Alumna Gives College $11 Million to Support International Education
Kathryn Wasserman Davis '28 has given Wellesley the largest gift in its history, an $11 million commitment to support international scholarship and research with a particular emphasis on the former Soviet Union and eastern Europe. Davis, a member of the Board of Trustees, has had a lifelong interest in Russia and the former Soviet Union.
"Kathryn Davis' tremendous generosity and vision will help Wellesley College continue its evolution as an international college," said President Diana Chapman Walsh in announcing the gift. "The programs and initiatives supported by this magnificent commitment will enable Wellesley to bring the experiences and contributions of other cultures to our campus, enriching both our community and, through our graduates and faculty, the world at large."
The pledge, made through the Shelby Cullom Davis Foundation, will create three permanently endowed funds at Wellesley College, distributed as follows:
Five million dollars will establish the Kathryn Wasserman Davis International Fund to provide financial aid to students with demonstrated need, with a preference given to students from the former Soviet Union and eastern Europe. It is estimated that this fund could provide scholarships for at least ten students annually.
Five million dollars will establish the Kathryn Wasserman Davis International Research and Development Fund for Students, to be divided into $2 million for student international internships for study abroad; $2 million for financial assistance for US students studying abroad; and $1 million for student research abroad (e.g., field work, travel to archives).
One million dollars will establish the Kathryn Wasserman Davis International Research and Development Fund for Faculty to enable faculty of all disciplines to broaden their international expertise.
"Kathryn Davis has helped open doors to far&endash;away places, long before it was fashionable to do so," noted Walsh. "This most recent gift to Wellesley is a manifestation of her lifelong interest in Russia, dating back to her first visit in 1928, just 12 years after the Russian Revolution, when she and her sister traveled through the Caucasus on horseback."
In the 70 years since then, Davis has returned to Russia 24 times. Her husband, Shelby Cullom Davis, US Ambassador to Switzerland from 1969 to 1975 and a noted New York investment banker, shared her passion for international relations; he died in 1994. In 1996, Mrs. Davis committed $10 million to the Russian Research Center at Harvard University.
In addition to personal travel, Mrs. Davis has ensured that others
may learn about Russia, the former Soviet Union, and other world
cultures through her and her late husband's support of academic
scholarship at Wellesley, including professorships in Slavic Studies
and Asian Studies and History and the Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis
Museum and Cultural Center, dedicated in 1993.
Back to Top
Earl Lovelace, most recently Visiting Professor in the Africana Studies Department, has been garnering extraordinary praise for his latest novel, Salt. It already has won the Commonwealth Prize's Best Book Award for the Canada&endash;Caribbean region and the overall Commonwealth Writers Prize for 1997, and is a finalist for the 1998 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, second in monetary size only to the Nobel Prize in Literature. The winner of that award will be announced on May 18.
Before returning to his native Trinidad, Lovelace spoke to The Illuminator about teaching, writing, and life at Wellesley.
Is your writing secondary to your teaching, or is it a marriage of equals?
Whatever I'm doing, I'm trying to do it the best way I can. I haven't been able to write since I got here; teaching has its own demands. When I write, I have to wrestle with it, scratch out a few things, and give it my full energy eventually.
Let's talk about teaching, then. You've taught all over, from Trinidad to Washington, D.C. How has teaching at Wellesley compared to teaching at some of those other institutions?
Teaching is different everywhere &endash; books that I teach one year, I reread the next and find something new in them. The students here have been delightful &endash; interested and interesting. I didn't get to know most of them outside the classroom, though. I taught two large classes and one small class the past semester. It's all&endash;consuming.
What have you most enjoyed about teaching here?
Generally, in literature classes, the knowledge that I'm teaching women. There's a greater consciousness of women's concerns and women's self&endash;affirmation. ... I have three daughters, which makes these questions very relevant to my own life.
What, in your opinion, makes an excellent teacher?
