Starkle Dream Up. Stephens College


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Stephens Life magazine finishes in Top 5 for ACP Design of the Year

The Associated College Press (ACP) has honored Stephens Life, a student-run magazine, for its “Superfoods” story in the Spring 2016 issue.

The story, which was nominated in the Yearbook/Magazine Page/Spread category, received fifth place for Design of the Year and includes design and photography by Sarah Vitel ’16. Other students involved with the award-wining magazine are Oletha Hope Crutcher ’16 as art director, and Kalynn Coy ’17 as creative director. Amy Parris is the faculty adviser for the magazine.

Coy said the honor would bolster the magazine’s reputation and the students’ careers.

“These awards are commonly referred to as the Pulitzer Prizes of college media,” she said. “The fact that we placed within the top five for design is an honor beyond words, especially considering this is only the sophomore issue following a drastic rebrand in December 2015.”

The announcement comes after the Collegiate Media Association (CMA) recently nominated two other designs from the same Stephens Life issue for its annual design awards.

“We are proud to have Stephens Life recognized for the tremendous effort of our students,” said Dr. Monica McMurry, dean of the School of Design. “These awards are further validation of the School of Design and our commitment to being a leader in design thinking, process and product.”

Parris said the ACP award reflects the talent and hard work of Stephens’ students.

“Our magazine staff strives to find innovative content that reflects the mindset and attitude of each student who walks our campus,” she said. “This award is a reminder that the women of Stephens accomplish great things.”               

Coy has known since she first joined the Stephens Life staff that the magazine and the students involved were special. 

“However, it is flattering and humbling to see industry professionals recognizing our talent,” Coy said. “Knowing just how talented everyone on our staff is I’m confident we can break into the top three next year.”

The ACP evaluated more than 2,500 entries across 29 individual award categories. Roughly 10 percent from the original list were selected as finalists. Through education training and recognition programs for members, the ACP promotes the standards and ethics of good journalism as accepted and practiced by print, broadcast and electronic media in the United States.

View the Spring 2016 Stephens Life issue.  

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Stephens College Playhouse Theatre Company to present ‘Night Witches’


The Stephens College Playhouse Theatre Company will present “Night Witches,” a devised piece featuring the stories of courageous Soviet women bombardiers during World War II. The play, which is rated PG-13, will be performed for a one-weekend run, Oct. 21-23, 2016.

“Night Witches” comes to Stephens from Philadelphia, where it was devised and performed for fringe theatre by Butter & Serve Theater Company and enjoyed a sold-out run. Butter & Serve was founded by Alicia Crosby, Vanita Kalra, Riva Rubenoff and Sara Vanasse, who are all devisers of the Stephens production.

Kalra, who serves the duo role of director said, “We worked hand-in-hand with the performing arts students at Stephens to build a full-length piece that exists in this time and space only, and which will vanish from whence it came, as a piece rooted in the imaginations, bodies, breaths and voices of this new ensemble.”

The play tells the heroic story of the 588th Regiment of the Soviet Air Force, known as the Night Witches, which flew harassing, bombing missions against invading German troops during World War II. The stories of the courageous young women (between the ages of 17-26) are told in a compelling fashion through simulated oral histories, storytelling, creative movement and naturalistic scenes.

“The staging is fluid and continuously moving, weaving the Night Witches’ stories and en­twining their lives,” Kalra said.

The stories of the Night Witches are told through five main characters: “Vera,” played by Madilynn Mansur, a second-year theatre student; “Irina,” played by Natalie Botkins, a first-year musical theatre student; “Alexandra,” played by Hannah Sutton, a first-year theatre student; “Galina,” played by Adrieanna Sauceda, a second-year theatre student; and “Anna,” played by Delainey Phillips, a second-year musical theatre student.

“While set in the years before and during World War II, ‘Night Witches’ carries timeless messages about bravery, sacrifice, the importance of friendship, and belief in the face of a highly visibly threat,” said assistant to the director/dramaturge Anna Torchia, a third-year Stephens theatre student. “The women’s stories, always supremely brave and selfless, remind us of the tenacity of women in times of hardship and can inspire us to ask ourselves what we are willing to risk in the name of our own beliefs.”

“We hope the audience will enjoy our re-telling of the extraordinary lives of the Night Witches, smashed together, pulled apart, re-configured, and re-remem­bered from the woefully small information documented about them,” Kalra said.

The play starts at 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 21-22, with a 2 p.m. Sunday matinee on Oct. 23, in the Macklanburg Playhouse. Tickets are $14 general and $7 student/senior and can be purchased by contacting the Box Office at (573) 876-7199 or [email protected]

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Kathryn E. Johnson ’67 speaks in Civic Leadership Lecture Series


Kathryn E. Johnson ’67 returned to Stephens College on Oct. 3, 2016, as part of the Mary Josie Blanchard Women in Civic Leadership Lecture Series. She also spoke with students in Stephens’ Ten Ideals seminar, which is part of first-year students’ required coursework.

“It was a delight to return to campus and meet students, faculty and administration,” said Johnson, who is the co-founder of the Center for Global Service and an active consultant on issues of leadership development, global health and gender equality. “All were impressive and welcoming. It was great to see Stephens thriving.”

Lisa Lenoir, Stephens assistant professor and first-year faculty adviser, moderated the student seminar. “Johnson, who has traveled to 190 countries, shared stories of women and the challenges they face economically, politically and socially around the world. For instance, she told of a woman in Papua New Guinea who wanted to divorce her husband. But to do so, she and her family had to pay a large bride price of pigs to the husband’s family to obtain her freedom,” Lenoir said.

She talked to the students about how women around the world face challenges that many of us in the U.S. might not even realize, Lenoir said.

“This is not to discount our issues here, but they don’t compare to the disparities and lack of equity others experience,” Lenoir said. “She discussed that hunger in another country consists of people’s bodies wasting, where their bodies start to consume their own tissues because of malnutrition.”

For the Ideals seminar, which focused on the Ideal of Independence, a discussion was held about how women around the world interpret the word “independence.” Johnson added a unique perspective, as when she was a student at Stephens, she took “Ideas in Living Today,” which included the Ten Ideals in its course content.

“I wanted to approach the Independence Ideal lesson as a way to help students explore its meaning across borders, to celebrate diversity and to model cultural competency,” Lenoir said.

The series is funded by a gift from Mary Josie Cain Blanchard ’67, who is the deputy director of the Office of Environmental Policy and Compliance (OEPC) within the Office of the Secretary in the Department of the Interior. The lecture series highlights Stephens alumnae with careers in federal, state or local government, international relations or military service.

Johnson’s background also includes service on numerous boards, including chairing the boards of the Institute for Research on Learning and the American Society of Association Executives. She is a former W.K. Kellogg Foundation Leadership Fellow. She serves on the boards of the Global Women’s Leadership Program, the Health Technology Center, Samueli Institute, Food Commons 2.0, Omni Med, and RENEW. She served for six years of the board of the UN’s World Food Program-USA. In addition, she serves on advisory boards of MedShare Western Council, Living Goods, We Care Solar and Care for Peace. She is also a graduate of Indiana University and completed her master’s degree in Organizational Development at Boston University.  

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Marylou Luther to present “Straight from the Runways” on Stephens’ campus Nov. 15

The Stephens College School of Design will host a compelling look at the fashion industry from the front row with guest lecturer Marylou Luther, editor of the International Fashion Syndicate. She will present “Straight from the Runways” at 7 p.m. on Nov. 15, 2016, in Windsor Auditorium on the Stephens College campus. The lecture is free and open to the public.

As editor of the International Fashion Syndicate, Luther writes the award-winning Clotheslines column, a question-and-answer fashion advice feature that reaches 5 million readers each week. Her coverage of the European collections appears in newspapers throughout the U.S.

“We are honored to have Marylou Luther coming to our campus,” said Dr. Monica McMurry, dean of the School of Design. “She has followed the fashion industry as fashion editor of the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune and Des Moines Register, and brings to her lecture a rich understanding of the history of fashion as it bridges the late 20th to early 21st centuries.

