Starkle Dream Up. Stephens College


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Stephens College to showcase shoes and hats in “Head Over Heels” exhibit

Shopping at department stores in the city was an event from the 1940s through the 1960s.

Imagine walking into a 25-story building about the size of the entire Mall of America near Minneapolis and being greeted by uniformed sales clerks, sparkling chandeliers and miles of gleaming hardwood floors. Instead of elbowing your way through a crowded food court popular in today’s shopping malls, you would be seated to dine in a “tea room” restaurant, where meals were often made from scratch.

That’s the backdrop to the Stephens College Costume Museum and Research Library’s latest exhibit, “Head over Heels,” which opens Feb. 18, 2017, and runs through May 7 in the Historic Costume Gallery on the mezzanine level of Lela Raney Wood Hall, 6 N. College Ave. The exhibit is free and open to the public.

The show includes 16 pairs of shoes, 10 hats and a variety of accessories such as stockings from the three-decade period. Most of the items on display have a Missouri or Columbia connection.

shoes For example, there is a pair of sandals purchased at the Novus Shop, which opened in 1936 in downtown Columbia. There are shoes from Harzfeld’s department store in Kansas City, and suede Palter DeLiso ankle strap sandal from the 1940s that were purchased at Famous-Baar in St. Louis. 

“I was thinking about merchandizing and shopping practices involving department stores of that era,” said Lori Hall-Araujo, an assistant professor in the fashion program and curator for the Stephens College Costume Museum and Research Library. “It was the end of an era when there were more rules about fashion, which in some ways, made it easier for women to dress because they knew what the expectations were.”

Hall-Araujo joined the faculty at Stephens this fall after serving as an Anawalt Postdoctoral Fellow in the Center for the Study of Regional Dress at the Fowler Museum at the University of California, Los Angeles.  “Head Over Heels” is her first exhibit at Stephens and one she selected for its practicality, among other reasons.

“I wanted to focus on things that don’t require as much labor, and hats and shoes are less involved than exhibiting garments,” she said.

Hall-Araujo explained that showing garments from a museum collection is time-consuming because the mannequins must be modified to fit the garments, not the other way around, the reason being the preservation of the clothing.

“We want to treat every garment as if it were worn by Marie Antoinette,” she said.

The exhibit includes some offbeat items such as a pair of sandals made in England that earned a royal warrant. The special designation authorized the company to display the royal arms, indicating that the sandals were supplied to the sovereign or to a specific member of the royal family. The sandals in the Stephens show have Wedgwood bone china heels on which a relief of an angel is engraved.

“Aren’t they amazing?” Hall-Araujo said.

There’s also a pair of Capezio mustard-colored lace-up jazz oxford with black leather detailing that were popular among Beatniks of the time.

“They probably weren’t terribly expensive because many young people were wearing them,” Hall-Araujo said.

To prepare the shoes for the show, each pair was cleaned using a small brush and a vacuum hose, which was covered with a nylon stocking to prevent loose pieces from being sucked into the machine. All the items in the exhibit are stored on shelves in a climate-controlled room.


If You Go

Gallery Dates: Feb. 18-May 7, 2016

Gallery Hours: 12-1 p.m. Wednesdays, 5:30-8:30 p.m. Thursdays, and 12-3 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. Closed during Stephens College holidays. 

Location: Historic Costume Gallery, mezzanine level of Lela Raney Wood Hall

The exhibit is free and open to the public. 

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Stephens to restore organ, hold benefit concert in Firestone Baars Chapel


Those familiar with the Firestone Baars Chapel know Finnish architect Eero Saarinen, who designed the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, also planned the historic sanctuary on the Stephens College campus.

What they might not know is inside the building waits a hidden gem: an organ.

Built by the preeminent Aeolian-Skinner Organ Company of Boston, and installed in 1956, the organ is unique, its geometric shape and clean lines clearly influenced by the chapel’s architect. Even the organ’s console has it own quirky characteristics.

