Posts filed under ‘Campus events’
To describe him merely as a designer of book jackets is pretty inadequate—something I discovered some years back when I was speaking to a group of Lion Ambassadors and telling them about some famous Penn Staters. I said, “And then there’s Chip Kidd, probably the world’s foremost book-jacket designer,” and they all looked at one another as if I had scraped pretty far down the barrel to come up with that one.
But the reality is that he’s pretty much legendary in the design world, and that in his career at Alfred A. Knopf he’s worked with some big-name authors (including Michael Crichton, John Updike, and Oliver Sacks), and that he’s a terrific speaker—not only inspirational but also funny as hell. If you’ve got 17 minutes to spare, watch his 2012 TED talk and you’ll see.
Anyway, I went out to the Penn Stater conference center last week to hear Chip speak at the Forum Luncheon, and he didn’t disappoint. I’m not going to try to give you a comprehensive overview of his talk, but here are a few nuggets:
—He referred to his more-than-25-year career at Knopf as “technically, still my first job out of school.”
—He summed up his philosophy of design in a quote from Samuel Beckett: “Try. Fail. Try Again. Fail Better.”
—He showed the evolution of some of his book-jacket designs and talked about the many layers of people who have to approve the design. He was surprised that his design for Oliver Sacks’ The Mind’s Eye (shown here) wasn’t shot down by the reps who would be out selling the book: ”All it takes is one sales rep to say, ‘It looks like O. Liver Sacks,’ and it’s dead.”
—Someone asked where he got his loud striped jacket. “Four British schoolboys gave their lives so I could have this jacket,” he answered. “Well done, lads.” (Actually, he said, he saw it hanging in the window at a Bergdorf Goodman in New York City.)
—He talked a lot about the education he got at Penn State, and one piece of advice from Lanny Sommese, head of the university’s graphic design program, stood out for me: ”Lanny taught me that the better you understand a problem, the closer you are to the solution.”
—Asked if he ever met Julia Child (one of the authors Knopf published), he straightened his shoulders and said, proudly, “I once got Julia Child a Diet Coke.”
—He talked about two upcoming projects: One is a book about design for kids, the other is a book version of author Neil Gaiman’s “Make Good Art” speech, a commencement speech last year at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. And Kidd quotes a thought from Gaiman’s speech that really jumped out at me. It’s about freelance designers, but it applies to all of us in the working world, I think:
People keep working, in a freelance world … because their work is good, and because they are easy to get along with, and because they deliver the work on time. And you don’t even need all three. Two out of three is fine. People will tolerate how unpleasant you are if your work is good and you deliver it on time. They’ll forgive the lateness of the work if it’s good, and if they like you. And you don’t have to be as good as the others if you’re on time and it’s always a pleasure to hear from you.
Kidd talked about the challenge of turning a graduation speech into a book, especially when you can already watch the speech on YouTube or read a transcript of it online. But, judging from the images he shared from the book (which is due out in May), I suspect it’ll do just fine.
One of Chip Kidd’s next speaking engagements is an Alumni Association “City Lights” event in New York City on May 9. Information about that is here.
Tina Hay, editor
I can’t imagine that by Monday evening, there’s not a Penn Stater on the planet who doesn’t know the news: THON set another fundraising record: $12.3 million dollars.
That’s more than $2 million more than last year’s amount, which shattered the previous record. This year’s total ($12,374,034.46, to be precise) raised the total amount that THON has raised for the Four Diamonds Fund to more than $100 million since 1973. No wonder Penn Staters, who have been saddened by so much of what’s happened over the past 14 months, were jubilant when the total was announced.
But we figured that you might not yet have caught up on the terrific THON coverage, starting with the cover of The Daily Collegian, which you can see here. If you want to get a feel for what it was like to be there, through words and pictures, you’re going to want to check out the following:
Click here to read the main story in the Collegian and for a chart with THON milestones over the years, and go to the Collegian’s home page for links to more stories and more photos. If you want a PDF of the paper, you can click here.
If you want to relive THON as it happened, click here for Onward State’s live blog. (Of course, you’ll have to scroll to the bottom and scroll up should you want to go through the whole 46 hours in chronological order.) There are links to videos, photos, and blog posts here, as well.
The College of Communications goes all-out on THON, too. (Someday I’m going to count the number of student journalists covering THON. But I digress.) You can click here to see how 15 student photojournalists, working in shifts, covered the whole 46 hours, and you’ll also find links to daily coverage, too.
And if all of this makes you want to relieve the highlights from 40 years of THON, check out this history piece, which appeared in the February issue of AlumnInsider, a monthly publication of the Alumni Association.
Let us know about your favorite THON coverage in the comments.
