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04 September 2007

HACC’s 10th annual Honors Lecture Series starts Sept. 10

A scholar of Jewish folkore, an expert on women’s political activism in the U.S. and Russia and the Pennsylvania judge who presided over the landmark “Intelligent Design” case have been tapped for the 10th annual Honors Lecture Series at HACC.

The series, which will be broadcast live to all campuses of HACC, Central Pennsylvania’s Community College, is open to the public. Lectures will be given in Stabler Hall 102 on the Harrisburg Campus.

Dr. Yvonne J. Milspaw, professor of English and humanities and director of HACC’s Honors Program, says the lectures are designed to enhance the intellectual experience, social consciousness and cultural awareness to the college community.

Dr. Haya Bar-Itzhak, a Fulbright Professor of Humanities at Penn State Harrisburg, opens the series at noon Sept. 10 with her discourse, “Jewish Moroccan Cinderella in an Israeli Context.” She will analyze and interpret the well-known and beloved folktale used to convey a message in a severe conflict situation.

“This shows how old women, the bearers of the tradition of the past, express the ethnic community beliefs and opinions in a changing world and fight for their place in the family in a situation where it is the young people who adapt quickly, thereby marginalizing the older generation,” Bar-Izhatak says.

Bar-Itzhak was chairwoman of the Department of Hebrew and Comparative Literature, head of Folklore Studies and director of Israeli Folktale Archives at the University of Haifa. She has published many articles and books and is editor of the “Encyclopedia of Jewish Folklore” to be published in the United States in 2008.

As the 2008 presidential race continues to heat up, Dr. Carol Nechemias will assess whether this country is likely to see the precedent-shattering election of a woman in her lecture, “Is America ready for a woman president?” The lecture will be given at 12:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 19.

“The American presidency is considered a highly ‘masculine’ position, along with jobs like managing athletic teams and serving as a general in the military,” Nechemias says. “Yet, it appears that we may be ready to break a historic barrier and have our first Madam President.”

Nechemias, professor of political science at Penn Stat Harrisburg, has been teaching courses on women and U.S. politics for more than 30 years.

In the third lecture of the series, Judge John E. Jones III of the Middle District of Pennsylvania will explore “The Importance of an Independent Judiciary.” The lecture will be given at 12:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 15.

In 2005, Jones presided over the high profile Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District case, ruling that it is unconstitutional to teach intelligent design within a public school science curriculum.

“Utterly lost in most of the critical analyses of the decision was any explanation or understanding of how judges work, including the role of precedent and the rule of law,” says Jones, appointed in 2005 to the state Commission on Judicial Independence by the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania. “It is vital that citizens better understand these critical areas as they relate to the third branch of our democracy.”

Jones was in private practice in Pottsville until his elevation to the federal bench, to which he was unanimously confirmed in 2002. He has received numerous awards, including Outstanding Alumni Award in 2006 from the Dickinson School of Law where he was recognized as one of the 25 most influential graduates in the college’s 125-year history. In 2006 he was named by Time Magazine as one of its Time 100 most influential people in the world.

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