The Sunflower Initiative logo
Women Funding Women’s Education
The Sunflower Initiative logo
Women Funding Women’s Education

2018/02 The Sunflower Initiative Quarterly


February, 2018
In this issue, we share with you a tribute to Nora Kizer Bell ’62 written by her classmate Perry Carter Craven. Nora was an outspoken advocate for women’s colleges in both her research and her career.  Our first Fitzgerald Scholar, Aastha Sharma, graduated summa cum laude from Wesleyan College, where Nora served as President from 1997 to 2002. We also share the thoughts of Anita Bagot Mashiter ’80 on selecting a name and a logo for The Sunflower Initiative.  These pieces make us proud to be graduates of women’s colleges who are committed to helping other young women have that opportunity.   

Our honor roll of donors lists the names of all who have contributed to the success of the Sunflower Initiative and to the education of these young women.  We are truly grateful for your gifts and hope that you will continue to support TSI and its goals.  

Honor Roll of Donors 2017
Ellen Agnew
Anna Belle Ambrosen
Bonny Anderson
June Ball

Rebecca Baltzer
Carolyn Bell
Beth Bentley
Gail Bounds

Lawrence Bowden
Geraldine Brann
Cornelia Butler
Gretchen Butler

Geri Cecil
Jean Clarke
Rebecca Crosson
Melinda Donovan

Adam Eberle
Jennifer Elder
James Everett
Karen Everett

E.B. Flory
Michael Gates
Sarah Gordon
Eliza Hager

Nahid Hamzei
Linda Harger
Kristin Hodges
Fran Johns

Melissa Kaufmann-Buhler
Judith Kelly
Ruth Kinsolving
Barbara Kirkland

Sandra Kuritzky
Nellie Landrum
Carol Lang
Elizabeth Lasher
Theresa Lazo

Betty Littleton
Mary Beth Maisel
Cynthia Manshack
Anita Bagot Mashiter

Joan Matthews
Melissa Matthews
Sally Mattingly
JoAnn McConnell

Elizabeth McCrodden
Margaret McKean
Joan McRae
Madeline Miller

Charlotte Mullins
Jennifer Mullins
Brenda Nelms
Mary Claire Olivere

Rebecca Peterson
Claire Pratt
Karen Preston
Margaret Quinn

Ellen Ramsburgh
Jeanette Rodenbough
Aastha Sharma
Elizabeth Shearer

Janet Shipley
Edith Simmons
Susan Smith
Meredith Snowden

Anne Soukhanov
Christine Stenger
Vicki Sussman
Helen Thornton

Linda Tiffany
Charles Valentine
Ann Vest
Molly Westling
and an anonymous donor

Those remembered by gifts in 2017:  

Peggy Anderson, by Fran Johns
Elizabeth Clifford (R-MMC, 1979), by Cynthia Manshack
Kate Cudlipp (R-MWC, 1964), by Molly Westling
Anne Walker Cunningham (R-MWC, 1937), by Anne Soukhanov
Chatham College, by Sandra Kuritzky
Addie Taylor Eure, by Elizabeth Shearer
Carolina Fee, by Susan Smith
Jan Hullum, by Vicki Sussman
Nina J. and John H. Johnston, by Jean Clarke
Leroy S. Mattingly, by an anonymous donor
Elizabeth Eure Shearer, by Elizabeth Shearer
Martha Spivey (R-MWC, 1954), by Carolyn Bell

Those honored by gifts in 2017:  

Mary Guthrow,  honored by Carolyn Bell
Elizabeth Lipscomb (Sweet Briar, 1960), honored by Carolyn Bell
Betty Littleton, honored by Sarah Gordon
Ellen James Ramsburgh, honored by Barbara Kirkland
Randolph-Macon Woman’s College, honored by Anna Belle Ambrosen
R-MWC’s Class of 1989, honored by Meredith Snowden
Lynne Spies, honored by Carolyn Bell
The Sunflower Initiative, honored by Aastha Sharma

Donate to TSI today!
Women We Have Known:  Nora Kizer Bell ’62
                  by Perry Carter Craven ’62

“Young women graduates need the tools women’s colleges provide in order to thrive in a demanding world….  And the world, more than ever, will need these women.” — Nora Bell, 2002.  

