Starkle Dream Up. Stephens College


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Stephens College opens new Student Engagement Center

The next time one of Stephens College’s 30 student organizations calls a meeting, organizers won’t have to scramble to find an open room on campus to gather.

They can simply meet at the new Student Engagement Center in Stamper Commons.

The newly renovated space—designed especially for student organizations—is fully equipped with a conference table, filing cabinets, counters and individual cubicles. The large room once housed the Student Success Center (SSC), which has relocated to the Hugh Stephens Library. Also noteworthy, last semester the SSC was named in honor of Margaret Campbell for her longtime dedication to Stephens College.

Megan Murray, associate director for student leadership and engagement, said the Student Government Association and Campus Life Unleashed have already moved into the new space and are working on holding regular office hours.

“Before we had this space, student groups were meeting in a variety of areas across campus,” Murray said. “Now, they have a place to meet and can apply to have a work space and filling cabinet to store their files and supplies.”

At the beginning of each academic year, student organizations will have an opportunity to apply for the workspaces and filing cabinets, which will be assigned on a first-come, first-serve basis, Murray said.

“That way, if a group finds they don’t need the space, another group has an opportunity to apply for it,” she said.

Other improvements at Stamper included the Meditation Room, a space downstairs where students can retreat for quiet time and yoga. The student union, now dubbed the Den, has been updated with new chairs, sofas and beanbag chairs as well as a new and improved ball pit.


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New equipment comes thanks to employee award winners

Next time it snows, expect to see a shiny orange Kubota tractor at work, clearing walkways and parking lots on the Stephens College campus. 

The new, four-wheel-drive vehicle—with a 25 horsepower engineer—was delivered shortly before Christmas to the Facilities department where employees pooled their Reaching for the Stars Award money to help purchase the tractor. In addition, an anonymous donor matched the award money and an old tractor from the equestrian department was used as trade in the purchase.

“The tractor will be used to help save employees’ backs and money spent on renting equipment we won’t need anymore,” said Greg Mankey, director of Facilities Management.  

The Kubota arrived from Farm Power Lawn & Leisure of Columbia, fully equipped with a removable shovel for moving dirt and snow as well as a detachable mower that will be used by the Equestrian department. And if that wasn’t enough, a removable blade for spreading gravel and dirt and clearing snow was donated by the local dealership.

In the future, Mankey hopes to add an attachable rototiller and backhoe to the tractor’s accessories. 

Stephens President Dianne Lynch said the tractor is a good example of a purchase that the college needed because it will benefit many people and departments. 

Through the Reaching for the Stars Award program, Stephens College encourages employees to identify ways in which the college can improve its services and/or incur cost savings by improving operational efficiencies. The award is presented each year to any employee/employees who suggests an idea that is implemented which most improves services, workplace safety, programs, working environment and conditions, processes, operations or improves efficiencies and/or cost saving to the college. 

Award recipients receive a plaque as well as $1,000 for a select college project or department.









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Four Stephens students receive prestigious YMA Fashion Scholarship Fund scholarships


Four Stephens College fashion students are among 229 recipients nationwide of the highly competitive 2017 YMA Fashion Scholarship Fund (FSF) scholarships.

Each student will receive $5,000 from the YMA FSF, which is the fashion industry’s leading educational nonprofit, granting the largest sum of money and total number of scholarships.

The Stephens recipients are Madison Brown ’20, fashion marketing and management; Cierra Bergen ’20, apparel studies; Kalynn Coy ’17, fashion marketing; and Audrey Lockwood ’18, fashion design and product development.

In addition to the scholarship check, recipients will receive an all-expense paid trip to the annual January Awards Gala in New York City and have access to internship opportunities through YMA FSF partner companies, which include Calvin Klein, Global Brands Group, Nautica, and Phillips-Van Heusen Corp, to name a few. Each student will be matched with an industry executive who will serve as a mentor during the year of the award.

“This proved to be the most competitive competition in the history of the organization with 569 applicants from 58 member schools,” said Marie Colletta, director of education programs at YMA Fashion Scholarship Fund.

Kirsteen Buchanan, associate professor of fashion, said the scholarships are only awarded to students from colleges and universities who are invited by the YMA FSF to participate as a member school. This was the first year Stephens was asked to join the competition, and six students applied for the scholarship money. Stacie Mayo, a fashion marketing and management/business instructor, was also instrumental in the student entries.

