Nikki Tanner

Established through the generosity of Wellesley College trustee emerita Estelle "Nicki" Newman Tanner '57, the Tanner Conference celebrates the relationship between the liberal arts classroom and student participation in an increasingly diverse and interdependent world.

At once intellectually compelling and personal, the conference presentations focus on the:

  • integration of a student's curricular experiences with significant learning that takes place off-campus;
  • inquiry into the values and purposes of these off-campus experiences that serve to deepen a liberalarts education;
  • impact that these off-campus experiences have on those who engage in them and on the communities in which they occur.

The Tanner Conference provides a venue for students and alumnae to reflect critically upon, analyze and share their off-campus experiences with others in the College community. Encompassing the diversity of off-campus experiences of students, the conference explores the learning that occurs through internships, service learning experiences, student teaching, international study, international Wintersession programs, experiential learning in courses, independent study, and research conducted away from Wellesley.

Comments from Nicki Tanner at the 2016 Tanner Conference Reception:

This wonderful conference is 16 years old.  Still a teenager, with  the energy and surprises that come with the teenage years and  I can’t think of a better “welcome to WC” gift for our new President and the WC board of trustees.

The number and quality of the presentations provide eloquent testimony to the tender care and thoughtful attention of the founding parents of the Conference  - Joanne Murray and Lee Cuba – - the very hard working committee,  gifted students and their generous faculty partners.

Together you have ensured the continued vitality and intellectual richness of the conference.

For me, it is always wonderful to be here at Wellesley, but this year you all have offered me something particularly meaningful and may I say, reassuring.

I doubt that this year, there could be a starker contrast between “out there” and “here at Wellesley”

Out there are all too many examples of partisanship, nastiness, vindictiveness.

Here value is placed on careful listening, collaborative relationships, passionate observation, and generosity of spirit.

 “Out there” can be found voices of alarm, of discouragement, intolerance, and all too many living in echo chambers that affirm their own beliefs.

Here: everyone is encouraged to explore challenging and often uncomfortable ideas; 

It’s impossible to not be impressed, looking at the program and reading descriptions of what you participants have done in:





          the arts

          health care

In nursing homes and conflict zones, from Iceland to Tangiers, Boston to Rwanda – and hundreds of places in between.

You’ve dealt with environmental concerns and taken part in collective action. 

You’ve preserved treasures.

You’ve challenged perceptions and unlearned assumptions; overcome language barriers, changed identity, and connected with your roots,

You’ve mentored, evaluated, protected and conserved

While asking questions, dealing with difficult situations, and learning from other cultures in countries around the world.

Most significantly, you’ve done all this while maintaining an open mind – and learning (in your words) “to bridge and balance tensions without collapsing them”

This mindset that you have brought to your experiences is crucial to our collective future as a democratic society.

So let’s hear it for what you, members of the W community, bring to a world that needs you in it. 

Let’s hear it for intelligence and civility; for imagination, courage, and cooperation.

Let’s hear it for moral discernment.   

And last but not least – let’s hear it for all of you who participated today, and for our extraordinary College that helps to make YOU possible.