, and politicians and to chronicle the lives and conflicts of ordinary men and women in the workplace and at home.

From the late 1970s to the mid 1980s, Otile served on the Globe’s editorial board where members formulate the newspaper’s position on a range of public policy concerns.  One of these was Boston’s development boom, and another, the many political and personal issues facing modern women.  Her editorials about the city’s rapid growth focused on historic preservation and on the long-range cost of allowing developers to build how, when and where they pleased.  In writing about women, she pressed for answers to difficult questions:  Title IX; comparable worth; childcare; abortion.  She also wrote about women’s achievements and their place in American life.  And always, she championed equal rights with clarity and power.

Over the years her editorials have brought important recognitions to the Globe and to Otile personally:  in 1984, the Boston Society of Architects Award for Historic Preservation; in 1985, “The Maggie” from the Planned Parenthood Federation; in 1988, a Loeb Fellowship for a year of study at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design.  But such honors are only half of Otile’s story.  As a friend has written, “She has come very close to achieving that elusive balance so many women seek between a rewarding career and a satisfying personal life.”  Hers is a busy life, but there has always been time for family activities with her husband and daughters, Julia and Maggie; time for community involvement; time for deep friendships and long associations, particularly with others who have shared the Wells experience.

And what is that experience?  Obviously, it is intellectual development, but it goes beyond that.  Perhaps Otile described it for us all when she wrote a statement about Wells for prospective students some years ago:  “In a very personal sense I liked living on a lake, water being equal to freedom in my mind.  At Wells you are very free, but you come to see that freedom means a kind of responsibility.  It’s almost inescapable as part of the pattern of things, part of the growth process that takes place in Aurora.”

The Wells College Alumnae Association is proud to present the Alumnae Award of  1992 to Otile McManus, Class of 1968, who has understood so well that balance of freedom and responsibility, and used it to accomplish so much.

1993 Awards

Jane Avery Ayers

Jane Avery Ayers of the Class of 1936 is honored for her sustaining contributions to Wells College, to its Alumnae Association, and to its community – and hers – the Village of Aurora.  Those contributions, as both a professional and a volunteer, reflect Jane’s deepest loyalties and sense of social responsibility and have enhanced not only the ongoing life of this place, but a special heritage we all share.

Jane’s connections to Wells and Aurora were established long before her arrival on campus, and in fact before her “arrival” anywhere.  There were Avery women in the earliest classes and Averys who settled in the region almost a hundred years before that.  The alumnae relations include her mother, sister and sisters-in-law, and in the words of Gilbert and Sullivan’s Sir Joseph Porter, K.C.B., “cousins, reckoned up by dozens, and her aunts!”  Born and raised in Aurora, and with such a lineage, Jane’s college choice was hardly surprising.

Once enrolled, however, she made the experience her own.  She was a good student, challenged by the academic atmosphere, and an active participant in most of what went on outside the classroom.  Graduating as an English major, she worked and studied briefly in Boston, but returned to Aurora when she was needed to help with family affairs.  Jane has admitted that it was hard at first to give up her new life away from home.  But ultimately, it was close to home that her new life began.  She soon met and married Sam Ayers, and after the war, they chose to live in Aurora.  Some twenty years later, with Gus, Lucinda, Tim and Avery reaching independence, it was time for Jane to pursue new directions.

She found those first at Wells College.  Beginning as assistant to the alumnae secretary in 1962, Jane was appointed secretary when Jane Morgan retired the following year.  It was a position she held until her own retirement in 1978, and one to which she brought her writing and editing talents, along with strong organizational skills, and keen insights about the role of alumnae and their relationship to Wells.  Her perspectives were critical in helping to shape the Association that is in place today; one which is part of the College administration yet preserves its own identity and purposes.

Jane’s “directions” also involved Aurora.  A particular focus during those working years was the Presbyterian Church.  There she served as an elder and advocate for the United Ministry concept, which in 1968, linked the Presbyterian and Episcopal churches to create the thriving congregation that exists today.  And as her professional life concluded, the breadth of her community volunteer activities increased:  clerk of the Church Council and president of the Presbyterian Women’s Association; trustee of the Library Board and chair of the Historical Association; on the governing boards of the Ecumenical Ministry in Higher Education and Hospice of the Finger Lakes, as well as a Hospice volunteer caregiver; and volunteer at Peachtown Elementary School.  Her efforts for Wells were equally far-ranging:  president of the Aurora Wells Club; area chair for the Capital Campaign; national chair for the Annual Fund; and member of numerous committees including those for the Glen Park Renovation, the Pettibone Restoration, and replacing (yet again) the library roof.  No task has been too large or small, too visible or invisible.

In each of these encounters over so many years, Jane has continued to make a difference in the lives of people and organizations.  She has been described by her family, friends, and associates as enthusiastic and affirming, intelligent and imaginative, a moving force and a bridge from the past to the present.  Indeed, Jane’s achievements express with a special clarity the focus of this College, in her time as now, on the importance of leadership and values.  And she has demonstrated for us all how meaningful it is to use one’s gifts wherever there is work to be done.

The Wells College Alumnae Association is proud to honor Jane Avery Ayers with an Alumnae Award for 1993.

Mary McDowell Hopkins

Mary “Rusty” McDowell Hopkins of the Class of 1943 is honored for her many contributions to the needs of the Wells students and to the life of this institution as a respected member of the state’s higher education community.  Particularly in the areas of financial aid and career planning, she has helped women to “dream dreams” as well as prepare for reality.  And beyond the campus, her creative leadership has helped to bring our College distinction among its peers.

At Wells, Rusty majored in science, and loved sports.  Yet, despite her reputation as a fierce competitor in both hockey and basketball, she had varied interests and could just as often be found designing and sewing costumes for Kastalia productions.  Upon earning her degree, she worked as a chemist in New York City and took graduate courses.  But after five years of urban life, she returned to Aurora to run a business of her own:  the Jam Kitchen, a small restaurant at the upper end of Wells Road.

The “J.K.,” as it was called, served as a haven for Wells students seeking respite from the pressures of studying as well as the boredom of institutional cooking.  Rusty was an accomplished cook, and is still remembered for her wonderful breakfasts and cheeseburgers!  It was her special way with people, however, that really made the J.K. successful – a place that offered far more than just good food.  There were townspeople, too, who experienced the same “magic.”  One was Linn Hopkins.  He and Rusty met at the Jam Kitchen and, within two years, they had married and settled down to domestic life in the area.

Like most women of her generation, Rusty waited until their three sons, Scott, Peter, and John, were in school before she returned to work.  Thus began a distinguished administrative career at Wells College that was to cover twenty-seven years, under four presidents, in a variety of posts.  Beginning as assistant dean of students in 1960, she was named director of the newly created office of financial aid and vocational guidance in 1969.  Ten years later, she became coordinator of facilities and services.  And when Patti McGill Peterson became president in 1980, Rusty became her executive assistant, serving throughout her administration and retiring upon its conclusion in 1987.

The centerpiece of Rusty’s career at Wells was her work in financial aid.  In the turbulent sixties and seventies, it was a critical arena; a constantly changing, increasingly complex world of federal and state regulations; a veritable minefield to be navigated to assure Wells students that their education would be financially possible and secure.  During these years, Wells joined the newly created New York Financial Aid Administration Association (NYSFAAA).  In 1974, working with Wells president John Wilson, she was instrumental in a successful Association lobbying effort in Albany for the passage of a bill providing financial aid for scholarship students choosing to attend the state’s private colleges and universities – an important step toward preserving educational options.  Rusty also established a NYSFAAA summer workshop on the Wells campus that prepared specialists in the financial aid field who now serve in colleges across the country.  She “integrated” the organization by being the first woman elected to serve on its executive council.  There, as on her own campus, she was a model and a mentor for women.  Not surprisingly, she was the recipient of the NYSFAAA’s distinguished service award on two occasions.

Amid her professional activities, Rusty always found time to prepare the fruits of her garden, put some hay in the barn, take small Hopkins boys fishing, open the doors of Teasel Run to visiting students, alums, and trustees.

In reviewing Rusty’s administrative career at Wells, one is reminded of what Patti Peterson recently wrote about her:  “She helped me to understand the special lore and traditions of the College and gave me a deep appreciation of what it meant to be a Wells woman.”  And this she has done for all of us, through her professional achievements and her personal ability to extend herself to others – colleagues, students, faculty, alumnae, trustees, neighbors, friends, family.

The Wells College Alumnae Association is proud to honor Mary “Rusty” McDowell Hopkins with an Alumnae Award for 1993.

1994 Awards

Susan J. Standfast, M.D.

Susan J. Standfast, M.D., Class of 1957, is honored for her work as a public health specialist, epidemiologist, physician, and teacher.  She is an internationally recognized epidemiological lecturer and writes with special emphasis on cancer, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), and injuries.  She is also being recognized for her continuing devotion to Wells.

Raised in a household where her doctor father believed one’s gender should not inhibit goals, Susan majored in biology and chemistry at Wells, involved herself in a rich mélange of extracurricular activities, graduated Phi Beta Kappa, and headed for Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in an era when only a trickle of women dared apply.

Initially interested in surgery, she began a surgical internship in Seattle, switched to a rotating internship, and fixed on public health and epidemiology, which necessitated earning a master’s degree in public health at the University of California Berkeley and serving a public health residency with the New York State Department of Health.  That residency turned into a career-long commitment to the public health of the people of New York State.  At the same time she also began a continuing professorship at Albany Medical College, training fledgling doctors in epidemiology.  In 1967 she took on an additional career as wife to Theodore Wright, political scientist, professor at SUNY Albany, specialist in the politics of India, and outdoorsman.  They met in a canoe.

As a result of Ted’s special interest, Sue repeatedly traveled to India as guest lecturer, consultant, and adjunct professor at various Indian medical centers and in many Indian cities.  Her career in the New York State Department of Health included direction of research studies in cancer, SIDS, and the diseases of children; surveillance of multiple community cancer clusters and disasters; creation of an injury control program in the state; competition for national grants; development of investigative programs; lectures throughout the United States and around the world; and the writing of numerous articles and abstracts.  Currently she is consultant epidemiologist to the New York State Department of Health’s Division of Family Health, as well as Co-Director of the Professional Education Program of the recently established School of Public Health of the University of Albany, State University of New York, and Associate Professor of Epidemiology.

Sue is a member of several professional organizations and is a Fellow of the American College of Epidemiology and the American College of Preventive Medicine.  In addition, she has given much time as an active consultant to Planned Parenthood.  She participated in the First World Conference in Injury Prevention in Stockholm in 1989 and in 1991 spoke at the International Traffic Safety Conference in New Delhi.

A loyal and enthusiastic Wells alumna, she has been a class fundraiser, was instrumental in developing the Eleanor C. McMullen biology prize; and has been on campus to discuss balancing career and family for a Beyond Wells Day.

Sue is the mother of three---Henry, born in India and recently graduated from Cornell, and twin girls, Margaret and Catherine, just graduated from Middlebury and Skidmore.  They are a close family, devoted to the outdoors and family togetherness as much as time permits.

Her colleagues rate her as experienced, dedicated, a superb teacher, imaginative, sensitive and effective.  Her classmates think of her as incredibly hard-working and an extremely true and loyal friend.

The Wells College Alumnae Association is proud to honor Susan J. Standfast with an Alumnae Award for 1994.

Jessie Briggs Gunther

Jessie Briggs Gunther of the Class of 1969 is honored for her contributions to the field of law in the state of Maine.  There, in the twenty-two years since her graduation from law school, her remarkable legal career has had many facets: practicing attorney, active member of the bar, teacher, judge, and role model.  Jessie has successfully integrated the responsibilities and enjoyments of work, family, and community, and she has met challenging circumstances with courage and creativity.

A history major at Wells, Jessie was recognized by classmates as a bright and serious student; she was also known for her sense of humor and her “wonderful Maine accent.”  After spending her junior year in Switzerland at the University of Geneva, she returned to Wells and graduated cum laude.  She then went off to Pennsylvania to study law and in 1972 graduated, magna cum laude, from Dickinson School of Law.  After graduation she returned to Maine to begin her legal career with the Augusta firm of Wathen and Wathen.

As a young member of the trial bar in southern Maine, Jessie was soon recognized to have keen abilities.  In 1976, before the end of her fourth year in private practice, she was appointed by the Governor to serve as District Court Judge in the 13th District.  Not yet thirty years old at the time of the appointment, she was the youngest judge in the state and only the second woman to serve as District Court Judge.  In this position she skillfully handled legal problems of rural Maine and established a reputation for frankness and fairness.