“We did very well,” Buchanan said.

Each student, who needed a 3.0 GPA or above to apply for the scholarship, was asked to complete a case study involving a fictional partnership between Etsy and Macy’s department store company. Two industry judges evaluated each case study independently.

Established nearly 80 years ago with a mission to advance the fashion industry by encouraging creative young people to pursue careers in the field, the YMA Fashion Scholarship Fund offers scholarships and comprehensive programs to fashion students across the country. Each year, the organization presents scholarships from $5,000 to $30,000, leading the industry in support and commitment to education. 

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December graduate Jordan Collins ready for possibilities to come

Jordan Collins is not one to seek the spotlight. She prefers working behind the scenes, coordinating details, crunching numbers and solving problems.

So when Collins, a 23-year-old digital filmmaking major with a double minor in theatre arts and small business management, was asked to represent the undergraduate class and deliver a commencement speech for the Stephens College graduation this month, she was shocked.

“Why me?” she wondered.

For those who nominated Collins, the choice was clear.

“She is an incredible young woman,” said Ruth Ann Burke, business manager for the School of Performing Arts, who worked with Collins for three years at the Stephens College Box Office and Citizen Jane Film Festival.

“Jordan is a hard worker, smart, creative and unafraid,” she added. “I am in complete denial that she will be gone soon.”

Collins is among more than 50 undergraduate and graduate students who are scheduled to graduate from Stephens during a commencement ceremony at 6 p.m., Friday, Dec. 16, 2016, in the Kimball Ballroom of Lela Raney Wood Hall.

Additional speakers will be graduate representative Beth Alpers, who will receive her Master in Strategic Leadership, and Shatenita Horton, who will deliver the keynote address. Horton has worked in banking for more than 18 years and is currently the vice president, banking center manager and security officer for Providence Bank in Columbia.

A native of Fulton, Mo., Collins spent a year at Southeast Missouri State University in Cape Girardeau, Mo., before transferring to Stephens three-and-a-half years ago to study theatre management. But after one semester, Collins changed her major to digital filmmaking with dreams of pursuing a career in reality television and documentary film.

“I’d like to bring reality television back to something more important,” she said. “I like the idea of going someplace, finding people who live there and showing them as they really are.”

During her years at Stephens, Collins not only worked in the Box Office but also served on the board of the student-run Warehouse Theatre and as stage manager of the Senior Dance Concert for three years. She was assistant director of the biannual Summer Film Institute, taking a lead role in the production of “Chasing AllieCat.”

Collins also landed prestigious and highly competitive internships, including a stint with the Television Academy in Hollywood, the organization that puts on the Emmy Awards, and a summer with Tremendous! Entertainment in Los Angeles, the company responsible for producing reality shows such as “Bizarre Foods” and “Angels Among Us.” She also interned with Figure 8 Films in North Carolina, famous for TLC reality shows such as “Kate Plus 8” and “Sister Wives.”

Closer to home, Collins occasionally works for Spectrum Studios in Columbia, which specializes in producing high-quality digital content for multiple mediums, including commercials, feature films, music videos, short films, documentaries, educational and training programs, news, and sports. She also worked full time for both the Citizen Jane and True/False film festivals in Columbia.

Kerri Yost, an associate professor of digital filmmaking and Collins’ academic adviser, worked alongside Collins during the local film festivals and was impressed with her initiative and knowledge.

“We gave her the kinds of responsibilities usually reserved for people who have worked in our industry a long time,” Yost said. “Jordan is so mature and qualified and has the people skills, communication skills and organizational skills of a professional.”

Yost has no qualms about sending Collins out into the world.

“She’s ready,” she said. “Her biggest challenge will be deciding what she wants to do. Does she want to go straight to L.A. and work in television or maybe work for a film festival or a small production company or do something completely new? She has opportunities, which is fantastic.”

Collins is open to the possibilities and ready for a challenge.

“You have to take charge of your life,” she said. “You have to be motivated and determined to make things happen for yourself.”

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Assistant Professor Chase Thompson featured in Best of Photography 2016

Chase Thompson knew he had something special the moment he snapped the picture.

The lighting was perfect, and he had a shallow focus.

