Posts tagged ‘Barry Simpson’

A Capital Convergence

As many as 500 people—more than double last year’s turnout—showed up Tuesday for Penn State Capital Day, the annual gathering of students, alumni, and friends in Harrisburg to advocate for state support for the University. Given Pennsylvania’s current budget woes, and the sometimes contentious debate over Penn State’s place in the equation, Capital Day 2011 took on new significance. The impressive turnout (which included a speech by Alumni Association president Barry Simpson ’69, pictured) seemed to confirm that Penn Staters know what’s at stake.

We’ll have more on the University’s fight for state funding in our May/June issue, but there’s plenty of Capital Day coverage today, including: This roundup of related links from; student perspective from the Daily Collegian; and a York Dispatch piece that includes video of the rally in the Capitol rotunda.

Ryan Jones, senior editor

April 6, 2011 at 5:32 pm Leave a comment

What We’re Reading: Roger Williams

Last in a series: We asked the publisher of The Penn Stater, Roger Williams ’73, ’75g, ’88g to wrap up our series of “What We’re Reading.” Here’s his list—if you like history, he’s got some excellent recommendations for you.

What I’m Reading Now: A Country of Vast Designs: James K. Polk, the Mexican War and the Conquest of the American Continent, by Robert Merry. It was President James K. Polk who made Manifest Destiny manifest. In a single term, from 1845–49, he brought the Oregon Territory, Texas, and what would become California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, and part of Colorado. In this magisterial work, Merry resurrects our 11th president from the ash bin of American history.

Favorite Book of 2009: Churchill, by Paul Johnson. If there were an indispensable man to the 20th Century, it would be Winston Churchill, to whom we owe, more than any other, the victory of liberalism, democracy, and the West over totalitarianism. In this short read (170 pages), the eminent historian Paul Johnson tells you why.

Most Delightful Read of the Year: K Blows Top: A Cold War Comic Interlude, Starring Nikita Kruschev, America’s Most Unlikely Tourist, by Peter Carlson. For two weeks in September 1959, in the midst of the Cold War, Nikita Kruschev invited himself to visit enemy country—America. He insulted Richard Nixon, grossed out Marilyn Monroe, ogled Shirley MacLaine, impressed Elizabeth Taylor, got banned from Disneyland, met at length with President Eisenhower, told jokes and, when the laughs died down, threatened nuclear war.

Best Reminiscence of the Year: The Music Room, by William Fiennes. Ever wonder what it might be like to grow up in an ancient English castle in the last half of the 20th Century with a manic-depressive older brother and two parents of the lesser nobility who are struggling to make ends meet? You might grow up to be a writer, as did this cousin of the actors Ralph and Joseph Fiennes.

Brilliant History, Part I: American Creation: Triumphs and Tragedies at the Founding of the Republic, by Joseph Ellis. What the United States got right at its founding: winning the first successful war for colonial independence in the modern era; establishing the first nation-sized republic; creating the first wholly secular state; decentralizing national sovereignty; creating political parties as institutional channels for ongoing debate. What we got wrong: the failure to end slavery and the failure to implement a just system of dealing with the Indians.

Brilliant History, Part II: Rebirth of A Nation: The Making of Modern America, 1877–1920, by Jackson Lears. Down but not out after the Civil War, the United States roared into global consequence as the world’s strongest industrial power by the eve of WWI. This remarkable span of inter-war years sparked a number of movements—from religious and spiritual to political (progressive to populist) to art and entertainment—while inventing, through science and technology, the modern world.

Most Sobering Read: The Dumbest Generation: How the Digital Age Stupefies Young Americans and Jeopardizes Our Future, by Mark Bauerlein. There’s a dark side to our digital future, this English professor and noted social critic contends. Our young are being eaten alive, caught up in social groupings and contests, and threatening their intellectual development. This isn’t the simple evolution of old media into new media or traditional literacy into e-literacy. It is a displacement, and not a benign one. Bauerlein believes that the digital world has designs on the eyes and ears of our youth.

Roger Williams is executive director of the Penn State Alumni Association.

January 20, 2010 at 1:19 pm Leave a comment

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