Starkle Dream Up. Stephens College

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Aug
5
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Stephens named to Princeton Review's 'best colleges' guide

The Princeton Review has named Stephens College one of the nation’s best institutions for undergraduate education.

The college is featured in “The Best 379 Colleges,” which was released on Aug. 5. Stephens is ranked No. 12 for its theatre program.

About 15 percent of America’s 2,500 four-year colleges are featured in the annual college guide. It includes detailed profiles of the colleges with rating scores for all schools in eight categories, plus lists of top 20 colleges in various categories.

The Princeton Review bases selections on data, campus visits and feedback, including student surveys.

According to the company, Stephens students enjoy an “amazing family atmosphere” at the college. They also say “Stephens empowers women to take on leadership roles in the workplace and the world.”

Faculty are well qualified in their fields, students say, and “they love teaching here and are excited to work with students.”

One student wrote, “We all have a plan for what we want to do in life, and we know that we will achieve it by being here.”

The Princeton Review is an education services company known for its test-prep courses, tutoring, books, and other student resources.

 
Jul
31
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Daniels teaches children in Africa to 'dream up'


When she’s not teaching, volunteering at community gardens or working at a lion rehabilitation center, Stephens sophomore Michaela Daniels is spending her time this summer in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, teaching young people to “dream up.”


Daniels is wrapping up at 12-week internship program through African Impact, a 10-year-old family-run organization that promotes volunteerism. While in Africa, she spent time teaching fourth graders, doing errands for senior citizens and also working at a lion rehabilitation center.

Daniels—a marketing major who plays soccer and softball and is active in Student Government Association, Residential Life and Sigma Sigma Sigma—started the program May 12, about a month after Stephens launched its “dream up” campaign. Daniels took the brand to heart and to Zimbabwe with her.


“I have been preaching the ‘dream up’ concept since I arrived,” Daniels said via email. “I told” some of the older children that “where I go to school, we strive to better ourselves through experiences and education. We use our strengths to follow our dreams. I asked them if they could do anything in the entire world, what would they do.”


One young man said he wanted to be an artist, so Daniels encouraged him to sell paintings and drawings to volunteers. In the first week, he and another boy sold $210 worth of artwork. Daniels helped them figure out how much they needed to purchase materials and encouraged them both to invest the remaining money wisely. Both decided to put their earnings toward fees to attend schools.


Daniels then contacted her high school, which agreed to donate supplies. She also arranged for sponsors to pay for a trip to a city in Zimbabwe to help them get passports.


“They may not use them in the next 10 years, but knowing the possibility is there if they have the chance to get out, that’s good enough for me.”


Daniels credits Stephens for preparing her for the overseas experience.


“I have learned responsibility,” she said. “I felt a sense of responsibility, and Stephens gave me the tools to follow it. Leadership: I quickly became a team leader here. I have organized and helped start many projects,” including  a classroom improvement campaign and a senior citizen project.



Daniels said she’d gone to Africa with “big visions” to make positive impacts on poverty, health concerns and other problems there. Although she realizes she couldn’t turn things around on her own in three months, “you can help shape it for a little better tomorrow. I thought I would change lives, but the life that’s been changed has been my own.” 

 
Jul
23
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New York students on campus for Leadership Academy


Ten girls from New York City are on campus this week learning about various areas of studies, life in the Midwest and what it means to be a leader regardless of where you live or what you do.

Girls-study-scienceIt’s part of a partnership between Stephens and Girls Prep Lower East Side Middle School, and this is the third year the Leadership Academy has been held at Stephens.
This year’s academy is more experiential than in previous years, said Alex Newfield, director of high school admissions and college completion at the middle school. The students flew into St. Louis over the weekend and on Monday visited the Boeing Company, where they explored the facilities and talked to women working in engineering and aeronautics and defense. On campus Tuesday, the middle school students had a chance to visit the Equestrian Center, and today, they got to conduct a science experiment at Pillsbury Science Center.
Senior Katie Sharp led that workshop, helping students figure out how to use microscopes and encouraging them when things didn’t go accordingly.
“That’s science,” she said at one point. “Things don’t always work out.”
Later Wednesday, the group was expected to tour an Amish community.
“They’ve been excited the entire time,” said Ada Gallup, who’s overseeing the academy. “They’ve asked educated questions, are engaged and interested.”
The primary goal of the academy is to show the girls how leadership can apply in a number of settings, Gallup said, be it women who oversee campus facilities or female corporate presidents.
“We’re showcasing women in leadership roles in so many industries,” she said.
And that doesn’t just apply to the grown-up world. One unlikely leader the middle school students had a chance to meet was an 11-year-old 4-H member showing her prized heifer at the Boone County Fair Tuesday night.
“They got to see a girl their age lead a 1,250-pound show heifer,” Gallup said, “and how through 4-H, these kids are using this as leadership experiences and to raise money for college.”
Although the New Yorkers had read a book regarding food production prior to the visit, Newfield said, “it’s something else to see it first hand in a farm setting.”
Tomorrow, the group will take a trip to the Food Bank of Central and Northeast Missouri—an annual volunteer trip that “hits home the closest,” Newfield said.
Not only does it show them that poverty and hunger is widespread and not just isolated in urban areas, it also gives them a chance to help in a way that’s measurable—in the past, participants have talked about how many pounds of food they handled and how many families that would feed, she said.

The academy concludes Saturday with a commencement ceremony after successful completion of individual presentations on Friday.

 
Jul
18
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Heggemann Recognized as AMC Emil S. Liston Award Winner

By Adam Samson/Sports Information Director

ST. LOUIS – Stephens College basketball player Dana Heggemann was selected as the recipient of the American Midwest Conference (AMC) Emil S. Liston Award, announced by the league office on Friday.

The prestigious Emil S. Liston Award annually recognizes junior student-athletes in men’s and women’s basketball based on athletic achievement, academic excellence and character. As a winner at the conference level, Heggemann will represent the AMC on the ballot for the Emil S. Liston National Award, which will be announced by the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) in September.
Heading into her junior year, Heggemann has a cumulative 3.84 G.P.A., which is significant in a very demanding biology program at the College. She is a two-time AMC Academic All-Conference honoree and an active member of the Stephens community.
In 2013-14, she served as a resident assistant for a select group of Honors House Plan students. With her leadership and experience, she was selected to be head resident/resident director of an entire hall for 2014-15. As an officer in the Tri Beta biological honor society, she gained the respect of her peers and was elected to the role of president for the upcoming academic year.
This summer, the Warrenton, Mo., native was a key member of the basketball search committee that helped land new head basketball/golf coach Ray Fron.
On the court, she has proved her versatile skill set, constantly switching between guard and post play. Last season as a sophomore and co-captain, she started every game and led the Stars in free throws made, rebounds, blocks and assists. She earned AMC Player of the Week honors on Dec. 2 after scoring a career-high 21 points against Missouri Valley College. On two occasions, Heggemann was one assist shy of a rare triple-double performance.