But after 60 years in place, the Aeolian–Skinner needs some attention.

On Wednesday, March 8, 2017, Stephens will host “Make a Joyful Noise,” a concert at the chapel to benefit the organ restoration project. The concert begins at 7:30 p.m. and costs $20 per person. (Buy tickets.) Performers include Haig Mardirosian, organist; Trent Rash, tenor, and Darrell Jordan, baritone; the Prairie Strings Quartet and the Stephens College Concert Choir. A reception will immediately follow the concert.

“The organ is part of the legacy of Stephens,” said Dr. Gail Humphries Mardirosian, dean of the School of Performing Arts. “We felt the time was right to begin work on restoring this valuable instrument.”

Last year, the School of Performing Arts received a $10,000 gift to begin the process, first assessing the condition of the organ and then identifying small fixes that could be made in time to make the organ more playable by the benefit concert in March.

John Panning, a consultant with Dobson Pipe Organ Builders in Lake City, Iowa, traveled to Columbia to examine the instrument and found a number of issues. Among the most serious was the poor condition of the leather bellows inside the organ. His report also indicates that, among other work, the pipes need tuning, regulating and cleaning. Some quasi-cosmetic repairs include smoothing chipped keys and broken stop tabs.

The estimated cost of restoring the organ to its original splendor: $190,000.

But Haig Mardirosian, who will be playing the organ during the benefit concert, said the cost of the project is “a pretty good investment” in an instrument that cost the College about $33,000 in the mid- to late-1950s and is estimated to be worth about $1.5 million when its restored.

“The organ is a very valuable resource,” he said.

Mardirosian, who is married to Stephens’ dean of the School of Performing Arts, has been playing the organ since he was a boy growing up in New York. Today, he is dean of the College of Arts and Letters and professor of music at The University of Tampa. He has earned international standing as a composer, conductor, concert organist and recording artist.

Mardirosian was 12 when his mother took him to the Riverside Church in New York City to hear the famous Virgil Fox play the organ. Riveted by the performance, the boy vowed to play the powerful instrument.  

Mardirosian believes a restored organ at Stephens could have the same power to inspire a new generation of players and fans.

“I hope everyone is as excited about this project as I am,” he said. “Just wait until you hear the organ after it’s restored. You won’t believe your ears.”


organ header

Benefit Concert

7:30 p.m., Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Firestone Baars Chapel, 1306 E. Walnut St.

Stephens College campus

Proceeds from the concert will benefit the organ restoration project. Tickets are $20 per person and can be purchased online or by contacting the Box Office at [email protected] or (573) 876-7199.

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‘Florence of Arabia’ 10-minute play wins top honors at Region V Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival

“Florence of Arabia,” a 10-minute play written by Minuette Layer ’17, won top honors on Jan. 28 during the Region V Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival (KCACTF) awards ceremony in Des Moines, Iowa.

The play was among two selected from a field of more than 100 plays submitted to the seven-state region, which includes Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota.

Layer’s play is one of two semi-finalists from each of the eight KCACRF regions that now goes on to be considered by a panel of judges for a concert reading in April during The Gary Garrison National Ten-Minute Play Award ceremony at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.

A winner will be selected along with three additional national finalists whose plays will be presented with casts made up of professional actors from the Washington, D.C., area. 

This isn’t the first time Layer’s 10-minute play has garnered attention.

“It was staged last summer at the Just Off Broadway Theatre in Kansas City,” Layer said. “It’s always nice to see different incarnations of the show and to watch the script grow and change in new unexpected ways.”

The play is about a family of cosplayers who are performers who wear costumes and fashion accessories to represent a specific character. The word comes from the contraction of the words costume play. In “Florence of Arabia,” the family must convince their daughter Sarah to be “normal” after she embarrasses them at Comic-Con by trying to dress as Lawrence of Arabia instead of picking from a more mainstream fandom.

Layer said writing a 10-minute play isn’t easy because they must have a beginning, middle and an end.