In 1980, when the Governor sought a well-qualified person to serve as Superior Court Justice, he chose Jessie Briggs, who had been rendering outstanding service in the District Court.  At age thirty-two she was the first woman in Maine to serve as Justice of the Superior Court.  As she traveled throughout the state she was everywhere held in high esteem.  According to one of her colleagues, it was her legal abilities combined with her unique blend of “toughness and compassion” that served her so well as a judge.

Six years later, surprising many people, Jessie chose to give up her judicial position.  She had married Fred Gunther; they were living in the small town of Milo; she was on maternity leave and baby Janice had joined the family.  Jessie gave up the bench for the nursery, saying to a local reporter, “I have chosen a great joy.”  In 1987 baby Gretchen joined her sister—an additional joy for Jessie and Ted.

For the next few years, Jessie found new ways to contribute her time and talents.  Boards and committees that benefited from her participation included: the State Archives Advisory Board, the Governor’s Judicial Selection Panel, a Medical Malpractice Review Panel, the Judicial Records Advisory Committee, the Bar Association’s Substance Abuse Committee, and the Maine Bar Foundation.  She worked to improve legal services to the poor; she served as guardian ad litem for children in abuse and neglect cases; and she was recognized by the Bar Association for her pro bono work.  She also taught administrative law at the University of Maine at Orono and was active in her local Episcopal Church.

In 1990, ready to return to full-time work, Jessie accepted a second appointment to the District Court.  Today she is an active practicing judge in District 13, where she began her legal career.  She shares family responsibilities with her husband and enjoys his enthusiastic support as she carries out her judicial responsibilities.  Since returning to the bench, her special interests have been family law and the problems of victim advocacy, violence and abuse.

The Wells College Alumnae Association is proud to honor Jessie Briggs Gunther with an Alumnae Award for 1994.

1995 Award

Marilyn Turtle Braun

Marilyn Turtle Braun of the Class of 1955 is honored for her leadership in developing and implementing creative programs in art education and cultural exchange, for her service as an elected local official, and for her ongoing participation in Wells College and its alumnae activities.  Her professional and volunteer work in the Cincinnati area with the Taft Museum, the International Visitors Center, and the Cincinnati-Kharkiv Sister City Project has resulted in both local and national recognition.

A fine arts major at Wells – writing her senior thesis on the influence of African sculpture on contemporary art – Marilyn’s later interests were enhanced by a trip to Europe led by Mrs. Fleissner following her junior year and four months of travel in Africa a year after graduation.  A master’s degree in public administration from Xavier University in 1984 led to Marilyn’s position as Director of the Cincinnati Sculpture Council and the challenge of coordinating artists and public officials in placing sculpture in public places.

Concern for the preservation of green areas and the residential character of her community prompted her to seek public office.  She is now a third-term City Council member in Wyoming, a small city north of Cincinnati, where the Brauns have lived for 30 years.  As chair of the Law Committee and member of the Building and Zoning Appeals Board, she has worked to pass legislation protecting the historical and architectural character of the city.

Cincinnati’s prestigious Post-Corbett Award has twice recognized projects Marilyn developed and administered: The Taft Museum’s In-School Program (a four-year continuing program based on the museum’s four major collections, which eventually became part of the public school art curriculum) and the work of the Cultural Committee of the Cincinnati-Kharkiv Sister City Project, which Marilyn chaired for four years.  The committee fosters cultural exchanges using the arts as a medium for international cooperation and understanding.

As a board member of Cincinnati’s International Visitors Center from 1983 to 1989, Marilyn served as President for two years and later as Program Coordinator, scheduling all professional placements and hosting of international visitors, including a large contingent of Soviet officials visiting Cincinnati for a six-week USSR Cultural exhibition in 1988.  The Cincinnati-Kharkiv Sister City Project received the Sister Cities International Reader’s Digest Award in 1993 for a municipal training program coordinated by Marilyn.  She is now president of the Cincinnati-Kharkiv Sister City Project.

Marilyn and her husband, John, a Cornell engineering graduate, have two daughters, Susan Braun Shapiro, Wells 1980, and Cynthia Braun Register.  A continuing involvement in the American Field Service has brought exchange students into the Braun home, and over the years their hospitality has been extended to many visitors from around the world.  In turn, they have traveled extensively, including numerous trips to Kharkiv, Ukraine, and Russia.

Daughter of Katharine Marr Turtle ’26, at Wells Marilyn was vice president of the freshman class, treasurer of Collegiate, president of the Academic Honesty Committee, and a member of Querbois, the “Cardinal” staff, and White Caps (she still swims at 7:00 every morning).  According to a fellow Cincinnati Wells alumna, “For over 20 years Marilyn has been ‘everything’ to the Cincinnati Wells Club,” serving as president, working on admissions and recruiting, and housing Wells interns.  She has served the Alumnae Association as Alumnae Trustee from 1974 to 1980 and as area chair for the Capital Campaign in ’81-83.  A classmate describes her as bright, caring, kind, gentle, with a marvelous softspoken approach combined with a good dose of determination.  The mayor of the city of Wyoming has said, “She decides, organizes and accomplishes…”

The Wells College Alumnae Association is proud to honor Marilyn Turtle Braun with the Alumnae Award for 1995.

1996 Award

Janet Taylor Reiche

Janet Taylor Reiche, Class of 1952, is honored this year for her effective leadership and especially for the leadership which has defined her service and dedication to Wells College.  “Jay-Dee”, as she is known to all of us, made history in 1989 when she was elected the first woman and the first alumnae to Chair the Board of Trustees.

Her contribution to Wells began while she was an undergraduate when she was elected President of her Senior Class.  Her subsequent service as an alumna included the presidencies of her local and State Wells Clubs and twelve years as an Executive Officer of the Alumnae Association.  Her leadership of the Association as President from 1983 to 1989 was marked by a consensus-building team approach among officers.

To communicate College developments to alumnae more effectively, Jay-Dee helped to create the regional representation structure of the present Association.  She vigorously supported cooperative efforts between alumnae and campus offices for student recruiting, annual giving, and long range planning.  A re-focusing of alumnae energy in these areas was a tangible outcome of her Presidency.  During this period, she also headed a Presidential Search Committee for Wells – the first woman to serve in that capacity in the history of the College.

When her terms as Alumnae Association President and Trustee representing the Association ended in 1989, Jay-Dee was invited to continue as a College Trustee.  It was at this time that she was elected Chair of the Board, a position she held until 1993.  Jay-Dee’s term as Chair spanned a crucial period for Wells.  The Board was called upon to respond to critical issues of governance, including an unexpected change in college administration.  Working closely with the Board and its Executive Committee, Jay-Dee dealt with these challenges by meeting with all constituencies of the Wells community and helping them focus on the problems at hand in a collective effort to seek equitable solutions.  Her work was nationally recognized in 1993 by the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges.

In her positions as Head of the Alumnae Association and the Board of Trustees, Jay-Dee consciously sought to expand leadership opportunities for women, especially alumnae, at the College while serving as a role model for women leaders.  In each position, she has used her special skills of perception, management and vision, as well as her understanding of all the components of the College Community in order to provide needed leadership for Wells.

Jay-Dee’s service to her alma mater has been paralleled by her volunteer efforts in the communities where she and her family have lived.  Through executive positions and mentoring activities in educational institutions such as Stuart County Day School, political groups and her church, Jay-Dee’s accomplishments have touched the lives of all involved in such organizations, but especially girls and women.  While residing in Washington, D.C., she also served for two years as President of the Independent Agency Women, a group of women who are either Commissioners of Independent Regulatory Federal Agencies or whose husbands serve in such capacity.

Wells College has been strengthened through the vigor and example of Jay-Dee’s leadership as President of the Alumnae Association, as a member and Chair of the Board of Trustees, now as an Honorary Trustee, and always as devoted alumna.  The Wells College Alumnae Association is, therefore, proud to name Janet Taylor Reiche as the recipient of the 1996 Distinguished Alumna Award.

1997 Awards

Jane Marsh Dieckmann

Jane Marsh Dieckmann, Class of 1955, is honored today for her literary accomplishments in diverse areas of the humanities and for her dedication to and enthusiasm for Wells College, so clearly reflected in her recent book, Wells College:  A History.

Jane was the fourth woman in her family to attend Wells College.  At Wells, she earned the Bachelor of Arts degree summa cum laude and with Distinction in French.  Her dedication to French, her editing responsibilities for the college songbook and student handbook, and her memberships in French and music clubs, choir, madrigals, and the Phoenix Literary Society presaged both the nature and diversity of her professional talents and intellectual interests.  The first Wells student to receive a Fulbright grant for graduate study abroad, Jane studied for a year at the Sorbonne in Paris, then entered graduate school at Harvard University where she earned her Master’s and Ph.D. degrees in Romance Languages and Literatures.

She has worked as an indexer and copyeditor at major university presses, such as Oxford, Chicago and Cornell, and at trade publication houses included W.W. Norton and Routledge.  She is the author of many reviews and articles on music, literature, travel, food and local history which have appeared in journals and newspapers.  Jane’s latest academic work in French, published in 1995, was the introduction to and critical text of the eighteenth-century philosopher Denis Diderot’s Paradoxe sur le comedien.  In addition to achieving uncommon success in her professional endeavors, Jane is a serious student of music and an accomplished musician.

A resident of Ithaca since 1966, Jane has written A Short History of Tompkins County and has contributed to and edited several local history books, including Ithaca’s Neighborhoods.  Jane’s success as a scholar and author, her developing knowledge of local history, rich personal connections with the college, and proximity to his archives inspired President Robert Plane’s invitation to her in 1992 to document and write the history of Wells College.  In the ensuing process of completing Wells College:  A History, Jane spent innumerable days in the Long Library archives and elsewhere on campus pouring over manuscripts, student papers and publications, diaries, letters, and news clippings, and sorting through hundreds of photographs.  Jane’s attendance at Wells, family history of Wells connections, and close contacts with the College and the campus over the years made the resulting book that much more rich and a truly stunning success.  The book was completed on schedule – Jane’s fortieth reunion in 1995.  An editor with whom she has worked on several publications, including Wells College:  A History, describes Jane as “a fine researcher and an elegant writer, a consummate professional in her demeanor and in her dealings with colleagues.  These qualities aren’t sufficiently common, one by one, and the combination is all too rare.”

Married to Richard E. Rosenbaum, senior designer at Cornell University Press, Jane has two daughters, Katherine and Judith Dieckmann; two sons-in-law, Brian Wallis and Malcolm Jamieson; and three stepchildren, David, Allyn, and Mara Rosenbaum.  Her life in the community is as active as her professional one, involving singing with several performing groups and volunteering with historical society and library programs.  She has an extraordinary ability to weave her intellectual pursuits with everyday activities of playing the piano, gardening, knitting, and being a devoted wife, mother and friend.

For her scholarship in literature and other areas of the humanities and for her many, many contributions to Wells College, but especially for the delightful narrative of its history, the Wells College Alumnae Association is proud to honor Jane Marsh Dieckmann with an Alumnae Award for 1997.

Martha Mavon Friday

Martha Mavon Friday, Class of 1956, is being honored by the Wells College Alumnae Association for her pioneering work in the area of women’s and children’s advocacy.  Marty is the Executive Director of the Women’s Center and Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh, one of the very first organizations in the United States to provide assistance to victims of family violence.

Under Marty’s leadership, the Women’s Center and Shelter has become one of the most respected agencies in Pittsburgh.  Originally a rented house where women and children could simply spend time when threatening circumstances demanded, it is now a nationally known and acclaimed domestic violence program with far reaching and highly effective programs for domestic violence victims including prevention and community education components.  Marty’s role in the growth and expansion of the Center has been multifaceted.  She is an expert administrator, a skillful and inspiring leader, a regional and national lobbyist, and a respected community leader.  Her gentle but direct manner belies a great strength and an intelligent approach to solving problems.

The mission of Women’s Center and Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh is to provide safety and support services for women victims of domestic violence and their children, and to educate the community in order to prevent family violence.  Counseling is available to non-residents, and education is provided for adults and children from elementary through high school.  Training personnel in hospitals, schools and law enforcement agencies in treatment and safety measures when abuse is noted or foreseen has become a significant effort on behalf of victims.  As Director, Marty has guided the assessment of the needs of victims of abuse and the development of services to assist them.  She has also established a strong base of community interest in the problem of abuse as well as powerful support from private citizens and city and state governments for the shelter’s work.