What They’re Saying About Dana …“Dana actively participates in course lectures and activities and provides an excellent example of stewardship for others in the class. Dana consistently asked questions in lecture that led to the ‘next level’ of discussion of a topic. Dana is a remarkable young lady, having excellent interpersonal skills and the ability to relate to and communicate to her classmates in a way that is considerate and kind.” –Katrina Walker, Ph.D., Assistant Professor
“In the classroom, Dana is a joy. Her demeanor is polite and quiet, yet she never hesitates to participate in class. She is not the student who sits in the front of the room eager to impress, rather she leads with a quiet, respectful strength from the middle of the room. Students have great respect for her because of her abilities, but also because she never flaunts success nor complains about difficult situations.” –Tara Giblin, Ph.D., Dean of Humanities and Sciences
“Dana is the athlete who sets the bar high for athlete and scholastic achievement at Stephens College. Dana is a wonderful leader on and off the basketball court who is very deserving of the Emil S. Liston Scholarship Award.” –Deb Duren, Director of Athletics
“Dana’s value to the team is more than her defensive play and scoring ability. She is responsible and dependable, honest and hard working, a good decision maker and a great role model. As a sophomore, Dana was a captain and leader of the team. She was inspiring to those around her and pushed her teammates to be the best they could be, even through some very trying times.” –Jessica McConnell, Assistant Basketball Coach
“Her thoroughness and incredible work ethic never ceases to amaze me. She wears many hats on campus, but first and foremost, she puts her role as a student first. In my time working with her, she’s shown great leadership, initiative and intuition when dealing with matters in the residence halls. Her ability to be a high-achieving student, committed athlete and an involved Stephens woman has set Dana apart from most of her peers.” –Alissa Pei, Director of Residence Life
“As a resident assistant, she is a steadying influence on younger students and is known on campus for being a volunteer in the larger Columbia community. To her leadership on the basketball court and in the classroom, Dana adds a strength of character that deserves recognition.” –James Walter, Faculty Athletics Representative
 
Jul
17
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Musical camps underway

 

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Elle Russell and Cassie Ralston sing "Let it Go."

Summer Musical Camps are underway at Stephens College this month, weeklong programs that allow children to experience musical theatre.
This week, students in the Spotlight camp for grades 3-5 are rehearsing for the “Music Man,” which they will perform for family and friends tomorrow at Historic Senior Hall. Participants not only perform in the play, they also learn about costumes and set designs. Additionally, they learn how to work in teams and to be respectful audience members.
This is the third year Elle Russell, 11, and Cassie Ralston, 11, have attended the camp. Their grandmothers are sisters who both attended Stephens.
“It’s cool to see the college,” Cassie said. “We love coming here.”
Both Cassie and Elle say they want to pursue performing arts as a career. Earlier this week, the duo got to experience the spotlight—and a hearty round of applause—after they sang a brilliant rendition of “Let it Go” during an afternoon talent show.
“Our participants are so talented,” said Pam Ellsworth-Smith, an assistant professor of music at Stephens who directs the camp. “The camps really let kids sample the world of musical theatre in a nurturing environment, and they also give young performers another opportunity to share their talents on stage.”
Last week, kindergarten through second grade participants performed songs from “The Lion King.”

“The show was a big hit,” Ellsworth-Smith said.

Middle school students will take on “13 the Musical” during the Stars on Stage camp next week.

 
Jul
17
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Pedestrian bridges to close Monday

The pedestrian bridges over Broadway and College Avenue on the Stephens College campus will close to all traffic starting Monday morning.

Crews will be resurfacing the bridge accesses, part of a multi-phased improvement project.

The bridges will remain closed at all times until early August, said project manager Richard Perkins.

Pedestrians are encouraged to use the intersection of College and Broadway for an accessible pathway and to exercise caution as this intersection does not yet have pedestrian signals to indicate when you should cross. For a safer signalized crossing, pedestrians can use the College and Walnut Street intersection or the pedestrian crossing of Broadway, west of Waugh Street.
 
Jul
14
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Yaeger named cross country coach

By Adam Samson/Sports Information Director

Stephens College Director of Athletics Deb Duren has announced the appointment of Nancy Yaeger as head coach of the cross country team. Yaeger becomes the fifth coach in program history and fourth in four seasons for the Stars.

Her training and coaching credentials will certainly bring a new flavor to the cross country program, which enters its ninth season in 2014.

“She has a very kind and motivated personality, a great background of training athletes of all ages and ability levels, and a clear passion for running,” said senior cross country athlete Emily Mendoza, who served on the search committee.

Currently, Yaeger is a coach and co-founder for the Tiger Endurance Company, a youth triathlon team in Columbia, Mo. She is involved with the day-to-day operations: writing training plans, coordinating race schedules, managing volunteer coaches, and maintaining the budget, marketing and sponsorships.

In addition to Tiger Endurance Company, Yaeger coaches various adults training for triathlons and marathons, including marquee events such as the Ironman.

As a runner and triathlete, Yaeger jumps at every opportunity to participate in community runs and triathlons. She was a finisher at the Ironman Florida in 2012, Ironman Racine 70.3 in 2013 and is currently training for Ironman Canada 2014.

In 2011, Yaeger was also a founding member of the Heart of Missouri chapter of Girls on the Run and served as executive director for two years. The non-profit organization focuses on inspiring girls to be joyful, healthy and confident by using a fun, experience-based curriculum, which creatively integrates running.

A native of Kansas City, Mo., Yaeger studied finance at the University of Missouri for three years before graduating from MidAmerica Nazarene University with a B.A. in Management and Human Relations.

Yaeger's hire completes the Stephens head coaching staff for the upcoming academic year.
 
Jul
8
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Gray to present at AIGA conference this fall

Assistant Professor Kate Gray has been selected to present a paper at the upcoming American Institute of Graphic Arts’ Design Educators Conference in Portland this fall.
The conference theme this year is “New Ventures: Intersections in Design Education,” and will highlight innovative ideas for interdisciplinary collaborations in the industry, which is constantly evolving.