“Her twice-yearly audio-visual overviews of the New York, London, Milan and Paris ready-to-wear shows are must-reads—and now she’ll be bringing those to our campus as part of her presentation. We couldn’t be more excited.”

Luther will provide the NYFW Spring Summer 17/18 collections with visuals and a Q&A session.

“The School of Design at Stephens is committed to bringing industry thought-leaders to campus to work with students and share their experiences,” McMurry said. “Luther’s visit is another example of this commitment. We know our students will benefit from her perspective at the lecture and in a small class environment.”

While here, Luther will also be visiting with students in several small groups—design students working on their sportswear portfolios, communication students interested in media writing and production, as well as students involved with Stephens Life magazine. The School of Design hosts more than 40 visiting professionals each year.

In addition to her syndicated newspaper column, Luther is the creative director of The Fashion Group International, a nonprofit organization for the dissemination of information on fashion, beauty and related fields.

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Stephens College to host Mary Josie Blanchard Women in Civic Leadership Lecture Series Monday

The Mary Josie Blanchard Women in Civic Leadership Lecture Series will host Kathryn E. Johnson ’67, a champion for leadership development, global health and gender equality, with a lecture at 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 3, 2016, in Windsor Auditorium. The lecture is free and open to the public.

Johnson, who served as the chief executive officer of Health Forum for 25 years, retired on Jan. 1, 2002. She is the co-founder of the Center for Global Service and an active consultant on issues of leadership development, global health and gender equality. She has served on numerous boards, including chairing the Boards of the Institute for Research on Learning and the American Society of Association Executives. She is a former W.K. Kellogg Foundation Leadership Fellow.

Currently, Johnson serves on the boards of the Global Women’s Leadership Program, the Health Technology Center, Samueli Institute, Food Commons 2.0, Omni Med, and RENEW. She served for six years of the Board of the UN’s World Food Program-USA. In addition, she serves on advisory boards of MedShare Western Council, Living Goods, We Care Solar and Care for Peace.

Johnson is an avid traveler, visiting over 190 countries with a special interest in developing economies in Africa and Asia. She is also a graduate of Indiana University and completed her master’s degree in organizational development at Boston University. She lives in the Bay Area.

The series is funded by a gift from Mary Josie Cain Blanchard  ’67, who is the deputy director of the Office of Environmental Policy and Compliance (OEPC) within the Office of the Secretary in the Department of the Interior. The lecture series highlights Stephens College alumnae with careers in federal, state or local government, international relations or military service. 

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Stephens College announces Fall 2016 gallery show, “Scaasi: Fashioning a Colorful Life”


The Stephens College Costume Museum & Research Library has announced its Fall 2016 gallery show will be “Scaasi: Fashioning a Colorful Life.” The gallery will feature couture and ready-to-wear day and evening ensembles by Arnold Scaasi from the 1970s-1990s. Scaasi donated more than 30 items to the Costume Museum and & Research Library in 1997.

Arnold Isaacs was born May 8, 1930. With the rise of Italian design in the mid-1950s, he reversed the spelling of his name to become “Scaasi.” With his recent death in 2015, show curator Dr. Monica McMurry explains, “the museum is paying homage to his influence on American fashion design.”

During his early career with the House of Dior, Scassi was asked by Christian Dior: “Why don’t you bring fashion to America? America is the future.”

Scaasi moved on to design clothing for well-known women such as Jacqueline Kennedy, Barbra Streisand, Aretha Franklin, Mamie Eisenhower and Mary Tyler Moore.

Arnold Scaasi began designing using the French couture technique for American women in 1956. Within two years he won the coveted Coty Fashion Critics Award. In 1996, he was honored with the Council of Fashion Designers of America Lifetime Achievement Award.

The gallery exhibit will open on Saturday, Oct. 1 with public hours from 12-3 p.m. The show will also be highlighted during Artrageous Weekend from Oct. 14-16. The show will continue through Dec. 18 with the following gallery hours: 12-1 p.m. Wednesdays, 5:30-8:30 p.m. Thursdays, and 12-3 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.

The gallery is located on the mezzanine level of Lela Raney Wood Hall, and all gallery shows are free and open to the public. For additional information, please contact: (573) 876-7220 or (573) 876-7233.


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Stephens Life magazine recognized again with new award nomination


The Associated College Press (ACP) has named Stephens Life a Design of the Year finalist. The “Superfoods” story from the Spring 2016 issue was nominated in the Yearbook/Magazine Page/Spread category. The announcement comes just days after the Collegiate Media Association (CMA) nominated two other designs from that same issue for its annual design awards.

The “Superfoods” story included design and photography by Sarah Vitel ’16. The team also included Oletha Hope Crutcher ’16 as art director and Kalynn Coy ‘17 as creative director. The three were also among those honored by the CMA nominations.

“We are proud to have Stephens Life recognized for the tremendous effort of our students,” said Dr. Monica McMurry, dean of the School of Design. “The class and instructor Amy Parris have delivered a magazine that is a well-designed, niche product.

“These awards are further validation of the School of Design and our commitment to being a leader in design thinking, process and product. We established a new model and brand for Stephens Life and now we are seeing the rewards of that vision. The idea that three different design projects have been nominated further demonstrates the depth of the skill and talent of our students.”

The ACP evaluated more than 2,500 entries across 29 individual award categories. Roughly 10 percent from the original list were selected as finalists. Winners will be announced at the ACP’s National College Media Convention to be held Oct. 20-23 in Washington, D.C.

Through education training and recognition programs for members, the Associated Collegiate Press promotes the standards and ethics of good journalism as accepted and practiced by print, broadcast and electronic media in the United States.

Review the complete list of finalists.

View the Spring 2016 Stephens Life issue.  

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Stephens Life magazine nominated for two College Media Association design awards


Stephens Life, the student magazine of Stephens College, has been named a Best of Collegiate Design Pinnacle Award finalist in two design categories. The Pinnacle Awards are presented by the College Media Association, the national association for collegiate media and its advisers, and honor the best in college media organizations and individual work.

Two feature stories from the Spring 2016 issue of Stephens Life have been named as finalists: “I Like Fashion and Naps” in the Best Magazine Entertainment Page/Spread category and “The Disruption: A Year of Fractured Fashion” in the Best Magazine News Page/Spread category.

Stephens Life is produced by Stephens students as part of a practicum class available through the School of Design. However, students from any major can enroll. The practicum encourages a real-world publishing environment where students take on the roles of creative director, art director, graphic designer, photographer or writer, and work together to produce a high quality magazine publication.

Stephens Life recently underwent a rebranding process,” said Amy Parris, projects manager. “That evolution led to the multipage, forward-looking magazine you see today.

“We also stress a real-world work environment. Students are getting hands-on experience from the pitching of articles to the final production and every step along the way.

“We know our students do great work and we’ve been thrilled with the response from industry professionals, alumnae, current students and prospective students to our vision, but it is certainly nice to be recognized nationally for that as well by our peers.”

“We introduced a rebranding process in 2016, led by Parris, that thoroughly involved our students and reflected a more modern, photo-centric approach to journalism,” said Dr. Monica McMurry, dean of the School of Design. “We believe each page should bring the reader into a relationship with the story, and we are overjoyed to be recognized for that vision with these nominations.”

Stephens senior Kalynn Coy, who served as creative director on both nominated projects and who is returning to Stephens Life this year, said “I loved being part of the magazine’s evolution; I loved that process. It’s been amazing to see how the publication has grown and to be a part of that. Everyone worked so hard to make this happen.”

In addition to Coy, “I Like Fashion and Naps” included the work of current students Madisson Alexander and Brianna Knopf, and May graduates Oletha Hope Crutcher and Lluvia Garcia. Gerica Curry wrote the article. “The Disruption” also included the work of current student Darby Jones, and May graduates Kyla Cherry, Oletha Hope Crutcher and Sarah Vitel. The award covers submissions from the 2015-2016 academic year.