For me, I believe in questioning things. My task is to equip students to question everything, including me. I want to tell them to look at a book, to get them to find out that they can use their imagination and intelligence. I only just discovered that teaching, and speaking generally, is a performance ... I know I'm expected to know more than the students, at least most of the time! I taught a class on playwriting, and even though all the students wrote plays by the end of the term, they were disappointed that I didn't tell them how to do it.
Your latest novel, Salt, has been receiving some truly extraordinary reviews and awards. It's certainly not your first award&endash;winning work &endash; but did you ever expect such a reception for it?
I took some time writing this novel &endash; I'd been writing plays and other stories for ten years &endash; and during the process of writing, I thought, "I can't think about time, I just have to do my best." Although I don't think it's the best I could have done. If you've done your best, there's nothing left to do any more!
Given that your writing focuses on the effects of colonialism, what was it like for you to have an audience with the Queen of England as part of your Commonwealth Writers Prize for Salt?
It wasn't something I'd thought about at all! I mean, she was a pleasant person. I gave her a copy of the book, signed "With the regards of Wellesley students." I think that writing for me is helping to call us to account as humans. That's the most writing can do.
What are you doing next?
I'm looking forward to getting back to the sun and the sea. I'm going back to my village (in Trinidad) to help people take charge of their life. I want to get involved in the community. I'm also working on another novel I want to proceed with. It's not even a rough draft yet, but I'm making decisions about where to go and what to do with it.
Are you going to miss Wellesley?
(Laughing) I should say I will, no?
Back to Top
On May 2, bleary&endash;eyed "little sisters" awakened early and rushed to the starting line of the traditional hoop&endash;roll race to save the best possible starting positions for their senior "big sisters." At the end of the race, President Diana Chapman Walsh &endash; herself the winner of her senior year hooprolling &endash; presented the victor with a bouquet of flowers. Wellesley seniors have observed this ritual for more than a century, celebrating spring by dressing in their caps and gowns and rolling old wooden hoops about the circumference of a beer barrel along a path (originally the slope of Tower Hill) to the doors of the campus chapel.
Hooprolling apparently began in 1895 as a senior prank: grown women playing a children's game to poke fun at the stuffiness of academia. It soon became a sanctioned Wellesley activity; an 1899 photo shows 70 or 80 seniors in caps and gowns with hoops in hand. By the 1920s, it was part of a series of May Day events presided over by an elected Queen of the May. At some point in the interim, the hoop&endash;roll became a race for the grand prize of a bridal bouquet &endash; the legend having emerged that the winner of the race would be the first in her class to wed. It had also become (no one is quite sure when) traditional for seniors to choose sophomore "little sisters" to stake out spots near the starting line, rewarding them for their vigilance by bequeathing their hoops to them after the race.
But the hoop&endash;roll is no quaint, irrelevant echo of the past. Like Wellesley, the tradition has changed with the times. In 1950, married seniors substituted baby carriages &endash; two with actual babies &endash; for hoops as a wry comment on the wedding&endash;bells legend. By 1976, when the Women's Movement was well underway, the winner was quoted by a reporter as gushing with tongue in cheek, "I can't wait to get married," adding that since she wasn't engaged, she would have to "grab a Babson guy out of the library next week and elope." In the last decade or so, the matrimonial guarantee has evolved into the promise that the winner will be the first in her class to reach her personal goals.
In 1974, a Harvard man in
drag won the hoop&endash;roll once again. That was also the year that
the College president's speech on the importance of tradition was
immediately followed by the spectacle of four streakers, carrying
caps and gowns but wearing only socks and running shoes, who bolted
down the 400&endash;yard slope and vanished. In the early '80s, a
senior dyed herself to match her class color. And future twists on
tradition? Who knows. But it's clear that the unexpected has become
part of the hooprolling ceremony, too.
Back to Top
The 10th Anniversary Wellness Fair, showcasing activities and demonstrations of all kinds, is scheduled for Monday, May 11 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Chapel Green. All employees are invited to come for a free 15&endash;minute massage, then stay to learn line dancing, t'ai chi, or meditation. With 13 stations offering everything from aromatherapy to body fat measurement, you're sure to find something to jump&endash;start your commitment to healthy living.
