August 31, 2006
|Alison Bechdel ('77) publishes a new book|
Alumna Alison Bechdel has recently published her book, Fun HomeA Family Tragicomic. Of the book, Sean Wilsey of The New York Times Book Review recently said: "A pioneering work, pushing two genres (comics and memoir) in multiple new directions...Bechdel's rich language and precise images combine to create a lush piece of worka memoir where concision and detail are melded for maximum, obsessive density." Cartoonist and graphic novelist, Harvey Pekar, author of American Splendor notes, "Alison Bechdelshe's one of the best, one to watch out for."
An avid journal keeper and archivist of her own life experience, Alison has authored a fictionalized strip, Dykes to Watch Out For, since 1983. Alison's previous works have won Lambda Literary Awards for humor, including the Lambda Literary Award in the biography/autobiography category.
New art gallery to open in October: Faculty exhibit to inaugurate the new space
By Margaret Grant
As long as we can remember, the intimate and serene Alumni Library Atrium Galleryoften better known as the home of the frogs Ace and Deucehas hosted our Exhibitions Program. This much loved area has held exhibits of painting, photography, graphic arts, sculpture, ceramics and jewelry from professional artists throughout Berkshire County, as well as showcasing the extraordinary senior thesis exhibitions each spring. However, this fall the Arts Division has finally realized a long lasting dream: the creation of a professional gallery space on campus that addresses the size, lighting, security, storage and climate-control limitations of the Atrium.Through the magic and hard work of the Physical Plant team, the former Dance Studio in the Liebowitz Building for the Humanities has been transformed. Without touching the integrity of the "red barn" aesthetic on the outside, the interior walls have been sheet rocked, the skylights covered with UV filter film, air conditioning duct work has been brought in, a storage space created, and new track lighting installed. While the Atrium Gallery will continue to host smaller exhibitions and thesis shows, the new "Gallery at Simon's Rock" will allow for bigger shows, larger scale works, and unconventional installations, as well as attract artists whose work comes with special climate and security requirements.The new gallery will be inaugurated during Family Weekend this October (27-29) with a show highlighting the talented work of the Arts Faculty. This will be followed in the spring by a first-ever Alumni Exhibition.For more information about the Exhibitions Program please write to Exhibitions Coordinator, Margaret Grant (email@example.com) or phone 413-528-7389.
For the updated calendar of events, go to the Simon's Rock main page -www.simons-rock.edu - and click on Calendar of Events-Fall 2006.
Student Union celebration
The building is dedicated in the memory of Livingston Hall, husband of Elizabeth Blodgett Hall, who was a central figure in the creation of the college. He supported Betty Hall's dream of establishing Simon's Rock, and he served as an informal mentor and guide to numerous students and families in the college's formative years.
Donors whose contributions helped build the Livingston Hall Student Union include Susan and Mark Beckerman, Murray and Patti Liebowitz, Thomas K. Doyle, Sr., Penzance Foundation; Emily H. Fisher and The Sprague Foundation, Inc. In addition, the Alumni Performance Center inside the building is named in recognition of the more than 600 alumni who made gifts to the Building the Future Campaign which also helped to make this building possible.(Photos above: Left, Free Trial a capella group. Right, Roger the Jester entertains students)
See more photos by Joseph Corso and Lezlie Lee
Early college faculty from schools throughout the U.S. attend Simon's Rock summer seminar
You may remember our report from the 2005 Early College Teaching Seminar. This year, Simon's Rock hosted the second summer seminar funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, August 20 through August 23. Fifty-seven faculty members from cities throughout the country attended.
Christine Somervill, Executive Assistant to the Provost, coordinated the Seminars with Simon's Rock faculty members Joan Del Plato, Nancy Yanoshak, and Patricia Sharpe, and from Bard High School Early College, faculty member Lori Ween.
Faculty attendees came to Gt. Barrington from New York, California, Texas, Oregon, Virginia, Vermont, Massachusetts, North Carolina, and Oregon. They attended classes designed for them by Simon's Rock faculty, and alongside incoming students, they participated in the Writing and Thinking Workshops.
On the first day of their program, Provost Mary B. Marcy spoke about early college learning, as did U Ba Win and BHSEC Principal Ray Peterson. They also heard from alumni and faculty of both Simon's Rock and BHSEC. Participants took sample classes in mathematics, physics, Spanish and politics, and they learned about creating an early college culture.
The Simon's Rock faculty coordinators used feedback from last year's seminar participants to help them in the development of this year's program. Says Christine Somervill about planning the second year: "We took to heart the suggestions that last year's attendees had made, and tailored the program to meet the needs more specifically. So we took into account the desire for some instruction about math and science, for example."
Somervill said the 2005 group was interested in learning how they might bring the experiences of Simon's Rock back to their urban campuses. In response to that need, she said, "We had teachers from BHSEC and more studentsinteracting with this year's group, so they could get a sense of the urban experiment as well."
Last year the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation funded this project at Simon's Rock, and the 2006 Early College Teaching Seminar was the second of three annual events. The Gates Foundation is funding the start-up of 180 early college high schools throughout the country, and recognizes Simon's Rock as a model in this movement. Though the Gates-funded schools are often quite different from Simon's Rock, these seminars are intended to cull the ideas and methods developed at Simon's Rock that can be used in various types of early college settings.(Photo of attendees above by Judith Monachina)
Welcome to the Class of 2006
On Saturday, August 19, Provost Mary B. Marcy welcomed the class of 2006. She greeted the new students and their parents, and she told them some interesting facts about themselves and gave them a chance to see themselves in the group of which they had just become a part.