Winners will be announced at the association’s National College Media Convention which will be held Oct. 26-30 in Atlanta.

Review the complete list of finalists.

View the Spring 2016 Stephens Life issue.  


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Dr. Brian Sajko named Vice President for Enrollment Management

Stephens College has named Dr. Brian Sajko to the position of Vice President for Enrollment Management. Sajko will bring more than 25 years of progressive leadership experience in enrollment management and higher education administration to the position.

He most recently served as Vice President of Enrollment and Student Success at Nebraska Methodist College. His background also includes enrollment management positions at Prescott College and Eureka College with responsibilities encompassing admissions, financial aid, student life and services, marketing and communications, as well as academic honors programs, diversity and inclusion initiatives, and alumni/donor relations. He has served as faculty in the theatre arts and drama, and as chair of the fine and performing arts division at Eureka College. 

“We are pleased to welcome Dr. Sajko to Stephens College,” said Dr. Dianne Lynch, Stephens College president. “As an experienced higher education leader and innovator, and a former faculty member and chair, he will bring to Stephens the ability to lead and direct an admissions team, collaborate across programs and with faculty to strengthen our recruitment efforts.

“Brian understands how the admissions team, deans and faculty can work together to recruit and retain a new generation of Stephens women. We are looking forward to an exciting future as Brian leverages the talents and commitment of our hard-working undergraduate; graduate, online and continuing studies; and financial aid teams and develops a forward-looking plan of action for growing enrollment at Stephens College.”

About his appointment to Stephens College, Sajko said, “Stephens College is poised to claim its place as the premiere women’s college in the U.S. Nationally ranked programs in the creative arts and health sciences, along with life-changing co-ed offerings at the graduate and certificate level set us apart.

“As a first-generation college student myself (hailing from Gary, Ind.), I know the transformative difference that attending college can make in someone’s life and the importance of creating a student, and, family-focused admissions and financial aid process to ensure that opportunity isn’t missed.

“Stephens has a heritage, alumnae, expertise and reputation no one else can touch—all in an amazing and electric college town. I am honored and humbled to a part of the Stephens family.”

Sajko holds a Ph.D. in Theatre (Bowling Green State University); M.A. in Theatre Arts (University of Minnesota); and B.A. in Theatre (University of Dayton). He was a U.S. Senior Fulbright Scholar in residence at National Sun Yat-sen University in Taiwan in 2003. He is also a charter member of the elite Fulbright Scholar Alumni Ambassador group and travels for the U.S. State Department to promote Fulbright programs.

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Stephens Athletics earns Champions of Character Five-Star Gold Award

As the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) remains at the forefront of character-driven athletics, Stephens College continues its run as a Champions of Character Five-Star Institution. The NAIA announced the list on Tuesday afternoon, and the Stars were among the 171 member institutions listed and one of just 19 institutions listed at the gold level.

“Each year, we strive and expect to earn the NAIA Champions of Character Five-Star Institution Award, but this year is particularly special as we reached Gold status for the first time,” stated director of athletics and the 2015-16 Stars’ NAIA Champions of Character Liaison Adam Samson. “We stepped it up a notch and are now considered one of the NAIA’s elite institutions when it comes to character-driven athletics.”

It marks the seventh consecutive year the Stars have earned the Five-Star distinction and the first as gold status.

“You don’t have to look far to find the high-character individuals that we have around our athletics department. It is truly a group effort and I couldn’t be more proud of our coaches, staff and student-athletes who have represented us so well in the community,” Samson added.

The Champions of Character program provides resources to member institutions to enhance administrators, staff and student-athletes in its five core values of integrity, respect, responsibility, sportsmanship and servant leadership.

To carry out the Champions of Character mission, several of the Stars’ teams and groups participated in outreach activities this past year. The new Association of Student-Athletes (ASA) developed activities in each of the core values and presented them to The Children’s School at Stephens College elementary students; soccer and basketball read to pre-school and elementary kids during Literacy Week; and competitive dance volunteered at the local Walk to End Alzheimer’s event. Volleyball hosted a volleyball and core values clinic for Camp Adventure students; and several student-athletes helped serve as instructors and created lesson plans for The Children’s School physical education classes.

Stephens was the only American Midwest Conference school to earn gold status. Eleven other conference schools found their way on the silver and bronze list.

For more information about the NAIA Champions of Character Scorecard, click here.

To view the complete list of 2015-2016 NAIA Champions of Character Five-Star Institutions, click here.

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Stephens’ Theatre program named #6 in the nation by The Princeton Review

Stephens College is one of the nation's best institutions for undergraduate education, according to The Princeton Review. The annual guide just announced that Stephens is featured in the new 2017 edition of the guide, “The Best 381 Colleges.”

This year the Theatre program at Stephens achieved a ranking of #6 in the nation.

“Stephens has a rich history in the performing arts, and we value the significance of truly robust arts training. We think that shows in the ranking we received today,” said Dr. Gail Humphries Mardirosian, dean of the School of Performing Arts. “With more than 30 performance opportunities a year, more than 30 guest artists across all disciplines, and a thoughtful experiential curriculum, we develop students who are well prepared to make a contribution to the arts and the world upon graduation.”

“This recognition is especially significant to us because the feedback of our own students helps determine our rankings,” she said. The Theatre program has consistently been recognized in the Top 20 nationwide. 

This year Stephens was also recognized at #6 for “Most Active Student Government.”

“Stephens’ outstanding academics are the chief reason we chose it for this book and we strongly recommend it to applicants,” said Robert Franek, The Princeton Review’s Senior VP-Publisher and author of the guide. 

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School of Performing Arts announces 2016-17 season, “Tradition Inspiring Innovation”

The Box Office opens Sept. 1 for a season of “tradition inspiring innovation” and a slate of theatre, music, dance and film performances that blend classic works and time-honored traditions with bold new ways of thinking and inspiring new voices.

Dr. Gail Humphries Mardirosian, dean of the School of Performing Arts, explained the theme behind the season: “The Stephens tradition has always been to feature strong women’s voices. You’ll see that again this year as we showcase women playwrights and authors and bring women’s stories (which tend to be forgotten when men write the history) to the surface.

“Many of the stories we will tell will be timeless, well-loved tales—but we will tell them in bold new ways—through dance, music and theatre, and through the coming together of all kinds of inspiration and creativity.”

The first show of the season will be “An American Daughter,” a political saga handpicked for the Presidential election year, from acclaimed American playwright Wendy Wasserstein, and opening Sept. 23. Other productions from the Playhouse Theatre Company will include “The Night Witches,” a devised piece about Soviet women bombardiers; Neil Simon’s classic musical “Sweet Charity”; an adaptation of Jane Austen’s “Emma” that proves that good writing is timeless; “Everything You Touch,” an ambitious new work about ethics and alimentation; and “The Mystery of Edwin Drood,” a musical whodunit where the audience determines the ending, based loosely on an uncompleted work of Dickens.

The student-run Warehouse Theatre company will once again offer four performances that focus on women’s voices. 

Stephens’ Dance program will take the stage this spring with the Annual Dance Company Spring Concert, and a showing of New Works to end the season. TRYPS Theatre for Young Audiences will spotlight “Elf Jr.” this holiday season, and feature “James and the Giant Peach” and “Music Man Jr.” in early 2017.

It will be a year of innovation and tradition for music at Stephens with popular events like Bach’s Lunch, the free monthly recital series; Fall and Spring Choral Concerts; and a new showcase of Stephens ensemble singers. “A Dickens Victorian Christmas” is also set to return this December.

Stephens’ Film program has also announced its schedule of events along with the 2016 Citizen Jane Film Festival dates, Nov. 3-6.

To secure your tickets, contact the Stephens College Box Office at (573) 876-7199 or [email protected].

View complete details for the 2016-17 season, including the dates, times and locations of events, and ticket prices. 

