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Living Legacies

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A young sculptor with a rising reputation in the art world. An internationally renowned scientist who's taking on global warming. A prolific and popular author who makes you laugh as hard as she makes you think. All three are Dartmouth alumni, and all link their professional success to Dartmouth faculty members-once their teachers, now their colleagues-who inspired them. Below, three stories of a Dartmouth education's lasting influence.

Thomas Beale '00

Harlequin, sculpted from found wood by Thomas Beale '00 (above), is on permanent display in Fairchild Hall. (Photo by Joseph Mehling ’69)

Sculpting a Career: Thomas Beale '00 and Brenda Garand

Thomas Beale '00 is a New York-based sculptor and the founder/director of Honey Space, an innovative nonprofit exhibition space in Chelsea. Starting with found and reclaimed materials, notably wood and shells, Beale processes his materials into small, workable units, which he then assembles to create the organic and sensuous shapes of his sculptures. The diversity of those individual segments lends richness and a sense of movement to both his large- and small-scale work. The New York Times has covered Honey Space, and this spring, the Kinsey/DesForges Gallery in Los Angeles held a solo show of his work.

Beale's spring schedule also included a trip to Dartmouth to give a Department of Studio Art alumni lecture. "It was really great being back in person, meeting with students and the artists," he says. The invitation came from Brenda Garand, associate professor of studio art and one of Beale's mentors.

Brenda Garand, Studio Art Assoc Prof
Beale studied with sculptor Brenda Garand, associate professor of studio art (far right, with Yusun Kwon '03) (Photo by Joseph Mehling '69)

Garand, like her colleagues in the department she chairs, is a working artist as well as a teacher. Alongside her academic roles, she maintains a professional practice: sculpting, exhibiting, and staying aware of her contemporaries' work.

"The studio art faculty work with many students who take our classes as a component of their liberal arts education," says Garand. "But the advantages of studying with working artists multiply when the student knows that art is their life's work." As an undergraduate, she notes, "Beale had a great work ethic and a drive to experiment with different materials."

Comparing his Dartmouth education with the experience he might have had at an art school, Beale believes he came out ahead, thanks to the "phenomenal facilities, access to faculty, and the critical mass of creative, active minds" he found at Dartmouth.

Beale recalls a "very special" moment, close to graduation, when Garand told him that she considered him a colleague. Touring the Hood Museum of Art, she made a point, Beale remembers, of saying that they were now talking artist to artist, and no longer teacher to student.

Garand continues to advise Beale. She urged him to apply for a National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) program in Japan. Selected in 2003, Beale was the youngest person ever to win an NEA/Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission Creative Artists Fellowship.

And with his sculpture Harlequin on permanent display in Fairchild Hall, Beale has a continuing presence at the College, as he and his work move forward.

Visit to see more of Beale's work.

Understanding Ecology: Stephen Pacala '78 and Richard Holmes

Stephen Pacala '78Stephen Pacala '78, (far right), now a renowned ecologist and expert on climate change, participated in the 1978 Foreign Study program to Costa Rica. (Photo courtesy of Richard Holmes)

After excelling in a first-year biology course, Pacala was invited to join a summer research team led by Biology Professor Richard Holmes. Holmes has conducted research in New Hampshire's Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest since 1969, studying the ecology and behavior of migratory birds.

Both scientists remember that summer well. "I had Steve climbing trees," says Holmes, "so that we could count caterpillars."

Biology Professor Richard Holmes
Holmes, the Ronald and Deborah Harris Professor of Environmental Biology Emeritus, led the Costa Rica FSP for many years. (Photo by Joseph Mehling ’69)

Pacala, who is now the Frederick D. Petrie Professor in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Princeton University and director of the Princeton Environmental Institute, says Holmes was an exemplary teacher, "not merely instructing me on what my duties were in relation to his research, but also conveying what we were trying to accomplish, and why."

He became a permanent member of Holmes's team as a sophomore, collaborating on research and co-authoring papers, on the path to his current place at the cutting edge of scientific discovery.

"Steve is at the head of the game in the field of ecology," says Holmes, a research professor of biological sciences and the Ronald and Deborah Harris Professor of Environmental Biology Emeritus. Pacala's 2007 NAS citation describes him as "a leader in theoretical ecology and in relating theory to nature."

Pacala's undergraduate experience continues to influence his professional life. Inspired by Dartmouth's Foreign Study Program (FSP) in Costa Rica, he established (and teaches in) Princeton's field semester in Panama. Pacala studied with Holmes in Costa Rica during the winter of 1978.

The FSP, currently directed by Professor of Biological Sciences David Peart, offers intensive training in scientific research and collaboration in the field of ecology. Holmes, who directed and taught in the program for 29 years, calls it "the most exciting teaching I ever did. It's a spectacular experience for the instructors, and for the students as well."

"That sort of intense, focused experience produces people who become professional scientists," agrees Pacala.

Pacala describes Holmes as a "biologist's biologist." Holmes is the instructor and mentor of many prominent scientists, including Ian Baldwin '80, of the Max Planck Institute of Chemical Ecology, and Scott Robinson '77, of the University of Florida.

"Dartmouth produces undergraduates who go on to great things in this field," says Pacala.

Learn more about Pacala at

Think Hard, Laugh Hard: Gina Barreca '79 and Donald Pease

Gina Barreca '79 is very smart, and very funny. Her book, They Used to Call Me Snow White but I Drifted: Women's Strategic Use of Humor (Penguin, 1991), which is loosely based on her Ph.D. dissertation, landed her on Oprah, The Today Show, 48 Hours, and 20/20. A professor of English and feminist theory at the University of Connecticut at Storrs, Barreca has written or edited more than a dozen books—most recently It's Not That I'm Bitter (St. Martin's, 2009)—and is a popular speaker, essayist, and columnist.

Gina Barreca '79

Author, speaker, and professor Gina Barreca '79 (right) says that Donald Pease (below), professor of English, taught her much about how to teach in a college classroom. (Photo courtesy of Gina Barreca '79)

Professor of English Donald Pease—who taught Barreca at Dartmouth—says he finds few things "more gratifying than when a student goes into your field. It gives you a glimpse of the future."

And Barreca remembers Pease's instruction vividly: "He's a vital presence in the classroom, and a great teacher," she says. "Without even knowing it, he was teaching me how to be a professor."

Don Pease, English prof
Donald Pease, professor of English. (Photo by Joseph Mehling '69)

"Like all of the best students," Pease says, "Gina had the courage to challenge me on points when she disagreed."

Pease welcomed her as a colleague, recalls Barreca. "When I founded Lit: Literature Interpretation Theory, the journal I still co-edit, he agreed to be on the editorial board. And I was able to bring him to Connecticut to speak. It was a significant rite of passage."

In turn, Pease has invited Barreca to speak at Dartmouth several times. Even as a student, he says, "Gina displayed the gift of a sense of humor, and ability to analyze."

"As a professor, in front of a class," he continues, "she gives a performance somewhere between stand-up comedy and erudite lecture. She is a model teacher, and doesn't sacrifice anything-she gains, rather-in delivering pleasure along with her teaching."

Barreca is glad that her connections to Pease, and to the College, endure: "They bring a kind of continuity in my professional life that I look forward to with my graduate students. It's remarkable to have had that sort of connection at Dartmouth."

Watch Barreca's stand-up comedy at


Last Updated: 7/24/18