But more importantly, Thompson, an assistant professor of filmmaking at Stephens College, saw something beyond the image of a Haitian farmer smiling at the camera. He recognized the indelible spirit of the Haitian people.

It was the image he had been waiting for.

“I had been talking to this guy, and he was in his 60s, and he was very fit,” Thompson said. “He had his arms up and was sort of leaning in, and I managed to get a perfect focus on his smile.”

The picture was recently featured in the Photographer’s Forum magazine’s Best of Photography 2016.

Thompson took the picture in 2014 during a trip to Haiti with two Stephens digital filmmaking students. The trio was there with Jodi Shelton ’87, who was in Haiti with a nonprofit called buildOn that helps communities in impoverished countries build schools.

The photograph was taken in a crowded farmers market where Thompson spotted the farmer.

“It was one of those magical moments,” he said. “It was kind of like he was giving you a big hug. That’s what I found in Haiti—these big smiles. Here were these people who had been hit so hard but still, they had this enduring spirit and optimism.”


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Stephens' A Dickens Victorian Christmas offers different experience each year

Sure, people come to “A Dickens Victorian Christmas” for the music, dance and frivolity, not to mention the old-fashioned figgy pudding and wassail.

But what keeps friends and families coming back each year to this Stephens College holiday favorite is the experience: No two shows are the same. 

That’s because the audience becomes a guest at this authentic re-creation of a 19th century English Christmas party hosted by none other than Mr. and Mrs. Charles Dickens in the Historic Senior Hall Parlors on the Stephens campus. While audience members take a seat in one of the parlors, cast members make the rounds, visiting their guests and singing carols.

Victorian Christmas Poster

Sometimes they stay on script and sometimes they don’t, making the party a one-of-a-kind experience.

This year, the event begins at 7:30 p.m., Dec. 4-7. (Get ticket info.) The show features local favorite Ed Hanson as Mr. Dickens, the Stephens College Concert Choir and six students from The Children’s School at Stephens College.

“I think at the end of the year, people need something to look forward to, and Christmas is often that event,” said Assistant Professor of Music Trent Rash, who serves as the stage director for the show. “ ‘A Dickens Victorian Christmas’ is a sneak peek at what we all hope Christmas will be for each of us—a time to share the carols, food and stories of what the holiday is all about.”

Rant said the script is modified each year to keep the show fresh. 

“We’re also very excited to have Ed Hanson in the show this year,” he said. 

Hanson, who has acted and has sung in shows across the United States, is the artistic director of Talking Horse Productions in the North Village Arts District in downtown Columbia.

Hannah Elliott ’18, a Musical Theatre major from New Salisbury, Ind., who plays Mrs. Dickens, is looking forward to interacting with the audience.

“Mr. and Mrs. Dickens mingle with the crowd before and after the show, which is all improvisation,” she said. “I have to be ready for anything and still remember to be in the mindset of a Victorian woman.” 

Elliott said comedy ensues as the prim and proper Mrs. Dickens faces the arduous task of corralling her sociable husband as he continues to unintentionally throw off her perfectly planned party.

“It’s going to be fun,” she said. “I can’t wait for the show to begin.”


A Dickens Victorian Christmas
Performances are 7:30 p.m., Sunday-Wednesday, Dec. 4-7, 2016, in the Historic Senior Hall Parlors, 100 Waugh St. Contact the Box Office at (573) 876-7199 or [email protected] for more details. 

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Broadway veteran Lee Heinz to direct Sweet Charity in musical’s 50th year

There are few places where Lee Heinz Heinz feels more at home than New York City.

Before joining the Stephens College faculty last year as an assistant professor of Musical Theatre, Heinz spent more than 20 years acting in Broadway and off-Broadway shows.

So when she was asked to direct the beloved musical “Sweet Charity,” which marks its 50th anniversary this year, Heinz was thrilled. The show tells the story of Charity Hope Valentine, a dance hall hostess with a heart of gold who sings, dances, cries and laughs her way though life in the Big Apple.

“Sweet Charity” runs Dec. 2-4, 9-10 at the Macklanburg Playhouse on the Stephens College campus. Get ticket info.

Sweet Charity poster

Though happily settled in Columbia, Heinz still maintains a home in New York City as well as in Chautauqua, N.Y., where she first fell in love with performing.