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Stephens announces $1 million gift for new P.A. program


Stephens College announced today a $1 million gift from Phyllis Henigson, a 1954 Stephens College graduate, to support the College’s new Physician Assistant Studies program. The announcement came during the grand opening of the new Center for Health Sciences, a state-of-the-art teaching facility located in Sampson Hall that is home to the P.A. program. In Henigson’s honor, the center’s first floor has been named the Phyllis Southall Henigson Foyer and Symposia Center.

“I’m very happy to see Stephens today as a powerful academic institution,” Henigson said in her remarks. “I wanted to contribute to this growth, helping to build the College’s capacity and expand its academic offerings. It’s exciting for me to be a part of it.”

The first P.A. cohort of 20 students began classes in the center on Aug. 1. The 27-month master’s degree program, which has been five years in the making, addresses the need for more Physician Assistants in mid-Missouri as well as the career opportunities for students in this growing field.

Stephens has a long history of teaching the sciences at the undergraduate level, and the College was among the first colleges in the country to offer a P.A. program in the 1970s.

“With our experience in health and sciences and the depth of healthcare services we have here in the local area, we knew Stephens would be the right place to launch this kind of program,” said Eric Johnson, director of the Physician Assistant Studies program.

Sampson Hall, which was originally built in 1947, was completely renovated to house the new P.A. program. The center boasts a state-of-the-art anatomy lab; high-tech classrooms equipped with the latest technologies; exam rooms and observation rooms featuring the latest in virtual classroom technology to provide real-world learning experiences; and lab and classroom spaces designed to support cutting-edge curriculum and to be multi-functional.

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Stephens Fashion program ranks 14th in the world, according to The Business of Fashion

The Stephens College Fashion program is ranked 14th in the world, according to the 2016 edition of the Global Fashion Schools Ranking from The Business of Fashion, London. Stephens’ program also has the only program in the world that ranked in the Top 2 of two of the three BoF survey’s methodology categories: global influence, learning experience and long-term value. The College tied for second in the world for both learning experience and long-term value across B.A. programs.

In its second year, the BoF’s 2016 rankings, released Sunday evening U.S. time, have expanded to include 54 institutions from 17 countries around the world, with more than 10,000 current students and alumni participating in the annual fashion education survey.

Stephens finds itself in the company of other well-known schools, including Central Saint Martins in London, which topped the list; Parsons School of Design in New York; Beijing Institute of Fashion Technology; and Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD), which ranked 18th in the world behind Stephens College.

“We are honored to once again find ourselves in such prestigious company,” said Dr. Monica McMurry, dean of the School of Design. “Our stellar faculty teach our students in such a way to give them their ‘first job while in college.’ Through our vigorous coursework, students learn to solve human-centered problems to make a difference in the world and tackle creative challenges with real-world implications for success.”

Each year, the Stephens College School of Design brings in over 60 guest speakers from the fashion industry to work alongside, critique and mentor students in fashion. The school also offers students the opportunity to study areas such as apparel studies, communication, events management and marketing.

"After being in the fashion industry for two years, I have realized how well Stephens College prepared me for the industry,” wrote one recent Stephens graduate who was surveyed. “I am qualified for all aspects of the industry, especially design, and feel comfortable competing for top jobs against other design students."

The College is one of only 20 schools nationwide—and the only women’s college—that is a participant in the highly selective Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) Education and Professional Development Program, established to assist fashion design students in their academic efforts. The CFDA is the premier, invitation only, association of the top U.S. fashion designers that aims to “strengthen American Fashion in the Global Economy.” Additionally, Stephens is a partner school of the YMA-Fashion Scholarship Fund, a U.S. educational fashion nonprofit that seeks to identify and create career opportunities for young people worldwide. YMA awards $5,000-30,000 scholarships to talented students.

This spring, the Stephens Fashion program was recognized as the #15 Private Fashion Design School or College in the nation, according to Stephens’ fashion design program also is ranked #31 program nationally and recognized as #8 in the Midwest by the national website.

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Senior Hall, “Susies” and local pride inspire student’s creative design for orientation T-shirts

Allie Moorman ’18 took on the challenge this summer of designing T-shirts for Orientation Group Leaders, the Stephens students who lead small groups of new students as part of Stephens’ annual orientation. A Fashion Communication major, Moorman worked this summer in Student Development and volunteered for the project.

“I love the tradition here at Stephens,” she said. “It is so cool that the College is nearly 200 years old. In designing the shirt, I thought about the beautiful places here on campus and especially Historic Senior Hall and its history. It’s recognized by everyone. I personally love the history of the building; everyone should take a class there, or at least spend an afternoon in the parlors.”

“I also know that people here take great pride in being from Missouri, and have great pride in Columbia; that’s why I incorporated our city and state. Then, I added the ‘Susies’; it’s a personal term with a lot of special meaning.”

After finding the concept, the design process itself was a labor of love, she said.

“It was hard to find a picture of the hall without trees, yet once I did I was so excited I pulled an all-nighter to finish it,” Moorman said.

This was also her first complete T-shirt project. In her role as merchandise chair for Kappa Delta, Moorman often thinks of an idea but has the T-shirt company’s designers finalize the project. Her courses with Associate Professor Kate Gray gave her the confidence to move forward.  

“Taking Kate’s classes instilled a confidence in me that I could pull this project off,” Moorman said. “I am forever indebted to her. She has taught me lifelong skills. I am excited to learn more in my upcoming classes with her, and to incorporate what I learn into my work for Stephens Life. She definitely lived up to expectations after what I had heard from upperclassmen.”

The Washington, D.C., native first heard about Stephens from a friend of her mother. She later came across Stephens in her own research and says, “within 20 minutes I knew this was it. I visited campus, and that visit only solidified my feelings.”

Moorman is also thankful to Student Development for giving her the opportunity to work on this high visibility project and to be mentored by Kyneesha Edwards ’16 who designed the shirts last year. “It was special to step into her shoes and work on this project,” she says.

“I love graphic design,” Moorman said. “It’s fun, and just absorbs me for hours.” 

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Pamela Ellsworth-Smith will serve as Missouri District Governor at the National Association of Teachers of Singing

Pamela Ellsworth-Smith, associate professor of Vocal Arts, has accepted appointment to the Missouri District Governor position at the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS). NATS was founded in 1944 and is now the largest association of teachers of singing in the world. 

“The NATS organization is a wonderful format for singers to be heard and receive an objective assessment from other voice professionals in the industry on a district, regional and national level,” Ellsworth-Smith explained. 

“I am honored to be appointed as the new Missouri District Governor for the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS),” she said. “It’s especially exciting to serve on the governing staff at this time in the organization when many ‘outside-of-the-box’ ideas are being embraced to meet the needs of singers in the 21st century.”

In her new role, Ellsworth-Smith will have the opportunity to get to know the voice teachers at the college and university level, private studio teachers throughout the state, as well as the national leaders of NATS.

“All of the NATS members are an important part in creating a successful and effective audition event,” she said. “I am thrilled to be part of this process. Our students are a treasure, and we want them to have a positive learning experience.”

This year, the Central Regional Student Auditions (Illinois, Iowa and Missouri) will be held Oct. 29-30 at the University of Iowa.  

“Our students at Stephens have always done very well at these auditions,” Ellsworth-Smith said. “In fact, we developed and hosted the NATS Musical Theatre Student Auditions for the St. Louis Chapter 10 years ago.”

In addition to teaching vocal arts Stephens, Ellsworth-Smith is the director of The Velvetones, Stephens’ vocal jazz ensemble, which recently performed at the Bluebird Cafe in Nashville, Tenn., and the Jazz Standard in New York. The group made its Carnegie Hall debut in 2004. Her affiliation with this professional organization began as a college student, participating in the student auditions with NATS herself.

“It has been an honor to work with Pamela and I know she will serve the NATS organization with the same integrity, commitment to student success and to the industry, and empowering leadership that she shows every day at Stephens,” said Dr. Gail Humphries Mardirosian, dean of the School of Performing Arts at Stephens. “She is passionate about working with individual singers as well as our performing ensembles to help them find a healthy and expressively beautiful sound. Our students benefit from her professional experience, talents and commitment, and NATS will as well.”

