Book in Common
Chico's Year of the Woman?
This year we welcomed home Dr. Gayle Hutchinson as our new President of the California State University, Chico—the first woman to grace that office. In her inspirational commencement speech the week before classes started, the President quoted several eminent thinkers—such as Maya Angelou and Eleanor Roosevelt—who also happened to be female. Dr. Hutchinson already is providing inspiration for all women on campus, and especially for our first year students, who start their university career knowing that they too can reach the top of their profession.
On Thursday, September 29 from 6-7 pm, in front of the City of Chico City Hall, President Gayle Hutchinson will take the podium with a slate of outstanding women from our community—including the President of Butte College Dr. Samia Yaqub, Butte County Supervisor Maureen Kirk, and City Councilwoman Ann Schwab. Together they will introduce this year’s Book in Common: the autobiography of Gloria Steinem, an individual without whose decades of committed work they very well may never have had the opportunities to achieve their own dreams.
Steinem’s recent autobiography My Life on the Road is a perfect example of the personal being political, as Steinem—a front-runner in the Women’s Rights Movement—chronicles moments in her family and personal life that inspired her activism in the political arena. Through humorous and deeply moving anecdotes, the book proves the point that by working together regular people can drive change, even given enormous obstacles. Her stories of respectful partnering with and learning from diverse peoples offer models for a powerfully inclusive collaborative structure. At the same time, Steinem’s recollections of many years working the campaign trail in the pursuit of equal rights, and especially during the last presidential elections, offer fascinating insight to our current political environment.
President Hutchinson captures the tone of the book perfectly, saying that “Ms. Steinem reflects on her life journey with passion, candor and humor. We can all learn from her experiences. Her book is a must read.” Dr. Bill Loker, Dean of Undergraduate Education calls My Life on the Road, “intensely interesting, informative and thought-provoking” and states that “Gloria Steinem’s memoir is like a primer on civic engagement, showing how we can make a difference at the community, state, national and even global level when uniting with like-minded people.” President Yaqub points out the multicultural emphasis of My Life on the Road, and indeed Steinem’s narrative belies the assumption that the Women’s Movement was white and middle class—either in its perspective or in the composition of its adherents. Rather, our Book in Common reminds us to look for and celebrate the wisdom and accomplishments of women—and men—all around us, and to remember that our new leaders or heroes will not necessarily look like us.
Is this the year of the woman in Chico? Certainly Chico State has made a great leap forward, in getting our first female President. However, we shouldn’t overlook the enormous contributions made at every other level at the university, by our women staff, faculty, students, and administrators. In fact, everywhere you look, incredibly effective women are involved in making this vibrant community even better—and have been for a long time. Thus, given our history of strong women leaders, since even before Chico was Chico, perhaps we simply have been presented with an opportunity to celebrate that.
Together with our partners at Butte College, The City of Chico, and the County of Butte, we invite your to kick off the new Book in Common on September 29th, and we welcome you all to another exciting read!
The Book in Common: share the experience.
Book in Common Team
California State University, Chico
September 4, 2016