“This particular conference explores new ideas for developing curricula in graphic design and new ways to look at what we do because the field is changing,” Gray said.
She will present information about a new interdisciplinary course the School of Organizational Leadership and Strategic Communication began offering this past spring. The upper-level course, “Contemporary Topics in Strategic Communication,” allowed SOLSC faculty to teach one two-week block about new trends and tools in marketing. This past year, faculty covered timely topics such as crowdsourcing, content marketing and social media. Throughout the semester, students selected an organization and company to follow and were tasked with determining how each concept applied to their respective organization.
“They went from memorizing content to implementing and applying the theories,” Gray said.
After the school year, faculty members reflected on the success of the course and will tweak the course as necessary based on their experiences.
In the meantime, Gray said she’s excited to represent Stephens and the course at the upcoming conference.
“I’m thrilled about presenting this,” she said. “I know some of the people attending, and it’s a nice circle. I’m honored to be a part of this class of presenters."
 
Jul
2
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Lowry to film senior project at state penitentiary


LeeAnne Lowry has begun work on her senior project, a short film about a prisoner who deals with the effects of being alone.
The film will be screened at a campus showcase in the spring and possibly at additional venues. 
Lowry is hopeful: The lead actor, Kansas City-based Santiago Hernan Vasquez, has appeared in other films that have been screened at the Sundance Film Festival and South by Southwest.
Lowry has also secured a location—she’s gotten permission to shoot for two nights next month at the Missouri State Penitentiary in Jefferson City.
The film centers on a prisoner in solitary confinement who is allowed a telephone in order to receive weekly calls from a psychiatrist. When an elderly woman calls him by mistake thinking she’s reached her grandson, the prisoner goes along with it. As he begins to create a new identity for himself, things around him begin to physically change.
“You begin to question what’s real and not real,” she said.
Lowry credits the story plot to watching lots of prison-themed movies with her roommate—the only genre they could agree on, she joked. She began wondering about the effects of solitary confinement and what might happen if a prisoner had one outlet to the outside world.
“On the surface, it’s about solitary confinement, but it’s more relatable than that,” she said. “It’s about solitude versus connectivity, letting someone in and caring about them and when that relationship is threatened.”
Lowry recently launched a fundraising campaign to offset some of the costs of the professional actor and location. She has 25 days to raise $2,000 through Indegogo.

The crew is mainly made up of student filmmakers. Haley Padilla, a senior, is serving as producer; junior Kirsten Izzett is art director; and junior Livvy Runyon is director of photography.
 
Jul
1
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Senior interning for designer in Denver

As an assistant design intern at the Fashion House of Rachel Marie Hurst LLC in Denver, senior Mary Eifert is getting experience in not only fashion but also in marketing and graphic design.
She’s currently helping owner and founder Rachel Hurst design party dresses for a new line that supports the “We Are Women” campaign. The campaign and designs aim to highlight the unique qualities and strengths of different women. Eifert is helping Hurst design, source fabrics and sew the garments.
On Saturdays, Eifert is also working in fashion, meeting wth clients and assisting in fittings for custom bridal gowns.
Right now, she’s also busy helping Hurst prepare for the fashion market day in Denver later this month. Eifert is making products for Hurst’s boutique at the event, as well as helping with inventory and advertising.

Her most significant project, however, is redesigning the company’s website, developing a new online shopping feature. One of three interns, Eifert was selected to take on the redesign project because of her skills in marketing and graphic design, as well as fashion. The work involves taking photographs of garments and redesigning the site’s layout. Her goal is to have the online shopping feature up and running by the end of the summer.
“Stephens has prepared me for this internship by providing me with a well-rounded education,” Eifert said. “I am aware of all aspects in industry from business and marketing, graphic design and, of course, fashion design. I have a leg up in pattern making and sewing skills. And the tight deadlines at school have taught time management, so I am able to balance all internship tasks, summer classes and working part time.”

Although still early in the internship, Eifert said the experience has been eye-opening.

“I have realized my strengths and weaknesses and that I am capable of more than I originally thought,” she said. “I have already gotten to work on so many different things, I’ve developed a better idea of what direction I want to move in as a designer and where I want to be after graduation.”
 
Jun
27
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Summer Dance Concert to feature both classic, modern choreography


DancingThe Stephens Summer Dance Concert is this weekend and audience members are in for a treat, Director Elizabeth Hartwell said.
“Columbians will enjoy this concert because it will thread eclectic topics into a lighthearted and at times substantive journey,” she said. “In fact, our last piece is titled ‘Journey’ and features old rock songs from the famous band of the same name.”
The concert starts at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday at Macklanburg Playhouse.
Attendees can also expect dances involving large props, evoking a sense of freedom and fanciful fun, Hartwell added.
“Our students are a steadfast group,” she said. “Each dancer is ready to play many characters within one setting, and they accomplish their tasks with finesse and ease.”
Dancers have spent the past month working with an all-star cast of guest artists, including a ballet master who brings decades of knowledge and several who are at the peak of their professional careers.
Russell Sulzbach, director of the School of Performing Arts and of the Ballet South company, enjoyed fame in the 1970s as a lead dancer in the Joffrey Ballet. At Stephens, he’s challenged students to perfect classical ballet steps in new ways. His choreographed piece will combine traditional ballet with modern music.
Concert-goers can expect contemporary dances, as well, choreographed by professionals, including Stephens alumnus Francisco Graciano, a member of the prestigious Paul Taylor Dance Company in New York; and Morgan Hulen, a member of the world-renowned MOMIX. 
Brandi Coleman, associate artistic director of Jump Rhythm Jazz Project, choreographed her work around the company’s style, which celebrates the communal core of jazz performance: Dancing, singing and storytelling in rhythmically syncopated conversations.
And actor and dancer Hettie Barnhill choreographed her piece around movements inspired by some of her Broadway performances, including “Spider-Man.”

“Our students have enjoyed working with these incredible dancers,” Hartwell said. “We’re so excited to share the culmination of all of their work with the community this weekend.” 

 
Jun
27
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Stephens will be smoke-free campus starting July 1

Stephens College will become a smoke-free campus starting July 1, 2014.
That means all lit cigarettes, cigars, pipes, e-cigarettes and other smoking products will be prohibited on campus grounds, including parking lots, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
“This policy is much like policies adopted at other colleges and universities,” said Lindi Overton, vice president for finance and administration. “Like them, we believe our employees, students and visitors have the right to breathe fresh, clean air.”
The University of Missouri adopted its smoke-free policy last year, and some 20 other Missouri campuses are also smoke or tobacco free. Across the country, more than 1,300 colleges and universities also prohibit smoking.

