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Association Chartered June 14, 1946     

September 2021

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From the President

Greetings, Northern California Phi Betes:

 PBK Board
 President's Letter
 Teaching Excellence

I hope all of you are doing well this summer, in spite of sheltering in place. We on the PBKNCA Board thank you for being a member of our Northern California Association.

In May 2021, even though the Annual Awards Meeting had to be cancelled, we conferred scholarships on worthy graduate students from our Association’s campus Chapters. The hard work of Second Vice President–Scholarships, Joanne Sandstrom, and her committee — and your monetary contributions — made this possible. You can read about the recipients of our Scholarships at and about the Teaching Excellence Awards at My thanks to all members who have given generously to our scholarship program during the past year and before. Please keep it up! While we didn’t hold our Annual Meeting this past May due to the virus, and we don’t know what May 2022 will bring, we shall give scholarships again this coming year.

We are excited to announce that we are now resuming events in person (for fully vaccinated, masked members and guests), and have just enjoyed the Museum of International Propaganda. Our docent (and founder of the Museum) gave an excellent presentation; we learned a lot. More events are scheduled, including the return of the Asilomar Conference over Presidents’ weekend.

We encourage nominations for our Teaching Excellence awards for faculty members at the universities in our Association area that have Phi Beta Kappa chapters. If you were motivated, impressed, or enthralled by a teacher at any of those schools, please nominate them for a Teaching Excellence award, using the form available at Teaching Excellence Chair Melissa Stevens awaits your input.

Wishing you a peaceful autumn and happy holidays,

Mary Turner Gilliland, President 2011-22

Nominations for the Teaching Excellence Awards for spring 2022 are being accepted

We are seeking nominations for this prestigious award, which carries an honorarium as well as a certificate. Please nominate a professor you consider outstanding: someone who taught an especially memorable course or who impressed you as an unusually skilled educator, who had a special impact on your education, career, or life, or whom you found inspiring and admirable. Making such a nomination is an appropriate and satisfying way of expressing your gratitude to that person. Awardees nominated in 2021 will be honored in May 2022.

Faculty members of any rank (including lecturers and emeriti) at the following schools are eligible for nomination: Mills College, San Francisco State University, Santa Clara University, Stanford University, UC Berkeley, UC Davis, UC Santa Cruz, and The University of the Pacific. Please give as complete information as possible. Your nominees need not be Phi Beta Kappa members. You may make more than one nomination, but please use a separate form for each nomination you make.

Nominations for spring 2022 must be received by November 30, 2021. Please use the webform at

Melissa X. Stevens, Teaching Excellence Chair

PBK 2020 Financials are located at


In light of the public health recommendations to reduce the incidence and spread of COVID-19, Phi Beta Kappa Northern California is requiring that all persons attending events be fully vaccinated and masked.

For questions about the events, email O'Neil Dillon at

For questions about Asilomar, email Deirdre Frontczak at

Good Grief, Charlie Brown, September 11, 2021, 11:00 AM - 12:00 PM

A visit to the Charles M. Schulz museum in Santa Rosa offers an opportunity for a deeper understanding of the creative process in the production of artistic masterworks, the comic strip “Peanuts” being one such example.

At the end of the artists’ life on February 12, 2000, “Peanuts” was carried by more than 2,600 newspapers in 75 countries and read by some 300 million people. It had been going for five decades. Robert Thompson, a scholar of popular culture, called it “arguably the longest story told by a single artist in human history”.

Starting in the late 1940s, and anchored by Charlie Brown’s emotional struggles, Schulz increasingly addressed issues of depression, anxiety, and OCD. He was almost alone in addressing these issues in children and to children. It is clear he knew what he was talking about from deep personal experience.

“I think anybody who is writing finds he puts a little bit of himself in all of the characters, at least in this kind of a strip. It’s the only way that you can survive when you have to do something every day. You have to put yourself, all of your thoughts, all of your observations and everything you know into the strip.”– Charles M. Schulz, 1984

The ice rink may be open to the public at the time of our visit. If interested, check Snoopy's Home Ice - The Redwood Empire Ice Arena

Cost: $20 ($12 of that for scholarships)

Group size: Maximum 40



Parking: readily available 

To make reservations electronically, go to or click for Old-fashioned coupon/check by snail

The Arion Press (and M+H Typefoundry) in San Francisco,

November 11, 2021 4:00 PM - 6:00 PM


The Arion Press (and M+H Typefoundry) in San Francisco is so designated by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and is a must-see for anyone interested in the history, and current manufacture of, artisanal books.

