March-April 2017 Newsletter

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Mary GillilandWhat a pleasure it was to attend our annual Asilomar conference, this year held the weekend of 10-13 February. Deirdre Frontczak deserves an Oscar for coordinating the event again. The seven speakers (see pages 2-4 for photos and more) provided something for everyone. Deirdre’s able assistant, Barry Haskell, dealt with logistics and kept us running smoothly all weekend. Thanks, too, to Mike Sitzer for his work with the AV equipment.

On Friday evening, we heard from Dr. Anja Manuel of Stanford, who specializes in International Policy Studies. She enlightened us on how India and China are poised to become two of the world’s powers, and how this may impact the US.

On Saturday, we heard three speakers: Ranger Lisa Maldonado Bradford, Cultural Resource specialist for California State Parks discussed the Women of Asilomar. After lunch, Molly King, a Stanford Ph.D. candidate and 2016 ΦBKNCA scholarship awardee, discussed “Who Owns Knowledge? Information inequalities by Class, Gender, and Race.” That evening, Dr. Penelope Boston, Director of the NASA Microbiology Institute, enthralled us with her exploration of cave habitats on Earth, Mars, and beyond.

Sunday’s speakers began with our own Dr. Fred Lawrence, new Secretary of The Phi Beta Kappa Society, and Visiting Professor of Law at the Yale School of Law. Fred is a fascinating raconteur and had lots of anecdotes to enthrall us. (He AND his wife are returning to Asilomar in 2018!) We had a free afternoon on Sunday.  Then in the evening, we heard from Elan Portner, another Stanford Ph.D. candidate and 2016 ΦBKNCA scholarship recipient. He enlightened us about “Open Ocean Food Webs,” and who eats what and why.

Monday morning, Dr. Steven Palumbi (Elan’s mentor), from the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment, mesmerized us with his research of oceanic life in the Pacific.

I am delighted to report that our entire Board has re-upped for 2017-18. Please join us Sunday 7 May at the Bancroft Hotel in Berkeley for our Annual Meeting, at which all of them will be voted upon and reinstalled, and our Teaching Excellence awards and Scholarship recipients will be announced. Our Programs VP, Judy Hardardt, has a great evening in store for everyone.


Mary Turner Gilliland President 2011-17


We are seeking nominations for this prestigious award, which carries an honorarium as well as a certificate. Please nominate a professor you consider to be 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 2016 will be honored at the ΦBKNCA awards dinner on May 7. (See page 5).

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 sheet for each nomination you make.

Nominations for spring 2018 must be received by November 30, 2017. Please use the webform at (preferred), or the hardcopy available by printing the pdf there.

Narcinda Lerner, Teaching Excellence Chair


As a member of the Northern California Association, you are eligible to join our private LinkedIn group. Our group, "PBK, Northern California", is restricted to members of the Northern California Association, so you will know with whom you correspond. Go to to join. We have to verify each member manually, so please email Pat Kenber at if you requested to access the group and feel that we've taken too long to process the request.

Asilomar 2017 31st Annual Asilomar Conference 
the weekend of February 10-13, 2017

Sign Up for 2018 Now!

Beach header

“A faithful study of liberal arts humanizes character, and allows it not to be cruel.”  -- Ovid

The good weather on Presidents’ Day weekend once again added to the high spirits and lively discussions that make the Asilomar conference a highlight of early spring. Based on the feedback, attendees enjoyed an inspiring weekend, with speaker presentations variously described as “spectacular” and “superb.”

Thanks go out to all our speakers, to Mike Sitzer who provided the audio equipment free of charge, and to ΦBK volunteer Barry Haskell, whose constant vigilance and patience allowed both registrations and the weekend to proceed smoothly.

Deirdre Frontczak, Asilomar Chair

Highlights of the ΦBKNCA 31st Annual Asilomar Conference

More information may be found on our website at


Friday evening, Dr. Anja Manuel, International Policy Studies, Stanford India and China: The New Superpowers  

Anja Manuel Anja Manuel took us on an intimate tour of the corridors of power in Delhi and Beijing. We wring our hands about China, Manuel argues, while we underestimate India, which will be the most important country outside the West to shape China’s rise. Manuel showed us a different path: We can bring China and India along as partners rather than alienating one or both, and thus extend our own leadership in the world.