Stephens will provide employees with information about local smoking cessation programs and resources to help them adjust to the policy throughout the month of July. 
 
Jun
26
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Camp Citizen Jane lets girls explore filmmaking

When Paula Elias, executive director of Citizen Jane, instructed participants of the annual Camp Citizen Jane to come up with a storyline for a “Please Silence Your Cell Phones” public service announcement, she gave them just one rule.
No showing a crowded movie theater mobbing a person on the phone.
Instead, she challenged each group to create a “no cell phone” PSA based on a genre: Action, horror, comedy.
The result was some pretty creative story lines. One group assigned the “horror” genre showed just how not scary a scary situation can be when Mom calls your cell. Another involved a pirate.
“They are amazing,” Elias said. “The students are responsible for the entire process, from writing the script to filming to editing.”
Camp Citizen Jane lets middle-schoolers from Columbia Public Schools not only learn about filmmaking but also get experience using the equipment.
“We focus on hands-on training from lighting and camera to directing,” Elias said.
This year, 20 students participated in the first session, which included the basics of filmmaking. Eighteen are currently enrolled in the advanced camp, during which students are creating short films as well as the cell phone PSAs. They’ll screen their works at a public showcase at 2 p.m. Thursday, July 3, in Helis Communication Center.
Kylie Williams, a 13-year-old from Smithton Middle School, plans to enter her short documentary to the Citizen Jane Film Festival. The film documents her struggles with eating disorders, a story she hopes will help others.
Other students are finding different types of talents they didn’t realize they had. Ava Mace, 13, of West Middle School, is a “natural director,” Elias said.
Mace said she was surprised to learn how few females actually work in Hollywood.
“Women are super-underrepresented,” she sad. “I hope things change.”

Asked if she’ll help change those trends, Mace said: “I’ll try my best.”
 
Jun
25
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New head basketball, golf coach brings extensive experience


By Adam Samson/Sports Information Director
Stephens College Director of Athletics Deb Duren has announced the hiring of Ray Fron as the Stars’ new head basketball and golf coach. The 25-year coaching veteran arrives at Stephens after serving as assistant head basketball coach and recruiting coordinator at Aquinas College (NAIA DII) the past three seasons.
“I want to thank President Dianne Lynch, AD Deb Duren and the search committee for giving me this opportunity,” Fron said. “I am impressed with the quality people I met on my visit and believe the pieces are in place to make Stephens competitive athletically. Stephens has what I was looking for—a small college with a great track record academically, yet willing to support the student-athlete on the playing field.”
The bulk of Fron’s experience at the collegiate level comes from his time in Grand Rapids, Mich., at Aquinas College. Longtime head coach Linda Nash added Fron to her staff in 1996 and welcomed him back with open arms in 2011. Including his two stints (1996-2008, 2011-14), Fron has helped guide the Saints to four NAIA DII National Tournament appearances and a Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference (WHAC) title in 2007. During his time at Aquinas, the Saints compiled a record 267-190 (.584).
“I believe in setting high expectations and creating an atmosphere of players wanting to be engaged in whatever the basketball and/or golf programs are involved in,” Fron said. “We will work extremely hard both on the court/course and in the classroom. Coach Nash and I have always preached about having a balance in life. Our goal is to win every contest we are in, but we want to be able to enjoy the journey and have fun along the way.”
Between coaching stops at Aquinas, the Grand Rapids, Mich., native had the opportunity to become head coach at Spring Hill College (NAIA DI). He inherited a challenging situation as the fourth women’s basketball hire in a four-year span. In three seasons at the helm, Fron brought stability to the Badgers’ basketball program and improved areas such as academics and recruiting.
Prior to joining the collegiate ranks, Fron was the head girls’ basketball coach at Central Catholic High in Modesto, Calif., for four years, leading the program to its first-ever state playoff appearance. He also spent three years as head coach at Riverbank High School in Riverbank, Calif., from 1987-90.
In addition to basketball, Fron will also coach golf at Stephens. While hitting the links is a hobby for Fron, he also has competitive experience playing on the Michigan Amateur Golf Tour (MIAGT).
Classroom success and the development of young women off the court is nothing new to Fron, a big advocate of the small college academic and athletic mission of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA).
Aside from coaching, Fron has taught special education at both the middle and high school level. He received his B.S. in Psychology and Special Education from Grand Valley State University and also has a Master in the Art of Teaching from Aquinas College.
Athletically, Fron was a prep athlete at Catholic Central High School in Grand Rapids where he lettered in cross country and track, while also playing basketball and baseball.
“I also would like to thank my wife and family for allowing me to take on this responsibility as their support has never wavered,” Fron added. “Lastly, I want to thank my longtime colleague at Aquinas College and great friend, Coach Linda Nash, whose friendship has meant so much to me. It goes well beyond basketball.”

Fron and his wife, Kari, have been married for 35 years and are the proud parents of three: Lauren, Robert and Tarah. The Frons are also proud grandparents of Ainsley and Tatum, the daughters of Robert and his wife, Ronda.
 
Jun
23
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New York-based director, actor join OST production of 'Rich Girl'


A New York-based director is on the campus of the Okoboji Summer Theatre in Iowa this month directing the company’s second show of the season, “Rich Girl” by Victoria Stewart.
An adaptation of “Washington Square,” the modernized script and characters intrigued Director Rich Cole, he said.
“It’s a great women’s play that shows the different cross spectrums of society,” he said. “I love plays that are actable, and have people saying what they would actually say, and have people who have flaws. In part, it’s about what society has done to women and how they have had to turn around and react—and the price we’ve paid for that.”
Cole also said he liked the idea of producing a fairly new play: OST’s production is just the fourth production of “Rich Girl,” which debuted at the George Street Playhouse in association with the Cleveland Playhouse.
A comedy that ultimately turns dark, “Rich Girl” is the story of Claudine, played by Stephens student Lydia Miller, a young woman who falls for a struggling theater director played by guest artist Evan White. Claudine’s mother, Eve, played by guest actor Celeste Ciulla, fears Henry is only after her daughter’s inheritance.
The show begins Tuesday and runs through Sunday.
This is Cole’s second season at OST, Stephens’ summer stock theatre company near Spirit Lake, Iowa. Artistic Director Dan Schultz recruited Cole last summer to direct “Angel Street,” and Cole said it didn’t take much to convince him to come back.
“It’s a happy place,” he said. “The level of professionalism here is really extraordinary. You can tell the students like doing this.”
For “Rich Girl,” Cole recruited Ciulla, a New York-based actor whose credits include Lady Macbeth, Truvy from “Steel Magnolias” and the Ghost of Christmas Past in “A Christmas Carol.” 
Ciulla is also a former fellow in the Ten Chimneys Foundation Lunt-Fontanne Fellowship Program, a widely acclaimed national program designed to serve the future of American theater. That’s one reason she was eager to join OST this year.