“When I was 6, I decided I wanted to be either an actor or a simultaneous interpreter at the United Nations, she said.

However, by 9, Heinz had narrowed her choices to an actor or a ballerina. 

“I opted for actor because ballerinas don’t get kissed on stage,” she said. 

Heinz, who is a fifth-generation Chautauquan, is originally from Warren, Ohio. She was only a few months old when she began traveling with her family each summer to Chautauqua where her grandmother and great aunt owned rooming houses.

It didn’t take long for young Heinz to become enamored with the summer arts colony there, especially with the actors.

“I was very shy and didn’t like to talk as myself,” she recalled. “But when I could be someone else on stage, I was very comfortable.”

Heinz was 8 when she started her professional acting career on the Kenley Circuit, performing with such stars as Jo Anne Worley, Paul Lynde, Brenda Lee and Juliet Prowse, among others. She attended Vassar College where she majored in theater, romance languages and math. She later received an M.F.A. from George Washington University and an M.A. from Wayne State University.

Heinz landed the role as Tiger Lily in “Peter Pan” when she was still a student at Vassar. Over the years, she performed on Broadway and in national and international tours of “Dancin’,” “Once Upon a Mattress,” “West Side Story,” “Cabaret” and “A Chorus Line.” Regionally, some of her favorite roles have been Annie in “Annie Get Your Gun,” Drood in “The Mystery of Edwin Drood,” Hermia in “Dead Man’s Cell Phone,” Charlotta in “The Cherry Orchard,” Ruth in “Blithe Spirit,” and Puck in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”

She has worked with Bob Fosse, Michael Bennett, Jerome Robbins and Ron Field, among others. 

Heinz has also been a frequent guest artist with the Chautauqua Opera, has worked in film, and was a regular on the soap operas “Guiding Light” and “One Life to Live.”

“Once you start working on soap operas, you begin to realize how good the acting is,” she said. “When you are there and see the time restraints the actors are under and the work they produce, you have a new respect for the actors who are on soap operas regularly.”

Heinz has directed at the New York Musical Theatre Festival and at the Triad Theatre, and choreographed and directed a number of off-Broadway, regional and international shows. She also served as the assistant director for the original production of “Zombie Prom” at the Variety Arts Theatre. 

Before joining Stephens, Heinz worked for Dancing Classrooms, a not-for-profit project of the American Ballroom Theater Company in New York City. She taught ballroom dancing to fourth- and fifth-graders in the Bronx. The school was a three-hour subway ride from her home. 

“It was fun but a lot of work,” Heinz said.

Though she’s always enjoyed teaching, Heinz said Stephens is her first official foray into academia. Some of the classes she’s taught include Shakespeare, vocal production, musical theatre history and acting.

“I have found the students and faculty at Stephens to be very talented and welcoming,” she said. “I am happy to be a part of the Stephens community.”


Sweet Charity [Musical, PG-13]
Performances are 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday, Dec. 2-3, 9-10 and 2 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 4, in the Macklanburg Playhouse, 100 Willis Ave. Contact the Box Office at (573) 876-7199 or [email protected] for more details. In addition, Stephens will host “The Works of Cy Coleman - A Musical Celebration,” at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 8. The free event celebrating the music work of Cy Coleman will feature musical performances by the Stephens College Macklanburg Playhouse Theatre Company.

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Heart, attitude and spirit drive flamenco says guest artist in world dance

As a dance student at Stephens College, Cerena Chaney knows how to use her body to express emotion. This semester, she’s learning the importance of using something else: her heart. 

Chaney ’18 and other dance majors are learning how to flamenco from visiting guest artist Peter Suarez, who danced eights years with the Metropolitan Opera and performed flamenco with the Gipsy Kings at Radio City Music Hall. 

Like most of her classmates, Chaney doesn’t expect to become a flamenco dancer, but the experience has opened her eyes and challenged her to see dance in a whole new way. 

“Flamenco dancing is very emotionally driven and intense,” said Chaney, remembering what Suarez taught students on their first day of class. “ ‘Flamenco dancing isn’t about this,’ he said, pointing to his feet; it’s about this’ ” she recalled, “and he pointed to his heart. 

“Flamenco dancing comes from within,” Chaney said. “It’s an attitude and a spirit.”

