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

2017/11 The Sunflower Initiative Quarterly


November 2017
Women We Have Known:  
Carolyn Bell 


Jan Hullum

Shirley Strickland, my senior colleague and sister R-MWC alumna, was excited about the new hire in sociology-anthropology.  “Her name is Jan Hullum,” Shirley told me.  “You’ll like her.”   Shirley’s prophecy proved to be an understatement.
As Shirley knew, Jan and I had our University of Texas graduate study in common, though we had trained in different disciplines and had not known each other in Austin.  At R-MWC Jan and I soon discovered that we shared academic interests in gender and race.  We also came to share a firm commitment to our college’s noble mission of educating women. 
During Jan’s twenty-eight years at Randolph-Macon, she and I taught interdisciplinary courses together; we exchanged books and articles and student papers; we read each other’s writing; we talked endlessly about our classes and our college. Jan taught sociology courses in the family, gender, deviance, and, at UT-Austin in her last years, globalization. She brought into her classrooms not only her training in social theory, but also the creativity, personal warmth, and intellectual brilliance of the born teacher.  At R-MWC she was a faculty leader, admired and respected by colleagues, recognized for distinguished teaching, and adored by students, many of whom testify to the life-changing effects of her devoted interest in their intellectual and personal growth. 
To college culture Jan brought an anthropologist’s view of the way ritual sanctifies action and gives it meaning.  Though something of an introvert, she took part in the quadrennial faculty show because she understood the cultural significance of this outrageous event that, as she wrote in an academic paper on the subject, “begins in laughter and ends in love.”
Along with an insistence on the centrality of ritual, Jan brought from her discipline a clear understanding of every kind of human connection.  In her daughter Louisa’s words, Jan “believed deeply in the bonds of community, social justice, and our responsibility to others.”  These beliefs sprang from her certainty that service, besides taking us out of ourselves, weaves and strengthens the social fabric.  A lifelong community volunteer, she enacted her belief that altruism is an essential element of the well-lived life. 
Jan did not attend a women’s college, but both of her daughters did.  Their mother’s eloquent advocacy for women’s colleges sprang from sociological research demonstrating the benefits of all-female classrooms and from what R-MWC had taught her:  women’s colleges explicitly and implicitly challenge and nourish women students, taking them far beyond their own and others’ expectations.
“Mama” to her daughters, Jan lived her feminism.  She also lived her southern roots, bringing to her family’s table regional food and customs inherited from her own mother.  In her personal life and in her work, with generosity and joy, Jan consistently illuminated the profound significance of the everyday.  Teaching with Jan, learning from her, and sharing her family table have remained among my own most cherished experiences.  
Carolyn Wilkerson Bell (left) graduated from Randolph-Macon Woman’s College in 1965 and taught English at R-MWC from 1971 until 2006.   This picture of Dr. Bell and Dr. Hullum together was taken in Austin, Texas, in 2012.
Our Impressive 2017 Applicants 

 by Meg McKean for the Scholarship Committee
Meg McKean, chair, Jane Rinden, and Carolyn Bell  


The Harriet Fitzgerald Scholarship Committee has the privilege each year to become acquainted with the talented young women who apply for the scholarship.  The accomplishments of this year’s applicants are impressive.  There are young women who have presented a TED talk in Tokyo, collected and studied swamp snails with doctoral researchers, recruited other students (including boys) to work in homeless shelters for battered women, and developed community gardens to protect pollinator insects and to promote sustainable farming. 
There are students of piano, viola, bassoon, and Kathak dance; students who are teaching themselves Swedish, Polish, Korean, and Japanese (out of pure linguistic fascination, not because any of these is a heritage language spoken at home).  One applicant studies World War II to prepare for the next year’s Academic Decathlon, all outside of class, in addition to swimming four hours every day.   One does dance therapy with disabled children, enabling a little girl born as a paraplegic to dance freely and proudly before an admiring audience in fulfillment of a once-impossible dream.  
One has worked since the age of ten to raise environmental awareness of deforestation and palm oil plantations as a threat to orangutans while also developing methods of converting palm by-products into biomass energy.  A student of math and physics edits her school’s literary magazine and diplomatically explains her revisions to other student authors.  A student of neuroscience — at a magnet school for creative writing — has developed a curriculum at her local library to introduce pre-schoolers to literacy through poetry. 
A recurring theme among applicants was a commitment to issues of social justice.  They developed their concerns through widely varying experiences including advocacy, volunteering, service trips in the US and abroad, dramatic presentations, and self-directed study.  These applicants are determined not simply to get a good education but to become leaders.
One applicant captured TSI’s ‘raison d’etre.’ “The atmosphere of connection and innovation permeating the campuses of the women’s colleges I visited and the palpable enthusiasm of the students and faculty in these colleges was exciting and inviting. Their visions of positive change and missions to empower women to improve the world set them apart from all other colleges I visited.” 
Your gifts to The Sunflower Initiative will help these deserving and ambitious future leaders attend a women’s college where they will discover and develop their talents and grow bold and strong.
Donate to TSI today!
From the President 

by Betsy McCrodden

Pictured above are four members of the TSI Board of Directors, (L to R) Ellen Ramsburgh, Betsy McCrodden, Kristin Hodges, and Meg McKean, with our friend and supporter, Karen Bush Everett, at our 2017 annual board retreat.  We met in Karen’s hometown of Dandridge, TN at the Shepard Inn, restored with great care by Karen and husband Jim. Karen gave us a tour of the Bush’s Visitor Center where we met Duke, the Bush’s Beans mascot (far right), and we learned about the Bush family business.

As usual, board members reviewed where TSI is and where it’s going. We are pleased with the progress we have made in TSI’s nine-year life and with the women whose education TSI has supported, and we are continually exploring ways to help more women experience the supportive educational environments offered by women’s colleges.
Part of our focus is always on cutting administrative costs – overhead, if you will – which means that each board member pays her own expenses when we gather at our yearly retreats.  Your contributions, which are so vital to TSI, go to an organization that is lean and focused on putting your money where it should go: scholarships for women attending women’s colleges.
Please remember TSI in your annual giving plans.  We pledge strong stewardship of your donations.
Donate to TSI today!