Marty is a national consultant and spokesperson on the problem of family abuse and in that role has helped to focus public attention on it.  She is invited to appear for expert testimony before state and national committees investigating the causes underlying domestic violence, its extent, and need for services for victims.  Based largely on the prominence the Women’s Center and Shelter has achieved under Marty’s direction, the state of Pennsylvania was recognized as a national leader in the area of treatment services for victims of abuse.  Marty’s achievements to treat and curb family violence are significant, especially considering the magnitude of domestic violence throughout the nation.

Marty is a member of the Pittsburgh Wells Club and served as Minerva Society Chair in the Pittsburgh area.  She has enjoyed a great deal of international travel, plays golf, and enjoys visits with her daughters who live in California.  She is married to Jim Pferdekamper.  As a student at Wells, Marty majored in English, and the multidimensional liberal arts education she received is fundamental to her success as a leader of a high profile community agency.  In her first year with the Shelter, its budget was $260,000; she now oversees the organization’s annual budget of more than $2 million.  Thanks to her vision and commitment to excellence, a recent capital campaign raised $5 million for the renovation of a newly acquired building.  Last year, Women’s Center and Shelter moved to its new headquarters with ample space for its residents and new programs.

For her role in identifying and addressing the needs of women victims of family violence and their children and for the powerful direction she has provided the Women’s Center and Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh, the Wells College Alumnae Association is proud to honor Martha Mavon Friday with an Alumnae Award for 1997.

1998 Awards

Lenore Elman Asher

Today, the Wells College Alumnae Association honors Lenore Elman Asher, Class of 1949, for her innovative and active leadership with the Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Greater Boston.  Lenny’s generous and visionary volunteer efforts on behalf of CJP’s comprehensive network of social services and her recruitment of women into service and philanthropy offer models for all women engaged in community service.

Lenny has served as a member of the Board of the Combined Jewish Philanthropies, as well as Campaign Chair and President of the CJP Women’s Division in Boston, and Chair of the New England Regional Women’s Division.  In 1989, Lenny began a very active involvement with Jewish Vocational Services, a  CJP agency.  She helped to develop and implement the Job Support Center for New Americans which provides training and services for refugees, initially those from the former Soviet Union.  Lenny became the first woman President of the Board for Jewish Vocational Services in 1994.  Through her direction of the Job Support Center’s expanding programs within the Skills Training and Educational Divisions, new Americans from around the world have received training for life and employment in the United States.  In Lenny’s own words, “This kind of teaching of competitive skills is what the world should be doing.”

In other areas of service, Lenny helps senior citizens maintain independent and dignified lives through her work on the Board of Jewish Community Housing for the Elderly.  She also works to involve more women in philanthropy and to develop support for service projects through her membership on the National Women’s Campaign Board of United Jewish Appeal and through her recently created Lion of Judah Endowment Fund, comprising a group of women nationwide who are honored for endowing their annual gifts in perpetuity for their own Jewish Federations.  As a member of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston, Lenny has worked to strengthen diverse relations among many groups by forming coalitions to preserve individual respect and to further the cause of social justice and human rights.

At Wells, Lenny majored in sociology and subsequently earned a Master’s degree in Education from Northeastern University.  Throughout her post graduate years, she has supported Wells actively in her community and campaign work.  Lenny’s recent efforts, joining with those of her husband, Norman, have been directed toward securing an endowed Center for Holocaust Studies at Clark University, the first degree-granting program of its kind in any university in this country.

Through her service to and support of Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Greater Boston, Lenny has evidenced concern as well as energetic and heartfelt commitment to a myriad of social, moral and ethical issues.  For this and for the example of leadership she provides to women, the Wells College Alumnae Association is proud to honor Lenore Elman Asher with an Alumnae Award for 1998.

Ann Skerrat Richardson

Dr. Ann Skerratt Richardson, Class of 1949, is honored today for her outstanding career in art education and educational administration, including her innovative curriculum programs for public schools.  For more than thirty years, Ann has been a leading art educator in the State of Maryland.

In 1967, after only two years as an art teacher in Charles County, Maryland, Ann was selected to become supervisor in art and foreign language for the entire school system.  Over the next twenty years, she gave direction to Charles County’s emerging programs in art, foreign language, and libraries.  She also helped design a number of school buildings, served on negotiations teams with union representatives, and earned her Ph.D. degree.

In 1986, Ann accepted a leadership position with the Interrelated Arts Program in the Montgomery County Public Schools, one of the nation’s largest public school systems.  She has provided curriculum and instructional leadership for this innovative program in which teams of teachers write and develop seminars and workshops around multicultural themes and employing all styles of creative and performing arts.  The seminars are offered in schools within the system and throughout the state.  The Interrelated Arts approach was recently recognized as a model by the Getty Center for Education in the Arts and is used in the Getty program for educational reform.  Currently, Ann has responsibility for high school drama and art education programs in the Montgomery County Public Schools.  She integrates new technologies into classrooms and organizes information about art exhibits and art teachers for the schools’ World Wide Web pages.  She was also chairperson for Curriculum Design of Blake High School which will open this fall.  Ann has consistently been a strong proponent for foreign language instruction as well as fine arts as an integral part of public school instruction.

In addition to teaching and school administration, Ann has served in executive positions in the Maryland Alliance for Arts Education and the Maryland Art Association.  She helped lead those associations in their advocacy for retaining the arts as a fundamental curriculum component for public schools.  The State Department of Education then appointed Ann to two important task forces charged with developing the state curriculum framework and defining expected outcomes for arts education.

At Wells, Ann majored in Modern Foreign Languages and Linguistics.  She then earned a masters degree in education from Memphis State University and, later, her Ph.D. in educational policy from the University of Southern California.  Her doctoral thesis was based on the theoretical foundation of art education.

The quality of creative and performing arts education programs under Ann’s direction has brought national recognition to the school systems in which she has worked and local, state and national recognition to Ann herself.  For this and for her leadership in maintaining a rich and diverse public school curriculum, the Wells College Alumnae Association is proud to honor Dr. Ann Skerratt Richardson with an Alumnae Award for 1998.

1999 Award

Carolyn Bunn Wood

Carolyn Bunn Wood, Class of 1952, is being honored for her remarkable service to Wells College and to her home community.  Carolyn’s contributions are bold examples for women who seek to identify and fulfill special roles for themselves in strengthening and maintaining the health of the institutions they hold dear.

Carolyn’s service to Wells began as a class agent and class chair in annual giving campaigns followed by National Chair of Annual Giving for Donor Clubs.  In this same time period, the Alumnae Association elected Carolyn as an alumna trustee, and in 1967, only 15 years after graduation, she was asked to become a regular trustee.  For nearly four decades, she has devoted her gracious leadership to promote the College’s mission and development.  She has had significant and essential roles in nearly all of the major fundraising efforts by Wells beginning with the Student Union Building Campaign in 1953.  In the early 1980s, she helped the College exceed by $3,000,000 its campaign target of $7,000,000.  Carolyn has served as chair of the Sycamore Club and the Tower Society as well as chair of her own class giving for major reunions.  To top off a career of staggering responsibilities, Carolyn is currently one of the co-chairs of the $50 million Campaign for Wells College, which has raised over $45 million to date.

Carolyn’s special efforts for Wells are only part of her lifelong service to many organizations.  Four deserve special mention.  Carolyn was a leader in the development campaign for Christ Church in Short Hills, New Jersey, to renovate the church’s old school buildings to be used in part for the Christ Church Nursery for which she has also served as Chair.  The Cora Hartshorn Arboretum and Bird Sanctuary in Short Hills conducts its major cultural and educational activities in Stone House which was renovated with funds raised through Carolyn’s leadership within the community.  For the Pingrey School, an independent country day school in Martinsville, New Jersey, Carolyn served as trustee from 1979 until 1985.  During this time, she chaired two annual fund drives and the new building committee which oversaw the planning and implementation of a new middle and upper school campus.  She has been president of New Eyes for the Needy Inc., a volunteer service organization whose main purpose is to help provide better vision for the poor the world over.

As an undergraduate at Wells, Carolyn was elected to many boards, was active in team sports, served as collegiate secretary and president, and chaired the very first Father’s Weekend.  After graduation, in addition to her trustee and fundraising roles, Carolyn has assisted Wells in recruitment, hosted students, faculty and alumnae visitors, and maintained active membership and executive positions in the New Jersey Wells Club.  Carolyn and her husband, Henry F. Wood, Jr., a retired telecommunications executive, live in Short Hills, New Jersey.  They have two sons, Henry III and John, a daughter-in-law, and a new grandson.

Carolyn Bunn Wood reminds us that “Wells is special” and that, “We who love the College must help ensure her future.”  Ever receptive to the changing needs of students and directions in education, Carolyn has been a strong and effective advocate for both the strengths and needs of Wells so as to improve the institution and the education it provides to women.  The Alumnae Association is very proud to honor her with the Wells College Alumnae Award for 1999.

2000 Award

Jean Clark

Jean Clark, Class of 1945, is honored today for her lifelong work in environmental conservation.  Jean has been a leader in recycling on local, state, and national levels, and she has had a major impact on the preservation of our natural world.

Following a tradition, Jean was the third woman in her family to attend Wells College.  She was a philosophy major and taught that subject at Mt. Holyoke after she graduated from Wells.

In 1971, in response to Earth Day, Jean began her crusade to save and improve the environment.  Beginning in her hometown of Montclair, New Jersey, and recognizing that landfills in her state were reaching capacity, she initiated her efforts to find workable solutions for communities faced with the ever-growing problem of what to do with huge amounts of trash.  Jean had exactly the skills necessary to shepherd this effort.  She was energetic, organized, and persistent, and she had the business sense to realize that recycling had to be economically viable to succeed.

Jean organized and was named Chair of the Recycling Committee of Montclair Organizations for Conservation.  She first coordinated the establishment of a voluntary drop-off recycling center and then served as its volunteer coordinator for nineteen years.  Due to her good management, the innovative program flourished and was profitable.  Equipment was purchased, curbside pickup was added, and the range of items accepted for recycling was expanded.  The success of Montclair’s program in the late 1970s paved the way for the passage of New Jersey’s Recycling Act in 1981.  Three years later, Jean became president of a newly formed independent group made up of representatives of recycling businesses and industries, government agencies, environmental organizations, recycling coordinators and collectors.

Jean’s work has been recognized throughout her career with numerous awards.  In 1980, she received the Recycler of the Year Award from the National Recycling Congress, and subsequently the Recycler of the Decade Award from the New Jersey Departments of Energy and Environmental Protection.  In 1994 the Alliance for New Jersey Environmental Education presented Jean with a Lifetime Achievement Award, and in 1997, she was the recipient of the New Jersey Governor’s Volunteer Award for the Environment, presented by Governor Christine Todd Whitman.

Another facet of Jean’s passion for the environment is her involvement with the New Jersey Audubon Society.  She has served on the Board of Directors for many years and is currently the Chair.  She has also been a longtime member and officer of the Montclair Bird Club.  At the viewing area of the Montclair Hawk Lookout Sanctuary, preserved with Jean’s help, information on bird migration is gathered and delivered to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services.  Jean’s enthusiasm for birding has taken her to Venezuela and several other countries.

Jean’s overriding optimism for the future and her determination to improve the environment for future generations make it particularly appropriate that her work be celebrated by Wells at the start of  new century.  The Wells College Alumnae Association is proud to honor Jean Clark with the Alumnae Award for 2000.

2001 Award

Susan Linda Mills

Today, the Wells College Alumnae Association honors Susan Linda Mills, Class of 1968, for her distinguished career in television news programming.  For over 30 years, Susan has exemplified the highest standards of professionalism as a journalist and as a creative producer with CBS News, the MacNeil-Lehrer NewsHour, and MacNeil-Lehrer Productions.

