One of the great joys of serving as your executive director these last few years has been the growing popularity of our City Lights program, now in its fifth season. These are programs of intellectual and cultural interest featuring a Penn State faculty member or alum with special expertise. We offer City Lights programs in the five major metro areas where nearly 190,000 or 40 percent of our alumni live and work: Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Harrisburg, New York, and Washington, D.C.
On Saturday, March 21, more than 100 Penn Staters—many of them families with children—turned out for our second City Lights program of the year at the Whitaker Center for Science and the Arts in downtown Harrisburg, Pa. The center’s hands-on exhibit “Forces of Nature” allowed participants to “touch” a tornado, create their own earthquakes, and walk into a simulated category 1 hurricane with winds blowing at more than 75 miles per hour—winds so strong they blew the eyeglasses off the face of Alumni Association President David Han ’88, ’05g.
Then we gathered for a presentation by Shirley Clark, assistant professor of environmental engineering at Penn State Harrisburg. She spoke on the water cycle and how changes caused by development influence our environment and our health. Clark introduced many examples of such changes in the greater Harrisburg area, which made her talk particularly relevant for the many local Penn Staters in attendance. Nonetheless, we had other Penn Staters driving to the event from Philadelphia, New Jersey, and Maryland.
Our first City Lights program, on Lincoln’s birthday, showcased Penn State Distinguished Alumnus Charles Blockson ’56, speaking on the African American historical experience in Philadelphia. Although Philadelphia served as the epicenter for free blacks before the Civil War—with many African-American “firsts” emanating from the city—it also practiced chattel slavery, as did most Northern states in the late 17th and well into the 18th centuries.
Aside from the intellectual stimulation our City Lights programs provide, they also offer a time for networking and socializing, with plenty of hors d’oeuvres before the evening talks and lunch at the all-day events.
We have four more City Lights events this spring. I hope you will consider joining us at any or all:
Cézanne and Rodin: the Fathers of Modern Art and Sculpture, Friday, May 8, 5:00-9:00 p.m., Philadelphia Museum of Art. After a wine-and-cheese reception, you’ll learn more about these two giants from Samantha Kavky, assistant professor of art history at Penn State Berks. Then tour the museum’s hugely popular exhibit, Cézanne and Beyond, which also has attracted great critical acclaim in recent months. (Register quickly as this program is nearly sold out already.)
21st Century Challenges and the United Nations, Thursday, May 14, 4:45 p.m. tours and 5:15 p.m. lecture, at the United Nation in New York City. This event features a talk by Tiyanjana Maluwa, director of Penn State’s new School of International Affairs. An authority in public international law and human rights, Maluwa serves as a special expert and consultant to the U.N. and other international organizations. In addition, Penn State Leigh Valley Assistant Professor Ana Figuero will briefly discuss globalization and gender equity.
Marvin Does Motown with the Pittsburgh Pops, Friday, June 19, 5:30–10:00 p.m., in Heinz Hall, Pittsburgh. Award-winning composer and conductor Marvin Hamlisch swings by Pittsburgh with his Marvin Does Motown Tour. After a reception and talk by Bill Kelly, professor and head of the Integrative Arts Program—and perhaps a cameo appearance by Maestro Hamlisch himself—we’ll hear an evening of special music made famous by Marvin Gay, Diana Ross and the Supremes, Gladys Knight and the Pips, the Four Tops, and other Motown legends.
Lions and Tigers and Penn Staters, Oh My!, Saturday, June 27, the Smithsonian National Zoological Park, Washington, D.C. The littlest to the biggest Penn Staters are invited to take part in this family day at one of our country’s premiere zoos. Enjoy the animals and fun plus a talk by a Penn State faculty member.
For more information or to register for these City Lights programs, click here, call Alumni Travel and Education at 814-863-2808 or 800-548-LION (5466), or e-mail email@example.com. Please join us!
Roger L. Williams ’73, ’75g, ’88g