Posted: September 19, 2007
Martha Ackmann, senior lecturer in gender studies, will be the keynote speaker at Eastern Kentucky University's EKU Reads! program on September 26. Ackmann's book, The Mercury 13: The True Story of Thirteen Women and the Dream of Space Flight, was selected as EKU's Summer Reading for the 2007 academic year. All 3,500 entering students at EKU have been reading the book and participating in a variety of activities on campus. EKU is in Richmond, Kentucky--in the heart of the state's bluegrass region.
Ackmann's talk is part of a semesterlong focus on gender, science, and space. Preceding Ackmann's visit, NASA astronaut Winston Scott spoke to incoming students. Next month an EKU alumni panel will discuss women in science, math, and technology. All semester, students are participating in an essay-writing contest inspired by Ackmann's book. In November, the semester's events will be capped off with a "swim-in" showing of the film "October Sky" at the university's Alumni Coliseum Pool.
The EKU events mark the second time Ackman's book has been selected as a Common Reading. In 2005 and 2006, the University of Wisconsin--Oshkosh chose Mercury 13. The university was so impressed by the story of 13 women pilots who were secretly tested to be astronauts in the 1960s that it awarded the Mercury 13 women honorary degrees at its May 2007 commencement. Ackmann was invited to give the commencement address and received the Chancellor's Medallion for her commitment to "social justice and equality in the public sphere." Ackmann's speech and the commencement were widely covered by media including the CBS Evening News, Pravda, the Washington Post, CNN, and NPR.
While on campus at EKU, Ackmann will be visiting history and women's studies classes and participating in a book signing. She also will be discussing her new project with the university's writing students. Ackmann is working on a new book, titled Curveball, about women, race, and baseball in Jim Crow America.