As a specialist in Latin America and the Philippines, Susan covered many volatile situations in these regions during the 1980s.  In El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Honduras, she and Charles Krause, a colleague at CBS News and the NewsHour, reported from an army helicopter in the midst of fighting and from a fishing boat in the mined waters of Corinto Harbor.  In 1986, she and Krause went to the Philippines to document that nation’s developing political turmoil.  She produced a series of reports including an interview with President Ferdinand Marcos that foreshadowed his eventual removal from power and the presidency of Cory Aquino.  Over the course of her career, Susan has produced NewsHour one-on-one interviews in the field with many of the world’s leaders – Cory Aquino, Jose Napoleon Duarte, the Ortega brothers in Nicaragua, Nelson Mandela, the Presidents of Argentina and Mexico, as well as Shimon Peres, Izthak Rabin, and Presidents Carter and Ford.  One of the first major interviews with Fidel Castro was produced by Susan.  That interview, with Robin MacNeil, aired in four segments on the NewsHour and was later made into a one-hour special for PBS.

Recognition of Susan’s exceptional talents came early.  Within ten years of graduating from Wells, she was nationally honored for her work at CBS News with the Ohio State Journalism Award, the George Foster Peabody and Alfred A. Dupont Awards, and the American Bar Association Gavel Award.  In 1980, she won an Emmy Award for her innovative CBS news programs for young people.  Three more Emmys have followed for her news productions with CBS News and the NewsHour.

Presently, Susan is Director of Program Development for MacNeil-Lehrer Productions.  The projects under her leadership have ranged from women’s health to non-lethal weapons, from artist profiles for young adults to the history of Canada as influenced by the Hudson’s Bay Company.  In September 2000, Susan produced a two hour PBS special called “Debating Our Destiny: 40 Years of Presidential Debates” which Washington Post critic Tom Shales selected as one of the top ten programs for the year 2000.  Recently, she was awarded a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities for a new series with Robin MacNeil called “Do You Speak American?”  She is currently producing a television biography on Lady Bird Johnson, the first in a series on the Modern First Ladies.

A spirited leader of her Wells College Class of 1968, Susan has made important contributions to the College.  Her efforts include multiple terms on the Alumnae Association Board and two terms on the Board of Trustees.  She has been generous in hosting College guests in her home, and she has taken advantage of her personal class spirit to foster strong alumnae connections to the benefit of Wells.  In every facet of her professional career and her efforts on behalf of Wells, Susan has guided and mentored those working with her, and she is admired and respected by all.  The Alumnae Association is proud to honor Susan Mills with the Alumnae Award for 2001.

2002 Award

Anne Goddard Charter

Anne Goddard Charter ’35 is honored with the 2002 Wells College Alumnae Award for her efforts in promoting legal measures to control environmentally destructive open pit coal mining and the unchecked development of noxious power plants in the Western and Northern Plain States.  Her decades long involvement in community organizing work resulted in federal and state legislation which reversed inequitable eminent domain laws, established proper land reclamation procedures in the wake of strip mining, and returned coal tax monies to energy research and land conservation.  Her community work continues today in the never-ending struggle for enforcement of those laws.

In the 1940s, Anne and her husband Boyd settled in south central Montana.  Living rustically, they raised four children in a simple ranch home that remained without electricity until the late 1950s.  Although from a comfortable background, Anne was not afraid to roll up her sleeves and become a true rancher.  She helped calve in the spring, feed cattle in winter, assist with cattle branding and long cattle drives.

Anne and Boyd found, though, that they faced more than the vicissitudes of nature with their chosen livelihood.  Underneath some 250,000 square miles of Wyoming, Montana, North and South Dakota lands lie forty percent of the country’s coal reserves.  Although ranchers like the Charters owned their ranch properties, the government held eminent domain rights to the underlying minerals.  In concert with large oil and gas companies, the federal government began appropriating land and hastening the unregulated development of these nonrenewable fossil fuel energy sources.  At stake was not only the way of life of hearty individuals like the Charters, but also the ecological integrity of the earth, air and water in vast pristine areas of this country.

Anne and Boyd realized the dangers facing them and called their neighbors together to oppose the massive energy development plans of the government and coal and oil conglomerates.  What began as a small gathering of ranchers in the Charter’s living room eventually became the Bull Mountain Landowners’ Association, then the Northern Plains Resource Council, a state-wide affiliation of resistance groups, and finally, joining with others in six neighboring states, the Western Organization of Resource Councils.  Spirited and erudite, Anne has often been a spokesperson for these groups.  She fought at every level of government, from local to national, to create new laws for environmentally healthy resource use.  The federal Surface Mining and Reclamation Act, which Anne fought for every step of the way, was passed three times by Congress, vetoed by Presidents Nixon and Ford, then finally signed into law by President Carter in 1977.

In her later years, Anne authored an autobiography, Cowboys Don’t Walk: A Tale of Two, proceeds from the sale of which are donated to Wells College and the Western Organization of Resource Councils.  The book is a beautifully written story of our country’s wide open spaces, the hard fought efforts to preserve them, and the courage of this adventurous Wells alumna.  Anne Goddard Charter is a pioneer for her time and a model for all community-minded women.

2003 Award

Margaret Pericak-Vance

Today the Wells College Alumnae Association honors Margaret (Peggy) Pericak-Vance ’73 for her groundbreaking work and leadership in the field of genetics.  Peggy’s research centers on discovering the underlying causes of a wide variety of genetic disorders, and her work has led to the recognition of the major gene responsible for late onset Alzheimer’s Disease.  Currently her efforts are focused on studies in autism, Lou Gehrig’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis, glaucoma, macular degeneration, Parkinson’s disease, and muscular dystrophy.  In addition to leading the search for genes that influence the risk of developing these diseases, Peggy is also an innovator in the search for genes that control the age at which disease symptoms first appear.  By identifying the genes that control the genesis of age-related diseases, it may become possible to delay their onset.  This will make the impact of Peggy’s work even more far-reaching, shifting the focus of medicine from treatment to disease prevention.

It was in a genetics class at Wells where Peggy first realized that the process of unraveling DNA sequences involved the ultimate combination of math and science, heritage and history.  After graduating from Wells with a degree in biology, she went on to Indiana University where she received a Ph.D. in Medical Genetics and then completed a postdoctoral fellowship in biostatistics at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

Peggy is Director of the Duke Center for Human Genetics, James B. Duke Professor of Medicine, and Chief, Section of Medical Genetics, Department of Medicine, at Duke University.  Peggy and her Duke team have constructed one of the largest DNA data banks in the world and have successfully mapped susceptibility genes for more than a dozen neurological disorders, profoundly advancing the field of neurogenetics.  Last year, the Center expanded its mission with a $1.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to develop and implement a genetics education program for those who teach physician assistants, nurse practitioners and nurse midwives.  Peggy and her team have provided a framework for other researchers to further the understanding of human genetics.  She has trained hundreds of researchers in this critically important field, and her work will influence medical science for years to come.

For her groundbreaking efforts, Peggy has received much national and international recognition.  In 1997, Newsweek magazine included her in “The Century Club: 100 People to Watch as We Move to the Next Millennium.”  In 2001, Peggy was the recipient of the Louis-D. prize, an annual award from the Institut de France, a world-renowned scientific academy comparable to our National Academy of Sciences.  Peggy was selected from eleven outstanding scientists nominated from the United States, Europe and Japan to receive this nearly three-quarter million dollar prize to supplement her Alzheimer’s research.  In 2002, Peggy was inducted into the Western New York Women’s Hall of Fame.

 Her colleagues describe Peggy as a remarkable leader and a dedicated mentor to young women scientists.  In fact, over half of her faculty in the Center for Human Genetics are women.  Peggy also manages to find time to be active in her community.  She has taught science in the local public schools and, together with her husband Jeffery, established the J.J. Vance Memorial Foundation in memory of their son to fund college scholarships for outstanding male and female high school seniors who exemplify the qualities of student-athlete-leader.  The foundation also sponsors summer internships in biological and computational sciences and is working to establish soccer fields in the community.

The Alumnae Association is proud to honor Peggy Pericak-Vance with the Alumnae Award for 2003.

2004 Award

Patricia Parnie Purcell Wahlen 

The Wells College Alumnae Association honors Patricia Parnie Purcell Wahlen ’66 for devoting her professional life to fundraising for education and the performing arts.  We honor her for her balanced, respectful and insightful advice to clients; her remarkable clarity of vision and personal integrity; and her flexibility and agility with the many constituencies she has served.  We also honor her as a mentor for her unique ability to motivate and teach, and for her belief in and respect for those who work for and with her.

Pat started her professional career at Wells in the Development Office as an Administrative Assistant in 1969 and was named Vice President for Development in 1976.  She then moved on to very successful development positions at GoucherCollege and the University of Maryland.  But her star really began to rise when she joined the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra in 1985 and led the orchestra to reach its campaign goal of $40 million, the largest amount ever raised by an American symphony orchestra at the time.  That campaign’s success led in 1993 to her position as Director of Development for the Cleveland Orchestra, believed by many to be the top symphony orchestra in the country.

Pat’s extraordinary accomplishment in Cleveland was to raise $16 million more than the Orchestra’s campaign promise of $100 million.  A hefty portion of the $116 million garnered through her efforts was used to finance the expansion and renovation of Severance Hall, the Orchestra’s historic home.  Pat went on to raise $195 million to fund orchestra initiatives during her seven years in Cleveland.  In November of 1998, she was named a “rainmaker – one of the 10 most influential businesswoman in Northern Ohio” and was featured in Northern Ohio Live magazine.  In 2000, Pat left the Orchestra to do private development consulting—and her first client was the Cleveland Orchestra!

What sets Pat apart in her field is not only the phenomenal dollar amounts she has generated, but that she has achieved – and exceeded – very challenging financial goals by building loyal and dedicated staffs, creating efficient administrative structures, personally cultivating her donors, and developing active boards of trustees.  Pat’s extraordinary leadership in guiding the Cleveland Orchestra’s many constituencies has been described thus:  “Her passion for the institution, deep understanding of the development field, unwavering focus on the goal, attention to detail and tireless energy set standards for others to emulate.”  By setting high standards for herself and others, Pat energized the Orchestra’s extended family and thereby created a legacy more important to the Orchestra’s long-term future than the short-term results of any one campaign.

Pat’s impressive skills as a fundraiser are matched by her ability and willingness to mentor others.  Throughout her career, she has taken the time to motivate volunteers and to teach, guide and challenge her staff to help them grow as professionals.  A former clerk in the Wells Development Office wrote: “When I used to go into Pat’s office and ask how to do something, she would say, ‘How do you think it should be done?’  I didn’t want to make mistakes, but she told me that I would have to in order to learn.”  The clerk went on to become the Director of Annual Giving at Wells.

Pat has been admired and revered by those with whom and for whom she has worked, just as she was – and is – respected by her Wells sisters.  A staff member at the Cleveland Orchestra called Pat an exceptional woman, a consummate professional and a credit to Wells.  A Wells classmate summed it up by saying that Pat is a Wells woman for all generations to respect, admire and emulate.

The Alumnae Association is proud to honor Pat Purcell Wahlen with the Alumnae Award for 2004.

2005 Awards

Cornelia Ransom '51

The Wells College Alumnae Association honors Cornelia Ransom '51 for her outstanding achievements within her religious Community and in the world. As a leader, mentor, teacher and staunch believer in the role of women in society, she is a woman who successfully stands with one foot in the secular world and the other in the spiritual.

A math major at Wells, Cornelia began teaching math at St. Mary's School for Indian Girls in Springfield, South Dakota, and then taught at St. Andrew's Priory School for Girls in Honolulu. While in Hawaii, she tried the business world, first in a bank and later in a travel agency, but something spiritual was missing from her life. In 1962 she entered the Episcopal Order of St. Helena, taking her life vow in 1967.

From 1968 to 1972 Sister Cornelia lived in Bolahun, Liberia, where she taught in the schools operated by the Holy Cross brothers and administered the girls' boarding compound. In 1973 she became the Sister-in-Charge of the Convent of St. Helena in Vails Gate, New York, and continued teaching in a drug rehabilitation center. In 1975 she became Sister-in-Charge of the Convent St. Helena in Nassau, Bahamas, and was Head of the Math Department at St. Anne's School.
Over the next ten years, Sister Cornelia taught math and ministered to religious communities in Puerto Rico, Haiti, and the Bahamas. Back in New York City, she began her study of Cantonese and worked in the Church of Our Savior in Chinatown, teaching English to homebound women.

Among the changes brought to Christianity by Vatican II, the Order of St. Helena embraced especially the new opportunities for women. Elected Superior of the Order in 1985, 1989, and 1993, Sister Cornelia led the Community in changing its governance from an authoritarian hierarchy to a collegial group of four sisters acting in consensus as a Leadership Council.
In spite of her pressing duties as Superior, Sister Cornelia continued to travel in Europe, Asia, Africa and the United States, leading to her nickname 'The Flying Nun.' Because of her unique administrative talents, she was invited to visit other Communities to evaluate and recommend changes. For one of her great passions, the Ecumenical Movement within Christian churches, she attended ecumenical conferences in Rome and England that included audiences with the Pope and the Archbishop of Canterbury.