Lori Shontz, senior editor
Every once in a while, you get to stop what you’re doing at work and go do something completely different. Today I spent my lunch hour with a few hundred other Penn State staff and faculty, listening to Grammy-winning singer Kathy Mattea out at the Penn Stater Conference Center.
It wasn’t a concert, though Mattea did perform a couple of songs for us. Instead it was a presentation—complete with PowerPoint!—called “My Coal Journey.”
Mattea, who is in town to perform in Eisenhower Auditorium tomorrow night, grew up in Kanawha County, West Virginia, in the heart of coal-mining country. Both of her grandfathers were miners and were paid in scrip that could be used only at the company store. (When the practice of paying only in scrip was later banned, she said, the coal company would pay the miners one dollar in cash and the rest in scrip.)
But her “coal journey” really began in earnest just seven years ago, with the Sago mine disaster of January 2006. An explosion and collapse trapped 13 miners, and though early news reports said that 12 of them had survived, those reports proved to be heartbreakingly wrong: Rescuers found 12 bodies and only one survivor.
“I couldn’t get it out of my head,” Mattea said. Two weeks later, she was invited to attend a presentation at Vanderbilt University, near her home in Nashville; the presentation turned out to be Al Gore’s “Inconvenient Truth” slide show about climate change and the role of, as she puts it, “our appetite for fossil fuels.”
“Suddenly,” she said, “the conversation about coal was everywhere in my life.”
In the years since, Mattea has become an environmental activist, fighting especially against a controversial form of strip mining called mountaintop-removal mining. She showed aerial images of its effect on the landscape, and talked of 900-billion-gallon sludge ponds built on the mountaintops to contain the coal slurry. (“People living below get real nervous when it rains hard,” she said.) She cited a 2010 article on mountaintop-removal mining in Science magazine, in which researchers said, ”Mining permits are being issued despite the preponderance of scientific evidence that impacts are pervasive and irreversible and that mitigation cannot compensate for losses.” In other words, she said, once it’s gone, it’s gone.
(As she spoke, I thought about the fact that coal is big—and controversial—not just in West Virginia but in Pennsylvania too; I couldn’t help but wonder whether there were Earth and Mineral Sciences faculty members in the audience and how her presentation was sitting with them.)
Mattea’s interest in coal eventually led to a 2008 album simply called Coal, and her most recent album—2012′s Calling Me Home—has a number of coal-themed songs as well. She performed four songs for us: Si Kahn’s “Lawrence Jones,” about a miner who was killed when a labor strike turned violent; a lovely version of Billy Ed Wheeler’s “The Coming of the Roads,” and Jean Ritchie’s “Black Waters” and “Now is the Cool of the Day.” It made me wish I had bought tickets to tomorrow night’s show.
“There’s a sense that music adds a perspective, some poetry” to the discussion of the issues, she said. And awareness, too: I’m sure I wasn’t the only audience member who out went to hear Kathy Mattea sing and came back having learned a few things.
Tina Hay, editor
On a sparse stage with only a few folding chairs as props, students in Charles Dumas’ Theatre 208 class set out to tell their sides of the story. In “We Are… A Student Perspective of The Sandusky Scandal,” Thursday at the Pavilion Theatre, students performed monologues, which they wrote, depicting student reactions to the events of the past year. Some scenes enacted portions of the grand jury testimony and public statements from Joe Paterno, Graham Spanier, and Sandusky himself.
Before an audience of students and community members, the actors, none of them theatre majors, talked about the “heartbreak” upon learning Joe Paterno was fired, dealing with the onslaught of opinions on social media, and feeling both “ashamed and empowered by our pride” at public gatherings like the Nov. 11 candlelight vigil.
In one powerful scene, actors wore white masks to portray Sandusky’s victims. The audience was silent as actors read graphic details from victims’ real testimonies as other masked actors tossed a football in the background. Slowly, a masked man in a Penn State windbreaker lead each actor backstage, throwing his arm around their shoulders and patting their backs as they walked.
A major theme in all of the monologues: the media’s unfair portrayal of Penn State students, especially after the Nov. 9 riot, in which a news van was tipped. A few scenes depicted students having to defend themselves after being labeled as supporters of Sandusky and child sexual abuse.
“We had to bear the burden of some of the most heinous acts in human history,” explained one actor. “But it made us become more of a family, and we’re moving closer to closure.”
Mary Murphy, associate editor
The first floor of the Hintz Family Alumni Center was in rare form Wednesday, as it was transformed from its usual serene and studious atmosphere to a bustling blood donor room –– complete with the aromas of Papa John’s pizza and cookies wafting out the doors.