Suarez, who has served as style coach and adjunct choreographer for Cirque du Soleil and Olympic athletes, is teaching flamenco dance during the second session of the fall semester as part of the world dance curriculum at Stephens College. Students dance with Suarez for 90 minutes three times a week and will perform what they learn in March during the spring dance concert.

“The world dance program is important for our students because it offers them an opportunity to gain technical skills that both complement and add to the curriculum that they receive in their dance techniques and choreography,” said Elizabeth Hartwell, coordinator of dance at Stephens College. “It also contributes to their own cultural enrichment.”

Suarez, 58, who says he received his first paycheck as an entertainer at age 6, has performed and/or choreographed for Ballet de Puerto Rico, Ballet Espanol, Louisville Ballet, Cincinnati Ballet, Ballet Arkansas, Lexington Ballet, La Compania Folklorica Latina, Albhorada Dance Theater and Somos Flamencos, among others.

In 2013, he performed in “Zoro, the Musical” in Atlanta with Tony Award winning director Christopher Renshaw, and a year later, was in the cast of “In You Arms,” directed and choreographed by Tony Award winner Christopher Gattelli.

Hartwell met Suarez when they both danced with the Lexington Ballet.  Today, Suarez lives on a sailboat in Gulfport, Florida, when he’s not traveling and teaching at places like Stephens.

“Peter brings a wealth of knowledge gained from his professional experiences,” Hartwell said. “He is not moved by pure technicians, the dancer must bring their own sensibilities to the dance. The emphasis on self discovery and portrayal of character will help our students stay passionate about what they do and prepares them well for gaining employment in the dance profession.”

Suarez is teaching the students an Alegrias, which is a musical form of flamenco that has a rhythm consisting of 12 beats. When complete, the dance will last about five minutes.

As Suarez and the students practiced, he kept a steady count, shouting out numbers in Spanish. His feet blurred as he moved across the dance floor, making dramatic stomps like cracks of lightning. Now and then, Suarez would stop, his body still while emotions built. Then, like another crack of lighting, his feet would explode in fierce stomping.

Suarez was in his 20s, performing an off-Broadway show, when he was approached about learning flamenco. The highly expressive, Spanish dance from was almost second-nature to him.

“My body felt like it remember it,” he recalled.

Suarez said flamenco dancing, with is percussive footwork and intricate hand, arm and body movements is challenging to learn but the Stephens students had caught on quickly.

 “They are actually doing some very hard steps,” he said. “They are so quick picking up the rhythms.”

 Jada Kyle ’18, whose ultimate goal is to dance on Broadway, said learning flamenco has been one of her best dance experiences at Stephens.

“One thing that’s difficult for me is not tap dancing because the footwork is similar,” she said. “I’m glad I had this opportunity to learn flamenco and will add it to the list of styles of dance that I have learned.”


“Myself … and how I pretend to live us”

A one-man show written and performed by Peter Suarez in which he plays five fictitious men who differ in age, ethnicity and race.

7:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 26, 2016

Talking Horse Theatre

210 St. James Street

Tickets are $15 general; $12 seniors/students



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Stephens announces $1 million gift to establish Jeannene Booher Fashion Lecture Series


Stephens College announced today a $1 million gift from Jeannene Booher, a 1956 graduate of the fashion program, to establish The Jeannene Booher Fashion Lecture Series to benefit the School of Design. The series will finance visits by industry leaders to campus to share their experience with students who are preparing for or interested in a career in fashion and design.

“One of the things I am most interested in is making sure our students have contacts in the fashion industry,” Booher said in her remarks.

As a student at Stephens, Booher met several fashion icons whom later changed the trajectory of her career. She hopes her gift will do the same for other fashion students.  

Booher’s contribution is the second $1 million gift Stephens has received this academic year. The first came from Phyllis Henigson, a 1954 Stephens College graduate, to support the College’s new Physician Assistant Studies program.

Dr. Dianne Lynch, Stephens College president, said the lecture series would continue to elevate an already prestigious fashion program.

“As Stephens claims its place among the premier fashion programs in the world,” she said, “it is this kind of professional access and creative inspiration that will distinguish it, raise its international profile and ensure that it is building upon the reputation of the program that educated and motivated Jeannene Booher.”

