Newspaper Page Text
Pennsylvania State University at Capitol Campus
111 re al
Volume 15, No. 3
New Faces In Old Places
By William J. Neil
' When General George Edward Pick
ett and his division charged up the hill in
the face of heavy fire on July 8, 1863, he
had no idea that his defeat there would
go down in history as the notorious
"Pickett's Charge," and that ultimately
it was to be the turning point of the Civil
War, ending the Battle of Gettysburg
and causing Confederate General Robert
E. Lee to retreat the next day. Nor did
the General have any idea that today—
over a century later—people would still
be flocking , to the Gettysburg area,
erecting sophisticated motels and fast
food establishments to "commemorate"
the bloodiest battle ever fought in the
Although that may sound strange at
first, it is indeed true, according to Dr.
John S. Patterson, who has recently
been uainedtthe aow bead at tir•iii vieiea
of Humanities at Capitol Campus. Dr.
Patterson is also working on a book
dealing with Gettysburg and its in
fluence on American life from the mid
nineteenth century to the present.
Dr. Patterson did his undergraduate
work at Oberlin College in Ohio, where
he majored in political science. He then
went on to Indiana University, where he
earned his master's degree in folklore,
and from there he moved to Brown
University, where he obtained his Ph. D.
in American Civilization in 1969. And
although this is Dr. Patterson's first job
in an administrative position, he is no
stranger to Capitol Campus; he has been
here teaching American Studies since
Dr. Patterson says that during his
tenure as the Division head, he intends
to help make this (humanities) as strong
a program as it can be by working
closely with the faculty and students.
"Encouraging the students and faculty
to develop the humanities program fully
is really what this job is about," Dr.
Patterson notes. "I certainly intend to
make myself as accessible as possible to
both faculty members and students. I am
eager to learn what they think and to
gather new ideas to make our program
Part of Dr. Patterson's hectic job
includes working to schedule the courses
that are offered each term. "It's a
relatively open process, but some
courses must be offered because they
are required and they are of vital
importance in our various options,"
explains Dr. Patterson. "Moreover, we
have a responsibility to offer the courses
that are listed in the catalog. I like to
work as closely as possible with the
faculty, and if a teacher has a special
area of interest, he or she obviously will
be chosen to teach that course," Dr.
Also, Dr. Patterson would like to
keep varying the courses offered. For
example, this term a course is being
offered called "Sports In America," and
in the past Dr. Patterson himself has
taught a course dealing with American
humor. Other courses • dealing with
special topics in the humsa►ities are being
"All the news that fits we print"
offered in the winter term, also. "These
types of courses are taught with an
emphasis on how they reflect American
society," Dr. Patterson explains.
Well, what about the required
courses? You know, the ones students
love to hate--specifically the three West
ern Tradition courses that humanities
students are forced to take. Dr. Patter
son, for one, agrees that Western Tradi
tion courses should be required, saying,
"It is generally true that the Western
Tradition has been instrumental in
shaping our ideas about the world. It is
still important, and the courses provide a
real core for our program."
Dr. Patterson argues that a human
ities training is indeed helpful in today's
society. "A strong case can be made for a
humanities education in today's society.
The humanities test our ideas, explore
our cultural heritage, and help us ap
preciate the great art, literature and
M u roar past." Dr. Patterson stays.
"Moreover, we also hear a lot concerning
the problems employers have commun
icating with their workers. The human
ities help develop those skills," he added.
"The humanities certainly have a vital
role to play in today's world."
Although the Western Tradition
courses are in no danger of being axed,
they may have to be restructured or
reshaped when Penn State converts to a
semester plan in 1983. However, Dr.
Patterson notes that there seems to be
general agreement among the Division
faculty that such courses are needed.
One research project to which Dr.
Patterson has devoted a great deal of
time is the writing of his forthcoming
book, which will look at Gettysburg as a
symbolic landscape. "In it I discuss what
Gettysburg has meant to America since
the battle, what people have written,
drawn, sculpted, and said since the very
battle, and how the battle was seen by
the rest of the world," explains Dr.
Patterson. The contents of the book will
range from poetry to real estate, from
fast-food establishments to gigantic
"Yes," smiles Dr. Patterson, "Right
down the road from the field where
Pickett's Charge took place are a num
ber of fast-food franchises: Hardee's,
Kentucky Fried Chicken, McDonald's,
Elby's, Howard Johnson's and several
others. Photographs taken as recently as
1940 show that none of these things were
Where did they come from? When?
Why? "A lot of it has to do with
vacation time, or America's so-called
'new leisure.' I was astonished to dis
cover how sophisticated the motels and
highways are," Dr., Patterson said con
cerning Gettysburg's now tremendous
"Gettysburg shows us a lot about
ourselves--our attitudes towards
violence and war, and how we travel and
spend our leisure time," Dr. Patterson
explains, "and my book looks at the
continuity and change in the landscape
and in our attitudes toward the battle
and its significance."
continued on Page 4
Breslin Relates To New Position
By Kathy Kern
Is there more to Capitol Campus than
what meets the eye?
If so, it may be because of the efforts
of the Campus Relations Office and its
new director, Michael Breslin.
Breslin, who before assuming his
position here was Coordinator of College
of Medicine, Public Relations/Publica
tions Editor at the Hershey Medical
Center, is readying his office to accom
plish a thought-out set of both short-and
Such plans include more involved
news releases, more in-depth coverage
of campus events, increased electronic
media involvement (talk show formats,
etc.), and the development of a "press
contacts" book for Capitol. The publica
tion will contain names of faculty mem
bers and where they can be reached if
the local press 'would ask for a source of
commentary on a particular subject.
But what really is the role of the
Campus Relations Office?
According to Breslin, there is the
traditional role of such an institution, to,
"promote Capitol Campus in the eyes of
the community, ... constituents,. . and
alumni." However, the new director
adds, there is also an advisor role for
15 October 1981
the office to play, a kind of watchdog to
check on how things on the outside affect
the campus. "We watch what is happen
ing closely," commented Breslin.
He also added that he sees the office
as fulfilling both the traditional and
advisory roles, and said that the admin
istration here is committed to good
Breslin, who is also editor of the
office's newspaper, Currents, was
second-in-command in his office at the
Hershey Medical Center. He felt upon
gaining his position here that he has
taken a step up, as he is now first-in
As for what attracted him to Capitol,
Breslin--who lives in nearby Palmyra--
said he likes the geographical area and
saw the job here as giving him the
chance to continue taking advantage of
But that was not the only thing that
brought him to Capitol.
"I wanted to get into a more tradi
tional academic environment," Breslin
noted, adding that the school is varied
and the job here is "an entirely different
kind of public relations," than at
continued on Page 4