In the mid-1990s, Sister Cornelia's focus shifted. She began to take a more spiritual direction, conducting individual retreats. September 11, 2001 changed everything for everyone, however, and Sister Cornelia was no exception. During the dismantling of the Twin Towers, she spent every Sunday at Ground Zero in St. Paul's Chapel, which was open only to rescue workers inside the site. She was a pastoral presence, someone the workers trusted and in whom they could confide. Often referred to as 'the nun in the luminous white habit,' she had a special gift for easing others into a kind of conversational healing, both spiritually and emotionally. Many considered her a quiet but very powerful presence. One of the fire department workers who was on the job every day from September until June credited her with providing the motivation to help his crew effect over 400 recoveries, more than any other group. Other workers found Sister Cornelia's sense of humor a godsend.

The Alumnae Association is proud to honor Sister Cornelia with an Alumna Award in 2005 for her outstanding achievements accomplished through her personal calling, her worldwide community service and her commitment to the human spirit.

Anne Parker Taylor '55

The Wells College Alumnae Association honors Anne Parker Taylor ’55 for her groundbreaking career of 40-plus years in the combined fields of education, design, architecture and planning. Her work has been seminal in understanding the effects of the physical environment on learning and continues to be influential in architecture education and the design of learning environments for children.

While at Wells, Anne was active in clubs and was a dedicated, enthusiastic student. Interested in many subjects and their interrelationships, she majored in American Studies, blending American literature, history, art, architecture and humanities. This integrative theme would prove a hallmark of her professional life.

In 1966, Anne received her Masters in Art Education and in 1971, her Ph.D. in Art Education, both from Arizona State University. Her interdisciplinary dissertation was on the effects of the physical environment on the learning and behavior of young children. In her early studies, conventional schools were organized as a series of empty boxes into which school furniture was placed and where students sitting in straight rows learned from textbooks. Square footage and predetermined classroom configurations were the design criteria, providing teachers and students with little opportunity for self-expression or a sense of ownership or involvement. Anne set out to change this.

She began to design classrooms based not on square footage, but rather on the development needs for children and the subjects of geometry, math, the arts, social studies and eco-literacy. The newly designed environments were more like studios with zoned spaces for applied learning, and the outdoor playground became a ‘learning landscape.’ Children were and are encouraged to touch, interact and understand life systems and become stewards of the earth. In her own words, the point is ‘to involve children, not tell them.’ In the words of others, Anne’s classroom are ‘spectacular progressive learning environments’ and ‘three-dimensional textbooks’ where architecture serves as a learning tool.

 For her initial focus on the classroom, Anne’s endeavors increased to maximize the educational, ecological and aesthetic benefits of entire communities. In her projects, students participate with teachers in the classroom design, and families and residents plan their own community spaces. Over the course of her career, Anne has worked with countless students and over 4,000 teachers and professionals in a variety of fields. Her influence has spread throughout the United States and to Japan, Europe, Canada and Mexico, and her research and architectural curriculum have been published in Japanese.

 Anne’s honors and awards are manifold. She has been advisor to and a member of the Rockefeller Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. She was named one of ten distinguished women in New Mexico in 1975 and was listed in Who’s Who in American Women from 1978 to 1984. In 1997, she received a life-long honorary membership in the American Institute of Architects, and in 1998, she received the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture Distinguished Professor Award.

Currently, Anne is an ACSA Distinguished Professor of Architecture and Planning, and Founder and Director of the Institute of Environmental Education at the University of New Mexico. For several years she was a visiting professor at the University of Washington College of Architecture and Urban Planning. Additionally, she is President of School Zone Institute, Albuquerque, a non-profit organization that conducts research on the built environment for children.

 The Alumnae Association is proud to honor Anne Parker Taylor with an Alumnae Award in 2005 for her tireless devotion to improving learning spaces for children and the communities we all live in.

2006 Award

Kaffie White McCullough '67

The Wells College Alumnae Association honors Katherine (Kaffie) White McCullough ’67 for her services to Wells and for her outstanding leadership work with girls and young women. Kaffie graduated from Wells Phi Beta Kappa with a double major in Chemistry and in the History and Philosophy of Religion. She sang in the Choir, was Class President her senior year, was active in student government, and was an unparalleled athlete.

Wells has always been a high priority in Kaffie’s life, and as an alumna she has held a number of different volunteer positions, including Alumna Council Delegate, Class Secretary, Class Fund Chair, Atlanta Wells Club officer, Alumna Association Admissions Representative and Southeastern Regional Representative. For six years she served as First Vice President of the Alumnae Association and as Chair of its Nominating Committee. In 1999, the 125th anniversary of the Alumnae Association, Kaffie was instrumental in designing intergenerational workshops that were moving and powerful experiences for all who participated.

Kaffie received her Master of Science degree in Community Counseling in 1986 and launched a successful 10-year career as a licensed professional counselor, focusing her work on female clients. Working with women around issues of self-esteem, Kaffie wanted to find a way to insure that today’s young girls would not be in therapists’ office as women. Inspired by her volunteer work at an outdoor leadership camp for young girls at Wells, Kaffie founded the not-for-profit organization, Girls’ Opportunities for Adventure and Leadership, or GOAL. GOAL’s mission is to promote self-awareness, self-esteem and a respect for individual differences in girls and young women, resulting in an enhanced capacity for leadership.

 Kaffie’s vision was clear, but knowing nothing about starting a new organization, she set out to educate herself, networking with community leaders, educators, university researchers, health care professionals, women’s professional groups, and mothers & girls themselves. When it was decided that GOAL would offer backpacking experiences to girls, Kaffie felt she, herself, first needed wilderness training. So, for an entire month, this 55-year-old woman wilderness camped and hiked in the southwest with a much younger group of men and women in extremely strenuous terrain. It was the most grueling experience of her life, but she felt strongly that she needed to learn both what the girls would be experiencing and how to keep them safe.

 Initially a week-long summer camp, GOAL now offers numerous programs for girls in grades 6 through 9, including team-building workshops with school athletic teams, a Women Author Series, half-day workshops for teachers and youth workers, wilderness backpacking weeks, and Mother/Daughter Weekends focused on communication and conflict resolution, among other activities. The impact of GOAL on young girls’ lives has been invaluable.

 Kaffie’s work continues, not only with GOAL, but as a speaker, resource and advisor for other groups in the Atlanta community also working on programs for girls and young women. In addition to her entrepreneurial successes, Kaffie has been a mentor to many women who attest to her strength, her energy and her ability to inspire,

 The Alumnae Association is proud to honor Kaffie White McCullough with the 2006 Alumnae Award for her integrity, her service to Wells, her commitment to girls and young women, and for the inspiration she provides to all Wells women, present and future.

2007 Awards

Shirley Schou Bacot '58

The Wells College Alumna Association honors Shirley Schou Bacot ’58 for her extraordinary volunteerism and her indefatigable support of Wells College.

Shirley graduated from Wells with a degree in sociology and was active in the Social Sciences Club, the Madrigals, and the Choir, serving as its president her senior year. Shirley’s earliest job experience after graduating was a personnel specialist, but her real career has been as a dedicated volunteer, both in her home community and for Wells.

Thirty years ago, Shirley’s interest in senior care led her to volunteer at the Memorial Home for Aged People of Upper Montclair, New Jersey, a small home for the aged where she is currently assistant treasurer. For more than twenty years, she has served on the Board of Trustees for the Senior Care and Activities Center of Montclair and is today its president. Last year she co-chaired their successful $3.1 million capital campaign undertaken to build a state-of-the-art elder day care facility, which has since been named in her honor.

Since the early 1980s Shirley has volunteered with the New York Philharmonic. An emeritus trustee who worked with Shirley for years called her ‘extraordinary,’ saying that as a volunteer Shirley was willing to do anything to help-from leading tours to stuffing envelopes to taking on the responsibility of co-chairing two of the season’s opening night galas and its radio-thon fundraiser. In 2005 Shirley was unanimously elected to the board of trustees of this venerable organization.

In addition to her community service, Shirley has for many years been a generous donor and dedicated volunteer for Wells College. Beginning in the 1980s and continuing today, she has held almost every volunteer fundraising position available, from national chair of the Tower Society and the Annual Fund to membership on major campaign committees. She has also been an important supporter of the Wells College internship program, partnering with her late husband J. Carter Bacot to provide Wells students with experiential learning opportunities at the Bank of New York.

Equally important were her accomplishments as a Wells College Trustee from 1989 to 1998, culminating in five years as a chair of the board and her election in 1998 as honorary trustee, a role she fills today with the same enthusiasm and vigor she brought to the chair position.

One trustee during Shirley’s tenure describes her as an outstanding leader who, ‘with style and grace, asked difficult and challenging questions of her trustee peers and of administrators. ‘Another said, ‘Shirley’s strengths were an elegant mix of being collaborative and authoritative. She ensured that every trustee was solicited and heard, and appropriately pushed the group when malaise or indecisiveness set in. Her style was masterful without being manipulative. She was one of the best chairs the Wells board has had and one of the smartest.’

Wells was involved in the largest capital campaign in its history when Shirley was board chair. The consultants thought $35 million was a feasible goal, but Shirley believed more was possible. She pushed to establish a $50 million goal and, in the end, $58 million was raised. Her financial support and project leadership have also been instrumental in the creation of Wells’ new 45,000-square-foot science facility, scheduled to open fall 2007.

The Alumnae Association is proud to honor Shirley Schou Bacot with the 2007 Alumnae Award for her devoted services as a volunteer in her community; for the board & important support she has provided cultural entities; and for the strength, vision & leadership she has tirelessly given to Wells College.

Karen Eckberg Gottovi '62

The Wells College Alumnae Association honors Karen Eckberg Gottovi ’62 for her distinguished career in public service, her commitment to the environment and her outstanding leadership.

A Phi Beta Kappa graduate who majored in English, Karen was a member of the Choir and Henry’s VIII, the Judicial Board, Spanish Club and the Phoenix literary society while at Wells. Her friends remember her as an excellent student and a good friend.

Karen’s career in public service began in North Carolina when she helped start the local chapter of the League of Women Voters. She was immediately invited to serve on local boards and was elected to the office of New Hanover County Commissioner in 1976. She served on the commission until 1984 and was its chair for two of those years. Projects implemented during her tenure include a countywide sewer system, a new library, several schools, and a state-of-the-art garbage incineration and electricity production facility.

In 1980, North Carolina’s governor appointed Karen to the Coastal Resources Commission, a position she held for eight years. In 1991, she was elected to the North Carolina General Assembly, where she served until 1995. Her work to limit tobacco access for teenagers, eliminate hog farm pollution of streams and rivers, and provided health care for all earned her the respect of her fellow legislators, lobbyists and advocates.

While in public office, Karen worked tirelessly for the protection of North Carolina’s fragile coastline. Her involvement in efforts opposing the Crown Oil Company’s proposal to build a refinery on the Cape Fear River slowed the state approval process enough that the company changed its plans. As a state legislator, she helped secure funding to preserve Fort Fisher at the mouth of the river and to establish a public beach and an aquarium there. Her promotion of environmentally sound development practices along the river helped make Wilmington Federation named her Legislator of the Year in 1993. A friend calls her ‘a role model of what women in politics should be.’

In 1997 Karen was appointed Director of the Division of Aging and Adult Services for North Carolina’s Department of Health and Human Services. During her tenure, she oversaw the development of the state’s first two four-year plans for State Aging Services and implemented a wide range of important programs and initiatives in furtherance of them.

Throughout her career, Karen’s considerable leadership and interpersonal skills have been important. Much of her work in the Division of Aging and Adult Services required the sensitive and patient facilitation of interagency cooperation. One of her colleagues stated, ‘Karen’s greatest strength is her ability to encourage, teach, counsel and guide- all important attributes in an effective mentor.’

In February 2006, after thirty years of groundbreaking, effective service, Karen retired from the Division of Aging and Adult Services. A Wells classmate and fellow politician from Virginia summed it up best when she wrote, ‘Karen has never talked the game, as many politicians do. She has lived her beliefs – and for that reason, she is a real example to the women of Wells of what the possibilities are for a life well lived.’