Finally, Lynch said Booher’s generosity is a reflection of the Stephens woman.

“The woman I am honoring today—and a woman who is so generously honoring Stephens—embodies our community’s longstanding tradition of talent, ambition, determination and commitment to being the best, the very best, at all she does,” she said.


More About Jeannene Booher 

Jeannene Booher knows firsthand achieving success in the fashion industry requires more than raw talent. Up-and-comers need advice, encouragement and connections.

That’s why Booher, a 1956 graduate of Stephens College who has worked with some of the best designers in the country, has donated $1 million to establish The Jeannene Booher Fashion Lecture Series to benefit the School of Design.

“I had a wonderful experience at Stephens,” said Booher, who has served in the past as a Stephens College Trustee and member of the Executive Committee. “I am very happy to be able to do this.”

After graduating from Stephens, Booher went on to study at the Parsons School of Design in New York City and worked with a number of design greats, including Pauline Trigère, Adele Simpson and Arnold Scaasi. She became a partner and designer for the Maggy London dress company for 10 years. Eventually, she started Jeannene Booher Ltd., where she created her own line of dresses and two-piece outfits that were sold at Neiman Marcus, Barneys, Saks Fifth Avenue and Nordstrom.

Dr. Monica McMurry, dean of the School of Design, said it is support from alumnae such as Booher that continues to elevate the caliber of the fashion program, which is ranked among the best in the world. 

“The establishment of this lecture series will be added recognition and prestige of an already impressive program,” she said.

McMurry said Booher is one of the most successful designers to come out of the Stephens fashion program. She not only created stunning clothing but owned companies at a time when women in the fashion world rarely wielded such power.

“Jeannene Booher is a talented and ambitious woman,” McMurry said.

The first guest lecturer sponsored by the new series is an old friend of Booher’s, Marylou Luther, editor of the International Fashion Syndicate and writer of the award-winning Clothesline column, a question-and-answer fashion advice feature that is read weekly by more than 5 million people. Her coverage of the European collections appears in newspapers throughout the U.S.

Luther will present “Straight from the Runways” at 7 p.m. this evening in the Kimball Ballroom of Lela Raney Wood Hall on the Stephens College campus.

Booher says industry leaders such as Luther can change the trajectory of a student’s career when they make a campus visit. That’s what happened to her when New York fashion icons Mary Brooks Picken and Madam Eta Hentz spoke to her fashion class at Stephens.

Picken authored 96 books on needlework, sewing and textile arts, including “A Dictionary of Costume and Fashion.” Hentz, a designer from the 1920s, ’30s and ’40s, is best known for her Grecian-themed collection of 1943.

“They both took an interest in me and gave me their numbers,” Booher said.

Later, when Booher was a student at Parsons, she reached out to Picken, who took the young designer under her wing and introduced her to influential people in New York. She once took Booher to a cocktail party at the home of Edward R. Morrow. 

Hentz would later put Booher in touch with Trigère, an unconventional designer who did not sketch her designs but rather cut and draped from bolts of fabric. Many famous women, including Beverly Sills, Evelyn Lauder, Lena Horne, Angela Lansbury, Bette Davis and Wallis Simpson, wore her fashions.

Booher remembers her first visit with Trigère. The designer glanced at Booher’s sketches and tossed them aside.

“Then she asked me, ‘Where did you get that coat you are wearing?’” Booher recalled. “I said, ‘I made it.’”

Impressed with her work, Trigère hired her on the spot.

Today, Booher is retired from fashion and enjoys traveling and painting at her home in the Berkshires.

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Fashion editor speaks with students in advance of tonight's public lecture

Marylou Luther told students at Stephens College today that she didn’t start her journalism career as a fashion reporter, far from it.

After graduating from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Luther worked at the Lincoln Journal “where I wrote engagement and wedding stories and moved my editor’s car every hours so she wouldn’t get a ticket.” From there, she landed at the Des Moines Register and was assigned the style beat. 

“I told them, ‘I don’t know anything about fashion,” Luther said.

“You’ll learn,” her editor said.

Today, Luther is editor of the International Fashion Syndicate and 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.

Luther is the inaugural speaker of the Jeannene Booher Lecture Series, presenting “Straight from the Runways” at 7 p.m. tonight in the Kimball Ballroom of Lela Raney Wood Hall on the Stephens College campus. 

