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Jean Jackson speaking at a podium with the Alice background on stage.

Jackson Receives Woman of Achievement Award During Alice in Wonderland Celebration

By Melyssa Allen

Jackson Receives Woman of Achievement Award During Alice in Wonderland Celebration

By Melyssa Allen

Every four years since 1924, Meredith College faculty and staff present a performance of Alice in Wonderland as a gift to students. To help mark its 100th anniversary, the College held a Woman of Achievement event on January 25, showcasing this beloved tradition’s history. 

In her opening remarks, President Jo Allen, ’80, talked about her history with this special tradition, from seeing the show as a senior at Meredith to participating in the production during her 13-year tenure as president. 

“Tonight we honor the spirit of Alice as a Woman of Achievement,” Allen said, before introducing Vice President for College Programs Jean Jackson, ’75, as the night’s featured speaker. In a surprise, President Allen returned after the presentation to announce Jackson herself as a recipient of the Woman of Achievement Award, in honor of her service to the College. Jackson is the first current member of the faculty/staff to receive the award. 

“Directing Alice is just a small part of all that Jean Jackson does for this College community,” Allen said. 

A member of the English faculty since 1983, Jackson has served as a vice president since 1994. Her current responsibilities include oversight of Career Planning, Athletics, Campus Police, Chaplain, Dean of Students (including First Year Experience, Residence Life, Commuter Life, Counseling Center, Diversity Programs, and Disability Services), StrongPoints®, and Student Leadership and Service.

A Century of Wonder

Prior to the award presentation, Jackson shared a behind-the-scenes look at the Alice in Wonderland tradition in a lecture titled “A Century of Wonder.” She has served as the production’s director since 1992.

The century-old tradition works “because of the goodwill of the faculty and staff,” Jackson said. “Alice works because we know and trust each other and because we like each other and are willing to share hidden talents … with each college generation.”

As Meredith College has grown, so has Alice. In 1924, there were 23 members of the cast, in 1972, there were 63, and in 2024, there were almost 150 in the cast and crew.

Alice still matters because of the lessons audience members can take from it.

“Each audience member takes away different messages from Alice in Wonderland,” Jackson said. “Courage, resilience, and recognition of self-worth, and finally, one’s strengths. Those lessons are important ones for our students to have regardless of their majors or ages, and important for all of us to be reminded of at any stage of life.”

Watch the lecture on the Meredith Archives website.

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