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AAUW State College announces centennial gift for Penn State Forum

At its Centennial Gala Sunday, AAUW State College awarded $100,000 to the Penn State Forum, to help underwrite the cost of bringing speakers who promote women’s equity to the organization’s Distinguished Speaker Series. Pictured, from left, are: Connie Wheeler, AAUW Centennial Gift chair; Sally Kalin, AAUW finance vice president; Blannie Bowen, Penn State Forum administrative head; Lori Bechtel-Wherry, Penn State Forum chairwoman; and Billie Willits, AAUW co-president.
At its Centennial Gala Sunday, AAUW State College awarded $100,000 to the Penn State Forum, to help underwrite the cost of bringing speakers who promote women’s equity to the organization’s Distinguished Speaker Series. Pictured, from left, are: Connie Wheeler, AAUW Centennial Gift chair; Sally Kalin, AAUW finance vice president; Blannie Bowen, Penn State Forum administrative head; Lori Bechtel-Wherry, Penn State Forum chairwoman; and Billie Willits, AAUW co-president. Photo provided

During its Centennial Gala on Sunday, AAUW State College announced a $100,000 endowment to help bring speakers to Penn State who have made significant contributions to women’s equity.

The endowment and selection of speakers will be managed by the Penn State Forum, which sponsors a series of speakers and luncheons throughout the year. Connie Wheeler, chair of the AAUW State College Centennial Gift Committee, said that the branch wanted a gift that would “meet AAUW’s mission to advance equity for women and girls, bridge town and gown and exist in perpetuity,” according to a press release.

Penn State Altoona Chancellor Lori Bechtel-Wherry, who is the chairwoman of the Penn State Forum, expressed her appreciation for what she called a “historic gift.”

Their generosity supports our continued focus on the ongoing challenges regarding women’s equity.

Lori Bechtel-Wherry, chairwoman of the Penn State Forum

“Their generosity supports our continued focus on the ongoing challenges regarding women’s equity,” she said. “While we have made significant progress in this regard, our work continues.”

Sunday’s gala at Mountain View Country Club in Boalsburg topped off a year of special events celebrating the 100th anniversary of the American Association of University Women State College branch. From its first meeting in 1916 on the Penn State campus, AAUW has had a long history with Penn State that includes advocating for better facilities for women students, influencing the founding of Penn State’s educational TV and radio stations, assisting in the efforts to admit women to the Hershey Medical School and contributing thousands of dollars in student scholarships, according to a press release. Lucretia Simmons, the first woman appointed to full professor, and Mimi Coppersmith, the first woman to chair the board of trustees, were both AAUW State College members.

“We are excited to contribute to an educational and diversity initiative that underscores the advancement of women. AAUW State College is, and will continue to be, a leader in ensuring the empowerment of women,” AAUW State College Co-President Billie Willits said.

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