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Stephens alumni to perform in OST’s ‘The Odd Couple’


Those attending this August’s production of “The Odd Couple” at Okoboji Summer Theatre in Spirit Lake, Iowa, will be in for a special treat. Mark Taylor and Rob Doyen, both alumni from the Stephens College Theatre program, will play the principals, Felix Ungar and Oscar Madison, respectively. They will perform alongside second-year Stephens theatre students and other guest artists as part of the 59th season of the summer stock theatre.

In “The Odd Couple,” new bachelors Felix (an uptight neat-freak) and Oscar (an easygoing slob) decide over a game of cards to live together. Their personalities clash as they attempt to make lives of their own in this “wildly and irresistibly funny” play by Neil Simon. Bernard Monroe will guest direct this timeless Tony Award-winning classic, which will be performed Aug. 2-7.

Taylor will return to the ’Boji stage as a guest artist 44 years after he first performed as a theatre student at Stephens. He has been married to fellow Stephens graduate Judy Doyen Taylor for over 40 years. She is the senior vice president of casting and talent relations for Disney Channel.

“Those magical ’Boji summers laid the foundation for much of the rest of my life,” Taylor said. “I was lucky enough to have many terrific parts there and the condensed rehearsal period (about two weeks) taught me the importance of preparing for a role with minimum rehearsal. This was invaluable when I started to work in film and television where rehearsal time is even more condensed.”

Taylor has had a career in Hollywood that spans four decades and includes television (M*A*S*H to Seinfeld), film (Arachnophobia and High School Musical 2), and voiceover animation (Superman to Super Friends). He also has directed productions for Lifetime, The Disney Channel and several theatres in L.A.

“Sharing the stage with my brother-in-law, Rob Doyen, in one of Neil Simon’s best plays makes this another ’Boji summer I will never forget,” says Taylor, who is also a member of the Stephens College Board of Trustees.

Doyen, a resident actor/professor in the Stephens College School of Performing Arts, is looking forward to performing alongside Taylor for the first time ever. What makes the experience meaningful on another level for Doyen is the fact that “The Odd Couple” is the first show he performed in as a student at ’Boji in 1968.

“I was one of the poker players along with a young Fritz Lennon,” he said. “I remember the two actors playing Oscar and Felix, George Spach and Bill Aragon, were very good, and we played to full houses all week. What a joy to bring it back to the ’Boji stage acting alongside Mark, who is more like a brother to me than an in-law. We have both been in the business for over 40 years (Mark in L.A. and myself at Stephens) but have never been on the stage together. I look forward to his homecoming to the Lakes area, and I am thrilled to have the opportunity to share the stage with such a talented, generous and proud fellow Stephens alumnus.”

Doyen teaches acting, directing and musical theatre at Stephens and also serves as associate artistic director at ’Boji. He has already performed in this summer’s OST productions of “There Goes the Bride” and “You Can’t Take it With You,” and he will act in the season’s finale, “The Sound of Music.”

For ticket information, please contact the Box Office at (712) 332-7773 or [email protected], or order your tickets online at

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Kirsteen Buchanan ’83 takes on challenges of costuming for Okoboji

When the Okoboji Summer Theatre Company needs a costume designer to focus on the early 20th century or present day, they look no further than Stephens’ own Kirsteen Buchanan ’83. Buchanan is currently an associate professor in the School of Design as well as a graduate of Stephens’ Fashion program, but she’s spent many summers at OST designing costumes for productions.

This summer, Buchanan tackled the heavy task of costuming for “The Diary of Anne Frank,” the classic adaptation based on the memoirs of a Jewish girl hiding with her family from persecution during World War II. Buchanan revels in the time period. The previous summer, she worked on “To Kill a Mockingbird” (for a second time), a classic drama set during the Great Depression.

“We go in with a very limited budget and the timing is very compressed,” Buchanan explained. “We have just two weeks to work on the costumes once we get to Okoboji. So first we begin by spending time here at campus pulling existing garments from the Stephens Costume Shop, then everything gets packed up in the truck and heads up to Iowa for the summer along with all of the set pieces and furniture. We also source local thrift shops for garments we can tailor and incorporate. Then, it’s time to rent, buy or build any garments we still need.

“Research is very important, and that’s a learning moment for our students, as not all of them have been involved in that level of research or been exposed to certain periods in costume history before. You have to get the details right.”

“The Diary of Anne Frank” also presented unique challenges in that the actors all remained on the stage throughout the production and had to be able to change right on stage, she said.

“It was an honor to be part of the show and working with Gail (the dean of performing arts) who directed the production was great,” Buchanan said. “She has a real vision and provides very thorough and complete research, but she also cultivates a very collaborative process.”

Buchanan has also worked on “Hay Fever” and “Anastasia,” both set in the ’20s; “The Last Night of Ballyhoo,” set in 1939; and “Present Laughter,” of the same period. In addition, she has worked on many productions set in the modern day. “I’ve worked with Lamby Hedge (associate professor) quite often through the years,” Buchanan says. “She has been my champion. Her knack for creating visual interest with intricate details makes for outstanding productions. All of the Theatre faculty are highly supportive.”

The tradition of summers at OST all started for Buchanan when she was a student at Stephens. “I was a Fashion student at Stephens, but I took a costuming class with Patty Doyle, and she encouraged me to go to OST on an internship,” she said. “I loved it, and went back the next year, too. It’s beautiful up there. I enjoy the lake and the ambience. More importantly, you have the opportunity to focus there and become thoroughly immersed in what you’re doing. I love how the students are eager to learn and are respectful of the process. The Costume Shop staff is excellent.

“I’m excited for the 60th season and hope there’s a place for me. I am always ready to be a part of Okoboji.”  

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SC Athletics Boasts 3.40 GPA, Eight NAIA Scholar-Teams for 2015-16

Three Stephens teams ranked among the NAIA's top 10 GPAs in their respective sports – softball (2nd), tennis (3rd) & competitive dance (t-3rd).

In recognition of student-athlete performances in the classroom, the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) announced that 1,585 teams earned the distinction of Scholar-Team for the 2015-16 academic year. For the second year in a row, Stephens College was well represented on the list with all eight varsity teams receiving the award.

Collectively, the Stars had a phenomenal year academically as the athletics department recorded a GPA of 3.40 for 2015-16. It marks a .16 improvement from 2014-15 when the eight varsity squads combined for a 3.24 GPA.

“Our student-athletes are consistently exceeding expectations and setting new standards for academic excellence,” said SC Director of Athletics Adam Samson. “There’s no question that academics and athletics go hand-in-hand at our institution and these achievements are a direct reflection of the hard work and dedication put in by the students, coaches, faculty and staff.”

Tennis and softball were neck-and-neck for the top GPA among Star sports teams with tennis getting the nod at a 3.70 GPA. Tennis’ 3.70 ranked third nationally in the NAIA.

Other Stephens programs among the NAIA’s top 10 in their respective sport include softball (2nd) at 3.69 and competitive dance (t-3rd) at 3.32. Three additional squads posted team GPAs above 3.3 including golf (3.49), volleyball (3.46) and basketball (3.33). Soccer and cross country came in at 3.19 and 3.11, respectively.

For a team to be considered for the NAIA Scholar-Team award, it must have a minimum 3.0 grade-point average (on a 4.0 scale) for the year as defined by the institution. All eligible varsity student-athletes (including transfers) contribute to the team’s cumulative GPA.

How the Stars Compare to Other NAIA Institutions

  • Softball – 2nd out of 192
  • Tennis  – 3rd out of 112
  • Competitive Cheer & Dance – t-3rd out of 67
  • DI Women’s Basketball – t-14th out of 94
  • Golf – t-34th out of 166
  • Volleyball – t-39th out of 219
  • Soccer – 100th out of 196
  • Cross Country – 104th out of 210


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Equestrian Center hosts riders of all ages for summer camps

The Equestrian Center at Stephens College has been busy hosting riders of all ages this summer with a comprehensive offering of summer riding camps and experiences. The series concluded this week with the second session of a residential camp for high school equestrians. 

