features & editorials 


dreaming joseph: a liz coleman story

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“Liz Coleman once wrote, ‘Whenever I mention Bennington something is bound to happen.’ It’s true, and the same can be said about Liz. Take, for instance, the fact that most people have an opinion of her, and it’s usually strong. Or that everyone seems to think they know her, or know someone who knows her. Reaction to Liz is almost always extreme—responses more typically reserved for politicians and celebrities. And she is neither.  Seven years into her tenure at Bennington, when most college presidents would be looking to move on, Liz Coleman became a household name as the leading figure in a major restructuring undertaken by the College, a year-long process known as the Symposium. The attention was astounding, maybe even historic. “No one could have imagined anything like it, “ she says. “When it was clear that Bennington was contemplating changes that might be quite radical I had no illusions. I knew it would be a rough course. But at the same time it was impossible to anticipate the firestorm, or that it would be focused laser-like on me."


the leadership academy of ousseynou

 “When he comes into the yellow dining room, nodding hello before joining his friends at a nearby lunch table, the students I eat with huddle forward and turn into mythmakers, wild-eyed informants. “Did you know he was on a first name basis with Nelson Mandela?” one of them asks me. “He turned down Harvard to come to Bennington,” another one exclaims. “I heard he was a political prisoner.” My favorite rumor was announced loud and clear at an intern meeting several years ago, hours after the intern came off of one of those late night, meandering heart-to-heart marathons with him. “He. Is. Superman.” 




Postscript: A Cover Note


Former faculty member Peter Drucker was occasionally called an economist. If he heard this he might point out that  “an  economist is interested in the behavior of economies,”  whereas  he was interested in the behavior of people. More  often than  not he is called “The Father of Modern  Management.” That’s  right, capital T, because before  Drucker’s first book The  Practice of Management came out in  1954, management as we  know it today did not exist. In the hindsight of history it may appear as though this was  a  career he set out to design during his formal education, but  of  course it was not something he saw immediately. Nor would many people see what his career would become before it actually emerged. 

an andy abstract

Andy Spence does not display his own work in the office, except for one piece: an 8 x 4 foot test sheet. Kraft paper with a superimposed slide of an older painting he had blown up and silk screened. It looks like a large “M,” crossed out, retraced, crossed out, retraced. “M, like mistake,” he says smiling. It is a backdrop to other work--including several student mimics of his own work---haphazardly cluttering the edges. The permeability of the piece within the landscape of this small but voluminous, studio-like office makes it inconspicuous, so that if not for the paper's size you might miss the draft idea altogether.


Whole New View

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 Fatima Zaidi thinks about culture a lot. She thinks about collective memory, community education, and how art is communicated inside the creative community and outside of it. She thinks about all of this in English because it is the only language she speaks, despite growing up in Pakistan. Before coming to the U.S. it was the kind of thing that she never questions. As a product of a post-colonialist culture, she saw it in terms of one language being better than the other, a framework that prevailed beyond the languages she spoke and did not speak but also the history and culture she learned and did not learn.

moving beyond words

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 “Language is generally taught to students as if their primary identity was as consumers. They learn how to order food, how to buy something, how to get something,” faculty member Stephen Shapiro explains when asked why Bennington’s language curriculum looks so different to most people. “We do something else. We teach language by engaging with a student’s intellectual identity.”


what millenials want from work

What millennials prioritize in their search for work, what employers need from graduates and how those needs are influencing colleges and universities throughout the country with the rising tide of internship programs. A conversation with Holly McCormack, Dean of Field Work Term and Career Development Services at Bennington College.