She told them that they came from 29 states, and six countries: Burma, the Netherlands, Mexico, Ecuador, Taiwan and Japan. They speak numerous languages, including Chinese, Vietnamese, Hindi, Swedish, Hebrew, Dutch, French, Japanese, German and Spanish; and among the musical instruments they play are the euphonium, mellophone, trombone, piano, clarinet, saxophone, Irish flute, viola and violin, guitar and sitar.
The list of their accomplishments and interests is long, and diverse: There is a published poet and novelist and an internationally ranked tick yo yo competitor.Finally, she told them, "You are now all Rockers..."
Mary B. Marcy also demonstrated, by asking for a show of hands, that many were referred by alumni or were relatives of alumni. In fact, six first-year students entering in 2006 are second-generation Simon's Rockers: children of Rockers. In the coming months, as Simon's Rock celebrates 40 years, we will interview a couple of these students and their parents, and you can read about them in Simonsays.
For more details about the Alumni Referral Program call us at 800-235-7186 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Behind the scenes at South Berkshire Concert Series
Another year of programming is set
By Larry Wallach
I've been organizing the South Berkshire concert series for many years, and I still find it very exciting and rewarding. I get to invite incredibly talented musicians to campus, and I get to choose from a very wide range of musical genres and styles. I love to discuss programs with the artists and explore what would be appealing, what would expand our horizons. And, I get to share the excitement that our audiences experience during the performances themselves. In other words, I get to be the proverbial kid in the candy shop.
Launching this season on September 16 (Saturday at 8 p.m.), the innovative piano trio Triple Helix will be returning for the third time at Simon's Rock, bringing with them Ravel's brilliant Piano Trio. These three dynamic and articulate women have a unique ability to "play inside each other's heads," turning out powerful performances that revitalize standard repertory and illuminate less well-known works, like the trio by Frank Martin that shares the program.
This year's series of five concerts covers a lot of musical territory, all the way to the final concert (on April 28) which features another set of virtuoso musicians, this time offering ragtime, vintage dance music, and other turn of the century treats in crisp, sparkling performances by some of the best cross-over musicians around.
There will be sitar music from North India (Feb. 17), chamber music from Czechoslovakia played by members of the Boston Symphony (Mar. 10), and the amazing piano virtuoso Frederic Chiu playing an entire program of music for orchestra, voice, or organ (including Beethoven's Fifth Symphony in Liszt's transcription) all on the Hamburg Steinway. This will be the annual Frederick Reynolds Memorial Concert, our annual tribute to the trustee whose generosity enabled Simon's Rock to acquire the fabulous instrument that is now available to pianists in McConnell Theater, and it will take place on November 12.
South Berkshire Concerts are free to all members of the Simon's Rock community and to all students everywhere. For everyone else, tickets are $25 general admission and $20 for seniors. There are no reservations; seats are available on a first-come first-served basis, and there are no bad seats in McConnell!Larry Wallach is the Livingston Hall Chair in Music.
(Photo above of Triple Helix by Susan Wilson)
Inspired by a retiree who does much more than "read novels by the pool"
By Jennifer Browdy de Hernandez ('78 )
At a conference in Oakland last June, I met an inspiring woman, Jane Roberts, who is working hard to improve life for women by mounting an aggressive campaign to make family planning accessible to everyone. I was so impressed with her that I invited her to Simon's Rock on the spot, and she'll be speaking at the Lecture Center on September 28, 2006, at 7 p.m.
One morning in 2002, Roberts, a retired tennis coach and French teacher, read in the news that the Bush Administration had reneged on its commitment to contribute $34 million to the UNFPA, the population fund at the United Nations.
Most of us, reading that, would have muttered a quiet curse and gone on to the next story. Jane Roberts started a movement.
Working with Lois Abraham, a lawyer in New Mexico, she launched a campaign called "The 34 Million Friends of UNFPA," which is pledged to raise $34 million from Americans, $1 at a time.
"I knew I had to do something when the decision came down from Secretary of State Colin Powell on July 22, 2002," Jane recalled in her book 34 Million Friends of the Women of the World. "A letter to my Congressman wasn't enough. A letter to the editor wasn't enough either. A brainstorm came to me at 3 a.m. as I lay awake, anger simmering in my brain. Why not, I said to myself, ask 34 million of my fellow Americans who appreciate their contraceptive choices and doctors in the delivery room, to chip in a dollar?"
The UNFPA was initially simply bemused by the idea, but agreed to allow Roberts and Abraham to circulate a letter on the web calling for donations. Stirling Scruggs, former director of the Information, Executive Board and Resource Mobilization division of UNFPA, recalled that "some in UNFPA were doubtful about such a grassroots movement. They thought it would last a few weeks, and that the two women would tire and it would end quickly. That is until bags of mail started piling up at UNFPA's mailroom."
Within months, the campaign reached its first $150,000, most of it coming in cash, in small bills. Now at the four-year mark, Jane Roberts and Lois Abraham have raised over $3 million for UNFPA, and the work goes on.
When I had dinner with Jane in Oakland, both of us exhausted after two days of intense work at the National Women's Studies Association conference, we talked about our mutual passion for improving the conditions for the women of the world, especially those women who have the least, in terms of education, health care, and opportunities for advancement. I have such admiration for her a woman in her sixties, who could be spending her time reading novels by the pool, instead trotting around the country and around the world trying to galvanize others to take action to give women more control over their reproductive health.
It has been proven that as women's education and social standing goes up, fertility goes down. Women who are able to exert control over their reproductive health almost always want to do so. The grim statistic, quoted by Jane Roberts in her book, that around the world 40 women per minute seek unsafe abortions, speaks volumes.
The UNFPA does not fund abortions, but it does fund reproductive health care and contraception all over the world.
Jennifer Browdy de Hernandez is a faculty member in Gender Studies and Literature.