“In their second year, our Equestrian Overnight Experience saddle seat camps bring experienced saddle seat show riders to campus for seven days of riding, field trips and exploration of equestrian industry careers,” explained Kelly Hulse, camp director and assistant professor of Equestrian Studies at Stephens. The small class sizes ensure one-on-one instruction, and both camps were at capacity this year, she said.

“It is an honor to work with these young women who are eager to try something new, who are committed to the experience, and who work so hard to master new skills,” Hulse said.

The overnight camps followed four weeks of day and evening camps for boys and girls, as well as an evening riding camp for adult riders. Sara Linde Patel, instructor and program coordinator of equestrian studies, is camp director for these camps.

“I graduated from Stephens myself, so sharing our amazing legacy with the mid-Missouri community is particularly rewarding for me,” said Linde Patel. “I love teaching new riders and look forward to our Summer Riding camps each year.”

The equestrian camps are part of a comprehensive Dream Up Summer schedule of camps at Stephens that included basketball and volleyball camps taught by Stephens coaches and a two-week Fashion: Trends to the Runway camp. It includes a Citizen Jane Film Camp that will be held the week of July 11, and the TRYPS Institute at Stephens College will kick off their summer camp series in July. View Dream Up Summer photo album.

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Summer Dance gives students intensive learning experience


Earlier this summer, Stephens dance students participated in the annual Stephens Summer Dance (SSD) intensive as part of the B.F.A. in Dance. In the tradition of the program, nationally and internationally recognized guest faculty shared their experience and knowledge of dance technique, history and the creative process with students during the six-and-a-half week program.

“Students were immersed in daily classes and rehearsals with our exemplary guest faculty,” said Brandi Coleman, artistic director for Stephens Summer Dance. “Our dancers were challenged to quickly adapt to new ways of thinking and moving and learned how to integrate each new perspective into their technique and performance of the choreography.”

Students studied classical ballet techniques with Madame Peff Modelski (former professional dancer with the Royal Ballet, Berlin Opera Ballet, among others) and Nancy Stoy, a Stephens adjunct instructor; Alexander Technique and Bartenieff/Laban-based modern dance with Elizabeth Johnson, a GL-CMA and AmSAT certified instructor and founder/artistic director of Your Mother Dances, a Milwaukee-based contemporary repertory company; Graham Technique with Virginie Mecene (former principal dancer of the Martha Graham Dance Company and current artistic director of Graham 2); and contemporary dance with Dante Brown, founder of the New York company Dante Brown|Warehouse Dance.

For the first time in the history of SSD, students studied Dance for Camera, which was taught by Charissa Barton, co-founder of Axis Connect, a platform for emerging professional dancers. Multimedia producer Meredith Jacob, who works for Stephens’ Marketing office, served as the director of photography and co-directed the choreographic video project that resulted in the short film titled Zacharina.

The program culminated in a two-evening public performance of works choreographed by the guest faculty and performed by the Stephens dance majors in the Macklanburg Playhouse.

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Stephens’ Fashion program rakes in more national recognition


The Stephens College School of Design has been recognized as the #15 Private Fashion Design School or College in the nation, according to, which released its fourth annual list this week. Stephens’ fashion design program was also named the #31 program nationally and recognized as #8 in the Midwest by the national website.

“Our talented faculty have worked hard to provide a quality curriculum that ensures our students have the strong technical skills, career preparedness, broad industry understanding and exposure to the industry—through an extensive list of guest speakers as well as trips to fashion capitals—that will lead to career success,” said Dr. Monica McMurry, dean of the School of Design. “We’re pleased to be honored among such impressive peer schools and to be recognized for the hard work and commitment we bring to our long-standing Fashion Design program.

Industry field trips are one reason Stephens ranks high among fashion schools nationally, McMurry said.

“Our faculty are also a huge part of why we rank so highly,” she added. “They provide industry-based projects and boast industry work experience and educational training.”

Stephens was specifically recognized for trips to international fashion capitals, the range of quality internships students pursue, the opportunity to participate in the The Collections juried fashion show, and access to the Historic Costume Museum and Research Library with its 13,000-piece collection.

The Stephens College School of Design and its Fashion programs have also been recognized by the Business of Fashion, London, and The College is considered a Top 380 College by The Princeton Review. 

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Dr. Leslie Willey named Stephens Vice President for Academic Affairs

Stephens College recently announced that Dr. Leslie Willey ’83 has been named vice president for academic affairs, effective June 1.

“Leslie brings to the position a deep respect for and commitment to the College and its faculty,” said Dr. Dianne Lynch, president of Stephens College. “She understands our culture, our values and our commitment to students. Perhaps most importantly, Leslie views the primary role of the VPAA as the faculty’s energetic advocate.”

Willey has taught at Stephens College for 19 years. She most recently served as dean of the School of Interdisciplinary Studies and director of The Children’s School at Stephens College. Willey previously served as director of the undergraduate Education department and as director of the Master of Education program. During a time of transition at Stephens two years ago, Willey also served as interim vice president for academic affairs.

“I am deeply honored to be selected to lead my alma mater in the position of VPAA,” Willey said. “I look forward to working with our administration and faculty to further the mission of Stephens.”

Prior to Stephens, Willey taught in both public and private early childhood and elementary classrooms. She has served as an educational consultant to schools, providing professional development to teachers throughout the U.S. Willey has also worked as a consultant and provided professional development through the Ministry of Education in New Zealand.

Willey earned a Ph.D. and an M.Ed. from the University of Missouri-Columbia and a B.A. from Stephens College.

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Stephens School of Performing Arts hosts all-star lineup for Summer Theatre Institute 2016


This summer, Stephens College B.F.A. theatre students will have the unique and exciting opportunity to study and perform under the direction of top-notch, expert guest artists from across the country through their enrollment in the B.F.A. program’s six-week intensive Summer Theatre Institute (STI). Scheduled guest artists include Emma Pope from Chicago’s famous improvisational theatre Second City; Jessica Burr and Matt Opatrny from the internationally acclaimed Blessed Unrest, a devised theatre company; John Achorn, co-founder of the International Commedia Dell’Arte School in Humboldt County, California; and Ryan McIntire, professional stunt coordinator and fight choreographer, with credits from universities and professional regional theaters from across the country.

The Stephens College Summer Theatre Institute program offers intensive workshops in physical theatre, devising, stage combat, musical theatre, performance techniques, clowning, voice technique, acting, as well as classes in technical theatre and design, public relations and theatre management. The students immediately apply what they have learned by working with special guest artists to develop a fully staged, five-show season. Performances are held weekly and are free and open to the public. Each production will be supported by a rotating roster of the B.F.A. students, who will serve as actors, stage managers, designers, technicians, crew members, front-of-house staff and more, stretching their learning experience to include every aspect of the theatrical process. 

2016 Summer Theatre Institute Season
(All performances are free and open to the public! Each show is a one-night only, special event.)

Commedia Tonight!
7:30 p.m., May 20; Warehouse Theatre
Classical physical comedy, Family-Friendly

This delightful Italian Renaissance-inspired physical comedy is an all-ages show that is sure to entertain even the youngest of family members. Commedia dell'arte, the grandfather art form of clowning, is a fun and fast-paced style of theatre that will have you laughing yourself silly and wondering what exciting thing will happen next. 

Directed by guest artist John Achorn, a co-founding member of the Dell-Arte School in Humboldt County, California.


Rock ’em, Sock ’em
7:30 p.m., May 27; Warehouse Theatre
A stage combat slug-festival, PG-13

As fun as it sounds! A night of stage combat at its best.

Guest artist Ryan Quinn McIntire is directing this wildly entertaining evening of theatre featuring the art of stage combat. You won’t want to miss this night featuring stage martial arts. Don’t forget to duck!