The lecture, hosted by the Stephens College of Design, is free and open to the public.

Luther visited with students today 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.

Dr. Monica McMurry, dean of the School of Design, said it was an honor to have Luther on campus.

“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,” she said. “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, who also is the creative director of The Fashion Group International, a nonprofit organization for the dissemination of information on fashion, beauty and related fields, will provide the NYFW Spring Summer 17/18 collections with visuals and a Q&A session.

The Jeannene Booher Lecture Series was launched earlier today with a $1 million gift from Booher, a 1956 alumna of the Stephens College fashion program and old friend of Luther’s. The series will bring industry leaders such as Luther to campus to share their insights and experience with students who are preparing for or are interested in a career in fashion and design.

“As a participant in CFDA Educational Initiatives, Stephens’ reputation of excellence has recently been recognized by The Business of Fashion,” Sara Kozlowski, director of Education and Professional Development for the Council of Fashion Designers of America, said. “A flexible curriculum and strong alumni community contribute to its unique culture. Marylou’s voice is celebrated globally, and her visit will inspire students, especially those with aspirations to develop professional pathways within fashion journalism and communications.”


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Stephens College hosts 9th annual Citizen Jane Film Festival

The 9th annual Citizen Jane Film Festival, a celebration of female filmmakers, took place Nov. 3-6 in Columbia.  

This year’s event was a first for Barbie Banks, Citizen Jane’s new director since May.

“I care about women,” Banks said recently in an interview. “I care about college students, especially college women, and giving them opportunities. Citizen Jane seemed like the perfect fit for what I cared about. Being the director is my dream job, and I’m lucky enough to have it.”

Banks said this year’s event included a wide variety of films that anyone could find interesting.

The Citizen Jane Film Festival “is a place for everyone to come and see the best movies made,” she said. “They just happen to be directed by females.”

In addition to a Citizen Jane Summit and panel discussion, this year’s event featured screenings of 15 feature films and seven short programs. There were even short films made by girls under 18. 

The festival was started in 2008 by several Stephens College professors to give students in the Digital Filmmaking program experience running a festival. Student volunteers continue to do the bulk of the work. That first year, the festival attracted such films as Academy Award-nominee “Trouble the Water” and hosted musical talent such as punk songstress Exene Cervenka. A year later, attendance grew by more than 50 percent, solidifying the community’s support of the festival, which was named among the “Top 25 Coolest Film Festivals in the World 2015” by MovieMaker Magazine.

Watch a recap of the festival

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Tevzadze showcases work at Kansas City Fashion Week

Irina Tevzadze’s “Geometry of Color” collection; Photo credit: Eli Stack/ 


Irina Tevzadze had never shown at Kansas City Fashion Week, but that didn’t stop the Georgian designer and assistant professor of fashion in the Stephens School of Design from taking a risk during her first appearance at the event. 

Using blocks of powder blue, lime green, black and gray, Tevzadze created a children’s wear collection that features a balance of pop colors and muted tones. Each outfit is marked with a signature pink print and the young people who modeled the clothes were accessorized with swimming goggles and white tennis shoes.

“Geometry of Color,” a 12-outfit ensemble with 20 separate pieces hit the runaway on Oct. 12 at the 10th annual Kansas City Fashion Week (KCFW). Tevzadze was among nine designers selected to show their collections to a sold-out crowd at Union Station in Kansas City. Lauren Hulen ’15 also participated in the event, showing her LV Swim swimsuit collection.

Tevzadze, who has participated in fashion shows since the 1990s in Moscow, Paris and Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia, said her collection combines two palettes and stories.

“One is more subtle and relates to European markets, mentality and aesthetic while the other is more uplifting and young, which is more in line with the American aesthetic, mentality and market,” she said. “I tried to blend them and bring them into one whole. I don’t know if I fully achieved this, but I think, in the end, the collection came out fine, and it was a success.”

Tevzadze said she generally wouldn’t mix the colors she did in the collection, but for the show, the palette was intentional. 

“It was quite risky, but I am glad I did it,” she said. 

Participants in KCFW are selected based on a series of interviews and concepts for a collection. Once models are selected, designers are matched with makeup artists and sound directors who put together music for the show.

