Penn Staters Take Over the Newseum

April 15, 2013 at 3:01 pm Leave a comment

Liliana, daughter of a Penn State couple from Manassas, Va., was the first attendee I met—and my favorite.

I had a blast this past Saturday morning, speaking to about 130 Penn Staters at the Newseum in Washington, D.C.

It was the latest in the Alumni Association’s 2013 City Lights series, in which Penn Staters can hear a fun presentation in a cool setting. (Two programs remain in this year’s series: Chip Kidd ’86 on May 9 at the Manhattan Penthouse, and Marc Brownstein ’81 on May 25 in a mural-arts trolley tour around Philadelphia.)

On Saturday I got to be the featured speaker, and I gave attendees an illustrated look at what we do at the magazine. I talked about what goes into our decisions about the cover, explained how we’ve approached our scandal coverage over the past 17 months, showed them a few humorous mistakes and outtakes from past issues, and gave them a preview of the May/June issue. I also put some past Penn Stater covers on the screen and quizzed them about the covers, such as, “Name this football player who was on the cover in 1976,” with prizes for correct answers.

We all had a great time—both the audience and me. I really can’t remember an audience that was as much fun as this one. They laughed at my jokes (thank you!) and they had plenty of questions for me in the Q&A session, questions ranging from “Are you considering an iPad version of the magazine?” to “What kind of pressure have you gotten from the university administration or trustees about your scandal coverage?”

A really interesting moment for me came when someone asked me to explain what I meant when I said that the Alumni Association has one foot in the university and one foot out. I talked about how our executive director, Roger Williams ’73, ’75g, ’88g, reports both to a university VP and to the all-volunteer executive board of the Alumni Association—and that either entity has the power to remove him from his position. The murmurs from the audience told me that people hadn’t realized that before, and I got the sense that they suddenly understood the balancing act we’re constantly performing.

Related to that, someone asked how the Alumni Association is funded, and I explained that the university gives us building space, legal services, physical plant services, and the salaries for some of our positions. Everything else—operating dollars, the rest of the salary funding, the cost to print and mail the magazine, you name it—is funded by the Alumni Association, through things like member dues, our Bank of America credit card, and so on. I said, “I don’t think we’d serve all of you [alumni] as well if we were entirely funded by the university,” and heads nodded like crazy in agreement.

On a lighter note, my colleague Deborah Marron ’78, ’86g, who emceed the event, made a point to tell us all to check out the Newseum restrooms. On the walls are a collection of humorous newspaper headlines and corrections, like this one:

Correction 1 Farmer BIll

And this one:

Correction 5

And this one, my personal favorite:

Correction 8

After the brunch, and my presentation, the attendees got to go tour the Newseum on their own, which (along with the brunch beforehand) was all part of what you got for your City Lights ticket. If you’ve never been to the Newseum, you should put it on your list for your next visit to D.C.

Meanwhile, I’ll be speaking next on April 25 at the Penn State Connecticut Valley‘s spring banquet in Hartford, and the following night at the Mid Hudson Valley chapter in Poughkeepsie. If you happen to live in the area, it’d be great to see you there.

Tina Hay, editor

Entry filed under: Alumni Association, The Penn Stater Magazine. Tags: .

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