McIntire focuses on theatre and film performance and has specialized in movement and stage combat. He has trained at the National Stage Combat Workshop and the Virginia Beach Bash Combat Workshop. Stage and screen combat credits include fight choreography for Regent University, Theatrix Productions Inc., CBN, the University of Central Missouri, Northern State University of South Dakota, Regent University, and Littler Theatre of Norfolk. He serves as a stunt coordinator and double for the NewDominion Pictures television show, A Haunting. 


The Blessed Unrest Project
7:30 p.m., June 3; Warehouse Theatre
Electrifying devised theatre, PG-13

Based off the award-winning Blessed Unrest Project in New York City, this will be a truly unique experience you won’t want to miss.

The brilliant, internationally acclaimed physical theatre company Blessed Unrest, fresh off their Off-Broadway triumph, returns to Stephens College!

New York-based husband and wife team of Matt Opatrny and Jessica Burr, founding co-artistic directors of Blessed Unrest, will awaken students to the exciting, physical theatre techniques known as ViewPoints, and will guide the STI Company toward the creation of a breathtakingly original, devised theatre performance piece. Their work breaks traditional theatre boundaries, creating new forms of storytelling that are unforgettable. For their body of work, Blessed Unrest was recently honored with the prestigious Lucille Lortel Theatre Innovation Award.


Improv, Chicago Style! 
7:30 p.m., June 10; Warehouse Theatre
Hilarious, long-form improvisation, inspired by Chicago’s famed comedy troupe Second City. PG-13

This performance of character and story-driven improv is guaranteed to have you in stitches. Directed by Second City veteran Emma Pope, Improv, Chicago Style! is sure to be a unique and entertaining evening for all. 


Lullaby of Broadway
7:30 p.m., June 20; Macklanburg Playhouse
A sparkling Broadway musical revue, Family-Friendly

A beloved tradition, this is one musical revue not to be missed.

Be prepared for fabulous song and dance featuring the entire STI Company. Our beloved traditional season closer is a sparkling musical revue featuring some of the greatest music from the Broadway repertoire. This one is always packed to the rafters! Stephens’ own Trent Rash will direct and guest artist Tamara Walker will choreograph. A jam-packed, joyful send-off from the STI 2016 Company to our wonderful, dedicated Columbia community. Come early, as this one is going to be standing-room only!

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Summer Film Institute students take on challenge of turning book into film

Each year, Stephens students in the digital filmmaking program spend an intensive week working together to produce a film.

This year as an added challenge the group is producing a film based on a novel, "Chasing AllieCat," by Rebecca Fjelland Davis.

The idea for this year’s project started with Assistant Professor Steph Borklund.

“I loved the book and had been thinking for a while about making this film," she said. "Then, I realized our amazing students should have the opportunity to take on this challenge. And I knew they would do an amazing job with it.

“Every place in the book is a real place, which creates another kind of challenge for our students; they’ll have to figure out how they can to produce similar locations from right here in Missouri even though the book takes place in Minnesota and on the mountain biking trails of Mount Kato there."

Several months ago in preparation the student filmmakers spoke with author Rebecca Davis to discuss the transition of the book into a movie. There, they discovered what a perfect fit the book was for a place like Stephens.

“I have seen too many times when a girl gets saved by a man. ...," Davis said. "I created a girl who was strong and athletic as the protagonist instead.”

About her reaction to a mostly all female crew, she said, “I love it, absolutely love it—women are the ones who will do this story justice.

“The cool, difficult, and wonderful thing is to use thought and narration without giving too much detail so others can reimagine it."

The filmmaking institute is happening this week.

You can check out progress from the set at

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Stephens College to hold two Commencement ceremonies

Stephens College President Dianne Lynch will confer 128 bachelor’s degrees, master’s degrees and post-baccalaureate certificates during two Commencement ceremonies this weekend.

The graduate and online ceremony starts at 6 p.m. on Friday, May 6, in the Kimball Ballroom of Lela Raney Wood Hall on the Stephens campus. The ceremony will be preceded by a hooding ceremony for graduate students at 4:30 p.m. in the Firestone Baars Chapel. Marie Nau Hunter, regional vice president for Missouri Citizens for the Arts, will be the keynote speaker. Hunter serves as a regional vice president for Missouri Citizens for the Arts and is on the board of the Community Foundation of Central Missouri. In 2014, Governor Jay Nixon appointed her to the Missouri Arts Council. Most recently, Hunter was appointed to the Arts Council’s Executive Council. Hunter was on staff with the city of Columbia Office of Cultural Affairs (OCA) for 13 years, starting in 1996 as cultural program assistant before being promoted to cultural program specialist. In 2001, she was named manager of the OCA and served in that role until March 2011. During Hunter’s 10-year tenure managing the OCA, Columbia was named the state’s first ever “Creative Community” by the Missouri Arts Council and the Missouri Department of Economic Development and regularly ranked No. 1 in the Missouri Arts Council’s Community Arts Program statewide granting. Hunter was a member of the Columbia Business Times “40 Under 40” Class of 2003 and in 2010 was the state’s recipient of the “Leadership in the Arts Award” given by the Missouri Arts Council. In 2015, she was the recipient of Stephens College’s “Woman of Courage” award.

Heather Gastler will serve as the class speaker. She is graduating with a Master of Education in Counseling from Stephens. She previously received her Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education from William Woods University. Gastler is an elementary school and high school counselor in Fulton, Mo. She previously taught fourth grade and fifth grade. Next school year, Gastler will work as a school counselor at Lee Elementary in the Columbia Public School District.

The undergraduate ceremony will begin at 11 a.m. on Saturday, May 7, at The Missouri Theatre in downtown Columbia. In lieu of a speaker, Lynch will present a video tribute to the graduating class featuring memories and thoughts from graduates and faculty.

The student speaker this year is Maile Wortham, winner of the 2016 Alumnae Association Board Scholarship. Wortham is graduating Summa Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Science in Education with a minor in Psychology. At Stephens, she is president of the Stephens Senior Class. She serves as the membership chair of the Mortar Board honor society. Wortham represented “Respect,” one of the College’s Ten Ideals, this year.


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Stephens names new Dean of Graduate and Continuing Studies

Stephens College has recently named Dr. Carole Chabries, an experienced higher education leader with more than 14 years of progressive leadership experience, to the position of dean of graduate and continuing studies. With a background that includes strategic planning, program development, fiscal management and budgeting, communications, consensus building, and program review and evaluation in a higher education environment, she also has significant success with initiating and driving public, private and civic partnerships.

Her career highlights include five years as an executive director of the educational nonprofit Associated Colleges of the Twin Cities, which brought together five universities to identify and implement programs that enhanced the academic experience for all members. There, she initiated CityLabs, an award-winning interdisciplinary city/university collaboration.

Chabries most recently served as a consultant to public and private colleges and universities on projects related to development, research, shared service and collaboration. As assistant dean at Union Institute & University, a national nonprofit university with approximately 2,000 students, she played a key role in administering a cohort model Ph.D. program, and developed and planned a new Center for Teaching and Learning. Chabries holds a Ph.D. in English Language & Literature and an M.A. in English Language & Literature, both from the University of Wisconsin-Madison; and a B.A. in English Language & Literature (graduating magna cum laude) from the University of Washington.

“We found the right person to lead our Graduate and Continuing Studies,” said Dianne Lynch, Stephens College president. “Our graduate and continuing studies programs are essential to our success. Our mission’s emphasis on lifelong learners and our passion for providing growth opportunities for our College and her students will be furthered by this appointment as we look forward to growing and enhancing these mission-aligned programs.”

“We are pleased to welcome Dr. Chabries to Stephens College,” said Dr. Suzan Harkness, vice president for academic affairs. “As an experienced higher education leader and innovator, she has consistently demonstrated her commitment to the success of students through every position she has held and every initiative she has taken on. We know she has the collaborative leadership style to build synergies with the deans, our graduate and continuing studies program directors, and faculty and staff. Her commitments to innovation and excellence make her an ideal candidate to develop and evaluate our programs and courses while ensuring quality teaching standards in the graduate and continuing studies environment.”

