ARCHIVED: 2009 in Review
Quite a year, 2009—marked by an economic recession, the start of a historic American presidency, and the deaths of beloved icons like Merce Cunningham, Michael Jackson, and Ted Kennedy, to name a few.
Here at Sarah Lawrence, the year was full of change, achievement, and endings that made room for new beginnings. Prestigious awards were bestowed on poets and dancers. Thoughtful current-events commentary was delivered on high-profile national news outlets. The achievements of alumnae/i and faculty alike were vaunted in the media. To all this we say, “Well done!” For the scoop on the latest and greatest of 2009, scroll on.
The Trophy Case
When it comes to accolades, this year there was no shortage of praise to go around. Members of the Sarah Lawrence community—students, staff, faculty, and alumnae/i—were recognized for a variety of achievements. For example:
Called “one of the greatest dancers of her generation,” faculty member Sara Rudner won the 2009 for her outstanding contributions to the world of dance. The magazine also credited her with revitalizing Sarah Lawrence’s dance program.
Matthea Harvey (poetry) received the $100,000 from Claremont Graduate University, for her book “Modern Life.”
Maria Negroni (literature) received the top in Latin America for Galeria Fantastica, a book that examines the most important works of Latin American literature in the 20th century.
The Milton Society of America awarded Literature faculty member William Shullenberger the James Holly Hanford Award for in 2008 for Lady in the Labyrinth: Milton’s “Comus” as Initiation.
The American Academy of Arts and Letters honored Dennis Nurske (writing) with the 2009 , to honor “exceptional accomplishment” in poetry.
Meanwhile, in the world of theatre, Dan Hurlin ’79 (theatre) was one of 50 fellows named by the , a grant-making and advocacy organization. The recipient of a $50,000 unrestricted grant, Hurlin was recognized for his original puppet theater, combining puppets with human actors in dance and drama.
Theatre program director John Dillon was featured as one of the “50 at 50” at the gala celebration of the union's 50th anniversary.
Melissa Frazier (Russian language and literature) received a and will spend the spring at Urals State University in Ekaterinburg, Russia.
Alumna Tovah Feldshuh received a slew of this year. Accolades include the Friend of the Arts Award from Town Hall, an award from the Holocaust and Human Rights Education Center; an award from The American and International Societies for Yad Vashem, Inc.; an honorary doctorate from Yeshiva University; and the first Theatre Arts Award from the America Israel Cultural Foundation (coming in January). Congrats, Tovah!
This summer, rower extraordinaire Chantal Gil ’10 joined the Israeli and earned silver and bronze medals at the Maccabiah Games, an annual, Olympics-style competition in Israel with more than 8,000 athletes. Gil also rows on the SLC crew team.
Closer to home, Elissa Hutson '11 and Bianca Galvez '11 in December. Each wrote a story based on a photo in the exhibit Looking In: Robert Frank's “The Americans.” Their stories will be performed on NPR this spring.
Rounding out the awards news, it appears that alumnae/i, students and faculty aren’t the only ones who need to make some space on the mantle: the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) awarded the College the for periodical design for the fall 2008 issue of Sarah Lawrence magazine. In addition, The Fund for Sarah Lawrence “thank you” video won gold and silver awards in the CASE district II competition.
There were plenty of big issues to grapple with in 2009. Here are a few that the College took on:
In March, the 11th Annual Women’s History Conference focused on “,” with a keynote address from journalist Mona Eltahawy.
Leading advocates of health-care reform tackled the minutiae of with the Health, Science, and Society Health Care Reform series in the fall. As one might imagine, Laura Weil, director of the Graduate Program in Health Advocacy, kept a full dance card this year, discussing health care advocacy in articles appearing in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, and MSNBC.
MacArthur Prize-winning scientist and author Carl Safina waxed both poetic and scientific on the subject of at the annual science lecture, In the Same Net; Biodiversity, Ethics, and the Human Spirit.
In October, the economics faculty held a teach-in about the economic crisis, explaining the fall of the credit and housing markets and the effects of the bailout packages.
Media veteran Fawaz Gerges, holder of The Christian A. Johnson Chair in International Affairs and Middle Eastern Studies, appeared on CNN, discussing the and, most recently, Obama’s decision to send more .
No stranger to the spotlight, JJ Abrams ’88 directed the summer blockbuster . Abrams, the creator of popular TV shows such as Felicity and Lost, was profiled by in September as part of the mag’s retrospective on the people who have shaped television over the last 50 years.
Looks like it was also a full year for Julianna Margulies ’89 , who was recently honored at the 25th Anniversary New York Stage and Film (SAF) winter gala for her in theatre, film, and television. Marguiles stars in the new CBS hit show (Westlands gets a cameo in episode 3, which contains a scene shot on campus).
In December, Marguiles and fellow alum Kyra Sedgewick were nominated for the for Best Dramatic Performance by an Actress in a television series. Sedgwick is the lead in another hot show, TNT’s The Closer.
Along with comedian Ricky Gervais (of The Office fame), Matt Robinson ’00 co-wrote and directed , a feature film starring Jennifer Garner, Louis C.K., Tina Fey, and Rob Lowe.
