Estelle Tanner and Lee Cuba

Recorded January 12, 2021 Archived January 11, 2021 42:18 minutes
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Id: ddv000453


Estelle “Nicki” Newman Tanner (84) speaks with her friend and colleague Lee Cuba (66) about the Tanner Conference at Wellesley College, which showcases students' experiential learning and off-campus community work, from the initial planning stages through the past two decades.

Subject Log / Time Code

NT speaks about being a Wellesley Alumna and former member of the board. LC speaks about starting as an assistant professor of sociology at Wellesley over 40 years ago. LC remembers having lunch with NT to speak about her ideas for the future of Wellesley and the changing education landscape.
NT asks LC how he put her idea into action, and LC recalls presenting the idea of showcasing off-campus experiential education to the Wellesley president. LC remembers the formation of an advisory committee to plan this annual event.
NT remembers being intrigued by students coming back to the campus after academic breaks and sharing their off-campus real life experiences. NT remembers wanting to give them a platform to showcase their transformative independent research and experiences. They discuss this as part of a holistic approach to education at Wellesley.
NT remembers the “maiden voyage” of the first Tanner Conference. LC recalls wanting to come out with “a bang” and worrying that NT would not like the logo they came up with. LC recalls serving “not dining hall” food in the quad to mark the event.
NT asks LC to share some of the unpleasant surprises and early missteps for the conference. LC and NT recall winning over some skeptics who did not see the academic merit of the conference.
NT remembers students being a bit “stiffer” in the early years of the conference and seeing them progress in public speaking and presenting. LC reflects on the Computer Science field rapidly changing during this time, and integrating their technology into conference presentations.
LC speaks about the Tanner Conference as one of his proudest moments at Wellesley. LC remembers the first conference taking place in October of 2001, just weeks after the 9/11 attack.
LC speaks about the implementation of internships to fund students’ experiential education journeys. NT shares why she feels the conference has been her most important accomplishment and reflects on it being a joyful moment.
LC speaks about the future of the Tanner Conference and describes the conference being recursive and adaptable in nature.
NT reflects on some current students not even having been born at the conception of the conference. LC recalls some of his favorite memories from the conference and speaks about NT addressing the students at the end of the conference.
LC recalls meeting a mother attending the Tanner Conference and being excited to see her child present to her peers. NT thanks LC and speaks about the conference as a gift as they close with gratitude.


  • Estelle Tanner
  • Lee Cuba

Partnership Type

Fee for Service