The Arion Press is the foremost publisher of “The most beautiful limited-edition, hand-printed books in the world. It carries on a grand legacy of San Francisco printers and bookmakers.” - New York Times.

M+H Type is the oldest and largest typefoundry in the country and one of the few remaining manufacturers of type in the world.

The staff, who we will see at their work, are highly skilled practitioners of typecasting, letter press printing, and book binding.

The Arion Press (and M+H Typefoundry) is a living, working museum.

Paid and free parking, see

See Arion Press website for information as well as things to do in the Presidio prior to the tour. Arion Press

Consider dinner close by in the Richmond District after the tour, to miss the evening commute. Reservations recommended.

To make reservations electronically, go to or click for Old-fashioned coupon/check by snail

Visit Historical Locke Town, Date and time to be announced

Located about 30 miles south of Sacramento, Locke is the legacy of the extraordinary efforts made by the Chinese in developing agriculture in California. On August 2, 1970 the entire town was nominated to the National Register of Historic Places by the Sacramento County Historical Society.

Established in 1915, Locke is the last remaining rural Chinatown in America. During its heyday from the 1920’s to the 1940’s Locke was an autonomous island of Chinese culture with a permanent population of about 600, including many families, and about 1000 seasonal farm laborers.. At one time Locke had four restaurants, a half dozen markets, dry goods stores, five brothels, a post office, two slaughterhouses, a flour mill, canneries, shipping wharves, an opera, speakeasies during Prohibition, and five gambling houses.

There will be a one-and-a-half-hour docent-led tour of the whole town, museums, and gambling halls.

This is an opportunity to understand important history of the Chinese experience in California. You can also incorporate a visit to nearby wineries to round out your day.

Date:  Details to follow, watch your email and/or our website

Locke website:

35th Annual Asilomar Conference - February 18 – 21, 2022

"Science and technology revolutionize our lives, but memory, tradition and myth frame our response."           Arthur M. Schlesinger

To make reservations electronically, visit or click for Old-fashioned coupon/check by snail.

If the isolation and upheavals of the past year are getting you down, take heart – it’s once again time to reserve your weekend of learning, inspiration and fellowship on the magnificent Monterey coast! After an extended hiatus, PBKNCA is delighted to announce that plans for Asilomar 2022 are finally in the works.

This year we'll explore both the scientific and technical advances that have transformed our social landscape, and the cultural responses that varied people have brought to frame and understand these often-confusing times. Past participants describe the weekend as a “the best aspects of college, without the exams” and “the greatest high of the year – without drugs!”

For information on the previous event, visit

Please join us for the annual Asilomar Conference, where we again gather to learn, explore, and listen to one another in new ways. A preview of the 2022 event:

Friday night Speaker and title, To Be Announced

Saturday morning – Naomi Baron (PBK Brandeis), Linguistics, American University:

Reading in Print vs Digital: A Reality Check

Digital reading exploded around 2010, with prognosticators promising an eclipse of print.  So, after a decade of the digital explosion, does the reading medium actually matter?  A substantial body of research confirms that in straight-up comparisons of reading comprehension, print has the advantage. This talk will share research on each medium’s pros and cons, including studies on how extended distant learning during the past year has shaped student perceptions.

Saturday afternoon Jerome Cranston, Dean of Education, University of Regina:  Institutional racism and its implications for faculties in higher education.

Dr. Cranston is a professor and the Dean of the Faculty of Education at the University of Regina, which is located on Treaty 4 territory and on the traditional home of the ​​Métis.

Saturday night – Judy Bicknell (PBK U. Oregon) and Neil Bicknell, Filmmakers:  Poetry, Power and the Artist’s Influence in Society

Of President John F. Kennedy, many stories have been told.  Few are less known or more revealing than the story of his friendship with Robert Frost, America’s most celebrated poet.  Yet it was Frost that Kennedy made the subject of what has been called his “most majestic speech,” delivered at Amherst College just 27 days before his assassination.  In honoring Robert Frost that idyllic fall day, the President honored the arts and artists and those who speak truth to power, and challenged those who receive a great education to recognize their responsibility to (re)build our civic sphere with the a "broad sympathy, understanding and compassion".

