Lee Cuba, Joanne Murray, and Estelle Tanner

Recorded January 22, 2021 Archived January 21, 2021 51:51 minutes
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Id: ddv000473


Estelle "Nicki" Newman Tanner [no age given] speaks with her friends and colleagues Joanne Murray [no age given] and Lee Cuba [no age given] about organizing and overseeing the Tanner Conference at Wellesley College, which gives students an opportunity to present their findings from off-campus forays into experiential learning.

Subject Log / Time Code

NT references her last conversation with LC in which they recalled the beginnings of the Tanner Conference of Wellesley College. JM and LC remember the beginnings of their collaboration on the project, and discuss where the field of experiential learning was at the time.
NT asks LC and JM to reflect on when they noticed there was a growing interest in sharing off-campus learning experiences. JM describes this as a moment in which students took on more of a teaching role.
LC remembers presenting on a panel at a conference on experiential education at Clark University. JM recalls forming an advisory committee and discusses the importance of including dissenting voices from the faculty.
NT asks JM and LC to share important insights the advisory committee gave about the student body at Wellesley. JM notes students’ failures as something that propelled curiosity and desires to diversify their learning.
NT notes that the first year of the conference already had 200+ students sign up to present about their field experiences, and they discuss how students delved into the work with their academic advisors.
LC speaks about the marketing work done to spread awareness about the Tanner Conference in its beginnings. JM remembers the sense of community involved with inviting the entire staff of Wellesley from top to bottom to the conference and a meal, and cancelling all classes for the day.
LC recalls the conference in its early days having an exhibition of outside opportunities presenting. NT asks about important changes were made after the first few conferences. LC and JM remember round table discussions with faculty not being well-attended.
JM remembers always wanting to have a keynote speaker during the lunch, and LC disagreeing every year. They discuss the importance of centering the students in the conference.
NT discusses the drastic difference in presentations in the first few years and speaks about both students and faculty learning how to share their work. JM recalls an informal tradition in which students took over the building the night before and practiced their presentations.
JM remembers challenging students to not rely on slide-heavy PowerPoints and try to tell their stories in other ways. LC speaks about the Technology team offering different ways to share information.
JM recalls NT always getting right back to work during the debrief, offering her feedback and insights for the following year over dinner after each conference.
LC speaks about the individuals who supported the Tanner Conference and were integral to its development. JM and LC share their most memorable moments from the conference. NT: “I never thought I’d rejoice at not being able to find a chair in a room.” They reflect on many other colleges attempting to replicate the Tanner Conference.
LC and JM reflect on how this conference has their friendship and share their hopes for the future of the conference.


  • Lee Cuba
  • Joanne Murray
  • Estelle Tanner