“I love the idea of theater reaching into a community,” she said. “And I like the idea of spreading the craft.”
 
Jun
19
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Closing show to feature popular Broadway songs

 

 

 


By Emma Carter/STI Public Information Director
The Stephens College Summer Theatre Institute will finish this season with the ever-popular musical revue on Monday, June 23, at 7:30 p.m. in the Macklanburg Playhouse on Willis Avenue.
This year's show, titled "A Grand Night for Show Music," consists of a selection of songs from three popular Broadway musicals, two of which contain quite a few dance numbers, choreographed by guest artist Millie Garvey. She has graced Stephens with her choreographing talents many times, most recently with the musical “Respect: A Musical Journey of Women.”
The show also contains a jazz number and a tap number choreographed by local dance instructors and long-time STI teachers Maggie Dethrow and Marie Brannigan-Robertson. The students have been working on these numbers since day one in mid-May. All other numbers were choreographed and learned in the past two weeks.
Audience members can expect humor, charm and a powerful performance from the students. Director Rob Doyen, another long-time Stephens faculty member, has selected material that really allows the students to showcase their strengths.
Patrons are advised to arrive early to snag seats for this annual show, which typically nearly fills the house.
The show, which is free and open to the public, is suitable for all ages and will run approximately an hour.
The Summer Theatre Institute is an on-campus intensive theatre experience for students between their first and second years at Stephens.
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Jun
18
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Stephens announces new Dean of Performing Arts

Dr. Gail Humphries Mardirosian, an internationally acclaimed performing arts scholar, author, director, academic administrator and award-winning, longtime faculty member at American University in Washington, D.C., has been named the new Dean of the School of Performing Arts at Stephens College.
“We’re thrilled that Dr. Mardirosian is joining Stephens College,” President Dr. Dianne Lynch said Tuesday. “Her creative vision, exceptional intellect, international experience and collaborative spirit will help propel our performing arts program to the next level of professional quality and national reputation.” 
Dr. Mardirosian’s broad experience encompasses academic administration, program development and fundraising and the direction of more than 130 productions, including drama, musical theatre, children’s theatre, classical and new works. She is also the past chair of the AU Department of Performing Arts, having opened both the Harold and Sylvia Greenberg Theatre and the Katzen Arts Center during her chairship.
Dr. Mardirosian has taught and directed in multiple countries, including Greece, Russia, Slovakia, Sweden and the Czech Republic, where she was a Fulbright Senior Scholar teaching at the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague. She is also involved in international forums promoting artistic exchange and interaction.
As an arts administrator for more than 25 years, she has also consulted for multiple nonprofit arts and education organizations throughout the U.S. Dr. Mardirosian is also the team leader for an arts integration research project titled Imagination Quest (IQ), a collaborative effort between Imagination Stage and American University professors.
Dr. Mardirosian has an impressive list of honors and recognition, as well, including several outstanding teaching, faculty and directing awards, and articles published in The Chronicle of Higher Education, Teaching Artist Journal and Current Issues in Education. In the spring of 2013, she was invested into the College of Fellows of the American Theatre at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Her book, “Arts Integration in Education: Teachers as Agents of Change,” is scheduled to be published by Intellect Books in 2015.
She holds a Ph.D. in education and a master of arts in theatre from American University and a bachelor of history and theatre from Allegheny College in Meadeville, Pa.
About her appointment to Stephens College, Dr. Mardirosian said, “I look forward to upholding and expanding the Stephens tradition of excellence in the performing arts. The College’s commitment to cutting-edge educational programs resonates deeply for me. I hope to be a catalyst for innovation while always respecting the exceptional foundation of rigorous and deep training in the arts that is a Stephens hallmark.”

The School of Performing Arts, currently ranked 16th in the country by The Princeton Review, is one of five schools at Stephens College. Other schools include Fashion and Design, Humanities and Sciences, Interdisciplinary Studies and Organizational Leadership and Strategic Communication. Founded in 1833, Stephens College has a long history of innovation in women’s education.
 
Jun
18
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Behind the scenes at Okoboji Summer Theatre



Building-the-setEight hours before show time on opening night, Stephens College theatre students are still painting the set; arranging knick-knacks and other props; and adjusting the lighting.
After a rushed lunch, they return to the stage, this time doing one last rehearsal—a technical rehearsal that allows Director Dan Schultz to tweak lighting, movements and sound.
This is Okoboji Summer Theatre, and every hour counts.
An intensive summer stock theatre company, the program challenges students to produce nine professional shows in just 10 weeks. And they perform those shows for six nights straight.
“There are very few summer stock theatre companies still doing this,” said Taylor Wetzel, a May graduate who has returned as part of the staff. “We have guest artists come to us and say they’ve never done anything like this before.”
On this particular day, the cast and crew is gearing up for the first show, Ken Ludwig’s “The Fox on the Fairway.” It’s a farce about a golf tournament gone awry. 
Opening night is a big deal in Okoboji—the theatre is one of few night-time entertainment options in the communities surrounding Okoboji and Spirit lakes, and audiences have returned for more than 55 seasons.
And this opening night did not disappoint. Audiences howled at the antics and over-the-top storyline starring Stephens students Elyse Bertani, Heidi Womelsdorf and Carolyn Williams, conservatory student Ty Carter and guest artists Kyle Groff and Aaron Choi—all of whom enjoyed a standing ovation for their performances. 
But what goes on behind the scenes is just as impressive, with technical crews building elaborate sets in just days. “The Fox on the Fairway,” set mostly in a country club house, complete with a full bar, bookshelf and framed portraits of members, was designed by Stephens alumna Michaela Lynne Stein.
“At Okoboji, you learn confidence as a female designer,” she said. “You're not scared to take charge and do the carpentry and other skills that need to be done.”
This particular show runs through Sunday, but already cast members are preparing for the next show, "Rich Girl," a romantic comedy that starts Tuesday, June 24. 
Watch a preview video of “The Fox on the Fairway” courtesy of Director Dan Schultz.
 

 
Jun
17
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Aviation sign uncovered at Columbia demolition site



As the City of Columbia began demolishing an existing building at the Parks Management Center in the 1400 block of West Business Loop 70, a surprise find temporarily turned a demolition project into a historical preservation project.