Here's what you'll find at the booths on Chapel Green:
Meditation &endash; Ask Buddhist advisor Laura Cluff how to make your meditation practice more effective.
Eat Smart &endash; This local restaurant will offer fruit smoothies and all&endash;natural low&endash;fat wrap sandwiches.
Acupuncture and health &endash; Learn how acupuncture can improve your health.
Athletic footwear &endash; Find out how to choose the right running/walking shoes for your feet. Enter a raffle to win a pair of athletic shoes.
The Body Shop &endash; Representatives from the international body care chain will discuss aromatherapy and give hand massages.
Bread & Circus &endash; Try tasty samples of "whole foods" and learn how food choices affect your energy levels.
Chiropractic care and health &endash; From 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., learn how chiropractic can help your body.
Cycling &endash; Bike tips from the experts.
Greenhouse &endash; Del Nickerson will offer information about natural horticulture for lawn warriors and brown thumbs alike. Enter the plant raffle to win some green.
Harvard Pilgrim Health Care &endash; Find out your body fat percentage, consult with an OB/GYN, check your blood pressure, get information about AIDS, and ask your health&endash;related questions.
Massage &endash; Free 15&endash;minute massages.
Brett Frechette &endash; A local expert offers healthy finger food and tips on eating right.
Sports medicine booth &endash; Tips on injury prevention, treatment, and rehabilitation from Pat Cordeiro and Sharon Sharpe.
Strength training/aerobics &endash; Information on stretching, strengthening, and heart&endash;healthy exercise.
The Wellness Fair is sponsored by the Employee Wellness program for the benefit of all employees, said Connie Bauman, director of employee wellness. In case of rain, the fair will be postponed to May 12. Indoor events will be held in the Schneider Center.
Everyday Activities Help Employees "Spring Into
A health club workout counts toward a high score in the eighth annual Spring&endash;Into&endash;Shape Program. So do walking, running, swimming, even yard work. Taking out the trash? Probably not, although Connie Bauman, director of employee wellness, reports that one prospective competitor asked if burying a dead raccoon would qualify.
"Would gardening count?" said Bauman. "Absolutely, if you're walking back and forth and digging and getting your heart going. Anything counts as long as you can maintain it for 20 minutes."
Choose your teammates, pursue prizes, and get moving &endash; it's not too late to sign up! Teams of six employees will compete May 7 &endash; 14 in racking up fitness points, one point for each 20 minutes of sustained moderate physical activity. Participants can win a raffle of fitness prizes for participating in Wellness programs and activities throughout the year, and high&endash;scoring Spring&endash;Into&endash;Shape teams will receive special awards.
There's also an award for "most creative team name." Last year's winners were the Bursar's office with"Show Me the Money"and the Controller's office with "We Have the Money," Bauman said. In addition, The Ole Gray Mares VIII, a group of retired professors, will be returning with only one member on their team under 70 &endash; "and that little filly is in her 60s," she added.
If you're enrolled in ongoing aqua&endash;aerobics, low&endash; impact aerobics, or yoga classes on campus, you earn two points per class meeting. New classes and activities on campus also earn two points per meeting and are specially designed to get team members and non&endash;competitors alike moving. This spring, choose from golf classes, a campus bird walk, a campus landscape walk, a stress management class, a meditation workshop, and several others, most free of charge.
For more information about the Spring&endash;Into&endash;Shape
challenge, post a message on the WELLNESS bulletin folder. Teams must
be registered by May 7.
Requests denied for Spring&endash;Into&endash;Shape points:
&endash; Connie Bauman
Wellness Fair Activities and
Line Dancing, Anna Young &endash; 11:30 a.m. to noon
Cross Training Aerobic Workout, Joanne Schmalenberger &endash; noon to 12:30 p.m.
T'ai Chi, Deborah Weaver &endash; 12:30 to 1:15 p.m.
Rollerblading (Schneider Courts) &endash; every half hour
from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Equipment is provided.