“The fact that KCFW features local, national and international designers makes it very interesting and puts it on the map of important fashion happenings,” Tevzadze said.

Since the show, Tevzadze has received numerous calls from individuals interested in purchasing outfits. But she’s not ready to sell. She also received an invitation to participate in the Atlantic City Fashion Week in February 2017.

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Stephens Life wins first place Pinnacle College Media Award

Stephens Life, a student-run magazine, has done it again, taking first place at the College Media Awards.

The “I Like Fashion and Naps” spread from the Spring 2016 issue, won Best Magazine Entertainment Page/Spread in the design category. The “Disruption: A Year of Fractured Fashion,” the cover story from the same issue, received an honorable mention in the Best Magazine News Page/Spread in the design category.

This is the second time in two weeks that the newly redesigned magazine has received national recognition. The Associated College Press honored Stephens Life for its “Superfoods” story from the same issue. The story was nominated in the Yearbook/Magazine Page/Spread category and received fifth place for Design of the Year.

Current Stephens Life staff members Kalynn Coy ’17, who served as creative director of both design projects, and Madisson Alexander ’18, worked on the winning design spread. Former staff members who also contributed to the design of the “I Like Fashion and Naps” pages include Brianna Knopf ’18, Lluvia Garcia ’16 and Oletha Hope Crutcher ’16.

“With the recent rebrand of this decades-old Stephens College publication, it is proof that our students are true innovators who continue to pave the way for creative leaders from all over the country,” said Amy Parris, faculty adviser for the magazine.

The College Media Association (CMA) Pinnacle College Media Awards are a national contest to recognize excellence in student-produced college media.

“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, which values the process of design thinking to create market-driven products. We create design leadership through out 'first job in college' practicums, external critique processes, and faculty versed in their professions as both teachers and industry/business leaders.”  

View the Spring 2016 Stephens Life issue.  

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Stephens College graduates to screen fairytale film parody

Erin Stegeman was a theatre student at Stephens College when she dreamed of creating a show that she could bring home and make her alma mater proud.

This weekend, Stegeman returns to Columbia to screen “Once Upon a Time: The Rock Opera,” a feature-length musical she wrote and directed. She co-produced the film with Ace Marrero, her husband and Stephens alumnus, and Andrea Rutherford, another Stephens graduate, who was Stegeman’s roommate her freshman year.

Stegeman and Marrero also star in the film along with Katie Cofield, another Stephens graduate. All total, 10 Stephens graduates are involved with the production, which airs at 10 p.m. on Oct. 29, 2106, at the Macklanburg Playhouse, 100 Willis Ave. Tickets are $15 for the general public and free for Stephens students and alumni.

“It sort of feels like my film because I wrote and directed it,” Stegeman said. “But it also feels like a Stephens film because so many Stephens alumni are involved.”

The film is a parody of the hit ABC series “Once Upon a Time,” which is set in a world of fairytale characters. Stegeman’s version brings a little “Rocky Horror Picture Show” to the experience by encouraging audience members to participate in the showing.  

Stegeman, a St. Louis native, said she enjoys working with Stephens graduates because they have a strong work ethic and always bring a “good attitude” to the set.

“Talent will only get you so far,” she said. “You have to keep working and have a good attitude. That’s what will get you everywhere.”

On Oct. 27, Stegeman, Marrero and Rutherford led a master class to the Senior Acting Seminar (Nuts and Bolts). They warned students not to expect overnight success.

“I once went on 300 auditions and got one call back,” Rutherford said.

Stegeman said: “Life after college is about finding yourself as an artist, and that takes time.”

 Finally, the trio encouraged the students to reach out to Stephens alumni after graduation.

“Not a week goes by that I don’t have contact with someone from Stephens,” Rutherford said.

Stegeman said what’s special about Stephens alumni is they continue to work together long after leaving school.

“You come to realize you can’t do it alone,” she said. “There are no harder workers than Stephens alumni.”

Other Stephens graduates involved with “Once Upon a Time: The Rock Opera” are Toni Anita Hull, Annie Genteman, Kelsi Simpson, Andrew Nunemacher, Colin Kramer and Erika Hardy.

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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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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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Fashion editor Marylou Luther to present “Straight from the Runways”

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 the Kimball Ballroom of Lela Raney Wood Hall 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 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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