On Tuesday, April 18, Kathy Mangano stood in front of an audience of students, faculty, family and past Distinguished Professors of Humanics to give her final lecture to close out the year. Around this time last year, Mangano was named the 2022-23 Distinguished Springfield Professor of Humanics and began what would be a year-long Title IX initiative.
The 50th anniversary of Title IX fell in June of 2022, so Mangano made it her mission to bring awareness of the landmark legislation to the Springfield College campus and not only celebrate its presence, but inform the community about what it is and what still needs to be done.
As the crowd gave Mangano a standing ovation following her presentation, she beamed with pride. Her efforts all year long did not go unnoticed, and the many different factors that went into the events had paid off.
Mangano’s hour-long presentation focused on several different aspects of the Humanics Professor’s responsibilities as well as the events that happened on campus for her own project. Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs Mary Ann Coughlin kicked off the lecture by speaking about Humanics and its importance at Springfield and President Mary-Beth Cooper gave an introduction for Mangano.
“It’s really the core of Humanics,” Cooper said of Mangano’s efforts throughout the process of her initiative.
When Mangano began her lecture, she discussed the honor of being the Distinguished Professor of Humanics and talked about those who held the position before her.
“Mimi Murray, my mentor, my role model and my dear friend, said in her 2008 Humanics lecture entitled, Our Great Adventure in Education: The Whole Story, that ‘the Humanics philosophy is built on the belief that any endeavor if it facilitates positive change is worth the effort,’” Mangano said.
Murray, who was in attendance, was a guide to Mangano and helped her to understand the scope of how important it was for her to advocate for Title IX. Murray was a pioneer for Title IX at not only Springfield College but nationally, as she stood in front of Congress in Washington, D.C., to fight for Title IX.
“Today I am going to take you on a journey,” Mangano said. “A journey of my lived Title IX experiences.”
Mangano is familiar with Title IX herself, as she filed a Title IX complaint while she was the softball coach at Springfield College. After playing at Springfield as a student, it was clear that the softball team often got old equipment, practiced on a field that was in bad condition and had other struggles relating to fairness in comparison to male teams. When she became a tenured faculty member, Mangano filed a Title IX complaint and was able to get the softball field redone.
“In college, at Springfield College as a player, the softball field was definitely the worst athletic facility on campus,” Mangano said. “As the head softball coach here, I regularly submitted requests for a facility upgrade with repeated unfavorable responses.”
When her requests were finally granted, it was a great triumph for the women on the softball team and female athletes at Springfield College. However, it was clear that the team’s facilities should have been improved much sooner than that and Mangano only had the opportunity to speak up due to her position.
She knew that change was still imperative.
Through the Title IX at 50: Educate and Advocate year-long initiative, Mangano was able to push for that change. The community became aware of the remaining issues within women’s sports as well as the general workplace environment through the many events that Mangano organized throughout the year.
Panels with successful women athletes, National Girls and Women in Sports Day clinics, lectures across the curriculum that incorporated Title IX themes, the reading trails informing about the law itself and the Advocacy in Action presentation are just some of the events that Mangano organized in order to get the campus involved.
Students had ample opportunity to participate in events and it was clear many took the chance to do just that. Players from the women’s basketball team, men’s lacrosse team and softball team were all in attendance at the lecture. Many other teams and groups participated throughout the year, representing the student body and its commitment to the Humanics philosophy.
The lecture concluded with the presentation of student awards and scholarships and the announcement of the 2023-24 Distinguished Professor of Humanics. Taking over for Mangano for next school year will be Miguel Arce. Arce is a Professor of Social Work and was praised for his community service and kindness to the communities he is part of.
Photo Courtesy Springfield College