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“Nature and the Artist: The Work of Art and the Observer,” by renowned Mexican artist Rufino Tamayo, is back. It took more than two weeks to install the 43-foot-long mural in the atrium of the Brown Fine Arts Center. Commissioned for the wall of the Hillyer Art Library in 1943, the vivid mural was removed and remounted on panels in 1969, and the epic work traveled the world on exhibit for some 35 years. The recent renovation and expansion of the Brown Fine Arts Center provided the opportunity to design a space tailored for the colorful mural and its permanent installation at Smith. Photo by Fish/Parham.

Rededication: The Mwangi Cultural Center has moved to a new home. The center is named after the late Ng’endo Mwangi ’61, the first female physician in Kenya. During a special ceremony in late January, President Carol Christ paid tribute to the center’s namesake. “Her legacy provided a powerful vision to students of what they can accomplish when they walk out of the Grécourt Gates,” she said. The center, which houses offices and common space for Smith’s cultural heritage student organizations -- including the Asian Students Association, Black Students Alliance and Nosotras -- relocated from Lilly Hall to the renovated first floor of Davis Hall, formerly the Davis Student Center.

Kahn Institute Welcomes New Director: Smith Professor of Sociology Rick Fantasia, who this year is serving as director of the Junior Year Abroad Program in Geneva, will take over the helm as new director of the Kahn Liberal Arts Institute. He succeeds Marjorie Senechal, who has served as the institute’s founding director since it was established eight years ago to support interdisciplinary, collaborative research projects undertaken by faculty and student fellows. She steps down in June. Fantasia has been a member of the Smith faculty in the Department of Sociology since 1982, and he served as acting director of the Kahn Institute in 2001-02. His research and writing have focused on labor, culture and their interpenetration, both in the United States and France.

Maybe You Were Watching: “Smith alumnae” was one of the categories for contestants on the television game show “Jeopardy” on March 24. The correct answer included the names of Julia Child ’34, Nancy Reagan ’43, Barbara Bush ’47, Gloria Steinem ’56 and Ann M. Martin ’77.

A Changing Alaska: Alaska is not just a land of majestic wilderness and the midnight sun. It is also a place where some communities are isolated, winters are long and the effects of oil exploration are long lasting. The Harriman Alaska Expedition Retraced, a Century of Change, 1899-2001, published by Rutgers University Press in January 2005 reveals not only the boundless beauty of Alaska but also the hard facts and challenges Alaska faces after a century of change. Edited by Thomas Litwin, director of the Smith Clark Science Center, founding director of college’s environmental science and policy program and Aldo Leopold Fellow, the book includes photographs and essays by a group of scientists, writers and artists who made a Smith-sponsored 2001 expedition to Alaska, retracing the route of railroad baron Edward Harriman’s journey in 1899. “This is a profoundly perceptive and beautifully written book that sheds tremendous insights on Alaska and is a must-read for anyone who wants a deeper, richer understanding of America’s last frontier,” says Deborah Williams, executive director of the Alaska Conservation Foundation. See for more information.

Film Festival: An Israel Mini Film Festival, featuring films in Hebrew with English subtitles, recently offered the Smith community a broader perspective of modern Israeli society. All the films focused solely on Israeli Jewish life, says Justin Cammy, festival organizer and Smith assistant professor of Jewish studies and comparative literature. “The goal,” he adds, “is to enhance the existing Jewish studies curriculum through film.” Held in February, the film festival was “also a way to bring the warmth of an Israeli climate to a New England winter,” Cammy told the Jewish Ledger. The festival was sponsored by the Smith Program in Jewish Studies, the Office of the Jewish Chaplain at Smith, Congregation B’nai Israel of Northampton and the Solomon Schechter Day School of the Pioneer Valley.

New Comprehensive Fee: At its February meeting, the Smith College Board of Trustees approved a comprehensive fee of $41,024 for 2005-06, reflecting an overall increase of 5.5 percent over the 2004-05 fee. The comprehensive fee incorporates tuition ($30,520), room and board ($10,270) and a student activities fee ($234).

New Media Relations Director: Kristen A. Cole, former senior news writer at Brown University and a graduate of the University of Massachusetts Amherst, began her duties as media director at Smith in fall 2004. She brings to the college a wealth of experience in media relations and journalism and is a frequent contributor to the pages of NewsSmith.

Eager for signs of spring, hosts of visitors converged on Smith’s Lyman Conservatory in March to soak in a colorful array of blossoming crocuses, hyacinths, narcissi, irises, lilies and tulips. Some 5,000 bulbs, which normally flower weeks apart, were forced into peak bloom after being potted last October and then put into cold storage. Smith’s bulb show is a tradition of the Botanic Gardens, dating back more than 75 years. Photo courtesy Botanic Garden.

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