During the demolition of the building, a brick façade fell from the face of a 43-foot long by approximately 2-foot tall steel beam. Hidden beneath the brick facade, which was once the face of the building, were the words "Stephens College Aviation Department."

The Parks Management Center was once the home to Columbia Municipal Airport. After operating a private airport on the site, the Allton brothers sold the land and the airport to the City of Columbia in 1928. Columbia Municipal Airport was home to Stephens College Aviation Department from 1941 until about 1960. In 1968, Columbia Regional Airport in Elkhurst began operations and Columbia Municipal Airport was repurposed as Cosmo Park.

The building being demolished is believed to have once housed numerous airport functions and Parks and Recreation functions, most recently used as a repair garage for Parks and Recreation vehicles and equipment. A new Parks and Recreation fleet maintenance facility is almost complete next door to the building under demolition.

Stephens College has a unique history with Columbia Municipal and Columbia Regional Airport. In 1941, Stephens College began teaching women aviation and leased the Allton Hotel, which is across the street from the former airport and now a retirement center, to use as classrooms for the aviation program. Columbia Municipal Airport was then used for both ground and aeronautical training.

One alumna of the program, Francis Jenkins Holter '44, went on to work as an aeronautical engineer for North American Aviation and later was an engineer at Bendix Aerospace where she was the project engineer for the Apollo lunar rover and a principal engineer on the Apollo lunar module used in the moon landing program. Wally Funk '58 became one of the Mercury 13 - Women in Space program launched by NASA in 1961.

The connection between Stephens College and Columbia Regional Airport continues today. Last year, Creative Ink, a student-run integrated marketing communications firm at Stephens, began preliminary work on a new branding logo and marketing plan for Columbia Regional Airport. Stephens College fashion classes recently used Columbia Regional Airport as a backdrop for one of the multi-faceted Project Runway events, where fashion students' designs were modeled and photographed in various settings at Columbia Regional Airport.

Because of the rich history of the Stephens College Aviation Department and the relationship with Columbia Municipal Airport and the City of Columbia, as well as the impact graduates have made across the world with their education in aeronautics that began in Columbia, engineers developed a plan to safely remove and preserve the beam. It has been transported to, and will be stored at, Columbia Regional Airport until a use can be determined.
 
Jun
17
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Filmmakers more than half-way through 50-day, 50-state trip


Rocket
Two Stephens filmmakers are in the final stretch of their journey traveling to all 50 states in just 50 days.
Meredith Jacob and Madeline Carl left last month and have since visited states along the east coast, stopping at notable places such as the district’s Capitol and more obscure locations such as the bar where poet Edgar Allen Poe was last seen. 
While they're mostly staying with friends alumnae and whoever will take them in, one night spent in a former lunatic asylum in West Virginia, was by far the most “memorable” overnight stay, Jacob said.
“It is a haunted, abandoned asylum with many deaths and crazy stories (like most asylums) and maybe got a little scared when we got audio of a spirit saying ‘killer’ and grunting after asking questions,” she said.
While site seeing is one aspect of the trip, it’s not the filmmakers’ mission. Their ultimate goal was to collect film of amazing, previously untold stories from across the country about perseverance and achievement.
“Our mission has been wonderful,” Jacob said. “We have met a lot of characters and many diverse people along the way. We have met a guy who pulled over O.J. Simpson while on the L.A. Police Department and a girl on Times Square nearly naked in body paint. We have been told many goals and stories that are vastly different … goals ranging from medical school to seeing their grandchildren again.”
The students plan to turn that film into a full-length documentary.
Public response has been overwhelming. The women have been tracking their adventures on Facebook and are traveling in a Subaru with a link to the page written on the back windshield. The result has been strangers taking photos of their vehicle and posting them on the Facebook page with messages of encouragement.
A few days ago, the students couldn’t get in touch with their host. They posted a plea on Facebook and ended up staying with strangers who immediately became friends.
But while they’ve had a few bumps in the road—figuratively and literally—both Jacob and Carl agree they’re glad they went despite any initial misgivings.
“The trip so far has been pretty incredible and totally full of surprises,” Carl said. “We have learned a lot about ourselves and about each other.”

The trip is scheduled to end with a flight to Hawaii next month.

 
Jun
13
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Guest artists challenge students at Stephens Summer Dance


Two members from world-renowned dance companies and a ballet legend are on campus this week teaching Stephens Summer Dance students new movements and original choreographed works in preparation for the summer dance concert.

Francisco Graciano, a Stephens alumnus, is a member of the Paul Taylor Dance Company in New York. On campus, he’s teaching water-inspired movements, a Taylor trademark.

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Morgan Hulan helps a student balance on the see-saw.

Morgan Hulen, a Columbia native, is also borrowing movements from the company he dances for, MOMIX, which relies a lot on impromptu dance involving props. In class yesterday, he challenged dancers to explore techniques using teeter-totters. The result was some impressive acrobatic stunts.
And while Russell Sulzbach, director of Ballet South and of The School of Performing Arts in Florida and a former member of the Joffrey Ballet, is focused on classical ballet, students are being challenged to execute basic steps in new ways. Thanking Sulzbach after class yesterday, one student noted that she’d moved in ways she hadn’t thought possible.
That’s the goal of all of the guest artists during Stephens Summer Dance, an intensive program that connects students with working professionals.
“The idea is to teach them that their ability isn’t finite,” said Elizabeth Hartwell, program director. “As soon as something becomes easy and automatic, it’s time to introduce something new.”
The techniques students are learning in the program will be showcased at a public concert, which will be held at 7:30 p.m. June 27-28 at Macklanburg Playhouse.
Attendees can expect a wide-range of original works. Graciano’s piece aims to explore the contrasts between human spirit and our automaton nature. He compared his vision for the piece to dystopia, void of the human dynamic. The dance will be set to the music of American composer Philip Glass.
Hulen’s piece will incorporate the seesaws, although he’s still in the creation process. While the choreographed piece will have a formal format, he’s toying with the idea of including impromptu sections that allow the dancers to create their own movements.
“I have ideas and a basic structure, but I like the idea of letting them explore,” he said.
Hulen is also emphasizing the importance of music and said the piece will combine piano music with Rusted Root, a band best known for the hit “Send Me On My Way.”
“It will be fun to see how we marry the two styles,” he said.
Sulzbach is choreographing a classical ballet piece with contemporary music and the costumes somewhere in the middle.

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Russell Sulzbach watches dancers try new moves.