“The main challenge is trying to tell a full play’s worth of information in just a few pages while still keeping the story engaging,” she said. 

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‘Emma’ offers contemporary twist to Jane Austen classic


When Timuchin Aker first read the 2010 stage adaptation of Jane Austen’s classic comedy “Emma,” he was struck by the play’s dichotomy.

The script read contemporary but was still rooted in 19th century language.

Emma posterAker, an assistant professor of theatre at Stephens College and director of “Emma,” which opens today at the Macklanburg Playhouse, decided the best way to approach the play about the mischievous “matchmaker of Highbury” was to embrace the script’s curious twist of old and new and infuse the production with young ideas and old-fashion sensibilities. 

“The play is very much set in Austen’s time period and culture,” he said. “But there is still a good bit of modern contemporary flare to it.”

With that in mind, Aker turned to Tom Andes, instructor of music, who agreed to do music for the show. And in keeping with the old-meets-new spirit of the play, they decided to shake things up.

That’s how the piano ended up on stage where Andes will play throughout the two-hour show. He even uses the instrument to make special sound effects.

Another aspect of the play that gives the production a contemporary feel is the show’s main character, Emma Woodhouse—played by Morgan Walker ’17—who talks directly to the audience. With a snap of her fingers, Emma stops the action on stage and addresses the playgoers. 

“It’s not what you’d expect,” Aker said.

Originally published in 1815, the story follows Emma Woodhouse, the “matchmaker of Highbury,” who has just moved on to her newest project, a sweet but modest girl named Harriet Smith. With comedic twists and turns, the story is a lighthearted tale of gossip, matrimony and misunderstanding. 


Emma [Classic, G]
Performances are 7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday, Feb. 3-4, 10-11 and 2 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 5, in the Macklanburg Playhouse, 100 Willis Ave. Contact the Box Office at (573) 876-7199 or [email protected] for tickets. 

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Dame Zandra Rhodes to speak April 4 in The Jeannene Booher Fashion Lecture Series


The Stephens College School of Design will host a visit and lecture by one of the most iconic names in fashion: Dame Zandra Rhodes, the pink-haired pioneering British designer who has dressed, among others, Princess Diana, Freddie Mercury, Helen Mirren, Sarah Jessica Parker and Lauren Bacall.

Rhodes will speak at 7 p.m. on April 4, 2017, at the Kimball Ballroom of Lela Raney Wood Hall, 6 N. College Ave. The lecture is free and open to the public.

Rhodes is the second speaker sponsored by The Jeannene Booher Fashion Lecture Series, which launched in November 2016 with a $1 million gift from Booher, a 1956 alumna of the Stephens College fashion program.

“We are excited to have Dame Zandra Rhodes as our newest Jeannene Booher Fashion Lecture Series guest,” said Dr. Monica McMurry, dean of the School of Design. “Ms. Rhodes is an internationally known textile and fashion designer.  She has a storied clientele and is now working with Valentino to create fabulous fabric prints.”

McMurry said beside her lecture Rhodes will work one-on-one with students in Stephens pattern to print and printmaking on fabric courses.

“This is an opportunity of a lifetime for our students,” she said.

Rhodes, known for her dramatic, glamorous and extroverted personality, has pieces in the collections of The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute and the Fashion Institute of Technology’s library. She came onto the fashion scene in the late 1960s and is known for creating unique fashion pieces, timeless bold prints, fiercely feminine patterns and theatrical uses of color. She considers legendary editor Diana Vreeland of Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue as a mentor.

In addition, Rhodes founded the Fashion and Textile Museum of London and designed costumes for the San Diego Opera’s “The Magic Flute” and Bizet’s “The Pearl Fishers.”

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Dr. Erin Sellner uses music to engage students in science courses

Dr. Erin Sellner knew teaching Immunology at 8 o’clock in the morning would be tough, for her and the students.

So she turned to her favorite pastime and family’s lifeblood: music.

But there was more than entertainment in the songs Sellner played for her blurry-eyed students. There was a lesson.