In 2002 Nora Kizer Bell took her firm and public belief in the value of women’s colleges to the biggest job she had—and she had very good jobs– to be president of Hollins University in Roanoke, Virginia.  She began her tenure at Hollins following a tumultuous period created when her predecessor contemplated admitting men to the women’s school.  
Under her presidency, Hollins was voted the No. 1 college in the country for overall quality of life by the Princeton Review and listed in the second tier of national liberal arts colleges by US News and World Report.  She raised the national profile of Hollins and saw improved ratings and more applications during her time there.  
Nora was at Hollins for less than two years.  She had multiple myeloma and died from complications of pneumonia in January 2004.  She was 62.  At the time of her death, she left behind her husband, Dr. David A. Bell, president of Middle Georgia State University, three children and four grandchildren. 
Nora Caroline Evans Kizer from Charleston, West Virginia, started her own education at Randolph Macon Woman’s College in 1958.  She graduated Magna Cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa with a scholarship to study law at Yale University.  She was also a member of the May Court and the May Queen her senior year.  When Glamour was looking to feature student models, to no one’s surprise, they featured Nora in their magazine.  She was also an accomplished organist at Randolph-Macon. Fifty-five years later when classmates are asked about Nora, the comments are almost the same:  “Nora…” not a word about her studies, but “she was so friendly, so approachable, wonderful to be around.”
Nora majored in philosophy at Randolph-Macon and, passing up law school, earned her masters degree in philosophy from the University of South Carolina.  She was the only woman in the philosophy doctoral program at the University of North Carolina and, according to her mentors, “held her own in notoriously intense seminars.” She taught at the University of South Carolina for 16 years and was awarded the Order of the Palmetto, the state’s highest civilian award. 
In 1991 Blaine Brownell, provost of University of North Texas, recruited Nora from South Carolina to lead and be the first female dean of the University’s largest academic unit—the College of Arts and Sciences.  “She never assumed the “woman’s role” in advancing the interests of women, but rather led men and women by her example. Nora was a leader with vision, energy, determination, and poise.  In some respect, you could say she was driven—to achieve her goals and serve her college or university,” according to Dr. Brownell.  
Following her role as dean, Nora was recruited to be the first woman president of Wesleyan College, Macon, Georgia.  The school, founded in 1836, was the first college chartered to grant degrees to women. During her six years at Wesleyan she presided over the college’s aggressive growth plan.    Enrollments grew by twenty-five percent and, spurred by the college’s largest entering class in the past 22 years, the school started an evening program and enrolled 75 women the first year to finish their degree. 
According to Wesleyan Magazine, under Nora’s leadership, faculty and staff developed a 20-year master plan to accommodate new growth, including renovated residence halls, revamped student life center, new athletic facilities, more classroom office and meeting space as well as improved pedestrian and vehicle access.  Indeed, a large commitment to a larger student audience. 
Nora continued to write and speak on women’s issues.  A piece published in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution at the beginning of her presidency at Hollins was entitled, “Single-gender ed: not just an alternative.”   Nora wrote, “During two decades in large coed settings at major research universities, I taught pre-med students—some of the best and brightest.  I saw young women come into class smart, ready, and eager to go—and over time I watched as they gradually deflated, shut down, turned off.  We don’t need more research to tell us about the value of single-gender education.   My intuitions were, in large part, shaped by recollections of my own positive experiences as an undergraduate at a women’s college.”  
Nora was awarded Randolph-Macon Woman’s College’s Alumnae Award in 2000 to honor her outstanding undergraduate life and her significant contributions to the education of women.  
I recommended The Sunflower Initiative as a name for this mission because the Sunflower along with its gold and black coloring is an enduring and recognizable symbol of Randolph-Macon Woman’s College. Sunflowers grow extremely tall and need full sun to thrive. It was that “full sun” that we all had at Randolph-Macon that allowed us to not only thrive but to strive to achieve great things.  In working with the logo designer I wanted something that would honor the past but also connect to the present to communicate that a woman’s college is as equally relevant today as it was when we attended Randolph-Macon. I wanted a professional, contemporary rendering to represent the place that our graduates occupy in today’s world – we need to look forward not back.  The mix of the individual petals and grouped petals honors the easy way in which women collaborate and are willing to work together to support each other and achieve big objectives.