“The steps and arm movements are the same as used in traditional ballet but with a twist,” he said.
Hulen and Graciano have both been enrolled in and have worked at Stephens Summer Dance previously. However, this is Sulzbach’s first time on campus and in Columbia. So far, Sulzbach—known in the 1970s as one of the lead performers in Joffrey productions—has been impressed.

“I love this place,” he said. “The students are so wonderful and willing to try new things.”
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Jun
13
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Middle schoolers learning basics of fashion and design


About a dozen middle school girls are learning the basics of fashion and design on campus this week, part of the annual Stephens Fashion Camp.
So far, participants have studied colors, fabrics and textures, learning how to sketch fur, lace and ruffles. They also designed original monograms, which faculty members then made using monogram machines. Those will be attached to tote bags the students are sewing, said Monica McMurry, dean of the School of Fashion and Design.
The camp, part of Columbia Public Schools’ SUNsations program, is a two-week camp that aims to give girls a taste of the fashion industry. In addition to using sewing machines, participants have several opportunities to sketch and design.
Yesterday, they were given pre-drawn silhouettes, giving them a starting point to design garments. Students will be challenged to draw a figure based on a live model during the second half of the program.
Students are also studying the history of fashion, creating a timeline of trends throughout the decades. Today, they’re visiting the Costume Museum and Research Library to see examples of some of those trends.
The camp also includes visits to downtown shops to let students see how runway trends translate into commercial apparel.

Next week, students will create mood boards, which will set the inspiration for their final original designs.

All of their creations will be on display in the afternoon on Friday, June 20, in the Davis Art Gallery.
 
Jun
13
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Camp Citizen Jane underway at Stephens

Camp Citizen Jane is underway at Stephens College, a summer program designed to let girls explore the world of filmmaking and media.
The camp is split into two sessions—one for those just beginning to learn about filmmaking and another for those at more advanced levels. Both two-week camps combine lectures with real filmmaking activities.
“They’re really getting a well-rounded experience,” said Paula Elias, director of Citizen Jane. “One day they’re creating storyboards; another they’re touring Columbia Access Television; and throughout the camp, they’re filming and editing original works.”
Camp Citizen Jane: Basic Filmmaking Tools and Media Literacy began June 9 and runs through June 20. The camp concludes with screening for family and friends.
Camp Citizen Jane: Advanced Tools of Filmmaking begins June 23 and runs through July 3. Students enrolled in that camp will create films specifically for the True/False Film Festival’s Gimme Truth competition, as well as a “Please Silence Your Cell Phone” announcement for the Citizen Jane Film Festival in the fall.
All participants receive a free membership to Columbia Access Television, so they can continue working with film equipment. 

The camp is part of Columbia Public Schools’ Summer SUNsational program.
 
Jun
12
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STI production tells stories from women of the West

By Emma Carter/STI Public Information Director
Expect to laugh, cry and leave feeling inspired by “Women of the West,” an intimate play adapted by Summer Theatre Institute’s Artistic Director Lamby Hedge.
The production is a series of stories taken from the diary entries and letters written by actual women of the frontier, and they range from charming to tragic. The play aims to breathe life into the stories of real women—women who never imaged their stories would be heard.

“These women led tough lives, but they managed to find beauty, love and empowerment in the simple tasks of cooking, quilting and keeping a family alive on the open prairie,” Hedge said. “While our other shows this season have focused on a particular acting style or skill, this production focuses on the simple act of honest, first-person storytelling.”

The show, which will be held on Friday, June 13, at 7:30 p.m. in the Macklanburg Playhouse on Willis Ave., is free and open to the public and will run approximately one hour.

The Summer Theatre Institute is an on-campus intensive theatre experience for students between their first and second years. The program concludes next week with the annual musical revue, “A Grand Night for Show Music.”
 
Jun
11
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New event planning degree sees successful first year

The first year of a new Event and Convention Management degree at Stephens proved successful, allowing young women to work alongside professional planners as they prepare for their own careers.

“We were able to get out there and work as a team, getting that good experiential education that’s so important to us,” said Assistant Professor Cindy Hazelrigg.
During the program’s first year, students were involved in the Cancer Research Center Gala, the United Way, Ronald McDonald House Red Shoe Gala, a Pot of Gold Auction at Father Tolton Catholic High School and a number of private weddings and events. Several students are also members of Meeting Professionals International.

Students are interested in a variety of careers ranging from wedding planners to sporting event planners to corporate event managers.

“There’s such a variety of interests, it’s exciting for me,” Hazelrigg said. “We can pull from that as we have classroom discussions.”

And the jobs are out there. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the industry is growing at a rate of 33 percent—much faster than the average for job outlooks through 2022. And the median pay for event planners in 2012 was more than $45,000 a year.

“It’s a thriving industry,” Hazelrigg said. “And having the program embedded in our School of Organizational Leadership and Strategic Communication is giving our students an edge in that market. They’re getting a broad background in business, marketing and leadership while having the ability to focus on event and convention management.”

Jenna Westra, who finished her freshman year in the program, hopes to pursue a career in the sports industry.

“People think it’s just wedding planning, but there’s so much more you can do with it,” she said.

Westra praised Hazelrigg for making the coursework relevant and for adding the off-campus experiences.

“I loved being able to tour the new Broadway hotel near campus and the Tiger Hotel,” she said. “I’m looking forward to planning more events.”
 
Jun
10
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Musical camps let children sample performing arts


Summer Musical Camps at Stephens will be held next month, weeklong programs that let children experience musical theatre while also learning age-appropriate lessons.
The camps are designed to let children sample the arts. Children do not have to audition to be part of the program, nor does it require ongoing commitments.  
“It gives them a taste of the world of performing arts,” said Pam Ellsworth-Smith, camp director who is also an assistant professor of music at Stephens. “It’s our goal to enhance the skills they come to us with, whether it’s dancing, singing or acting.” 
This year, Ellsworth-Smith is hosting three camps for various age groups. Each camp is being held at Historic Senior Hall and will conclude with a public performance in the Recital Hall.
Show Biz Kids is for children in kindergarten through second grade and will be held July 7 through July 11. Participants will perform songs and explore themes from “The Lion King.” Children will also get to wear animal masks for the performance.
“‘The Lion King’ installs great values,” Ellsworth-Smith said. “It really builds on the idea of being part of something greater than oneself.”
Students in third through fifth grade will perform selections from “Music Man” during the Spotlight camp, July 14-18. The camp will combine the performance with historical lessons from the piece, which is set in the early 1900s. Students will have a chance to pick a townsperson and develop his or her character.
Stars on Stage for students in grades sixth through eighth will be held July 21-25. That showcase will feature songs from “13 the Musical.”
“‘13 the Musical’ deals with middle school-age issues, so it’s really age appropriate,” Ellsworth-Smith said. “There will be a lot of opportunities for discussions about identity, the dangers of spreading rumors and what it means to be a friend.”

