Catt Center Celebrates 20th Anniversary

The celebration of the 20th anniversary of the Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women in Politics – which kicked off with a performance of The Yellow Rose of Suffrage on Aug. 26, Women’s Equality Day, before an audience of more than 250 people – will continue with events in September, October and November.

The Center – which was established on Sept. 23, 1992, with the approval of the Iowa Board of Regents – will mark its 20th anniversary with a celebration reception from 3:30 to 5 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 23, at Carrie Chapman Catt Hall on Iowa State’s central campus. The event – which is free and open to the public – will include anniversary cake, specialty ice cream made by the Iowa State Dairy Science Club, and other refreshments.

The anniversary celebration reception will also include a program from 4 to 4:30 p.m. featuring remarks by Elizabeth Hoffman, former executive vice president and provost, and a performance by the Yellow Rose Singers. Voter registration will be available during the reception through volunteers from the Ames League of Women Voters.

As dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences from 1993 to 1997, Hoffman was instrumental in supporting the Catt Center at its beginning and helped establish its Mary Louise Smith Chair in Women and Politics and Legacy of Heroines scholars program. She and her husband, Brian Binger, provide financial support to the Legacy of Heroines scholarship and internship programs.

The Yellow Rose Singers – a group affiliated with the Unitarian Fellowship of Ames – will perform an excerpt from its show about the women’s suffrage movement. “The show developed from a church service I wrote three years ago,” said Janet Alcorn, a lecturer and former professor of voice at Iowa State University. “But its genesis was 25 years ago when Jane Cox approached me about doing something for the opening of Catt Hall."

Members of the Pi Beta Phi executive board pose with Jane Cox after her Aug. 26 performance of The Yellow Rose of Suffrage.
Members of the Pi Beta Phi executive board pose with Jane Cox (back row, center) after her Aug. 26 performance of The Yellow Rose of Suffrage. In the one-woman play, Cox portrays Carrie Chapman Catt, an alumna of Iowa State University and the campus chapter of Pi Beta Phi sorority. More than 250 people attended the performance at Ames City Auditorium to kick off the Catt Center’s 20th anniversary celebration.

Cox, a professor of music and director of ISU Theatre, had been commissioned by the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences to write a play about the life of Carrie Chapman Catt for the 1995 dedication and renaming of the renovated historic building. While conducting research in the Library of Congress to write her one-woman play, The Yellow Rose of Suffrage, Cox also found music and lyrics from the suffrage movement.

“Under Jane’s leadership and with the further cooperation of Bob Molison, who was choral director in the music department at the time, we put together the opening celebration,” Alcorn said. “Although our current show was written by me, much of the music was originally given to me by Jane.”

Since its first performance during a church service three years ago, the show “has taken on a life of its own,” Alcorn said. It has been performed at the Ames Public Library, the state convention of the League of Women Voters (LWV) of Iowa, and various LWV events around the state.

The Sept. 23 anniversary celebration will take place in front of Carrie Chapman Catt Hall, weather permitting. It will be moved to the third floor of Catt Hall if the weather is inclement.

The 20th anniversary celebration will continue on Friday, Oct. 26, with a reunion reception and dinner for current and former students, staff and faculty; community members; alumni; and supporters during Iowa State’s 100th Homecoming weekend. The reception will begin at 5 p.m. in the Cardinal Room followed by dinner at 6 p.m. in the Campanile Room of the Memorial Union. The reunion reception and dinner – which will be offered at-cost to those interested in attending – will include remarks by key supporters and former students as well as recognition of all donors, current and former students, and former staff members in attendance.

The 20th anniversary celebration will conclude with an analysis of the 2012 election by CNN’s chief political correspondent Candy Crowley – who was recently named as the moderator of the Oct. 16 town hall presidential debate – at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 13, in the Sun Room of Memorial Union. Since 2010, Crowley has also served as anchor of State of the Union with Candy Crowley, a political hour of newsmaker interviews and analysis of the week’s most important issues. The lecture is free and open to the public.

To help celebrate the Catt Center’s 20th anniversary and provide support to the future delivery and enhancement of its various programs, please consider making a charitable gift: www.foundation.iastate.edu/cattcenter. These gifts will be used to support student leadership development, foster research on women and politics, bring prominent women leaders to campus, and encourage women and men to pursue careers in politics, community leadership and public service.