The Alumnae Association is proud to honor Karen Eckberg Gottovo with the 2007 Alumnae Award for her years of public service, her commitment to the environment and the needs of the aging, and for the example she has set as a woman with integrity in the fields of politics. 

2008 Awards

Karen Smith Rosenbaum '60

Karen Smith Rosenbaum, Class of 1960, is being honored by the Wells College Alumnae Association for her distinctive and effective imprint on the field of education and technology. Karen’s passion for learning has led her to multiple roles as a teacher, educational reformer, businesswoman, leader and mentor.

In 1982, Karen founded the Technology Instruction Corporation (TIC), an innovative summer camp program. At a time when personal computers were just beginning to be readily available, Karen’s vision was that learning technology should be balanced by active athletics. Her belief in learning while doing, experiencing and learning led to the “spontaneous curriculum” developed by and for each individual camper. Students have the opportunity to hone their computer skills in such areas as programming, robotics and web design, engage in related activities like drama and video production, as well as meet physical challenges in multiple sport offerings. Social skills and good sportsmanship are encouraged.

An M.A.T. from Oberlin College led Karen to teach secondary school English in Ohio and Massachusetts. She then earned a Ph.D. in education from John Hopkins in 1973. While her children where young, Karen was involved with the Arlington, Virginia, schools as a substitute teacher and volunteer. As local schools chair for the League of Women Voters, she led a major community forum on school reform and was chair of the Arlington Schools Task Group on Responsible Student Conduct and Attendance. In 1980, Karen returned to work for Vice President Mondale’s Task Force on Education in the Carter Administration.

TIC owns no property, so Karen must utilize her exceptional business skills to seek sites, usually schools, that are not open in the summer but have appropriate facilities for camp activities. Starting with one camp, TIC now operates in Bethesda, Maryland, and McLean, Virginia, to best serve the Washington D.C., area. TIC is accredited by the American Camp Association.

Karen’s development of TIC grew naturally from her own educational experience. At Wells, Karen’s interests focused on the performing arts. An English major, she was also a talented bell ringer. A classmate notes, “In everything she did, Karen brought enthusiasm and energy and was usually the driving force behind any of the ventures she undertook.” TIC’s success can also be attributed to Karen’s dynamic personal leadership and her exceptionally competent and caring staff. Karen works hard to attract bright, creative young people from diverse cultures and experience to be counselors. Counselors learn by doing in the same way the campers do. Karen is open to suggestions from staff, so the learning process comes full circle.

Karen’s role as mentor has had tremendous influence on the lives of many counselors. They now work for such entities as Google, EBay and Ford Motor Company; are professors at universities; develop software; and own production companies. As one former counselor noted, “I cannot overstate Karen’s role in shaping the lives of thousands of children, including my own.”

For her exceptional educational vision and positive impact on many by establishing a forum where new technologies are taught in challenging, supportive environment, the Wells College Alumnae Association is proud to honor Karen Smith Rosenbaum with an Alumnae Award in 2008.

Joanne Lowell Johnson '70

Joanne Lowell Johnson, Class of 1970, is being honored by the Wells College Alumnae Association for her service to Wells and her community. Joanne began as a Collegiate leader in the late 1960s, when the Wells community reflected worldwide political upheaval. “Joanne was and is a consensus builder,” says her long-time friend, Ruth Harlow ’69. “She gave equal time to all concerns and promoted true balance in student government. She has a clear vision of the task at hand, knows what needs to be done and how to accomplish it, while involving everyone in the decision-making process.”

Joanne graduated Phi Beta Kappa and cum laude, with distinction in economics, and served as the College’s first collegiate trustee. She served as Second Vice President of the Alumnae Association from 1983 to 1989 and as President until 1995. She led the Association through an evolution that included a comprehensive bylaws revision and consequent reorganization. Joanne then served a third term on the Board of Trustees, working on nearly every committee. She was elected an Honorary Trustee in 2004. Former Wells President Robert Plane says, “Joanne’s first love is Wells, and the College’s best interests are her top priority. She has worked for constructive change in the Association and at the College and strived to make the association’s work relevant to alumnae.”

A lifelong resident of Newbury, Massachusetts, Joanne was a catalyst for growth in the Wells Club of Boston. She served as an area admissions representative and chaired the Region I division of the Wells College Capital Campaign.

Joanne entered banking in 1970, as a research assistant at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston and was soon hired as Essexbank’s first woman management trainee. In 1983, she was named Senior Vice President of Marketing and Administration. She was one of fifty outstanding professional women in the Boston area selected for the Vanguard Award. Over the years she was promoted to positions of increasing responsibility – with the Bank of New England, Fleet, and the Bank of America, from which she retired in 2005.

During twenty years of service on the Board of Directors of the Girl Scouts, Spar and Spindle Council, including terms as Vice President and President, she helped sustain the council’s strong governance and sound finances and worked as a fundraiser and grant writer. In 2003, she received the Thanks Badge, the highest honor the Girl Scouts can award to an adult. Beginning in mid-2006, Joanne worked to effect the smooth merger of three Girl Scout councils. Last September, Joanne was named President-elect and Board Chair of the new council, the Girl Scouts of Eastern Massachusetts, with some 47,000 girl members and 17,000 adult volunteers.

Joanne and her husband, Ralph, have been longtime members and leaders of the Newburyport Choral Society. Says Society President Nancy Ames, “Joanne has great talent for observing our organizational needs and takes the initiative to see that they are met; she never asks anyone to do anything she herself would not willingly do.”

The Alumnae Association is proud to honor Joanne Lowell Johnson with an Alumnae Award for 2008 for her important role as a woman in banking and for her dedication and service to Wells both in the Alumnae Association and as a member of the Board of Trustees.

2009 Award

Dorothea Smith Sawicki '66

Dr. Dorothea Smith Sawicki, Class of 1966, is being honored by the Alumnae Association of Wells College for her contributions in the field of virology. Thea’s dedication and hard work have made her an internationally-recognized researcher, a highly respected member of the virology community, and as honored teacher.

Dr. Sawicki earned a Ph.D. in Microbiology from Columbia University and did post-doctoral work at the Sloan-Kettering Institute for Cancer Research. For over thirty years she has taught at the University Of Toledo College Of Medicine, formerly the Medical College of Ohio, where she now holds the positions of Professor and director of Infections, Immunity and Transplantation Track. She is recognized as an international authority about replication of alpha viruses, has spoken at national and international conferences, and has published more than forty articles. She has served on editorial boards of journals, on NIAID, NIH, and USDA Scientific Advisory Committees.

Dr. Sawicki’s research has focused on the mechanisms used by alpha viruses and related groups of animal and plant RNA viruses to control the synthesis of their viral RNA genome. Thea’s research asks questions about how viruses multiply within cells by studying mutant viruses and the interaction between the virus and its host. This is an increasingly important aspect of virology because the host cells have anti-viral defenses and viruses find ways of avoiding them. By looking at how viral and RNA synthesis is controlled in cells infected with RNA viruses, her studies could potentially lead to the development of new anti-viral agents that target viral RNA synthesis. She also collaborates on the study of coronaviruses undertaken jointly with her husband, Dr. Stanley Sawicki. Coronaviruses cause diseases such as the common cold and SARS in humans.

Dr. Peter Palese of Mount Sinai says, “Dr. Sawicki is one of the most prominent RNA virologists in the country and she has been at the forefront of this field for several decades.” Dr. Stuart Siddell of the University of Bristol says Thea is “acknowledged as a world authority in her specialist research area.”

Thea serves the virology community as Secretary-Treasurer of the American Society of Virology. Dr. Harry Greenberg of Stanford University, President-elect of the ASV, calls her “an amazing citizen…She carries out these duties with enviable efficiency and ever present good humor and wisdom. The very high regard that the Society maintains in the microbiology community is due, in so small part, to Thea’s efforts.”

Dr. Ann Palmenberg of the University of Wisconsin praises Thea’s unselfish and collaborative support of her students and colleagues saying, “When one speaks of professional success, it can mean many things. For some, it’s about competitive achievements or personal accolades. For others, it comes from providing or building the essential infrastructure scaffold so others can climb higher than they might not have otherwise. This is called ‘service’ and its rivals ‘teaching’ as an often underappreciated part of our professional responsibilities.”

For her internationally-recognized research, her dedication to her scientific community, and her selfless support of students and colleagues, the Wells College Alumnae Association is proud to honor Dr. Dorothea Smith Sawicki with its 2009 Alumnae Award.

2010 Award

Karen Frankel Blum '67

Karen Frankel Blum, Class of 1967, is being honored by the Wells College Alumnae Association for her distinguished career in the law, as teacher, scholar, and nationally recognized authority on Civil Rights Litigation, Section 1983.

Karen’s broad embrace of the law and civil rights issues stems from her early interests in the subject. A philosophy major at Wells, she was first a teacher of children with learning disabilities. When law school beckoned in the early 1970’s, she became a night school student along with her husband at Suffolk University Law School, Boston. Among her many honors was becoming an editor of the Law Review, the first evening student so recognized. A rare accolade came when one of her earliest law review articles was cited approvingly by Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens.

In 1974, Karen joined the Suffolk Law faculty as a Legal Practical Skills Instructor and progressed to Professor of Law, her position since 1982. With innovation and conviction, she teaches Civil Procedure, Federal Courts, Civil Rights, and Police Misconduct Litigation. In 2008, Karen was named the first director of the Masterman Institute on the First Amendment and the Fourth Estate.

An outstanding scholar and teacher, her encyclopedic knowledge of Section 1983 Civil Rights Litigation and Qualified Immunity has led to activities beyond the law school classroom. For over twenty years, Karen has been the leading expert on civil rights litigation for the Federal Judicial Center. She annually leads workshops and seminars to groups of federal district and magistrate judges, writes basic resource materials for the judiciary and speaks individually to each new judge. Noted for her accuracy and clarity, Karen is often consulted on specific civil rights questions by federal judges.

Karen is a force in Continuing Legal Education. For many years, Karen has been involved with the well-regarded Georgetown Continuing Legal Education Center at Georgetown University Law School, which annually features Karen’s seminar on Section 1983.

A prolific writer, Karen has authored numerous books and articles on Section 1983 issues. Police Misconduct: Law and Litigation, written with Michael Avery and David Rudovsky, is now in its 10th edition. Karen’s outlines, “An Overview of Section 1983” (over 800 pages) and “Qualified Immunity” (over 1000 pages), are fundamental resources for lawyers and judiciary for the most recent developments and litigated issues under Section 1983.

Karen relates to both plaintiffs and defendants in civil rights litigations. Her opinion is sought by lawyers from all sides as she is well known to be unbiased and to speak to what the law says. She keeps law enforcement agencies informed of liability risks and problems through participation in programs of such organizations as the National Police Accountability Project.

Admiring peers extol Karen as an influential voice in civil rights litigation and a respectful thinker, as well as a remarkable, cheerful person. Her dedication to family and concern for others is recognized by her classmates and associates. The Wells College Alumnae Association is proud to present Karen Frankel Blum with the 2010 Alumnae Award for her extraordinary professional and personal achievements.

2011 Award

Ann Taber Pfau '70

With great pride, the Alumnae Association of Wells College presents the 2011 Alumnae Award to Ann Taber Pfau, Class of 1970, in recognition of her extraordinary contributions to the judiciary.

Judge Pfau is the Chief Administrative Judge of the State of New York – the first woman to serve in this position. She has worked in the state judiciary since graduating from Brooklyn Law School in 1984. She was appointed Chief Administrative Judge in 2007 by then Chief Judge Judith Kaye, who noted Judge Pfau’s exemplary achievements and development of innovative programs that improved the effectiveness of the courts. Judge Pfau supervises the administration and operation of the New York State Court System and is the lead official in budgetary and legislative negotiations with the Governor and the Legislature. Her colleagues compare her job to that of the CEO of a giant corporation.

“The New York State judiciary is a behemoth bureaucracy with a budget of $2.5 billion,” says Judge Renee Forgensi Minarik, Wells Class of 1980, who nominated Judge Pfau for the Alumnae Award. In its 365 courthouses, 1,300 judges and some 18,000 non-judicial employees annually process 4.5 million new cases, serving everyone from international conglomerates to individual citizens.

“It is Ann’s job – and passion – to see that every one of these citizens gets justice,” says Jeremy Weinstein, Deputy Administrative Judge for Queens. Judge Pfau pioneered system-wide alternative dispute resolution, providing a more efficient means for many New Yorkers to resolve their legal issues – an achievement for which she received the 2001 Andrew Thomas Peace Builder Award.

