Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts

Margaret Gibson ’63 honored for her work in anthropology

Margaret “Greta” Gibson ’63 has been a pioneer in the field of educational anthropology for more than 30 years. Last fall she was honored with the George and Louise Spindler Award for Educational Anthropology at the American Anthropological Association’s 2012 meeting.

The award is the most prestigious in the field of educational anthropology. In nominating Gibson for the award, her colleagues wrote, “One simply cannot examine immigrant education without close scrutiny of her scholarship.”

Gibson, who majored in philosophy and religion at Wheaton, says she came to focus her research on immigrant education “quite by accident.”

“I went to St. Croix [U.S. Virgin Islands] in spring 1973 to carry out dissertation research on the role of ethnicity in shaping school performance, expecting that almost all students would be native Crucians and students of Puerto Rican origin. However, in 1970, by court order, the public schools had been required to admit noncitizens. By the time I arrived, nearly 40 percent of all K–12 public school students were immigrants from neighboring Caribbean islands. My research focus shifted to include these children and how immigrant status as well as ethnicity influenced school engagement.”

Gibson’s expertise in educational anthropology led California educators to ask her to study inter-ethnic tensions between Punjabi immigrants and native citizens—tensions that had been mounting both within the schools and the community at large. Gibson’s findings were published in a landmark 1988 book, Accommodation without Assimilation: Sikh Immigrants in an American High School. This book advanced the then-controversial thesis that, contrary to conventional wisdom about assimilation, students with immigrant backgrounds perform better academically if they maintain their cultural identity rather than rushing to adopt every American custom that surrounds them.

The findings have since been corroborated by other anthropologists’ research about immigrant and ethnic minority youths. Through this study, Gibson coined the terms “accommodation and acculturation without assimilation” and “additive acculturation” to describe the various social processes surrounding immigrant assimilation. These terms are now widely used in anthropology, a testament to her high standing within her field.

In 2010, she retired from the University of California, Santa Cruz, where she had been a professor since 1990. Despite retiring, she remains an active anthropologist, currently researching the effects of the federally funded Migrant Education Program in improving educational outcomes for the children of migrant California farm workers. Additionally, she continues to research the social and academic incorporation of immigrant youth in schools in Catalonia and California.

—Brian Jencunas ’14

Anne Crosman’s writing attracts attention

“As a child, I kept diaries, because my mother had kept a diary for me, starting the day I was born,” recalls Anne Crosman ’66. “I still have it! I continued her tradition and I wrote every day. I still do.” With a deeply rooted penchant for writing and a childhood love of radio shows, Crosman has forged her path as an author and news reporter in radio, television and print.

Recently, she gained attention for her self-published books. In January, Sedona.biz (Arizona) featured an article about her book The New Immigrants: American Success Stories (Book Publishers Network, 2012) and a panel that she hosted featuring the book subjects as guest speakers. The book delves into the stories of immigrants who live in her current home state, Arizona.

“These people prove the adage that America is a land of opportunity,” Crosman says. “I wanted to show that the majority of Arizona immigrants are legal, patriotic, hard-working residents, who have worked to improve their English and communication skills and have given back to their communities. All of them deeply appreciate the freedom to speak and live as they wish.”

Crosman’s other book, Young at Heart: Aging Gracefully with Attitude, a collection of personal portraits originally published in 2003 and reprinted in 2004 and 2005, won a national Benjamin Franklin Award. She also was interviewed on KNAU, Arizona Public Radio in Flagstaff, where she previously has hosted NPR’s “All Things Considered.”

While at Wheaton, Crosman, who continued to write in the journal that her mother started, honed her skills here as an English literature major and writer for the college newspaper. After graduating, she earned her master’s degree in journalism at the American University in Washington, D.C. At age 28, she was the first woman whom CBS radio had ever hired to do full-time hourly newscasts.

“The microphone is a magic tool,” she says. “Every night at CBS Radio, I talked to an estimated 18 million people. That was in 1973. Imagine today’s numbers.”

