WEB EXCLUSIVE! Kvetko’s lecture, career exemplify women’s impact on their worlds

WEB EXCLUSIVE! Kvetkos lecture, career exemplify womens impact on their worlds

by Bridgette Davis

When Bruce Haddox asked Jane Kvetko to give this spring’s Harold F. Watson faculty lecture, he couldn’t have anticipated how well Kvetko’s subject would complement the college’s celebration of Women’s History Month.

Kvetko, professor of social work, presented her lecture entitled “Musing a Mural: Jane Addams and Connected Knowing” on Thursday March 20, 2003. Haddox, vice president and dean for academic affairs, coaxed Kvetko into giving the lecture this spring, before she leaves the Simpson Community at the end of this academic year.

“I would have definitely lectured on Addams and her work anyhow, but it was really nice to be able to speak during Women’s History Month and make that connection,” said Kvetko.

Her presentation focused on the lives of five women who have impacted the way our society views democracy, equality and social justice.

The Watson faculty lecture has been established since 1996 and Kvetko is the fifth female faculty member to present her research interests in this Simpson forum.

By “musing a mural,” Kvetko linked the life and works of Harriet Martineau, Fannie Wright, Dorothy Day and (very wittily) the actress Doris Day to the legacy of Jane Addams.

While Kvetko may have learned a great deal from these historical women, students and alumni are quick to point out the reflection of these women’s greatest qualities in Kvetko, as a mentor and heroine for other women.

“Jane Kvetko is Jane Addams; she is Dorothy Day; she is all of the women whom she placed in that mural,” said senior Trisha Fry. “She has taken the step that many of us never take. She looked deeply into the lives of a few amazing women to see what it was about them that made them heroines.

“Then, she applied their examples to herself in order to make herself best she could be. She didn’t admire them from afar; she took their lessons and passions and decided to change her world,” continued Fry. “Teaching has been a means for Jane to share love and passion with as many people as time would allow.”

For Kvetko, democracy, equality, pacifism and social justice were some of the most important characteristics of these women.

Kvetko has carried over the hope these women had for America to her hopes for Simpson.

“If we can’t make a democratic society work at Simpson, providing a place and time for all people, I don’t think it would work any where,” said Kvetko. “Simpson provides an opportunity to learn from people’s stories and that is really what these women were doing-learning the political from the personal.”

Connection is really the main theme of both Kvetko’s lecture and her life. In her 22 years at Simpson, Kvetko has formed deep connections with the community, her colleagues, students and advisees.

In “musing the mural” of connections and shared meaning that Kvetko has brought to Simpson in her time here, one finds students, colleagues and friends that rank their relationships with Kvetko among the highlights of their Simpson experience.

“Really my most meaningful experiences at Simpson College come down to being able to work personally with students,” said Kvetko. “When I came here there really wasn’t a very well-developed system for advising; that was really a goal for me-to develop something more substantial.”

Fry has felt the impact of Kvetko’s care and desire to make meaningful connections with students, both as a professor and as an advisor.

“Not only has Jane walked through the past four years with me as my advisor, she has also been a counselor at times, a mother and a friend,” said Fry. “Jane took the time to really get to know me and then was able to give me great advice about class schedules, internships, my trip abroad to Spain, and my approaching career.”

Kvetko expressed her interest in renaming the advising title in order to more accurately reflect the type of mentoring and one-on-one relationships that should be expected at Simpson. She also placed a great deal of emphasis on the value of the Liberal Arts Seminar as a way for freshmen to make multiple connections to the campus community.

“I think that we have to be thinking about the ways in which our relationships and experiences are intertwined,” said Kvetko. “That’s what Jane Adams and all of these other women can really teach us-that the connections and similarities are as valuable (if not more) as the differences and contradictions.”

All of those who have worked with Kvetko have been witness to the kind of caring connections she makes, especially to issues about which she feels strongly.

Connie Ehlers, a Simpson alumna who works for the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Services for the state of Iowa, speaks glowingly of the individual attention she received from Kvetko. Kvetko was the advisor of Ehlers special major tailored for a disability resources emphasis.

“Jane acknowledged the importance of my interest in the field of disabilities and she encouraged me to truly follow my dreams,” said Ehlers. “Jane was one of my best professors; she inspired me to learn more, work harder and always reach a little higher.”

Leaving Simpson this spring will provide Kvetko with an opportunity to maintain meaningful relationships with friends and colleagues here, while also getting to connect more with her family and reach for something new for herself.

Kvetko does not have any definite plans for the next year, other than to spend time with her husband Stan Malless, who is also leaving his position at Simpson as a professor of education this spring.

“This is definitely not the end of either of our careers,” said Kvetko. “We just need to take some time to decide what’s next.”

While Kvetko may be unsure of the future, one thing is for sure: she will be greatly missed by the entire Simpson Community. Kvetko received a standing ovation for her lecture and, more importantly, for her contributions to the campus.

“Jane’s impact will never be apart from who I am and what I do,” said Fry. “She respects and admires Jane Addams the way I respect and admire her.”