In its 19th annual Penn State vs. Michigan State University blood drive competition, the Penn State Student Red Cross Club scrambled to get the blood drive back in order after Superstorm Sandy caused dangerous weather in the State College area on Monday, forcing the blood drive to end around 1:30 that afternoon. The blood drive resumed Tuesday, with a heightened sense of competition –– Penn State is losing to Michigan State, with the score standing at 202-373 in successful donations as of Friday morning. But there’s plenty of time for catching up, as the competition between Penn State and Michigan State is set to continue through Nov. 15. (For the record, Penn State has won the yearly competition twelve times; Michigan State, six).
As if that isn’t enough competition, other Penn State organizations, both big and small, compete for the Alpha Epsilon Delta “blood cup” trophy, which is given to the org that provides the most donors during the drive. Anyone who donates to the Red Cross also gets a free T-shirt and a coupon to a downtown State College business.
“What’s really fun is, we’re all driven by competition,” says Divya Ghorpade, vice president of the Penn State Student Red Cross. “But at the end of the day, no matter who wins, it’s all going toward a great cause. It’s fun that competition can drive something so good.”
Ashley Tidd, a junior studying international politics, was lying on a hospital bed Wednesday after donating blood, looking a little weary but overall feeling OK (the whole process takes about one hour). She admits the free T-shirt incentive might have lured her in, but it’s ultimately the good cause and sense of competition that spurred her to donate.
“I’ve never done it before, so I figured I should try it,” she says. “Beating Michigan State is another incentive.”
So what does Penn State receive if we beat Michigan State in the blood drive this year?
“We just get pride,” says Ghorpade with a laugh. “We get to say we won.”
-Erika Spicer, Intern
In person, Elizabeth Smart is petite and pretty. The 24-year-old college student spoke softly and slowly, gesturing gracefully and maintaining her composure even when describing the details of her tragic story.
At age 14, Smart was kidnapped at knifepoint and held prisoner for nine months, during which she was repeatedly sexually abused by her male abductor. She was rescued in March 2003.
“Hope is what saw me through my kidnapping and helped me survive,” she told the crowd of more than 400 Tuesday at The Penn Stater Conference Center Hotel. “That’s why we’re all here. Hope that we can make a difference, hope that we can turn something terrible into something wonderful, hope that we can change the tragedy at Penn State into a platform that will change the community and the entire nation.”
It was an appropriate message to serve as the finale to Penn State’s Child Sexual Abuse Conference, held Monday and Tuesday.
When we planned to attend the sold-out, two-day conference, Senior Editor Lori Shontz and I knew that, considering the subject matter, those two days wouldn’t be easy. And we were right. Hearing renowned experts talk about patients they’ve worked with and listening to victims, like Smart, recount their own stories was emotional—and eye-opening. Lori and I agreed that the statistics we’d been hearing since November (that 1 in 6 boys and 1 in 4 girls are victims of sexual abuse) had never seemed quite so real.
— David Finkelhor, director of Crimes Against Children Research Center, talked about what a bad job we, as a society, do of tracking data about child sex abuse. He showed a list of “countable” items, things that are tracked by various agencies, which included: cholera cases, St. Louis encephalitis, Q fever “plus 60 other infectious diseases you’ve never heard of.” And then he showed a list of things that no one counts: Total number of child sex offenders known to authorities. How many teachers or coaches or staff/volunteers for youth-serving organizations who have committed child sex abuse. How many convicted sex offenders there are in the population or in prison. Said Finkelhor: “This problem deserves better numbers.”
—Ernie Allen, co-founder of the International Centre for Missing and Exploited Children, said there are two myths that he has to keep debunking: that of the stranger, and that of the dirty old man. Often, he said, people who abuse children “show deep commitment to helping those in need.”
Allen encouraged the crowd to empower children to speak out. “In our society, we send a subconscious message to children: They’re just kids. They don’t know much.” He said this prevents some children from talking about being abused. “Teach your children to communicate. The old saying is that children should be seen and not heard. I suggest it’s time to change that: Children should be seen AND heard.”
—Julie Larrieu, professor of clinical psychiatry at Tulane University, discussed her experiences treating very young victims (age 0-5) of sexual abuse. Though difficult to watch at times, video clips of treatment sessions showed patients make progress through child-parent psychotherapy—a method that helps children and parents recognize trauma and rebuild trust.
—Margaret Hoelzer, a two-time Olympic swimmer, was sexually abused by a friend’s father at age 5. She talked candidly about the lasting effects of abuse on her sense of self-worth. “I had to become an Olympian just to feel worthy—to feel good enough.”
Hoelzer also talked about her parents’ response when she divulged her abuse as a teen. “My mom knew she couldn’t freak out,” she says. “She knew I’d shut down if I saw her panic. She stayed calm and let me keep talking.” Hoelzer encouraged all parents to do the same.
