Meredith Remembers Summer Reading Author Anne Garrels

National Public Radio reporter Anne Garrels, author of the 2004 Meredith Summer Reading Program (SRP) selection, passed away on September 7, 2022. Garrels, who was 71, had a more than 30-year career as a foreign correspondent for NPR, ABC, and NBC.

Meredith students read Garrels’ memoir Naked in Baghdad, an account of her experiences as one of 16 U.S. journalists to report in Baghdad during the invasion of Iraq. She came to campus in September 2004.

Garrels called her Meredith visit, which included a special forum with students as well as the public lecture, a “nice respite from the war zone.” 

Members of the Meredith community who were involved in bringing Garrels to campus shared remembrances of her visit.

Professor of English Rebecca Duncan, SRP Committee
“I remember her energy and the time she spent talking with every student who came to have her book signed. We had done Naked in Baghdad for Summer Reading, and the students turned out in droves to hear her “fresh from the front” reporting and commentary. As she began her evening talk in Jones, she thanked us for inviting her and said, ‘I will never forget Meredith College’.” 

Professor Emeritus Garry Walton, retired dean of the School of Arts & Humanities
“One of my favorite SRP moments was in Kresge with Garrels and a room full of students. I was seated near the back of the auditorium; she was in a cozy overstuffed chair down in front. When someone asked a question after her chat, suddenly she leaped up and dashed up the stairs nearly to the top, where she knelt down to get close to her questioner, explaining that her hearing wasn’t so great – perhaps because of so many years in war zones.  I saw at once that her disarming mixture of cool calm courage under duress and kind gentle attentiveness to those around her was a trademark that made her a matchless reporter – and person.”

FYE Director Chrissie Bumgardner, SRP Committee
“Dean of Students Ann Gleason and I were lucky enough to have dinner with Anne Garrels at the President’s home before her lecture and I was taken aback by how humble and kind she was. She told us all about her adventures in Baghdad – which were harrowing at times. She was so brave. But mostly she asked us questions all about Meredith and our thoughts on different topics. I can’t remember details because it was so long ago but I do remember that my impression of her was one of sincerity, humility, courage, and brilliance, and that I was extremely excited that our students were getting to meet her and be exposed to someone so amazing. Earlier in the day she met with a group of Honors students and they were mesmerized by her. This is a  true loss …  her visit was an all-time high for me.”

Dean of Students Ann Gleason
“Chrissie described our time with her just as how I remember it. I was truly in awe of her intelligence, courage, and clarity. One of my best SRP memories!”

Meredith College has had a Summer Reading Program since 1999. 

Melyssa Allen

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