Famed alumnae to celebrate 50 years of teacher training

Bial, Apsell dedicated to making education more accessible and compelling

Deborah Bial ‘87 and Paula Apsell ‘69

Deborah Bial ‘87, founder and president of the Posse Foundation and Paula Apsell ‘69, senior executive producer of NOVA

Two alumnae who are high achievers in the field of education are returning to campus to talk about their work as part of a two-day celebration of Brandeis’ 50th year of teacher preparation.

Deborah Bial ‘87, the founder and president of the The Posse Foundation, will speak about the powerful model she has developed for recruiting diverse students to highly selective liberal arts colleges and helping assure that they graduate.

Her foundation identifies public high school students with extraordinary academic and leadership potential who might be overlooked by traditional college selection processes. It extends to them the opportunity to pursue personal and academic excellence in supportive, multicultural teams—posses—of 10 students. Some 90 percent graduate college.

Bial, who is the recipient of a MacArthur “genius” grant, has been praised by President Obama as an educational entrepreneur, and her foundation was one of the 10 organizations to which the President donated his Nobel Prize money. Bial will speak at 5 p.m.  Sunday, March 13, in International Lounge.

The keynote speaker on Monday, March 14, will be Paula Apsell ‘69, the senior executive producer of the acclaimed science program NOVA, who will speak about making science accessible to the broad public through media.

NOVA is the most popular science series on American television and on the Web. The program has won every major broadcasting award, including the Emmy, the Peabody, the AAAS Westinghouse Science Journalism Award and the Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Gold Baton, and Apsell has received numerous individual awards.

Apsell got her start in broadcasting at WGBH Boston, where she was hired fresh out of Brandeis to type the public broadcaster's daily television program logs. Within a year, she found her way to WGBH Radio, where she developed the award-winning children's drama series The Spider's Web, and later became a radio news producer. In 1975, she joined NOVA, a fledgling WGBH-produced national series that would set the standard for science programming on television.

Apsell produced a number of critically acclaimed NOVA episodes before joining Dr. Timothy Johnson at WCVB, the ABC affiliate in Boston, as senior producer for medical programming. She returned to WGBH in 1984 to become executive producer of NOVA.

In addition to the programs in the regular NOVA television schedule, Apsell has overseen the production of many award-winning WGBH Science Unit specials, most recently the eight-part miniseries “Evolution.” She's also directed NOVA's diversification into other media, most notably NOVA's award-winning Web site.

Also on March 14, a panel on “Preparing students for civic participation: The role of the Jewish day school” will explore how Jewish day schools can educate their students to be committed to the ideals of both their Jewish heritage and American civic life.

Categories: Humanities and Social Sciences

Return to the BrandeisNOW homepage