—Chris Anderson, executive director of MaleSurvivor.org, talked about the stigma still attached to male victims and the lack of resources for men—especially because there are marked differences in the ways women and men cope and recover. Men, he explained, disclose their abuse in stages, sometimes over the course of years. “Men need those safe spaces where they’re given the opportunity to come forward.”
—Sugar Ray Leonard, boxing legend, recalled feeling isolated and alone after his abuse. For decades, he says he was haunted by the memories until he finally told his story. “I would be dead if I didn’t have the courage to finally stand up and say, ‘Ray, it’s OK.’ It’s OK to talk about these things. As we work together, as we collaborate, we will find a way to end this thing.” (For more on Leonard’s talk, check out this piece from StateCollege.com.)
Obviously, the information from the past two days is dense and requires some unpacking. We’re planning to cover this topic more extensively in future issues of The Penn Stater, and we’re open to your suggestions on how to do it. Email us at email@example.com.
Mary Murphy, associate editor
I get the impression that the Arboretum’s second annual pumpkin festival was a success, judging by the more than 300 jack-o-lanterns that people entered and by the steady stream of people checking out the pumpkins on Friday and Saturday night.
A couple of the jack-o-lanterns that stood out for me stood out for the judges, too, apparently. The pumpkin above, with its top carved into a flower to adorn its “hair,” was judged Best in Show. A Penn State grad student in plant biology, Han-Wei Shih, was the artist behind it.
The turtle I showed you earlier ended up winning first prize in the Adult category; it was the work of Beth Hendershot. Second prize in that category went to a Hogwarts-esque castle scene by Corrine Webster, below:
Below is a slide show of some of the pumpkins that caught my eye, including a couple of owls, Ariel from The Little Mermaid, Blue from Blue’s Clues, and a Joe Paterno-themed pumpkin. There’s also an entry in which art education grad student Kevin Slivka used two pumpkins to create a skeletal arm and hand—pretty clever.
Tina Hay, editor
I stopped over to the Arboretum last evening to check out this year’s edition of the pumpkin festival, and—as was the case last year—saw some pretty creative and artistic jack-o-lanterns. I’ll try to post a gallery of photos before the weekend is out, but here are a few that caught my eye. This turtle, carved by Beth Hendershot, showed some great craftsmanship:
And it starts to look pretty cool when lit up at dusk:
Here’s a rather interesting face carved by a Penn State student, Shin Han-Wei:
And here are two jack-o-lanterns that got a lot of oohs and ahhs when lit up last night. First, a parody of Ecce Homo, the Spanish painting that was infamously “restored” this past August. It was carved by Nathaniel Hromnak:
And finally, here’s a tribute to Arboretum director Kim Steiner, credited to Ray Marsh and the Penn State campaign communications office (April Scimio ’84 of that office did a lot of the craftwork on it):
The jack-o-lanterns will be lit up for display again tonight from 6 to 10 pm at the Arboretum. Admission is free.
Tina Hay, editor
I was psyched to see that the Arboretum at Penn State is bringing back its Pumpkin Festival that was such a hit (and such a great photo opportunity) last year.
This coming Sunday and Monday, anyone who wants to try their hand at carving a pumpkin can pick one up at the Arboretum—or buy their own elsewhere, if the Arboretum’s supply of 750 runs out. Carve it, brring it back next Thursday or Friday, and the resulting jack-o-lanterns will be lit up and on display next Friday and Saturday (the 19th and 20th). There’ll be judging on Saturday.
I don’t think I’ve ever done much more with a pumpkin than use a sharp kitchen knife to create a basic face. One year I did three small pumpkins as “mad,” “sad,” and “glad” and thought I was pretty clever. That was before I saw the pumpkins at the Arboretum’s pumpkin festival last year. There was some amazing artistry; you can see a photo album from last year on the magazine’s Facebook page.
More information about the pumpkin festival, including a timetable and the rules, can be found on the Arboretum’s website.
The biggest takeaway from a panel discussion Wednesday night titled “The Future of the NCAA and its Membership,” I thought, came at the end. And it didn’t come from either of the biggest names on the panel: Gene Corrigan or Cedric Dempsey, both former NCAA presidents.
It was R. Scott Kretchmar, Penn State’s former NCAA faculty representative and current professor of kinesiology, who said, “I think one of the difficulties that faculty and others who love Penn State are having at this time is, the issue of knowing that we need to move forward—we can’t keep tilling the soil; we have to get on with it—but the circumstances under which we’re now suffering were so unusual that it’s very difficult to do that.
“And so there may be a period of time where we have to ask questions: Were we treated fairly? Was there any kind of justice here? But eventually, we’re going to move on. Penn State’s strong. We’re going to have a good future.”
Those were the questions on everyone’s mind Wednesday night, and Kretchmar accurately described the mood of the crowd, a mix of students and townspeople.
Look at the title of the event, which was (more…)