May 1, 1998
Geneva, NY — Gloria Steinem, writer, activist, and editor of Ms. Magazine, will deliver the 1998 Commencement address at Hobart and William Smith Colleges on June 14. The Colleges will also confer upon her an honorary doctorate of humane letters degree.
Steinem is one of the most influential writers and activists of our time on matters of gender equity, personal empowerment, and child abuse. She travels widely as a lecturer and feminist organizer, and is a frequent interviewee and spokesperson on issues of equality.
Her appearance as Commencement speaker builds upon a friendship that was launched in February 1996, when Steinem visited campus to help honor Elizabeth Blackwell Award recipient Wilma Mankiller. “It's not surprising,” says HWS President Richard Hersh, “that, during her visit, Gloria Steinem found in the Colleges a particularly fertile setting for her comments and concerns. As an institution, we share her interest in matters of gender and equity. I am happy to say that a bond was formed between us, and we are thrilled to invite Ms. Steinem back to Geneva. Not only will she bring a message of relevance to our graduating seniors, but she does so as a person already familiar with our community.”
Steinem is currently a writer and consulting editor for Ms. Magazine, the international feminist bi-monthly she co-founded in 1972. Moving Beyond Words, a collections of essays, was published by Simon & Schuster in 1994 and appeared on bestseller lists here and in Canada. In 1992 she published Revolution from Within: A Book of Self-Esteem with Little, Brown & Co. It was number one on many best seller lists, became the subject of a Time cover story, and was translated into 15 languages.
Steinem helped to found the Women's Action Alliance, a national center for information and advocacy in such areas as non-sexist, multi-racial children's education and communication among women's groups; the National Women's Political Caucus, a non-partisan organization devoted to advancing pro-equality women of all races in elected and appointed office; and the Coalition of Labor Union Women, a national advocacy group devoted to advancing women and issues of equality in the union movement.
She is founding president of the Ms. Foundation for women, a national multi-racial women's fund that supports grassroots projects to empower women and girls, and is president of Voters for Choice, an independent bi-partisan political action committee that supports candidates working for reproductive freedom.
In 1993, Steinem's concerns about child abuse led her to co-produce and narrate an Emmy Award-winning television documentary for HBO, “Multiple Personalities: The Search for Deadly Memories.”
Her list of honors is extensive, including many for her writing. She also received the first Doctorate of Human Justice awarded at Simmons College, the Ceres Medal from the United Nations, and was inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame in 1993. It is also noteworthy that during the ten years that the World Almanac listed the 25 Most Influential Women in America, Steinem was listed for nine of those ten years.
Steinem graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Smith College in 1956.
As both a writer and an activist, Steinem remains especially interested in the shared origins of caste systems based on sex and race; in gender roles and child abuse as the roots of violence; in non-violent conflict resolution; in the cultures of indigenous people; and in organizing across national boundaries for peace and justice.
Steinem's address begins at 9:30 a.m. and the public is welcome to attend. The 1998 ceremonies mark the 173rd commencement of Hobart College and the 87th commencement of William Smith College.
Hobart College for men, founded in 1822, and William Smith College for women, founded in 1908, share a distinctive and historic coordinate relationship. The two private, liberal arts institutions share faculty, facilities, and curriculum, but maintain separate dean's offices, athletics programs, student governments, and traditions, and award separate degrees. Located in Geneva, N.Y., the colleges have a joint enrollment of 1,800.
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