Archive for August, 2013


Hats off to Bella Abzug for Women’s Equality Day — August 26th

The often hat wearing late Representative Bella Abzug (D, NY ’71-’73) turned a phrase that caught on when she declared, “This woman’s place is in the House–the House of Representatives!”  She was responsible for  the U.S. Congress designating August 26 as “Women’s Equality Day.”  It isn’t a big, splashy holiday with greeting cards to go with it, but it is a day worth remembering, perhaps best with a little history and awareness.

The date was selected to commemorate the 1920 passage of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, granting women the right to vote.  It  also calls attention to women’s continuing efforts toward full equality.

This is history that is important to remember.  Even though women outnumber men in college and graduate schools nationwide, many women still don’t have equal footing in the workplace and what’s also disappointing is that many women don’t often have equal footing at home.  Women still do most of the parenting and housework in many households, which creates a career barrier that, thanks to Sheryl Sandberg and others is being discussed and debated.  Discussion, debate, deliberation are all good steps toward progress.

There are also cultural boundaries that focus on a woman’s appearance more than her ideas and that’s another issue we need to push to the forefront.  See my TED talk that underscores the problem with women’s appearance and the US presidency.

I think it is important for us to remember and honor the women who passionately sought to create equality, not because they’d get to enjoy any of the freedoms in their own lifetime but because they knew we’d get a better shot at equality.   Our daughters and granddaughters should have it even better, but only if we remember that we aren’t quite there yet.

It is good to note the women who made remarkable achievements  in fields where they had no role models.

So here’s a little “Women’s Equality Day Quiz”:

This is a walking iris plant that I bought at The Farmers Market.  The saleswoman told me if you leave it outside in the summer it will toughen up and bloom even better in late winter and early spring.  I think there's a metaphor in there somewhere that fits with this column.

This is a walking iris plant that I bought at The Farmers Market. The saleswoman told me if you leave it outside in the summer it will toughen up and bloom even better in late winter and early spring. I think there’s a metaphor in there somewhere that fits with this column. Let’s think about it together.

(answers at the bottom–no peeking):

  1. Who became the first female Secretary of State of the United States, appointed by President Clinton in 1997?
  2. Who took over management of Columbia Sportswear Company in the late 1930’s, when it was near bankruptcy, and turned it into the largest American ski apparel company worth $4 billion in 1972?
  3.  Who wrote “The Feminine Mystique” in 1968 and became a leading figure in the Women’s Movement?
  4.  Who ran for US President on Equal Rights Party in 1884 and  1888 and was  an American delegate to the first world peace Congress in Paris in 1889?
  5. Who is considered the first American woman to be ordained by full denominational authority in 1864, and who also campaigned vigorously for full woman suffrage?
  6. Who was the first African American woman elected to the U.S. Congress and was a founding member of the National Women’s Political Caucus?
  7. Who was the ecologist writer whose path-breaking book, “Silent Spring” in 1962 initiated the environmental movement?
  8. Who was the first black woman and the youngest poet laureate in American history when she was appointed in 1993?
  9. Who was imprisoned and then hanged for her Quaker faith in Boston in 1660, and 400 years later her statue was placed in front of the state House?
  10.  Who became the first woman vice-president candidate on a major political party ticket when selected in 1984?  And here’s even a bigger test:  encourage the women you know to “go for it” and men be an equal partner at home!


1.Madeleine Albright

2. Gertrude Boyle

3. Betty Friedan

4. Belva Lockwood

5. Olympia Brown

6. Patsy Mink

7. Rachel Carson

8. Rita Dove

9. Geraldine Ferraro

10. Mary Dyer


*My* Lunch with Mimi

photo[2]Mimi Barash Coppersmith opened the lively lunch event with the exclamation: “I’m approaching my 63rd year in State College. I came in 1950 at 17 years and two months!”

Clearly this diminutive powerhouse with her trademark white hair longer than she has worn it in years has got to be the best public relations woman State College has ever had or ever will have.

I felt honored to have been one of twenty-four women invited to Lunch with Mimi at the Tavern. I’ve only been living in State College two months since I started my new dream job at Schreyer Honors College and this lunch and the several other warm invitations I’ve received have made me feel welcomed beyond my imagination.

I was humbled and thrilled to be sitting with some of the most distinguished women in State College, including Debbie Linnes, the new Chief Operating Officer and Chief Information Officer of Mount Nittany Medical Center who recently relocated to State College from Minnesota. She spoke about the great resources we have at Mount Nittany Medical Center and she is certainly the newest and perhaps greatest resource this community could have. Her medical acumen is obvious and her warm presentation style and kindness impressed all of us.

Once everyone ordered lunch we went around and gave a two sentence (some went way over) introduction of ourselves. I couldn’t wait to tell the small world story of how I met Mimi. Her daughter Nan sold me advertising for Where and When magazine in the late 1980s when I worked in public relations in Allentown. With obvious pride, Nan Barash told me of her “mother the publisher in State College.” Twenty plus years later I got to meet Mimi Barash Coppersmith and it has been such an honor to get to know her.

I research and write about women in male dominated fields and Mimi is a case study if ever there was one. A successful business owner, she was an advertising and public relations entrepreneur in an era when “Madmen” dominated the advertising scene. She became the first chairwoman of Penn State’s Board of Trustees in 1991 and has been a philanthropist and fundraiser for countless organizations, including The Pink Zone, a passion stemming from her own victory over breast cancer.