Saturday morning, Lisa Maldonado Bradford, Asilomar The Remarkable Women of Asilomar

Lisa Bradford Asilomar’s Cultural Resource specialist, offered a unique insight into the backgrounds of some of the notable women with a passion and commitment to the goals of YWCA, which brought Asilomar into existence. By encouraging higher education for women and creating an environment of greater ethnic diversity, they left an enduring mark on Asilomar from its inception in 1913 to today, when it has become the great resource we treasure.

Saturday afternoon, Molly King Ph.D. Candidate, Stanford Who Owns Knowledge? Information Inequalities by Class, Gender and Race

Molly King Molly explored demographic differences across all domains of knowledge (from health to religion, sports to history) and the implications of these inequalities for people's lives. For example, do women know more than men, or does the upper class know more the middle class? Also, is the upper class, for example, omnivorous in the sense that it knows everything about everything, or is its knowledge restricted to certain specialized domains? In our modern information economy, inequalities in this “information capital” between groups are more critical than ever to specific outcomes.

Saturday evening, Dr. Penelope Boston, NASA Ames The Astrobiology of the Subsurface: Exploring Cave Habitats on Earth, Mars and Beyond

Penelope Boston We use the spectacular underground landscapes of Earth caves as models for the subsurfaces of other planets. Caves have been detected on the Moon and Mars and are strongly suspected on other bodies in the Solar System Some cave microorganisms eat their way through bedrock, some live in battery acid conditions, some produce unusual biominerals and rare cave formations, and many produce compounds of potential pharmaceutical and industrial significance.

Sunday morning, Dr. Frederick M. Lawrence, The Phi Beta Kappa Society and Yale Law School The Contours of Expression: Free Speech and Civility

Fred Lawrence Fred drew on his scholar’s expertise on free expression and hate crimes, as well as on his new role as Secretary/CEO of The Phi Beta Kappa Society. He explored the social aspects of “vigorous civility” as a solution to the challenges of determining proper boundaries of free expression, and the importance of an arts and sciences perspective in facing societal issues.

Sunday night, Elan Portner, Ph.D. Candidate Stanford Open ocean food webs: how we study the largest habitat on Earth 

Elan Porter The open ocean contains over 95% of habitable space on our planet and is utilized by the most abundant organisms on the planet, many of which undergo the largest known migrations. Its expansiveness, and the fact that most of this habitat lies far beneath the ocean's surface, make it a particularly difficult system to study – but also makes the potential for discovery immense. Scientists use nets, cameras, sound, and surprising assistants to learn how organisms in these habitats interact and how they respond to natural and anthropogenic pressures. 

Stephen Palumbi Monday morning, Stephen Palumbi, Stanford Woods Institute The Evolution Explosion: How Humans Cause Rapid Evolutionary Change

Steve discussed the destruction of Monterey Bay caused by our depletion of one species after another, and its comeback through the establishment of undisturbed habitats.

Upcoming Events

Bancroft tables setΦBKNCA Annual Meeting and Awards Dinner - Sunday, May 7, 2017

Get out your calendars!  It’s time to make sure that you have this year’s ΦBKNCA Annual Meeting and Awards Dinner blocked out!

Our meeting in May will be held from 4:00 pm until 8:00 pm at The Bancroft Hotel in Berkeley, the same location as last year’s meeting.  As you are aware, the annual meeting is the occasion when we celebrate ΦBKNCA’s primary mission—the awarding of scholarships and teaching excellence awards to deserving scholars and professors, fulfilling ΦBKNCA’s objective to enhance scholars’ educational and research activities and to honor those who are teaching our next generation.

For those of you who have not been able to come to the Annual Dinner before, we encourage you to do so.  In meeting some of these outstanding honorees and learning aboutBancroft Tables Peopletheir academic interests (as well as renewing old friendships and perhaps getting more involved in our vibrant organization, ΦBKNCA), you will be able to more fully appreciate the value of the programs we offer throughout the year: the funds generated through the Asilomar conference, the many monthly events and the direct contributions you make!  

Enjoy the food, wine and, best of all, wonderful fellowship of kindred spirits.

Social hour begins at 4:00 p.m. with a cash bar; dinner, including your choice of entrées (seafood, chicken, vegetarian), white or red house wine, will be served at 5:00 p.m.  Coffee and tea will be served with dessert.

