BSC Office of Communications

Your News Source for the Hilltop

April 14, 2003

Birmingham-Southern College to honor Women of Distinction at GALA XVI

BIRMINGHAM, Ala.—Award-winning actress Eartha Kitt, University of Tennessee Head Women's Basketball Coach Pat Summitt, former Miss America and sportscaster Phyllis George, entertainer Kathie Lee Gifford, and Southwest Airlines President Colleen Barrett are among the women of distinction who will be honored at Birmingham-Southern College's GALA XVI celebration May 2, 2003.

In all, 16 women who have achieved national and international fame in stage and screen acting, culinary arts, beauty and fashion, publishing, writing, broadcast journalism, television entertainment, military service, voice performance, financial and business management and leadership, public service, women's athletics, heroism, and the fine arts will be recognized at the biennial event that showcases the talents of Birmingham-Southern students to support scholarships for the college's Division of Fine and Performing Arts.

The GALA XVI honorees are:

Colleen Barrett, president and the first chief operating officer of Dallas-based Southwest Airlines, the nation's fourth largest airline. In 2001, Barrett was included among “America's Most Powerful Business Women” by Fortune magazine.



Lidia Bastianich, the star of the television series Lidia's Italian American Kitchen, with three cookbooks by the same name. She also writes a monthly newspaper column and owns or co-owns restaurants in New York City, Kansas City, and Pittsburgh.


Patricia Cornwell, author of 17 books, including nine best-selling mystery novels featuring fictional character Dr. Kay Scarpetta. She also penned the biography of longtime friend Ruth Graham, wife of evangelist Billy Graham.



Arlene Dahl, star of 30 motion pictures and 19 stage plays, including the Tony Award-winning “Applause” on Broadway. She has authored 16 best-selling books on beauty, health, and astrology and marketed her own line of fashions, fragrances, and jewelry.


Marsha Johnson Evans, president and chief executive officer of the American Red Cross. She also has served as executive director of Girl Scouts of the USA and is retired after 29 years in the U.S. Navy, becoming only the second woman in history to achieve the rank of rear admiral



Jane Friedman, president and CEO of HarperCollins Publishers, which in 2001 had 93 titles on “The New York Times” bestseller list, including 10 that reached No. 1. She has been executive vice president of Random House and founder and president of Random House Audio Publishing


Phyllis George, Miss America in 1971 who in 1975 became the first woman sportscaster in America, co-anchoring the Emmy-winning “NFL Today Show” on CBS and co-hosting three Super Bowl broadcasts



Kathie Lee Gifford, , former co-host of the “Live With Regis and Kathie Lee” TV show. She has appeared in movies and TV shows, sang on recordings and live in venues nationwide, and written a best-selling children's book with her son and a best-selling autobiography.


Agnes Gund, president emerita of The Museum of Modern Art in New York City, previously serving as chairman and president from 1991-02. She is involved with issues concerning women, pro-choice, AIDS, art programs, and education as a trustee or member of many organizations



Eartha Kitt, who received Tony nominations for her roles in the Broadway plays “Mrs. Patterson,” “Timbuktu,” and “The Wild Party;” Grammy nominations for her records “Folk Tales of the Tribes of Africa” and “Back in Business;” and an Emmy nomination for her TV role in “I Spy.”


Jane Powell, who has starred in 20 major MGM musicals, including the classics Seven Brides for Seven Brothers and Royal Wedding. On Broadway, she starred in Irene, and on tour she broke house records across the country headlining in South Pacific, My Fair Lady, Peter Pan, The Sound of Music, and Oklahoma!, among others.



Betty Rollin, who is an Emmy-winning contributing correspondent for NBC News and for PBS. Prior to her long TV career, she held editor positions with Vogue and Look magazines. She also has penned six books, including the bestsellers Last Wish about the suicide of her terminally ill mother and First You Cry about her own breast cancer and mastectomy.


Muriel Siebert, who is president of Muriel Siebert & Co. Inc., a discount brokerage firm she founded in 1967, the same year that she became the first woman member of the New York Stock Exchange. In 1977, she became the first woman Superintendent of Banking for the state of New York, and, in 2000, created a website for women that addresses their unique investment needs.



Pat Summitt, the longtime University of Tennessee women's basketball coach, compiling a 788-158 record, six NCAA titles, and 21 Southeastern Conference tournament and regular season championships. She won an Olympic silver medal as a player, and, as a coach, she led the USA women to their first gold medal in Olympic competition in 1984.


Fredricka Whitfield, news anchor of “CNN Saturday” and “CNN Sunday.” She also reports on worldwide breaking news events as a CNN correspondent from the network's headquarters in Atlanta and has been a correspondent for NBC News.


Lt. Col. Marilyn Wills, who is deputy chief of staff for Personnel Congressional Affairs Contact Officer at the Pentagon. She received the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award for Public Service, Soldiers' Medal, and Purple Heart for her heroism in leading others to safety when an airliner hijacked by terrorists struck the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001.

The honorees will arrive in Birmingham on Thursday, May 1, and visit the Birmingham-Southern campus on Friday, May 2, to participate in student roundtable discussion groups, attend a Fine Arts Showcase highlighting the talents of BSC students, and be honored at the concluding GALA XVI Awards Presentation Luncheon.

Best-selling author Barbara Taylor Bradford and publisher, writer, and entrepreneur Nancy Evans are co-chairs for GALA XVI. Bradford, who has authored 18 bestsellers, was honored during GALA XII in 1995. Evans, co-founder of the Internet-based company The Women's Network, was honored during GALA XV in 2001.

More than 190 women have been honored since the first GALA was held in 1973. Birmingham-Southern has sponsored GALA every other year since 1977.

For information on sponsorships or tickets to the May 1-2, 2003, events, please contact Birmingham-Southern's Office of Special Events at 205/226-4921.

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