SUU's Grace A. Tanner Center Celebrates 40 Years

Published: August 24, 2021 | Author: Southern Utah University | Read Time: 3 minutes

SUU's Grace A. Tanner CenterThe Grace A. Tanner Center at Southern Utah University is celebrating 40 years on campus with a year-long commemoration including the Tanner Lectures, a birthday celebration, a panel “Remembering Grace,” and a documentary of Grace A. Tanner. The celebration will begin with the annual Grace A. Tanner Lecture in Human Values given by internationally renowned, award-winning biologist Dr. Nalini Nadkarni.

“We are excited to celebrate the legacy of Grace Adams Tanner through her original connections to SUU as an alumna as well as through her passions for appreciating so many aspects of the humanities,” said Dr. Danielle Dubrasky, director of the Grace A. Tanner Center at SUU. “Her own writings on her travels that spanned the globe reflect how much she enjoyed the arts, sciences, and theatre while being a strong advocate for education. We hope to extend awareness of her legacy through the Human Values Certificate sponsored by the Tanner Center.”

The annual Grace A. Tanner Lecture in Human Values will take place on Thursday, October 7, at 11:30 a.m. in the Gilbert Great Hall of the Hunter Conference Center, followed by a book signing and reception. Known as the “Queen of the Forest Canopy,” Dr. Nadkarni’s topic will draw on four decades of research on the biota that live in rainforest canopies to address “Tapestry Thinking” as a way to weave diverse communities to strengthen awareness and conservation of nature. Through her approach of “Tapestry Thinking,” Dr. Nadkarni has raised awareness of the need to protect and restore forests by incorporating the insights of human communities from sectors that lie far outside of academic science by creating collaborations with faith-based groups, artists, rap singers, corporations, and people who are incarcerated.  

Later in the fall, the Tanner Center will celebrate Grace A. Tanner’s birthday on November 30 with a guest panel, “Remembering Grace: A Discussion of Her Legacy,” at 11:30 a.m. in the Garden Level of the Gerald R. Sherratt Library. Following the panel, there will be birthday cake and the distribution of special commemorative pins.

During the spring of 2022, a second Tanner Lecture will be given by Emily Esfahani Smith, author of The Power of Meaning: Crafting a Life that Matters. In her writing, Smith draws on psychology, philosophy, and literature to write about the human experience—why we are the way we are and how we can find grace and meaning in a world that is full of suffering. Smith was originally scheduled to give her lecture in the fall of 2020 but her visit to campus was rescheduled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Events for the Year of Grace will continue through Fall 2022, culminating in the showing of a documentary on Grace A. Tanner produced by Professor Jon Smith of the SUU Communication Department.

Grace Adams Tanner was the sixth of eleven children born to Thomas and Luella Redd Adams in Parowan, Utah. She married Obert C. Tanner in 1931, raised their six children and helped with the business that originated from a basement and grew into a worldwide corporation. The Tanners were philanthropists and instrumental in starting up the outdoor Adams Shakespearean Theater in Cedar City, named in honor of Grace’s parents. Grace received the Person of Vision Award in 1985 from the Utah chapter of the National Society to Prevent Blindness. Her academic interests inclined toward the sciences, especially biology and anthropology, fields where she contributed generously. She passed away in 2005 at the age of 98.

The Grace A. Tanner Center at SUU seeks to promote access to scholarly and scientific learning in all areas of human values which embrace moral, artistic, intellectual, and spiritual concepts. Please refer to the Tanner Center website for other details about Tanner Center events or email the Tanner Center directly at

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