Magazine On-line [summer 2007]
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Alumni Weekend 2007


BRENDA BELLFor Brenda S. Bell ’67, the Timeless Traditions theme of Alumni Weekend 2007 not only brought to mind the classic images of dorm life, ball games, and dances at Transylvania, it also reminded her of the core values of a liberal arts education, which she centers on curiosity, community, and commitment.

“A traditional Transylvania education fosters curiosity, encourages the broadening of a community, and helps students explore commitment,” Bell said to her alumni celebration luncheon audience in the William T. Young Campus Center. “These traditions are not time-bound—they are timeless, and they create us as lifelong learners engaged in the world.”

Bell’s career has focused on empowering citizens in communities in the United States and abroad by improving adult education and literacy. After completing a B.A. in sociology at Transylvania, she earned a master’s in adult education from the University of Tennessee. Her current position as senior program adviser with the Education Development Center based in Newton, Mass., takes her to Afghanistan, the Philippines, South Africa, and India.

Even as she travels the world, Bell, who lives in Maryville, Tenn., told the alumni that she cherishes her Transylvania years and the education that formed the basis for her life and career.

“Some of the academic and social questions I started forming during my years at Transylvania have lasted a lifetime,” Bell said. “Classes in sociology, anthropology, religion, history, political science, philosophy, and psychology with professors like Ben Lewis, Ben Burns, Phil Points, Paul Fuller, Joe Binford, Joy Query, Lois DeFleur, and John Wright sparked my intellectual curiosity. I was curious about people who didn’t show up in history books and were left out of the decision-making.”


See University Awards, Distinguished Service Awards, and Distinguished Achievement Awards


Jan Anestis ’67 was reunion co-chair for her class for Alumni Weekend 2007. Afterwards, she wrote an e-mail to her classmates, both those in attendance and those who missed the event, that caught some of the spirit of the weekend. Here are some excerpts.

On celebration luncheon speaker Brenda Bell ’67:
“Many people walk calmly through life, and as they mature, they slowly temper youthful enthusiasm, or at least their behavior. If they once sang solos, they now sing in a quieter voice. If they were the first on the dance floor, perhaps now they dance the occasional slow dance. And on issues of politics, social policy, or education, their opinions migrate toward the middle, tempered by experience and an ebbing of intellectual passion. None of those things apply to Brenda! Her speech gave us a glimpse of a woman for whom life has been defined by curiosity, conviction, creativity, and a spirit that defies containment. I can imagine Brenda at 90, choosing white water rafting over bingo. Life jacket? Who needs a life jacket?”

On reunion giving:
“Wanda Poynter Cole and Dave Miller led an incredibly successful campaign for our class gift. I think class gift chair is an awesome role—not the easiest of reunion year tasks, but so important to the life of the University. The money we all give helps ensure that young people who need financial aid can fulfill their dreams just as we did.”

On the passage of time:
“It never fails to amaze me that years matter so little...that the people we knew those many years ago appear slightly changed physically, perhaps a little wiser, certainly a bit more at ease in their bodies, but essentially the same. It is a trip Back to the Future, an evening of Peggy Sue Got Married.... We are who we have become, but also who we were. I am delighted to have spent time with you all again.”

Scenes from Alumni Weekend 2007

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