Sarah Lawrence continued to make its mark on pop culture, with mentions of the College on the small screen, including The Conan O’Brien Show, Gossip Girl, and MSNBC’s Hardball with Chris Matthews.
In the New Yorker
To people of a certain literary bent, nothing says success like an article in the New Yorker. This year the magazine featured no shortage of Sarah Lawrence faculty members and alumnae/i on its storied pages. Writing faculty members, Marie Howe (), Dennis Nurske (), and Vijay Seshadri () all published poems in this venerable rag this year.
Leslie Morgenstein ’89, president of Alloy Entertainment, was profiled in the issuefor having built an entertainment empire for teenage girls. (Some of his biggest hits include the Gossip Girl and Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants franchises.)
The work of Nell Minow ’74, co-founder of the Corporate Library, was highlighted in an article about CEO compensation. The article’s author, David Owen, called Minow “one of the country’s leading experts on the fiduciary obligations of executives and directors.” ( profiled Minow’s dual career in July—she also works as a movie critic.)
The White House and Beyond
On the November 20 episode of , Chris Matthews jokingly asked if Sarah Lawrence College was the “key to the [Obama] administration,” when the pros and cons of the types of institutions attended by his administrators were being discussed.
Modesty prevents us from speculating on the topic, but it’s true that in January, Rahm Emanuel ’81 became President Obama’s chief of staff. Despite the dramatic changes in his professional life, Emanuel returned to One Mead Way to deliver the 2009 . (The move was prompted by senior class co-president Neil Makhija ’09, who interrupted Emanuel and Al Franken at the 2008 Democratic National Convention to invite Emanuel to speak on campus. Lucky for us, Emanuel responded in the affirmative.)
Emanuel isn’t SLC’s only in at the White House. Valerie Jarrett, a member of Obama’s inner circle of advisers and assistant to the president for Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs, is the daughter of Barbara Bowman ’50, a pioneer of early childhood education and co-founder of the famed Erikson Institute.
In other political news, President Obama named Brooke Anderson ‘86 as the new deputy ambassador to the in December. The post is the latest achievement in Anderson’s impressive history of foreign policy experience, which included a stint as foreign policy/national security communications director for John Kerry’s presidential campaign.
As the Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen came to a close, Sarah Lawrence had much cause to celebrate the ecological efforts of students and alumnae/i.
Annie Novak ’05, co-founder of Rooftop Farms, played host to as part of a November 10 show about the sustainable food movement in Brooklyn. Novak also promoted rooftop gardens on on August 19. As it turns out, her work got her noticed in other ways, too: the nominated Novak as one of the “hottest” (read: sexiest) organic farmers around. Kudos to Novak for making the good food revolution sexy.
Back on campus, the for the energy-saving efforts of Warren Green, the College’s first eco-friendly residence. Maybe it’s not easy being green, but it sure is worth it: a year after renovating the building (with solar panels, an on-demand hot water heater, and other energy-saving measures), the College reported a 91% savings in energy and a 68% cost savings. Nice job, Warren Green!
This fall, When Learning Comes Naturally, the latest film in the Child Development Institute’s Learning Child series, premiered in September and aired on stations across the country. The film explores the connection between nature and learning, as well as how to foster children’s appreciation for the environment.
Quality of life on campus went up significantly this year, with improved facilities, a new food service provider, and the arrival of a new dean.
Taking that old adage “You are what you eat” seriously, Sarah Lawrence launched a new partnership with AVI Fresh, a food service provider which takes sustainably sourced foods and local economies into account when preparing their menus. To match the gastronomic upgrade, Bates Dining Room also received a and opened to returning students in the fall.
Marking the start of a new academic cycle, Jerrilynn Dodds assumed the role of in August. Prior to the new post, Professor Dodds was distinguished professor and senior faculty advisor to the provost for undergraduate education at the City College of New York, where she had previously been chairman of the department of architecture.
This year, the College hosted a variety of luminary thinkers whose ideas shape both the world and, thanks to their visits, intellectual life on campus.
The Graduate Reading Series featured bestselling novelist Amy Bloom and Marilyn Nelson, former poet laureate of the State of Connecticut, among others.
In March, author and journalist Richard Louv delivered the stirring 2009 , entitled “Nature Deficit Disorder: The Movement to Connect Our Children, Ourselves, and Future Generations to the Natural World,” emphasizing the importance of outdoor play for children.
Renowned pediatrician Dr. T. Berry Brazelton joined Dr. Joshua Sparrow, psychiatrist and child development expert, to give a joint lecture on in May. In “Touchpoints: A Developmental and Relational Model for Working with Children and Families,” they explored how to prepare children to be academically successful in ways that nurture the whole child.
Amanda Foreman ’91 returned to campus in April to discuss , a film starring that was based on Foreman’s award-winning and bestselling book Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire. Gabrielle Tana ’85, who produced the film, also participated in the discussion.
Speaking of homecomings, choreographer Lucinda Childs ’62 returned to campus as an in the fall, working with students on her masterpiece Radial Courses (1976), which was performed on campus in December.
brought together some of the most spirited names in poetry, including Mark Doty, Rita Dove, and Jorie Graham. The three-day festival comprised craft talks, readings, panel discussions, and a “Graphic Poetry Champagne Reception.”
Here’s to a bright and prosperous 2010 for all!