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January 1, 2001

Alumni Association celebrates outstanding alumni, faculty, staff, and students

By Louise Donahue

A professor of women's studies, the national editor of the New York Times, and a media specialist have been selected to receive the highest awards bestowed annually by the UC Santa Cruz Alumni Association.

Top to bottom: Aptheker, Roberts, and Kirk UCSC Photo Services (Aptheker and Kirk)
Bettina Aptheker will be given the Distinguished Teaching Award for her more than 20 years of teaching and service; Katherine Roberts (Kresge â74), national editor of the New York Times, will receive the Alumni Achievement Award, and David Kirk, whose work has been crucial in expanding the university's video and digital media collection, will get the Outstanding Staff Award.

The Alumni Council, the association's governing body, selected the winners based on nominations from students, faculty, alumni, and staff. The three award winners are being honored at a February 3 luncheon on campus that will also recognize 10 students receiving the association's College Service Awards and 15 students winning the associationâs Scholarship Fund awards, which are based on financial need.

Many UCSC students consider Aptheker's popular Introduction to Feminism course a rite of passage and cannot imagine leaving Santa Cruz without having experienced it, according to Jorge Hankamer, former dean of humanities.

"In many of her courses, Bettina incorporates art, poetry, guest speakers, slides, videos, music and engaging readings," Hankamer wrote in nominating Aptheker for the award. "She transforms each class experience into a multimedia chapter of a well-planned story."

Memories of Aptheker's courses linger with alumni and students alike. "Bettina's multifaceted teaching style transforms a class into an event," wrote Shawnee Undell (Kresge '93) in nominating Aptheker. "In a lecture of 500 people, I always felt she was speaking directly to me. And so did the other 499 people in the room," recalled Undell.

Bettina Aptheker has a national reputation for her pedagogical talents and as a builder of women's studies. She was the sole lecturer in women's studies at UCSC from 1980 to 1987 and became its first ladder-rank faculty member in 1987. Her book, Tapestries of Life: Women's Work, Women's Consciousness and the Meaning of Daily Experience, is a classic in women's studies.

She is a scholar of history and a historical subject herself, as a leader in the Free Speech Movement, and as a member of the defense team to free Angela Davis.

It is not unusual for students to describe their time in one of Aptheker's classes as a "life-changing experience" and "an eye-opener."

"Every student who passes through her classroom will remember having been touched by her. Through her students, Bettina has created a living legacy," wrote graduate student Liddy Detar.

Alumni Achievement Award winner Katherine Roberts "represents the best of a Santa Cruz education," said Alumni Council member Douglas Foster (Kresge â76), a fellow at the Alicia Patterson Foundation and former director of the graduate school of journalism at UC Berkeley.

Named national editor in November, Roberts had been the newspaper's Op-Ed page editor since 1995, and had worked in several other positions at the New York Times.

"Katy Roberts is a creative force as an editor and a splendid role model
and mentor for other journalists," said Howell Raines, New York Times editorial page editor. "She has a remarkable ability to inspire writers to stay right on top of the news and simultaneously achieve a high level of intellectual analysis."

Under the direction of Roberts, said Foster, the Op-Ed page became an increasingly lively section of the newspaper, moving away from its onetime reliance on policy pronouncements by those currently or recently in government.

"In her five years as the Op-Ed editor, Katy brought in new writers and thinkers, branching out from the Ivy League, East Coast establishment. She was open to views, left and right, that challenged conventional wisdom," said Mary Suh, deputy Op-Ed editor during most of that time.

"Intellectuals, activists, business leaders, and politicians mixed it up in Katy Roberts's pages, a kind of commons, in a way, for contemplation of the issues which are important in American civic life," said Foster.

Foster lauded the editor's "intellectual rigor and drive to broaden not just the views, but the idea of what's important." He predicted these strengths may be even more important in her handling of national news for the New York Times.

Roberts received a bachelor's degree in politics at UC Santa Cruz in 1974, studied Russian language at the University of Toronto, and received an M.A. degree in journalism and Russian area studies from Indiana University in 1977.

Outstanding Staff Award recipient Kirk's encylopedic knowledge of film has placed him in a rare position for a nonacademic staff member. While collection development is almost the exclusive province of librarians at UCSC, Kirk has excelled in such an assignment for years.

"Because of David's hard work, our film and video collection is comparable in size and scope to that of UC Berkeley," wrote Gregory Careaga, media development librarian at the McHenry Library Media Center, in nominating Kirk.

In his more than 27 years at UCSC, Kirk has built a reputation as someone who can track down the most obscure video, becoming a savior for teachers who had nearly given up hope of finding just the right title for their classes.

Those who work with Kirk often mention his commitment and willingness to share his knowledge. Although he plans to retire in 2001, Kirk has seen to it that his spirit lives on at UCSC. In 2000, he established the David Kirk Video Endowment with his own money, and the fund has swelled with the contributions of alumni, faculty, and members of the community who have donated in Kirk's name.

Kirk has also served as a valuable role model and mentor to many students, especially those struggling with issues of sexual identity in the early years of gay liberation in the 1970s. Frasier Emmy-award winner Chuck Ranberg (Porter '77) was one of many such students who found Kirk an inspiration. "Just by living his life, he demonstrated there was nothing to fear," Ranberg said. "It is people like Dave who made--and still make--the experience of UCSC unique and irreplaceable."

The Alumni Association Awards Luncheon will be held on Saturday, February 3, from noon to 2 p.m. in the Porter College Dining Hall at UCSC. The cost is $12 per person. For luncheon reservations, call (800) 933-SLUG by Friday, January 26.


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