Johnston 45th Renewal

Johnston Center for Integrative Studies

Left, Dr. Kelly Hankin, director of Johnston Center for Integrative Studies and student Addison Davidove who is helping to plan event.

Hundreds of students and alumni will gather on campus Feb. 14-16 for the "45th Renewal: Johnston at Home & in the World," planned as a reunion for the Johnston Center for Integrative Studies and as what organizers hope will be:  "... a renewal of commitment towards the growing alumni organization and the honoring of the effect Johnston has had on our personal and professional lives, ... a personal renewal as the weekend offers opportunities to engage your mind, heart, and spirit, ... and a community renewal as we renew old friendships, create new ones and 'celebrate Johnston for what it was, what it is, and what it will be.' " (quote by Nina Fernando '11).  

Dr. Kelly Hankin, director of Johnston, is serving as producer of the Renewal, working with Alumni Relations, alumni co-chairs, and current students.

"For alumni, current students, faculty, and former faculty, the Renewal means a number of things. It's certainly a big giant party and time to reconnect with old friends. But the way our Renewal is structured, where alumni from Johnston's entire history return—as opposed to a reunion for a single class—reveals that the Renewal is also a place where we get to demonstrate and celebrate Johnston's triumph—at Redlands, and in the larger educational landscape," Hankin said.

The planning process has shown Hankin what this renewal means to students and alumni.

"The level of volunteerism I've seen from students, who have stepped up to help out in numerous ways, has blown me away. In particular, the enthusiasm and professionalism with which Addie Davidove '15, current junior and daughter of alumna Lorraine Hedtke, approaches her many Renewal tasks, fills me with great joy. Witnessing the dedication of the two alumni co-chairs, Morgan Chicarelli '05 and Matt Gray '05, has revealed to me just how much Johnston students carry the love for this place in their hearts, well after they've graduated, and how much they are willing to do to keep the Johnston community alive."

Hankin has served as director since 2010, when outgoing director, now dean of the College of Arts & Sciences Kathy Ogren, gave her the Dr. Seuss book "If I Ran the Zoo" but crossed out the word "zoo" and wrote in "circus."

"That's what being the director is like, running a big crazy circus in the middle of a small town. Part of the role of director is to do all of the things that enable the circus to maintain its unique character. On a practical level, I advocate and work for students and the program in a number of arenas, from academics to development."

Hankin came to Redlands from Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia. She said it was a fine university, but for her, the big commuter university made her realize how much she was missing in terms of relationships with students. She likens her work there to the DMV, only seeing students when they needed something stamped or signed.

"After seeing the advertisement for a position in Johnston, I looked up the program and found a picture floating around on the Internet of a Johnston community meeting. The image was of students and faculty participating in a kinesthetic learning exercise. It was the furthest thing from a DMV-like atmosphere, and I was hooked. Fortunately, the Johnston community thought I would fit right in and the here I am, 12 years later."

Hankin is a trained film scholar and has produced, written and directed independent, award-winning films. This year's Renewal includes a focus on alumni filmmakers, which according to Hankin are growing in numbers.

"I've been fortunate enough to teach film studies in more creative and experimental ways. Had I been at any other university or even in a film or media studies department, I would have to teach to a set curriculum. Johnston's individualized program allows for curricular flexibility, innovation, and creativity. This means I'm able to develop classes that combine theory and practice in ways that are uncommon in most film and media programs," she said.

Hankin said the success of the Johnston program is the result of students and faculty who continue to believe in and work hard on the process, as well as the University and its faculty who, despite the challenges the program presents, value the role of Johnston at Redlands.

"A Johnston education is not feasible for all of higher education. It's simply too time consuming and requires too many resources. But this is precisely why the existence of programs like Johnston are so valuable. They push educational programs—here and elsewhere—to think about the possibilities of what education can look like when it takes risks and doesn't limit itself to conventional rules."

Written by: Jennifer Dobbs
Posted: February 10, 2014



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