About her appointment to Stephens College, Chabries said, “I am delighted to have been invited to join the Stephens community. Stephens’ strengths in the creative arts and health sciences, as evidenced by its new Master of Fine Arts and TV and Screenwriting and Master of Physician Assistant Studies programs, provide terrific opportunities for new program growth and development. President Lynch has charted an exciting course for Stephens and I’m excited to collaborate with the campus community as we bring that vision to life.

“Stephens College exudes a positive energy that is palpable. All the faculty and staff I met share a commitment to student success as embodied and embraced in the Ten Ideals. It will be such a joy to spend my days immersed in the mission to help our students dream up.” 

She concluded, “My family is also excited to be moving to Columbia this summer. As a family, we’re drawn to Stephens for its warm and caring environment, for the innovative lab school, and for its pet-friendly policies and work with the local no-kill shelter. We’re bringing our dog, Ivy, and my kids are already hatching plans to eat as much ice cream at Sparky’s as possible.”

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Stephens names new Vice President for Student Development

Stephens College has recently named Dr. Veronica (Vicky) Owles, an experienced higher education leader with more than 20 years of progressive leadership experience in higher education administration, student affairs, collaborative program development, and the delivery of student-centered services, to the position of vice president for student development.

She most recently served as Dean of Students, Miami Dade College, Kendall campus with responsibility for the management and oversight of all student services, including new student services and orientation, admissions and registration, testing, academic advisement and career services, international student services, disability support services, retention and transition services, veterans affairs, student life, and enrollment management, as well as NJCAA athletics, for a student population of 42,000 credit- and 30,000 non-credit students.

“We are pleased to welcome Dr. Owles to Stephens College,” said Dr. Dianne Lynch, Stephens College president. “As an experienced higher education leader and innovator, she has consistently demonstrated her commitment to the success of students through every position she has held and every initiative she has pursued. She has experience both as a leader and as a collaborative partner in all key areas of our student development function, and will bring to Stephens the vision, commitment and experience to champion and execute new initiatives and standardize best practices across our campus. Her extensive experience in Title IX issues, training and development, new student orientation, strategic planning and all aspects of residence life will further enhance our ability to move this crucial area of our College forward.

“Our College has always been student-centered; we are confident Dr. Owles will help us continue that commitment with 21st century programming grounded in a solid understanding of the fundamentals of student development services. Moreover, her commitment to mentoring student government associations members, her focus on global education, and strong interest in leadership development at all levels will bring exciting new synergies to our campus.”

About her appointment to Stephens College, Owles said, “I am honored to be coming to Stephens College because of her rich history, innovative spirit and commitment to her students. Visiting campus, I was struck by the dedicated faculty and staff, the amazing students, notable rankings, and visionary leadership of President Lynch.

“I am committed to building upon existing strengths, supporting innovation and creativity, and leading student services with the same enthusiasm and passion that I saw displayed by every member of the Stephens team. As a team, we will explore new and innovative student success practices that will continue to support the women of Stephens on their academic journey. I am dedicated and committed to helping students dream up.

“Students are and will continue to be at the center of what we do. Philosophically, student success requires the participation of all the members of the institution and I am looking forward to joining a dynamic institution where that is held at the core of the mission,” she said.

Owles holds a Doctor of Education, Higher Education Administration (Florida International University); Master of Education in Counseling and Development, Higher Education (George Mason University); and Bachelor of Science in Psychology (Longwood College). She has served as an adjunct professor, teaching in both undergraduate and graduate courses in college success, women's studies and higher education administration. She takes a position vacated by retired Vice President Deb Duren. 

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Stephens College alumnae honored during Reunion weekend

During Celebrate Stephens Reunion Weekend earlier this month, M. Anne Murphy, a 1978 Stephens College graduate, received the 2016 Alumnae Achievement Award, the highest honor bestowed on an alumna. Doris Painter Littrell, a 1958 graduate,received the Jean Clinton Roeschlaub Alumnae Service Award, which is given to alumnae who have, among other things, promoted Stephens College locally and nationally, and served as a leader of the College.

Murphy, a principal at Dini Spheris, a nonprofit fundraising consulting firm, provides her clients with state-of-the-art best practices. She has led the firm’s efforts to handle the unique challenges of helping organizations balance a commitment to mission with the desire to set new standards and achieve new levels of performance and results.

She began her fundraising career at Stephens College before heading to New York to earn a master’s degree in fundraising management. Upon graduation, she worked as a staff consultant for Girl Scouts USA and on the campaign staff for the Statue of Liberty/Ellis Island Centennial campaign. Eventually, Murphy’s career led her back home to Houston, where she worked for the University of Houston Foundation, March of Dimes and University of Houston Downtown before joining Dini Spheris.

Murphy has also served in leadership roles in the nonprofit sector, including the local and national foundation board of the Association of Fundraising Professionals, where the M. Anne Murphy Award for Outstanding Professional Advancement is given out each year in her honor at National Philanthropy Day.

Littrell volunteers in countless capacities for Stephens, from being involved in her local alumnae group (the Alumnae Group of Mid-Missouri) to serving on the Alumnae Association Board to helping other groups around Missouri establish their clubs or networks. Her 50th reunion continues to hold the record number of attendees for the College, and she recently donated her time and expertise to advise the College on how to better improve the Class Presidents program and increase reunion attendance.

View our photo album from Reunion here

Date Tail

Stephens College announces new Citizen Jane Film Festival Director

Stephens College announces the hiring of Barbie Banks as the new Citizen Jane Festival Director. She will begin her duties in mid-May.

Banks has experience and familiarity with the Citizen Jane Film Festival, an internationally known film festival that is in its ninth year. The festival focuses on independent film by independent women and showcases diverse female filmmakers working in all stages of their careers.

Banks understands many aspects of running successful film festivals from her experience as a volunteer at the Citizen Jane Festival for five years and as the hospitality coordinator with the True/False Film Festival for four years.

Banks presents a well-rounded portfolio of skills, experiences and expertise to lead the Citizen Jane Film Festival and manage the summer camp. For the past six years, she has worked as the program coordinator for the Adult Learning Center, Columbia Public Schools. In this capacity, Banks has provided program management for adult training, literacy and community educational programs; written grants; measured the effectiveness of programs; hired and trained staff; and managed and implemented youth summer camps. 

Banks earned a Master of Social Work in Policy, Planning and Administration from the University of Missouri and a Bachelor of Science in Social Studies Education from William Woods University. 

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Stephens sweeps NAT auditions

Stephens College women swept their divisions in a Musical Theatre Audition in St. Louis sponsored by the National Association of Teachers of Singing.  The competition was held at Webster University. 

The singers, part of the musical theatre program in the School of Performing Arts, competed with students from colleges in the St. Louis area. The panel of judges included voice professors from various colleges and private studios, as well as professional equity singers from the St. Louis MUNY.

"It's an opportunity to he heard by professionals in the field and receive feedback," said Pam Ellsworth-Smith, a member of the music faculty. "It's also an opportunity to hear other singers outside of our amazing four walls."

Students performed repertoire from the Broadway and Off-Broadway repertoire and were critiqued on vocal technique as well as characterization. Mainly, the judges were looking for cast ability. 

Apparently, the judges liked what they heard.  Allie Mgrublian '16, Emily Chatterson '16, Mycah Westhoff '15 and Rebecca Munoz '16 all took 1st place wins in their respective categories.

Conservatory student Eddie Andrews placed 1st for Sophomore/Junior men.

Melissa Trierwiler '16, Chelcie Abercrombie '16, Ryan Tucker '14 and Emy Blake '15 all took 2nd place in their respective categories.

All students who placed in a division received a cash award and a certificate.  The 1st place winners in each division were featured in a recital where they performed one of their songs for all the participants in Moore Auditorium. 

The National Association of Teachers of Singing, or NATS, is an international organization that exists to recognize and support the development of vocal artists.  The organization hosts voice competitions at the Chapter, State, Regional and National Level. 

Stephens students are now eyeing the National Auditions to be held this coming summer in Boston, as well as the State Auditions next fall.

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