JFK: The Last Speech, the documentary, book and website, were created with the conviction that the values of President Kennedy and Robert Frost speak to us today, and point toward actions we can take to move beyond our debilitating polarized politics toward a “more hopeful, civilized and peaceful” future.  (Note: The documentary -- winner of major film festival awards for Best Documentary, Best Feature, and People's Choice, among others --   will be shown at this event.)

Sunday morning Bruce Cain (PBK Bowdoin), Political Science, Stanford:

California’s Extreme Weather Challenge: A Battle on Two Fronts


Extreme weather is battering California in multiple ways. Decades ago, climate scientists predicted that heat, drought, flooding, wildfires and sea level rise would become more extreme, but California is still not well prepared to deal with these problems. Decarbonization and adaptation to extreme weather are political as well as technical problems.  Climate-change denial is the obvious challenge at the moment, but NIMBYism, localism, governmental fracture, and the like also play key roles.  As Californians, what can we do, on multiple fronts, to be more effective in meeting the climate change challenge?  

Sunday afternoon Zeke Hausfather (PBK Grinnell,Climate Science, Berkeley / Director of Climate and Energy, The Breakthrough Institute (title, TBA)

Zeke Hausfather is a climate scientist and energy systems analyst whose research focuses on temperature records, climate models, and mitigation technologies. He has spent 10 years working as a data scientist and entrepreneur in the cleantech sector; as a research scientist with Berkeley Earth, as senior climate analyst at Project Drawdown, and as the US analyst for Carbon Brief.  He holds a Masters degree in environmental science from Yale, and a Ph.D. in climate science from U.C. Berkeley.

Sunday night – Kristin Kusanovich, Theater and Dance, Santa Clara:

The Interdisciplinary tUrn:  A New Invitational Model for Climate Crisis Awareness & Action in Higher Education

How do multiple disciplines intersect with, and contribute to, addressing our climate crisis? This talk explores how an intercultural, interdisciplinary and intergenerational project is scaling up relationships both locally and internationally. The tUrn series is driven by the notion that no one should graduate from college today without being ready for the climate crisis, or fully aware of what they can do to create a much-needed u-tUrn.  

Kristin Kusanovich comes to this work as the imaginer (and manager) of tUrn from a background in the performing arts. For each tUrn week she coordinates 30 separate talks/panels/workshops that provide distinct pathways to understand the climate crisis and move toward a meaningful choreography of our shared futures.

Monday morning:  Jonathan Lear (PBK UMass/Amherst), 2021 recipient of a PBKNCA graduate scholarship award, Ph.D. Candidate in History, Stanford:

Japan, West Germany and the Global Atomic Era

The Atomic Age typically evokes a certain set of images and ideas – the mushroom cloud, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and deterrence theory, for example. But there is another dimension: Turning to post-war West Germany and Japan, this talk explores how a range of historical actors-- engineers, journalists, scientists, and managers--used the promise of the peaceful atom to repurpose and conceive their nations anew, after decades of social and political crisis.

 ΦBK Board, July 1, 2021 to June 30, 2022
 Mary Turner Gilliland, President
    Menlo Park, (650) 321-9966,

O’Neil Dillon, First Vice President – Programs

     Berkeley, cell (510) 207-8761,
 Joanne Sandstrom, Second Vice President – Scholarships
    Oakland, (510) 339-1352,
 Patricia Kenber, Third Vice President – Membership
    Danville, (925) 838-2296,
 Duncan Missimer, Treasurer
    Mountain View, (408) 368-0835,
 Susan Jenkins, Corresponding and Recording Secretary
     San Jose, (408) 532-6550,
 Deirdre Frontczak, Asilomar Chair
    Santa Rosa, (707) 546-4238,
 Amanda Sanyal, Chapter Liaison
    Campbell, (650) 520-5419,
 Ray Hendess, Communications Officer
    Petaluma, (707) 763-2072,
 Melissa X. Stevens, Teaching Excellence Chair
    Rocklin, (530) 933-1550,
The editor thanks Dr. Larry Lerner for proofing this newsletter

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