Each camp is $199 per week and includes instructional materials, costume rentals, snacks and T-shirts. Click here for more information. 
 
Jun
9
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President Lynch commissioned to study future of journalism education

Stephens College President Dianne Lynch has been commissioned by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation to take an in-depth look at the future of journalism education.
This summer, she will travel the country interviewing those at the helm of both traditional media outlets, such as the Washington Post, as well as those involved in new journalism models. She pointed to the increasing number of online news sources that rely on grants rather than advertising revenue in order to ensure complete autonomy and to ensure that investigative reporters have the tools they need to provide in-depth information on trends and issues. In many cases, she noted, seasoned journalists are leaving traditional newsrooms to join these new types of media outlets.
Lynch is also working with journalism deans and professors, surveying them on how they envision journalism in the year 2025.  She stressed that the white paper is not a formal research project as much as a collection of the best thinking of a wide spectrum of academic and news professionals.
“This is about collecting the biggest and best ideas out there—models to better understand what journalists need to be and do in 2025,” she said, noting that many students entering college this fall will graduate in 2020.

Prior to taking the helm at Stephens, Lynch was dean of the Roy H. Park School of Communications at Ithaca College, and she has an extensive background in journalism and new media technologies. She studied the credibility of online news in the early years of the World Wide Web and is considered an expert on the news habits of digital natives—those who’ve grown up with the Internet. She’s also served as a member of the national Journalism Advisory Council for the Knight Foundation.

She will present initial findings at the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication's annual conference in Montreal in August.
 
Jun
9
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Stephens fashion programs earn Top 10 spots

Stephens College’s School of Fashion and Design is in the top 10 programs in the country for fashion marketing, according to a new set of rankings released earlier this week.
The marketing degree is ranked 8th by Fashion Schools, an online resource that aims to provide students with information about fashion and design programs. The company began rating schools last year.
Stephens was also ranked 10th in the Midwest and 33rd nationally for its design degree and 13th in the country for fashion management.

“We know we’re providing our students with an excellent education and lots of real-world experiences in the world of fashion,” Dean Monica McMurry said. “We’re pleased that others recognize our high-quality programs, as well.”
 
Jun
5
Date Tail

Trip to L.A. opens industry doors for film students


Dinner-tableFor LeeAnn Lowery ’15 the chance to spend a week in Los Angeles wasn’t about sight seeing or even visiting major studios.

“The highlight was meeting alumnae who are actually working in the industry—alumnae who were in the exact spot we’re in and are now successful,” Lowery said.
Lowery and fellow film majors took the trip last month as part of the digital filmmaking program at Stephens. The trip began last year and is now offered to all film students once between their sophomore and junior year or junior and senior year.
As part of the week-long experience, students visited a recording studio and watched a film composer compose a cue for “Grimm,” toured Sunset Boulevard, toured “The Simpsons” writing room and attended a lecture at the Writers Guild Foundation Library.
A brunch with Stephens alumnae living in the area capped off the trip and was “perfect,” said Assistant Professor Steph Borklund, who accompanied the students.
“I really feel that it confirmed the possibility to some of the students that it is possible to move to L.A. if they want to,” she said. “Seeing our alumnae not only succeed in L.A. but also giving the students advice and their information was key.”
Alumnae and students exchanged information, and alumnae offered to help students if they choose to move to L.A. after graduation, she said.

“The Hollywood industry seems a lot less daunting and success there seems a lot more within reach because, not only do I have the advice and encouragement of many successful women, but I also have the beginnings of a relationship with people and especially Stephens alumnae who would be willing to help me along the way,” Livvy Runyon ’16 said. “I really enjoyed hearing their personal stories of how they got where they are, and the advice they gave to us about starting out in our careers and our lives was absolutely invaluable to me. Their words were so inspiring and encouraging, I feel like the things I used to see as impossible are actually a lot more attainable than I thought. They encouraged us that with some hard work, perseverance and a lot of passion, nothing is off limits to us.”

 
Jun
4
Date Tail

New York-based director overseeing original production at Stephens


The director of a revolutionary theatre company in New York is on campus this week overseeing production of an original play based on the life of a famous female geologist.
Jessica Burr is co-founder of Blessed Unrest, an award-winning experimental physical theatre company that generates original works. Burr’s partner, Matt Opatrny, joined her on campus last week, as well.

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Courtesy of Alan Roche


At Stephens, Burr is working with about 20 theatre students to write and create a show featuring the life of Luella Agnes Owen. Owen, who died in 1932, was the first woman to openly explore and write about the caves of Missouri. Despite social restrictions, Owen explored hundreds of caves, publishing “Cave Regions of the Ozarks and Black Hills” in 1898.
The show, “The Beauty of Darkness,” will begin at 7:30 p.m. at Warehouse Theatre. It’s free and open to the public.
Burr and students discovered Owen’s biography while looking for materials on which to base the play.
Rather than a linear biography, “The Beauty of Darkness” will be a journey of interwoven narratives of stories, poetry, original choreography and music that bring our central story clearly into the here and now. Information will come unexpectedly, Burr said, and through all types of mediums.
“We’re essentially all asking the question and letting it be,” she said. “That question is ‘What does it mean to build your own way as a woman in this place?’ It will also celebrate the women on whose shoulders we stand.”
Burr and Opatrny have been working together since 1999 and held their first performance as a company in New York in 2001, just days after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The mood and tenacity following that event has shaped the company since, she said. In addition to productions in New York, Blessed Unrest pursues international partnerships in hopes of breaking down cultural barriers through artistic collaboration.
This is Burr’s first time working at Stephens and visiting Missouri. Although the process has been hectic—she and the crew have two weeks to write, rehearse and produce the show—she said she’s been impressed with Stephens.
“It’s amazing,” she said. “The idea of coming into a place and working with people you’ve never met and to devise a play from scratch in two weeks … it’s in that fine line between very brave and very stupid. But they’ve set the bar so high. They’re focused, have had great training and take care of each other. I’m learning a lot just keeping up with their processes.”

“The Beauty of Darkness” is part of the Summer Theatre Institute at Stephens. Click here for a list of all STI productions. 

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