Pink’s “You Make Me Sick” signaled a lecture on infectious diseases and vaccines while The Isley Brothers’ “Contagious” kicked off a discussion about the Zika virus epidemic. And what better way to usher in a lesson about cell signaling than Blondie’s “Call Me?”

“I try to use different modalities in my teaching,” said Sellner, an assistant professor of biochemistry in the School of Health Sciences. “That’s the way I get to be a bit creative and artsy like the rest of my family while still pulling it all back to my love for science.”

Sellner later posts the song along with the lecture online in a discussion thread titled “Beats by Dr. E.” She encourages her students to listen to the music while they study, hoping the songs will help trigger information about the subjects. She also posts articles about current advancements or research in science, showing students that what they are learning is tied to the world they live in. 

“I just find these subjects so fascinating that anything I can find to help pass it along is very much worth it to me,” Sellner said. “One of the things I really love about teaching is that moment when a student finally really, really gets it. I live for that moment.”

Sellner grew up in New Ulm, Minn., a town of about 13,200 people located 90 miles southwest of Minneapolis. Her father was a classically trained pianist and her mother, who had a master’s degree in music education, taught choir, band and general music at the local public schools. 

When she was in high school, Sellner and her family moved to Jefferson City.

It appeared early on that Sellner would follow in her parents’ musical footsteps. She started on piano, later expanding her repertoire to include the oboe, alto-saxophone and tenor saxophone. Alhough she enjoyed music, Sellner wasn’t convinced it was her calling. 

Always a good student, Sellner challenged herself academically, taking as many Advanced Placement courses, including an advanced science course in ninth grade, as she could.

And that’s where it happened.

“I fell head over heels in love with genetics,” Sellner said. “It was just so amazing how it explained inheritance and how you could predict inheritance.”

When she got home that night, Sellner couldn’t stop talking about genetics, and she hasn’t stopped since.

“It’s my lasting love,” she says. “It’s a case of once you find something that makes you that excited, you don’t waste your time on anything else.”

Sellner received a B.S. in Animal Science with minors in rural sociology and English from the University of Missouri-Columbia. She immediately went on to earn a Ph.D. in Animal Science from MU, with an emphasis in reproductive physiology and molecular genetics and a doctoral minor in college teaching.  

Before accepting a full-time position at Stephens last year, Sellner was teaching as an adjunct professor at Moberly Area Community College, William Woods University, Westminster College as well as at Stephens. This spring, she is teaching cell biology, immunology and biochemistry at Stephens and oversees the seniors’ capstone projects.

Sellner is grateful for the opportunity to put down roots at an all-women’s college.

“I really had no idea how amazing it would be in this kind of atmosphere,” she said. “It’s wonderful because there are young women in the hallways talking about science, and they come in and seek me out to have conversations about science!”

One thing Sellner noticed in the co-ed courses she taught before joining Stephens was male students often dominated the science labs while the women stood back, taking notes and watching.

“In our labs, everyone is touching everything,” Sellner said. “It’s amazing to see young women with their hands on pipettes, reading microbial plates and digging in. No one is complaining about the smell or anything else because there is no one to posture for. I feel so good about sending women out into the world who know what they know and aren’t afraid to share it.”

And the students find Sellner’s love for science, well, contagious.

“Dr. Sellner has a tremendous amount of passion for science and education, and it shows in her classroom,” said Dana Heggeman ’16, now a graduate student in Stephens’ Master of Physician Assistant Studies program. “She is constantly pushing students further into their studies, making them look past just memorizing the fact and into applying what they’ve learned to the real world.”

Hannah Fountain ’17 looks forward to Sellner’s lectures and labs because she knows she will leave the class enthused about a new topic in science.

“Dr. Sellner will draw dozens of diagrams and bring countless props to help make abstract concepts tangible,” Fountain said. “Dr. Sellner’s commitment to the success of her students shows us how to believe in ourselves. Dr. Sellner is everything that is truly great about Stephens College.”