At 80, Mimi still goes to the office every day and perhaps this lunch was part of the “year long birthday celebration” she described.

It sure felt like a gift to me. There was a lot of sharing, smiles, and warm feelings. Mimi even gave each one of us a beautiful fabric journal to encourage us to record our lives. (That’s one of the reasons I love to blog–thanks for reading)!

I got ten steps away from the restaurant when I realized I had forgotten my Town&Gown mug and I turned right around to claim it. It is a piece of State College history I want to have forever.

Ever-prepared, Mimi hosted by sharing a few of her favorite quotes. From Pearl S. Buck she said, “To know how to do something well is to enjoy it.”

And, well, that certainly sums up Mimi Barash Coppersmith. She continues to perform her work with excellence and I get the distinct impression that she is still very much enjoying it.


Eating Together Creates Community

I’m Catholic and we have communion, a Christian rite that re-enacts the Last Supper.  It is a word that is very close to my discipline of speech communication, communication studies, or communication arts and sciences.  In essence, an exchange, a sharing of information.  I’m also a foodie.

At Schreyer Honors College we have an inspired program, The Distinguished Honors Faculty Program, that at the heart is about sharing food and information.

The Academic Team at Schreyer Honors College is busy coordinating the many worthwhile details of the inspired food and information sharing events from this year’s seventeen distinguished honors faculty and here is a sneak preview:  (Caution:  you will wish you are a Schreyer Scholar when you read this).

An American Indian Facts Dinner – a sharing of information and food that explores the stereotypes about American Indian culture. Another related event takes students to an American Indian Reservation (and there’s good food, of course).

The Science and Ethics of Knowing Your Complete Genetic Information – Dinner and a film on the topic of genetics with follow-up discussion.

A Fireside Chat that discusses civic values in the United States and Sweden (with sandwiches).

Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with dinner at the Nittany Lion Inn (I think the associate dean should attend).

A Tour of Hershey’s Distribution Center and dinner with business professionals (again, I think I’d better go to oversee this one).

This is a program deeply rooted in the belief that when you create small group learning experiences that are relaxed, well-conceived and special, students and faculty connect with each other in profound ways.

I think we can all agree:

Eating together is fun

Eating together is relaxing

Eating together promotes conversation

Eating together promotes sharing


Professor Peter Heany led a group of SHC scholars through the Smithsonian’s Museum of Natural History. Here they are in the gem gallery within the Department of Mineral Sciences. They discussed the event over a nice meal later.

This Schreyer Honors College Program, The Distinguished Honors Faculty Program, brings together everything that is great about sharing food and information.  Here’s to another remarkable year!

Nichola D. Gutgold is associate dean of academic affairs at Schreyer Honors College, a professor of communication arts and sciences, and as she has confessed here:  a big-time foodie.


More Musings (mostly photos) from my “Tour de Foodie” State College, Part 3


One of my FAVORITE lunch places and lunch — the veggie burger and fries at Baby’s Diner in State College. LOVE that place.

I’m really enjoying life in State College for lots of reasons. It is a big little town with a lot to do and very friendly people. Some “Negative Nellie’s” have said, “Wait till the students come in fall!” and “State College is frigid in winter!” but I know neither of these things will make me unhappy to be here. I love students–lots of them–and I’m used to the cold, being a lifelong Pennsylvanian. I’ve ordered my North Face coat and I’ve got a lot of hats. But this post is mostly about the food in and around State College *and* some good food that’s back in the Lehigh Valley where some places make Italian food as good as they do in Rome.

There are really a lot of very good places to eat in and around State College. Otto’s has truly delicious food, and Geoff tells me really good beer, too. The vegan been burger salad was out of this world and my favorite thing lately (don’t judge) french fries, are also really good there. Irving’s makes a delicious variety of sandwiches on inventive breads and the 3 combo special (half sandwich, soup and salad) at Corner Room is great (I get the BLT no B) and the vegetarian vegetable soup. Three cheers for a regularly featured vegetarian vegetable soup. The Corner’s Room’s uppity cousin upstairs, The Allen Street Grille offers vegetarian chili regularly!

We love Italian food, though, and frankly, we just can’t seem to get good Italian food in Centre County. See the happy man pictured in the hat here? That’s Mike from Paese Mio in Allentown. Now THAT place has REALLY good food.

Jim’s in Bellefonte? Not to our liking, sorry to say. The sauce (which is the most important thing with Italian food) is just not flavorful. The sign that says “Parking Only” well, we thought it was a good sign that the food would be great because usually the worse the look of the place, the better the Italian food. So, here is the rest of the blog as a picture blog since when it comes to food, looks count.

In addition to the fun time we are having trying new food places, we really enjoy the arts in State College, too. We’ve been to a jazz show at the Palmer Art Museum, we are going to see Doubt downtown this weekend and we thoroughly enjoyed the Arts Festival. We’ve been swimming and looking into signing up for tennis lessons so it has really been a lot of fun for us. Indeed, we are happy in Happy Valley.20130727-151356.jpg

This is Mike, one of the owners at Paese Mio Restaurant in Allentown. They know how to make sauce there. Trust me.

This is the eggplant and pasta at Paese Mio — YUM


Carrot cake from Duffy’s Tavern in Bellefonte — very good.


Geoff poised to eat his big plate of vegetable ravioli at Jim’s — they look pretty good, but again, the sauce did not delight.



Little salad in a metal bowl from Jim’s


Otto’s ridiculously good bean burger salad.


August 2013
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