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What it takes to plan an Academy Event: The people and process behind the scenes

Jade Moon ’13 decided to ask Stephen Wolfram, creator of Mathematica, the software her multivariable calculus class used, and iPhone’s Siri, to visit campus last spring.

“We were in such awe of him that we decided to email him on a whim, and he responded saying he was happy to come to campus free of charge,” she said. “His visit was important because our math class was based off of his work, and we were able to bring a math speaker for once.”

Moon is one of the many students to propose ideas to the Academy Events Committee, a group of faculty members who organize two events per year so that students will experience a diverse range of topics. Though Mr. Wolfram’s visit was not an Academy Event, many students came to hear him speak.

“We try to bring something interesting, and also something to get students thinking in new ways, whether it is a global or local issue,” said Committee Member and College Advisor Elizabeth Bishop.

Along with Ms. Bishop, Dean of Students Amie Creagh and Theater Director Catriona Hynds, among others, sit in the committee.

Ms. Hynds said she uses past experience as a managing director of a performing arts center to play the role of “negotiator” for the Committee. She coordinates contracts and debates fees, legal specification, publicity, and technical needs with visitors’ agents.

One of the year’s academy events is dedicated to theater, music or dance according to a three-year rotation. The other event is generally a speaker of any topic. Each Academy Event night has a special schedule. While one event is a co-curricular night, the other is a no-homework night.

“We are very fortunate and privileged to get speakers of this caliber on this campus and be able to work directly with the students,” Ms. Hynds said.