While Sellner is devoted to her college students, she also knows the secret to increasing the number of women in science is to inspire them while they’re young. That’s why Sellner has worked hard to win grants to bring middle school girls to campus for Saturday Science at Stephens. She also advises Tri-Beta, the national biological honor society on campus, whose members take an active role teaching and mentoring the middle school girls.

Dr. Susan Muller, dean of the School of Health Sciences, is impressed with Sellner’s dedication to her students and the field of science.

“Dr. Sellner is an outstanding faculty member who is passionate about teaching and helping young women become interested in science,” she said. 

Sellner embraces the notion that she isn’t the stereotypical science teacher and hopes her example inspires students to be themselves and follow their own paths.

“What I really love about Stephens is our students are engaged with their courses, and they are engaged with their professors,” Sellner said. “I am happy my students feel comfortable walking into my office to talk with me about coursework and other things. I’m here for them.”

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Creative Ink students tackle poster design for 'Emma' production

Each semester a team of students from Creative Ink, Stephens College’s student-run marketing firm, works with the School of Performing Arts to create promotional materials for at least two shows.

This fall, however, every student at Creative Ink worked on creating a poster for Stephens’ upcoming play “Emma.” 

Kate Gray, associate professor in the School of Design and Creative Ink adviser, said the poster project became a training opportunity for students to learn firsthand and from each other what it’s like to work with a professional client. 

“We had asked the students, ‘How would you make the training better?’” Gray said. “The students said they wanted a project that they all worked on. So, that’s what we did.”

The process worked like most professional marketing jobs.

First, representatives from the School of Performing Arts talked with members of Creative Ink about the play and its storyline. Next, the firm’s 12 students were split into five teams and were asked to design three posters, each with completely different looks.

Finally, with everyone in the room, each team presented its posters to the client. Students also had the opportunity to hear each team’s feedback from the client.

Director Timuchin Aker, assistant professor of theatre at Stephens and director of “Emma,” was awestruck by the students’ creativity.

“We couldn’t have been happier with the results,” he said.

The winning poster, created by Claire DeSantis ’18 and Lyubov Sheremeta ’18, conveys a perfect pop-meets-period vibe, which is just what the client wanted for the 2010 adaptation of one of Jane Austen’s greatest novels.   

Clean and simple, like a modern magazine cover, the poster features a tight shot of the play’s star, Morgan Walker ’17, under the heading “Emma” in big pink letters.

But the kicker for Aker was the words “Oh, snap!” printed in white below Walker’s picture. The exclamation—made popular in recent years by Tracy Morgan on “Saturday Night Live”—is a play on something Emma does on stage that gives the production a modern-day feel: She snaps her fingers to stop the action of the play and talks directly to the audience.

“It told me the students had really listened to what we had to say about the play,” Akers said. “ Also, someone who says ‘Oh, snap!’ today could very much be the same kind of person who Emma was in her time period. There is a direct correlation between the youth of today and Emma. It was brilliant on the part of Creative Ink.”

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Students celebrate differences at first Fallopian Fest

What better way to bring women together than to create an event that celebrates their many different experiences?

That was the idea behind the Fallopian Fest, an afternoon event created by five Stephens College students, which was held Jan. 21 in the Kimball Ballroom of Lela Raney Wood Hall. The festival showcased local poets and musicians and advocates who also spoke at the event, sharing their personal struggles as women or gender-nonconforming persons. There was also a panel of speakers who responded to a guided Q&A session about a wide range of women’s issues.

All money raised by the event was donated to True North, a local women’s shelter.

Organizers of the event were founders Emme Van Roekel and Lauren Douglas, and coordinators Winona Wiley, Keyari Page and Madeline Campbell. 

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Embassy of the Czech Republic hosts Stephens' Traces in the Wind

The Stephens College cast of “Traces in the Wind” returned to Washington D.C. on Jan. 17 for another performance of the tone poem of remembrance.