In 2008, at the beginning of the foreclosure crisis, Judge Pfau developed, on behalf of Judge Kaye, the Residential Mortgage Foreclosures Program. It ensures legal representations to homeowners threatened with foreclosure and brings lenders and homeowners together to achieve resolutions that avoid home loss.

In 2003, the Brooklyn courts were mired in scandal and close to receivership, when the Chief Administrative Judge Jonathan Lippman sent in his “right hand,” Ann Pfau, then an administrative judge, to clean up the situation. “She made the court run as it should,” says Judge Lippman. “Those who were upset at first, soon realized she was the best thing that ever happened to them.”

Judge Pfau earned her BA in religion, with an emphasis on Far Eastern Religions. Before entering law school, she earned an MA in special education at Columbia University, learned Braille and taught disabled children and adults. In her address at the Wells College Honors Convocation in 1990, she highlighted the importance of a liberal arts education, observing that at Wells, she learned to decipher what she read and to be analytical. “If you start with that background,” she said, “you will find what you love, and you will do it well.”

As a Wells freshman, Bryant Saunders interned for Judge Pfau, who worked with him to create a comprehensive experience that helped advance his understanding of the scope of court systems, informing his plans for law school. “The changes she has made – and is making – improve court administration and directly benefit citizens at the grass roots level,” says Bryant. “If you live in New York State, she’s making a difference for you.”

2012 Awards

Wendy Todd Bidstrup '62

Wendy Todd Bidstrup, Wells College Class of 1962, is being honored by the Wells College Association of Alumnae and Alumni for her service to her community, specifically for her work in fostering the Arts.

Wendy has spent forty-five years working with the Marion Art Center in Marion, Massachusetts, when she retired in 2010. For the last twenty-five of those years, she served as the MAC’s Executive Director. Beginning as a volunteer at the Marion Art Center in 1964, Wendy eventually served as publicity chairman, member of the board of directors, president from 1969 to 1974 and member of the exhibition committee. In 1989, Wendy became the first paid Executive Director of MAC. She immediately took on all aspects of running and growing the then small community art center. Wendy wrote publicity, did the bookkeeping, created annual reports and brochures, set up curriculum, hired teachers, coordinated with volunteers to put on monthly exhibitions, produced plays, musicals, concerts, fundraisers and other special events.

At the MAC, Wendy realized her vision of what a vibrant arts center could do for a community. Today the Marion Art Center includes two galleries that rotate exhibitions monthly, a theater, and a studio for art classes. Community-based activities have been at the core of her vision. Wendy began the MAC sponsored and highly popular Halloween parade that started as a local gathering and now draws whole families from neighboring towns. Wendy recruited volunteers every year to build the MAC float for the town’s 4th of July parade and to help facilitate the Holiday Shop where artistic handmade gifts are offered for sale. Her Children’s Christmas Tea Party features theatrical performances followed by tea, holiday goodies and a craft reflecting the theme. In the spring, the MAC sponsors Arts in Bloom with the Marion Garden Club, and each summer it hosts Arts in the Park, an outdoor, juried show featuring artists and artisans from Providence to Cape Cod.

In 2001, and again in 2009, Wendy adapted, produced and directed Imagine, a musical based on the American Girls Revue. The project was dear to her heart, as her friend since summer camp in Wisconsin, and Wells roommate, Pleasant Thiele Rowland, ’62, is the creator of the American Girls Collection. Wendy placed notices in local papers for tryouts and fifty girls came from as far away as New Bedford and Plymouth for ten parts!

With a degree from Wells in Art History, Wendy has spent over twenty-five years researching the life of Cecil Clark Davis (1877-1955), a woman painter who lived in Marion, and many of whose portraits make up the permanent collection installed in the theater of the Marion Art Center. Wendy was a guest curator of the major exhibition Cecil Clark Davis: A Woman Ahead of Her Time at the New Bedford Art Museum in 2002, writing vignettes that told the story of her life, friends, family, hobbies, travels and adventures.

Elise Mock, Wells 1956 and her nominator for this award, calls MAC under Wendy’s leadership, “just like Wells – small, smart, connected.”

For her leadership and dedication to promoting the arts in her community, the Wells College Association of Alumnae and Alumni is proud to honor Wendy Todd Bidstrup with its 2012 award.

Elizabeth Bowman Rothermel '66

Elizabeth Bowman Rothermel, Class of 1966 is being honored by the Wells College Association of Alumnae and Alumni for her contributions to Wells and to her community.

Liz approaches service with dedication and the attitude of giving and participating in the organizations she supports. Her leadership is thoughtful and thorough: she takes the time to understand each of the boards, organizations, and governing bodies she is involved with. She has assumed numerous leadership roles, including board president, finance committee chair, trustee, and board member. As a result of her leadership roles and her ability to delve into how organizations work, she makes contributions that range from administrative improvements to physical improvements to financial donations, she combines her ability to be a leader with her commitment to deeply understanding how things work, and strives to create better functioning organizations.

 Wells has been one of Liz’s long-time beneficiaries. Among her roles at Wells, she has been a lead fundraiser on the Nucleus Fund of various capital campaigns; and she has chaired the Annual Fund, the Sycamore Club, and the Philadelphia portion of the Minerva Fund. She served as the first Alumnae Trustee on the Wells Board of Trustees, from 1986 to 1989, was elected in her own right from 1990 to 1995, and became an honorary trustee in 1997. Former Wells Board Chair David Lascell remembers Liz as a positive influence, engaged in Wells, concerned about admissions, retention, and the endowment.

An example of Liz’s leadership for Wells, was her suggestion and implementation of the Wells College Alumnae records computer system. In 1983, Liz suggested a computer system to automate gift giving and timely acknowledgement; in 1984, she was instrumental in getting funding for the study of the projects; and in 1985, the system was implemented.

In addition to serving Wells, Liz has been a forceful presence in her community. Her contributions range from direct service to leading boards to serving in local governments. Liz has been a successful mentor to college-aged girls, mainly Hispanic, to help them excel in college and in life. She has served on the boards of the Reading Hospital, Penn State University, Sovereign Bank, and the Charles Evans Cemetery Company; and she was a Councilwoman for the Wyomissing Borough for eight years.

The Charles Evans Cemetery is a large privately owned cemetery, arboretum, and park in the center of the city of Reading. Liz joined the board in 1995 and became President in 2006. As President, Liz was active in overseeing the implementation of administrative changes, physical improvements, and new management. She made administrative changes that included new accounting, recording and reporting systems. She oversaw physical plant changes that included repairing fencing and stonework, restoration of artwork, and installing new water systems.

For her dedicated support of Wells and her community, for her strong and thoughtful leadership, and for her willingness to understand and participate in the organizations she supports, the Wells College Association of Alumnae and Alumni is proud to honor Elizabeth Bowman Rothermel with its 2012 award.

2013 Award

Florence Dowdell Fasanelli '54

The Wells College Association of Alumnae and Alumni proudly presents the 2013 Wells College Award to Dr. Florence Dowdell Fasanelli, Class of 1954. She is being honored as an expert I the pedagogy of mathematics and for her work promoting women and minorities in the field of mathematics.

Dr. Fasanelli majored in mathematics at Wells, earned a Master’s Degree in mathematics from Southern Methodist University in 1968, and her Ph.D. in Mathematics Education from American University in 1981. Her teaching career began at Texas Christian University in 1954 and subsequently included Southern Methodist University and Sidwell Friends School in Washington, DC.

Since 2002, Dr. Fasanelli has been an Associate Program Director at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in Washington, DC. In that capacity, she has traveled extensively to promote math and science programs for gifted youth in China, the Middle East and North Africa. She has also lead gifted American teams to Mathematics Olympiads in Tunisia and Mexico. Closer to home, she directed DC FAME (Fellows for the Advancement of Mathematics Education), a professional development and leadership program for middle school mathematics teacher from DC schools. After an intensive three-year course of mathematics study to deepen their knowledge of the subject, the graduates of DC FAME have gone on to assume leadership soles in their schools as teacher-leaders.

In 1990, Dr. Fasanelli was named Director of SUMMA (Strengthening Underrepresented Minority Mathematics Achievement) Intervention Programs for the Mathematical Association of America (MAA). The mission of the MAA is “to advance the mathematical sciences, especially at the collegiate level.” The SUMMA Intervention Program promotes pre-college mathematics interventions for minority children.

Dr. Fasanelli became the Director of the MAA Tensor Women and Mathematics Program, funded by the Tensor Foundation, in 1998. In 2007 she designed a new program in which the grant money goes to schools, colleges and universities to provide mathematics enrichment programs for girls in middle and high schools, for women in college and graduate school, and for female faculty. This type of innovative program has since been replicated by organizations across the country and has become more common in recent years due to the nationwide effort to get more young people interested in careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. It should be noted the Dr. Fasanelli was actively pursuing that goal more than twenty-five years ago.

Dr. Shirley Malcom, A colleague at AAAS says, “Florence is tenacious and deeply committed to supporting teachers so that they can support children. For Florence, it’s about the children.” Asked what he admires most about Dr. Fasanelli, Dr. Robert Megginson of the University of Michigan says, “It is her absolute, at times single-minded dedication to…making this planet a more welcoming place in science and mathematics for persons from groups not well-represented in them. She has been characterized as a force of nature when she sets her mind to a project in this arena.”

For her leadership and dedication to the pedagogy of mathematics and to women and minorities in the field mathematics, the Wells College Association of Alumnae and Alumni is proud to honor Dr. Florence Dowdell Fasanelli with its award for 2013.

2014 Award

Sally Lethbridge Hunsdorfer 

Sally Lethbridge Hunsdorfer, Wells College Class of 1973, of Marion, MA, has been selected to receive the Wells College Award for 2014.  Sally is being recognized for her passionate work in community development and social outreach domestically and internationally.

The Wells College Award honors Wells women and men of high achievement in professions and careers, in volunteer and community work, and in service to their alma mater, or in some combination of these endeavors.

After graduating from Wells in 1973 with her degree in sociology and anthropology, Sally and her husband Peter spent five years at The White Mountain School in Littleton, NH involved in all aspects of boarding school life from teaching and coaching to residential living in the Dean of Students role.  After the birth of her oldest son Todd, Sally and her family moved from the White Mountains to the ocean on the southeastern coast of Massachusetts and settled at Tabor Academy in Marion, MA for several years, where her second son Ben was born.  For 15 years, Sally owned The Bookstall, an independent book store with a rich 54-year history in the town of Marion. The book store served as a wonderful magnet for community activity and outreach.

In 1992, Sally became a founding member of the Marion Institute and continues her work with the Institute to this day.   Based in Marion, MA, the Marion Institute is dedicated to identifying and promoting programs that enhance life for the earth and its inhabitants by encouraging a deeper understanding of the past, a dynamic experience of the present and a passionate vision of a healthy future.  The Marion Institute is a root cause, solution based non-profit that acts as an incubator for programs and projects locally and internationally.  The Marion Institute has supported and fostered local initiatives such as Green Jobs, Green Economy in New Bedford, MA, as well as global programs such as the Greenbelt Movement in Kenya, which was the 2004 recipient of the Nobel Peace prize.

In 1997, Sally and Peter put their two businesses on hold and pulled their teenaged sons, Todd, 16, and Ben, 14, out of school and backpacked around the world for a year, primarily to engage in the incredible richness and diversity in the world. Along the way, the Hunsdorfer family spent two months living and trekking in some of the most remote areas of Nepal. During this time, and without skipping a beat, Sally knew where her life's passion would be directed.  Thus, The Himalayan Project was born and under the non-profit umbrella of the Marion Institute, the project is dedicated to the cultural preservation of the indigenous people of the Himalaya through education, community development and social outreach.  Sally says that a motto she lives by is that “the world is big enough to explore and small enough to make a difference.”

Since 2002, Sally has traveled to Nepal every year for two to three months, leading fundraising treks, delivering hundreds of fleece jackets, hygiene and school supplies collected from American schoolchildren and collaborating with community leaders and school administrators on building projects for remote mountainous schools.  Recently, Sally's primary focus has been directed on a school in the village of Chaurikharka, originally founded by Sir Edmund Hillary in 1953 and meant to educate 30 village children.  Now, 61 years later, there are 400 students who attend school daily, some walking three to four hours each way to school.  So far, The Himalayan Project has built extra classrooms, added grades 11 and 12, renovated a school cafeteria and kitchen, created a library with English, Nepali and Tibetan books, developed a pen pal program which fosters friendships through international knowledge and understanding, built a greenhouse for year-round produce, and initiated a scholarship program for those students whose parents cannot afford the $20 per month that it costs to educate a child.

