As we being the great season of Commencement and Reunion, I am thinking about so many current students as well as alumnae who truly exemplify the mission of Trinity — our timeless values of intellectual excellence and women’s achievement, the leadership ability that is powerful enough to transform many lives, corporations and even whole industries.
Barbara York, Class of 1972, is the latest exemplar of Trinity’s grand tradition of great achievement. This week she is receiving accolades as the Cable Television Executive of the Year. Barbara is also being inducted into the Cable Television Hall of Fame and receiving the 2007 Cable Pioneers award. For the last 26 years, Barbara has been vice president of the National Cable Television Association where her strong, steady leadership and get-it-done workstyle have guided the cable television industry through remarkable times of change and growth. She also served for six years as a member of Trinity’s Board of Trustees, during the time when we were planning and building the Trinity Center. She is a dear friend and great leader — I am so proud to know her!
The May 7 issue of Television Week has many articles about Barbara, including articles that summarize interviews with me and our Board Chair Peggy O’Brien ’69 who worked with Barbara when Peggy headed the Cable-in-the-Classroom initiative of the National Cable Television Association, the organization where Barbara is the vice president for industry affairs. See links at the end of this blog for the comments by Peggy and me.
When the Television Week reporter called me to get some quotes for the story, I could not have been more pleased and proud for Barbara — she is a friend from my student days, someone who taught me a great deal about friendship, loyalty, the importance of excellence in every task, and the joy of doing a job really well.
She also was just a lot of fun to be around, absolutely brilliant, always offering some fascinating new angle on life that we would discuss for hours as we sat laboring in the Trinity Times office in Cuvilly basement pounding out the next issue. She was the editor, I was a junior writer, but we bonded quickly. In those days, the Trinity Times (or trinity times as we perversely insisted on titling the paper then) came out 4-6 times a semester, usually 10-12 pages, and we prided ourselves on being a critical voice — particularly when it came to analyzing decisions of the president of the College (I’m still begging Sister Margaret Claydon’s forgiveness!!). Imagine putting out a regular newspaper without computers — no desktop publishing, no digital photography, not even electric typewriters. We pounded out our stories on old manual machines, and then took the copy to a printshop in Silver Spring where we would work all night laying out the paper, pasting-up the pages, proofreading.
Invariably, at about 3 am when most of the staff was ready to wrap and party, Editor-in-Chief Barbara York would spot a page badly composed — probably too much gray or white space, sometimes a bad design — and she’d rip it up and order us to start over. Mind you, these were the days when the newspaper copy had to run through hot wax machines so we could literally “paste-up” the columns and headlines on the layout boards. Barbara was a stickler for the layout rules: no “rivers” of white space between columns running the length of the page, a certain rigid pica count for headlines, and definitely NO PASSIVE VOICE anywhere in her paper.
Barbara was my first really tough boss — a sister student, yes, but so professional in the way she ran the paper that we truly had a great work experience under her leadership, a good example of the ways in which Trinity students area also extremely valuable teachers to each other. We remained friends after graduation, but as often happens, over the years we did not have frequent contact — but then, when she agreed to become a Trinity Trustee at a very important time for us, I was delighted. She provided strong guidance and wonderful advice during some critical decision periods for the board, particularly when we considered proceeding with the Trinity Center construction. She shared a strong vision for Trinity’s future vitality, and urged the Trustees to be bold in their strategic actions for the future.
I hope that we will be able to welcome Barbara back to campus in the fall so that students can meet her and Trinity can celebrate her many achievements.
Barbara, we salute you! Thanks for making Trinity so proud!