This time the group appeared before the Embassy of the Czech Republic to which Dr. Gail Humphries Mardirosian, dean of the School of Performing Arts, has strong ties.

“Traces in the Wind” was developed one and a half years ago by Mardirosian, who worked with various Stephens theatre and musical theatre students on the piece. Tom Andes, instructor of music, composed original music and worked with Mardirosian to develop the lyrics. The group gave a performance last spring at Stephens before traveling to Washington D.C. for a showing at the International Psychoanalytical Association’s conference at American University.

The piece is based on writings from three Czech survivors of Terezin, a Nazi transit camp located 45 miles outside of Prague.

“The words of three extraordinary women who were betrayed, humiliated, deprived of normal living conditions and incarcerated, experienced a great depth of psychological and physical abuse and, yet, survived, were used as the matrix for the presentation,” Mardirosian said. “It seemed as if each of these exceptional women had used their art as some form of sustenance and it gave them some renewal, at least for the soul.”

Mardirosian said it’s impossible for her to fully comprehend the circumstances under which the women suffered.

“Yet, as an artist, there was such a compelling empathy generated from reading their writings,” she said, “that I felt an extraordinary desire to share their words.”

The stories presented include those of Charlotte Delbo, portrayed by Katherine Moore ’17, Rosie Glazer, portrayed by Clara Bentz ’17 and Eva Kavanova, portrayed by Lauren Hardcastle ’16.

Abilene Olson ’17 performs as the narrator; Jayme Brown ’17 serves as production stage manager and dramaturge; and Jamie Casagrande ’17 designed the costumes. Brandi Coleman, visiting artist, developed the movement. Pam Ellsworth-Smith, associate professor of vocal arts, served as vocal coach. Dialect coach was Paula Cavanaught Cater. Script consultant was Barbara Oliver Korner.

Mardirosian’s work with Czech theatre began in 2000 when she was invited by the Czechoslovak Society of Arts and Sciences, an international nonprofit organization promoting Czech and Slovak cultural and intellectual contributions, to present the American debut of a play written by the famous Czech playwright Josef Topol.  This led to many subsequent performances and presentations sponsored by the Embassy and performed in Washington D.C., as well as invitational lectures at various universities in the Czech Republic and Slovakia and Bohemia Hall in New York City.

In addition, Mardirosian’s work with the Embassy of the Czech Republic represents an important connection to her personal life.

“My mother was Czech and Slovak and this work connects me to my roots in so many ways,” she said. “I am also driven by a conviction to theatre for social justice.”

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Stephens to mark Martin Luther King Jr. Day with various programming


The Stephens College community will gather for a special celebration on Jan. 16, 2017, to honor Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Activities will begin at 3 p.m. with a Peace Walk, which will start at Historic Senior Hall conclude in Windsor Auditorium, where a program of powerful performances begins at 4 p.m.

This year’s program is dedicated to Monica Hand, an assistant professor of English, who passed away in December.

The program includes the short film “Sugar-Coated: Make America Great Again” by Tracy Wilson-Kleecamp as well as a dance performance titled “Freedom,” choreographed by Kylie Thompson ’18 and performed by Cerena Chancey ’19, Kiana Homan ’19 and Madisen Nielsen ’18. There will be spoken word by Tiana Williams ’18 and Poets of Infinity, a student group, and a soliloquy performed by Sicily Mathenia ’19. 

This MLK program is a collaboration between the Black History Month Committee, Poets of Infinity, Student Development Office of Programming and Leadership, and the School of Performing Arts.

During the day, students will participate in community service opportunities. Stephens juniors and seniors also will attend a Diversity Conference designed to improve awareness and appreciation of diversity in our communities and places of work. The conference, led by facilitators from the National Conference for Community & Justice of Metropolitan St. Louis, will focus on understanding microagressions/hot buttons and triggers, allyship and creating a foundation of how we are able to become authentic allies. There will be opportunities for participants to see and identify how these identities manifest themselves in daily life through interactive and engaging activities.

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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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