She moved on to cover political news for NBC Radio Network in Washington, D.C., and freelanced abroad in Switzerland, Rome, Warsaw and Cairo, before hosting at Arizona Public Radio from 2009 through 2011.

Throughout her career she has combined her love for journalism with curiosity for culture and the desire to tell the personal stories of others.

Now, when she’s not writing, the author is busy with various interests. She encourages others to mine their own experience by teaching memoir writing at Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in Sedona, Ariz. She leads yoga classes and silent meditative hikes. She continues to play piano and violin and has even learned how to play Scottish bagpipes.

In February, Crosman won a bronze medal at the Arizona Senior Olympics for racewalking. “I’m back in training for racewalking on the streets of Sedona,” she says. “Honk if you pass me. I’m the one walking fast, like a duck!”

Still on her agenda: “To climb Mount Snowden in northern Wales. My middle name is Snowden.”

Journalist Ted Nesi ’07 is the news

Ted Nesi ’07While Ted Nesi is best known for writing about political news in Rhode Island, he also often ends up in the news himself. On January 9, the Providence Phoenix published an article titled “WPRI’s ambitious play for the Ocean State’s screens” featuring Nesi. With the Providence Journal’s decision to create a pay wall (accessible to paying subscribers) last year, WPRI, where Nesi works, hopes to provide more free coverage for Rhode Island. Nesi’s blog will help to provide much of this coverage, as it has in the past. As the first blogger for WPRI, Nesi has made an impact in the world of Rhode Island political coverage and is the face of the future for WPRI’s ambitious endeavor, according to the news article. Nesi’s own ambition has paid dividends for the station in the past. After stints with the Sun Chronicle (Attleboro, Mass.) and Providence Business News as a print reporter and website editor, Nesi pitched his idea of starting a local political blog with the depth and readablility of Washington Post blogger Ezra Klein’s national political blog to then WRPI general manager Jay Howell. Howell, now vice president for regional television for LIN Media, the Providence-based company that owns WPRI and 42 other television stations across the country, talked about Nesi’s pitch in the article: “I still have the email, it’s really terrific: ‘you should hire me, here’s why.’” While Nesi originally was not scheduled to appear on television as a blogger, his blogging on Rhode Island’s pension reform and the collapse of tax-supported 38 Studios video-game company brought him on air. He currently is a regular panelist on Newsmakers and has his own show, Executive Suite, where he talks with local business leaders. Also, in 2011, Politico.com listed Nesi as one of 50 political observers to watch in the blogger category. The national spotlight on his work began while he was still at Wheaton, where he graduated summa cum laude. His senior honor thesis on Senator Edward Kennedy was cited by the late senator himself in his book True Compass: A Memoir.

My gift. My way.

Dellie Smith Woodring ’62

Member, Board of Directors, Marin Village (California), a nonprofit that helps senior citizens

Founder and former executive director, Kentfield After School Center

Former member, Wheaton Board of Directors

Married to Doug Woodring; mother of two; grandmother of three 

“I am forever thankful for the well-rounded liberal arts education I received. Not a week has gone by in the past 50 years when I haven’t thought of Wheaton in one way or another. The college gave me the gift of learning to be an independent thinker. This has enabled me to undertake business endeavors and community activities with self-confidence. I am still in touch with several of my Wheaton friends, including classmates, faculty and staff members. I am grateful for these long-lasting relationships and how they continue to enrich my life. My husband, Doug, and I married the summer after my graduation. Wheaton is a natural fit for our long-range estate planning, as he was a frequent visitor to the campus (from Brown University), and we both appreciate the lifelong benefits I have received from Wheaton. I feel fortunate that I’m able to give back in the form of annual contributions and a charitable gift annuity. Supporting Wheaton and maintaining the vitality of its educational program is a high priority for me as we face the challenges of higher education in today’s world.”

Photo by Danielle Mourning ’99