Back to Top
With the end of the academic year fast approaching, The Illuminator took an informal survey of several faculty and staff to find out what makes summer special for them. The result: our very own "Best of Summer" list.
Best Picnic Spot
Walden Pond &endash; Dianne McCorry (Knapp Media Center)
Charles River Dam, South Natick &endash; Terrill Byrne (Equal Opportunity Office):
Westport Rivers, "a beautiful winery on a beautiful estate with an antique barn and red cattle" &endash; Leonor Martins (graduate intern, class of '96)
Lake Waban, "on benches near the beach" &endash; Joan McCarthy (Math Dept.)
Best Place for Outdoor Music
Indian Ranch, Webster &endash; Terrill Byrne
The Hatch Shell &endash; Nancy Karis (Knapp Media Center)
Great Woods &endash; Elaine Gullett (Schneider Food Service)
Best Ice Cream
Kimball's, Westford &endash; Dianne McCorry
Castle Island, South Boston, "Slurp it up, then wash up in the harbor bay" &endash; Nancy Karis
White Mountain Creamery, Wellesley &endash; Nancy Genero (Psychology Dept.)
Dairy Chief, South Dartmouth, "The place to go for the best soft ice cream! &endash; Leonor Martins
Best Farm Stand
Outpost Farm, Holliston, "Turkey farm par excellence!!! Sandwiches, too." &endash; Nancy Karis
George Farm, So. Dartmouth, "Great place for fresh fruits and veggies right off the farm." &endash; Leonor Martins
Bacon St. Farm, Natick, "Best veggies and cold cuts; beautiful flowers." &endash; Joan McCarthy
Best Pick&endash;Your&endash;Own Place
Lookout Farm, South Natick &endash; Terrill Byrne
"My mom's garden has everything from strawberries to green peas." &endash; Leonor Martins
Wingaersheek Beach, Gloucester (exit 13 off Rte. 128) &endash; Terrill Byrne
Ogunquit, Maine, "Cold, clean ocean water waves and soft sand." &endash; Nancy Karis
Horseneck Beach, Westport, "Hottest spot in town." &endash; Leonor Martins
Best Place to take Young Kids
Children's Museum in Boston, Discovery Museum in Acton &endash; Dianne McCorry
Castle Island, South Boston, "Food, beaches, urban locale." &endash; Nancy Karis
New England Aquarium, "Teach about nature and fish." &endash; Elaine Gullett
Best Day Trip/Weekend Getaway Spot
Rockport, Mass. &endash; Terrill Byrne
Mt. Washington Hotel in Bretton Woods, N.H. &endash; Dianne McCorry
York Beach, "Golden Rod Restaurant for salt water taffy to take home!" &endash; Nancy Karis
Foxwoods Casino, "Gambling and winning!" &endash; Elaine Gullett
The Kittery Outlet Stores in Maine &endash; Nancy Genero
Back to Top
The Classes of 1997, 1998, and 1999 have chosen Julie Levison '98 as the new Young Alumnae Trustee. She will serve a three&endash;year term on the College's Board of Trustees, starting July 1, 1998 and ending June 30, 2001.
Levison, one of this year's Rhodes Scholars, has served as a
member and chair of the Student Council to the Board of Trustees. She
was also the first student to serve on the Board of Overseers of the
Center for Research on Women, where she helped establish paid
fellowships for student research.
Back to Top
Wellesley College will play host in September to "Education as Transformation," a gathering of faculty, staff, students, alumni, trustees, and religious life staff at colleges and universities across the country. This two&endash;day event, scheduled for September 27 and 28, 1998, is the next step in a multi&endash;year project about religious pluralism and spirituality in higher education.
During the gathering, participants will discuss issues such as these:
Members of the College community who are interested in
participating can contact Margaret Kowalsky in the Office of
Religious and Spiritual Life at x2659, send e&endash;mail to
or visit the Web site for the Project on Education as Transformation:
Religious Pluralism, Spirituality and Higher Education at
Back to Top