Get the coupon to register

Date: Sunday, May 7, 2017
Deadline: Friday, April 21, 2017
Time: 4-8 p.m.
Cost: (per person including tax, gratuities, parking):  $65.00

Dorothea Lange: Politics of Seeing: Saturday, June 3, 2017  Deadline: May 20, 2017 

Dorothea Lange Few 20th Century photographers have produced such instantly recognizable and iconic works as Dorothea Lange. Gain a new understanding of this beloved American photographer when we visit the Oakland Museum for our docent-led look at their exhibition –Dorothea Lange: Politics of Seeing.

Through the lens of her camera, Lange documented American life with riveting, intimate photographs that showed the major issues of the times. This spring, view the emotional and political impact of her works in this major exhibition, which coincides with the 50th anniversary of the artist’s gift of her personal archive to the Oakland Museum of California. From documenting the plight of Dust Bowl migrants during the Great Depression to magnifying the grim conditions of incarcerated Japanese Americans during World War II, Lange’s photographs demonstrate how empathy and compassion—focused through art—can trigger political action. View approximately 100 photographs, including vintage prints, unedited proof sheets, personal memorabilia, and historic objects. Examine how Lange’s artistry and advocacy swayed minds and prompted significant change in this nation’s history. Discover how her work continues to resonate with millions, illustrating the power of photography as a form of social activism.

Date: Saturday, June 3, 2017
Time: 11:00 am
Minimum: 10
Maximum: 18
Deadline: May 20, 2017 
Fee: $11.00

Get the reservation coupon

Directions: The museum is located at 1000 Oak Street at 10th Street, in Oakland, situated between downtown and Lake Merritt. For a complete guide to reaching the Museum from the Bay Area on public transit, visit The entrance to the parking garage is on Oak Street between 10th and 12th streets. Parking fees are $1 per hour for Museum visitors with validation and $2.50 per hour without validation. Get your

Information about our enrollment, refund and cancellation policies

Most events can accommodate you and any friends or family you'd like to bring along. Occasionally an event will have a limited enrollment, in which case we may not be able to accommodate more than one member and one guest per enrollment. As for refunds, if you call in advance they may be avail­able unless ΦBKNCA will lose scholarship money — that is, unless we are financially committed, based on your enrollment, to an organization at which the event will be held. If we can find someone to fill your space we may be able to refund your payment, but that is not always possible. Members who do not come to an event for which they have registered will not receive refunds. The ΦBKNCA Board is most grateful to those who prefer to donate the program fee to the scholarship program in lieu of a refund. You will not receive written confirmation of your reservation for the events. Directions are available from the event websites,, your GPS, or on the day of the event by calling Judy Hardardt: cell (707) 696-9498.


ΦBK Board Nominees Bios for 2017-2018

Bios of returning Board and Nominating Committee members are located at

President: Mary Turner Gilliland
First Vice President, Programs: Judy Hardardt
Second Vice President, Scholarship: Joanne Sandstrom 
Third Vice-President – Membership: Patricia Kenber
Recording Secretary: Stacey Croll
Corresponding Secretary: Susan Jenkins
Treasurer: Duncan Missimer  

Committee members to be appointed by the board:

Asilomar Chair, Deirdre Frontczak; Co-Chapter Liaison, Amanda Sanyal; Co-Chapter Liaison, Luke Yancy, Jr; Communications Officer, Ray Hendess; Teaching Excellence Chair, Narcinda (Cindy) R. Lerner.

Nominating Committee: Judith Hardardt, Chair; Elizabeth Archambeault; Megan Carlucci; O’Neil Dillon; Carine Dornbush; Maria Norall; Gerry Richards; Megan Winkelman.


ΦBK Board July 1, 2016 to June 30, 2017

Mary Turner Gilliland, President
Menlo Park, (650) 321-9966,
Judy Hardardt, First Vice President – Programs
Davis, cell (707) 696-9498,
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,
Stacey Croll, Recording Secretary
San Ramon, (925) 355-1771,
Susan Jenkins, Corresponding Secretary
San Jose, (408) 532-6550,
Deirdre Frontczak, Asilomar Chair
Santa Rosa, (707) 546-4238,
Amanda Sanyal, Co-Chapter Liaison
Campbell, (650) 520-5419,
Luke Yancy, Jr., Co-Chapter Liaison
East Palo Alto, (248) 227-4762,
Ray Hendess, Communications Officer
Petaluma, (707) 763-2072,
Narcinda Lerner, Teaching Excellence Chair
Woodside, (650) 851-0137,