“Sally is a force of nature, a natural leader who is unstoppable when a project seizes her imagination,” says Desa VanLaarhoven, executive director of the Marion Institute.  Usually, people are scrambling to keep up with her high energy and enthusiam.”

 2015 Award

Tobie Tyler van der Vorm

Dr. Patricia (Tobie) Tyler van der Vorm, Wells College Class of 1970, has been selected to receive the Wells College Alumnae and Alumni Award for 2015. She is being honored for her service to Wells and to higher education. The Award honors Wells women and men of high achievement in professions and careers, in volunteer and community work, in service to their alma mater, or in some combination of these endeavors.

Tobie’s service to Wells College began before she even graduated. In addition to being a junior advisor and an admissions assistant, she was the resident advisor in Leach, the first student to serve in that capacity. After graduation, she served as Annual Fund chair, 40th Reunion co-chair, on the executive committee for Careers/Internships, the Alumnae Association Board and the Wells College Board of Trustees, including years as vice chair and chair. This was a time of transition for Wells; the issues included lower tuition to attract more students, the Leadership Institute, strategic planning and working with Pleasant Thiele Rowland ’62, and her vision for Aurora.

Jean Jones Morris ’70, Tobie’s roommate senior year, says that Tobie “operates with complete integrity and is always respectful of others, regardless of their point of view…. While she respects and embraces tradition, she is also able to change course as times and circumstances require.” Alice Woodson Smith ’70, Tobie’s roommate for two of her four years at Wells, says of her, “Without a doubt, her goal was, and is, to ensure that the exceptional liberal arts education she received at Wells is available to those who follow her.”

After graduating from Wells with a degree in psychology, Tobie worked in the admissions department for Hollins College. In 1975 she was hired by American University in Washington, D.C. as coordinator of their Cooperative Education Program. In more than 20 years at American University, Tobie grew the Cooperative Education Program into a full-service Career Center which became a major recruiting tool for American University. During this time, she also earned her master’s in counseling and Ph.D. in education administration from the university. Katherine Stahl, Tobie’s successor as executive director of the Career Center, remembers that “Tobie’s devotion to Wells was well-known…that her time at Wells helped shape her confidence and perspective. Her confidence helped her throughout her time of leadership at AU, often being the only woman in a room full of university leaders. Fortunately, due to early leaders like Tobie, young women today expect to be leaders in every room.”

In 1998, Tobie moved to a position of senior consultant with Academic Search, placing high-level executives at academic institutions. “The right leader at the right institution is crucial to the future of that institution,” according to Donna Burns Phillips, former director of the Office for Women at the American Council on Education. The Council sponsors workshops for middle managers in academia who want to move up to president. Part of the workshop is a one-on-one session with a search consultant. Tobie, a frequent participant, was very effective and well-received.

Dr. Carol Bresnahan, vice president for academic affairs and provost at Rollins College, feels that the search for college administrators has become very complex; expert advice is needed at every step of the process. Tobie provides that advice but does not tell the search committee what to do; it is their search process. A search takes the time of staff, faculty and administration, and time is, of course, money. A failed search process loses that time and money and also credibility within the academic community. Dr. Stuart Baron, president of the Delaware College of Art and Design, another candidate who has worked with Tobie, says that the real value of a search consultant is guiding the search committee as it defines what it is looking for in a candidate. According to Dr. Jamie Ferrare, managing principal at AGB Search, “Tobie does it right. She leads with an ethical compass that assures everyone involved that the search will be done professionally and always with the best interests of the client institution at the center of her work. “

In 2011 Tobie moved to AGB Search, along with several of her colleagues from Academic Search. In addition to executive searches, they assist with transition planning “with the goal of strengthening institutional governance.” Tobie has recently retired from full-time search and consulting work, and has assumed the title of consultant of counsel. In this role, she will mentor new consultants, represent the firm at national conferences and speaking engagements, and serve as a trusted advisor.

What is impressive about Tobie is not just what she accomplished for Wells College and higher education, but how she accomplished it. Everyone seems to feel that Tobie has a way…

            of bringing people together;

            of confronting the issues, not the personalities;

            of seeing the forest as well as the trees;

            of knowing when to step aside and let others take ownership of the decision.

Many have commented on her tact, clear-headedness and mentoring. She asks tough questions and draws out the answers. She is supportive of the efforts of others and gives unstintingly of her time and expertise. Dr. Thomas Courtice of AGB Search says, “Throughout her career, Tobie has demonstrated the values that Wells College intends for all its graduates: social justice, service to others, and a sense of giving to something larger than self. She has spent a lifetime ensuring opportunities for the growth and development of college-aged young people. Her search efforts… have made a measurable qualitative difference in higher education today, and she has touched the lives of thousands of college students through the work of the presidents she has placed.”

2016 Award

Rosaly Swann Bass

Rosaly Swann Bass, ’59, is being honored for her life’s work as an organic farmer. In 1973 Rosaly founded Rosaly’s Garden in Peterborough, New Hampshire. Her “garden” is now the state’s oldest and largest Certified Organic Farm, with 25 acres under cultivation.

Her farming experience and philosophy took root on the farm she grew up on in the Berkshires of Massachusetts. Her mother was a devoted organic gardener because she believed this approach was healthier for people and for the environment.

Rosaly attended Wells between 1954 and 1959, got married, had two children and settled in Francestown, NH.  She divorced and took her children to New York City, where she taught fifth graders in a Harlem public school “They had taken every bad kid out of the other fifth-grade classes and put them into one class, and gave it to me. They had gone through 13 teachers before I got them.  And I survived,” Rosaly said about her teaching years.

Rosaly married Perkins Bass in 1973 and moved back to New Hampshire.  They were married for 38 years, when Perkins died at the age of 99.  Early in their marriage, Rosaly’s plan was to write fiction, children’s books and short stories.  But ultimately, her writing led to her gardening and farming.  Every time her writing was turned down, she made her garden larger.  Eventually, she had so much produce that she started giving it away to extended family members. She still had a surplus, so she started selling it wholesale to local restaurants and businesses.  Customers began lining up for her produce, so Rosaly built a farm stand, plowed another field and planted more.

What started out as a kitchen garden has grown into an organic farm that is still going strong more than forty years later.  Today, the farm is known as Rosaly’s Garden (www.rosalysgarden.com).  Although Rosaly started the farm, she can't take credit for naming it.  She wanted to grow healthy food and beautiful flowers, and frankly didn't think a name was important.  But it drove Perkins crazy – tiny slips of paper with scribbled notes, Rosaly making deliveries without formal invoices.  "It's working fine," she told him.   Not satisfied with her answer, one day when she came in from tilling the garden, Perkins presented his new bride with 3,000 invoices. "Rosaly's Garden" was prominently printed at the top of the invoices.

Rosaly’s aim has always been to grow organically, so when the state started issuing certification in 1989, she was one of the first in line.  Only one other farm in the state was registered before her, but that farm has since closed.  The farm was certified organic in 1989 by the US Dept. of Agriculture.  Organic farms are now held to national standards first and then state standards. 

After 40 years of organic farming, Rosaly put what she knows to paper-- in her book, ORGANIC!-- a Gardener's Handbook. “I figured it was time to write it all down, to show others how to garden without toxins. Everyone can grow organic. It's not without its challenges, but then-- nothing is. I can't imagine gardening any other way.” 

Everything grown at Rosaly's is organic-- vegetables, herbs, flowers and berries.  Ninety- percent of the  produce is sold at the farm stand, and the rest to local restaurants, stores, several private schools, and a number of catering businesses.

Rosaly's Garden is dedicated to providing safe food and proving that organic farming is sustainable.  Since those early days, Rosaly has learned how to do things better as well as to accept that there are many things she simply cannot control.  However, she never stops learning and improving how she does things.  Rosaly experimented and kept careful notes over the years.  Many common organic practices today are the result of work done in her fields: black plastic mulch for potatoes and other crops; improved soil testing; high-tunnel tomatoes.

Hundreds of young and not-so-young workers helped make Rosaly's the success it is. Some have stayed one season and others have returned year after year. Many of her farmhands have gone on to start their own farms or manage other independent farms. Rosaly's Garden has been a kind of incubator, helping to educate others about organic growing.

Rosaly has served on the N.H. Department of Agriculture, Markets and Food Advisory Board. She has presented over the years to the New England Vegetable and Berry Growers Association, the Master Gardeners of N.H., Beaver Brook Association’s Accomplished Gardeners Program, and other groups. She has also implemented many agricultural experiments for the University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension, several of which led to breakthroughs and improved organic practices that are now widely accepted as the best.

In January 2015, Rosaly was named Organic Gardener of the Year by the Northeast Organic Farming Association for the many years of hard work that she has devoted to organic farming and the important mentoring that she has done along the way.

Rosaly belongs to the Northeast Organic Farming Association of New Hampshire and the New England Vegetable and Berry Growers Association.  Rosaly is a member of the Monadnock Buy Local organization, a network of locally-owned businesses, non-profits and citizens building a stronger local economy and a more vibrant community.  The network includes 35 towns in the Monadnock Region of southwestern New Hampshire.

2017 Award

Dr. Patricia Danz Stirnemann

Dr. Patricia Danz Stirnemann, Wells College Class of 1967, has been selected to receive the Wells College Alumnae and Alumni Award for 2017. Patricia is being honored for her contributions to the study of illuminated medieval French and English manuscripts.

 Patricia received her B.A. in Art History from Wells in 1967, and her M.A. and PhD. in Art History from Columbia University in 1976.  Patricia held a lifetime appointment with France’s Institut de Recherche et d’Histoire des Textes, which is devoted to research on medieval manuscripts and early printed books.

As Director of the IRHT, Patricia was responsible for the department of illuminated manuscripts, contributed to the evaluation of collections of manuscripts, and pursued research. Her research included the discovery and reconstruction of medieval libraries, the identification of manuscripts and psalters, contributions to the knowledge of masterpieces based on their recipients, and contributions to understanding the transformation of iconography in the 12th and 13th centuries. Her accomplishments include dating and sourcing 300 medieval manuscripts in the Municipal Library of Orleans and overseeing the dating and sourcing of 500 manuscripts in the Clairvaux library.

While working for the IRHT, Patricia traveled throughout France to study manuscripts, write scientific catalogues, and design public shows. Manuscripts were a key component in world history because they preserved ancient and medieval documents before the arrival of the printed book. Patricia’s research helped understand the shift from monastic production to professional book production, and her studies included the psalters made for the royal families of Denmark and France and Les Tres Riches Heures du Duc de Berry. 

Patricia pioneered a way to more accurately identify the date and place of a manuscript by analyzing the illumination and penwork decoration, the script, layout, liturgy, philology, textual tradition, and history of the ownership.   Using this methodology, researchers who previously dated works to a century or half century can sometimes pinpoint dates to a decade or less.   

Patricia also conceived and directed the creation of Initiale, an online catalogue of illuminated manuscripts. According to Nicole Beriou, “[Initiale] is today the most important instrument devoted to medieval illumination in the world.… It would not exist without the patient and effective work of Patricia Stirnemann who first conceived of it and then assured its growth.”

Patricia possesses a unique ability to communicate with illuminated manuscript specialists from all over the world and to weave a vast network of relationships with medievalists of all disciplines.  Her contacts were mainly from English-speaking countries, but she worked with specialists from Japan and throughout Europe, from Norway to Portugal to Russia. Claudia Rabel summarized Patricia’s contributions, “Globally recognized and sought for her expertise, Patricia Stirnemann has exercised de facto the function of director of research for countless scientists, both experienced and beginners. All appreciate her stimulating discussions and her scientific rigors, sometimes severe, but always constructive and encouraging. She is an excellent teacher who delights her audience with her humor and practical approach, while her outspokenness and her Anglo-Saxon pragmatism have furthered more than one meeting and more than one project. During her career, she has forged friendships and collaborations with medievalists around the world.”

For her dedication and innovation to the endeavor of medieval manuscripts, the Wells College Alumnae and Alumni Association is proud to honor Dr. Patricia Danz Stirnemann with its 2017 award.



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