CONTACT: MARY GERAGHTY
100 Old Public Library
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 384-0011; fax (319) 384-0024
(Editors note: Joycelyn Elders will hold a media question-and-answer
session at 4 p.m., Aug. 25, in the North Room of the IMU. The North Room
is just outside the Main Lounge.)
Former Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders to speak at UI during "Weeks
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Former U.S. Surgeon General M. Joycelyn Elders will
speak at the University of Iowa Aug. 25 in the Main Lounge of the Iowa
Memorial Union at 7:30 p.m. Her lecture, "Education: The Key to a
Healthy America," is sponsored by the University Lecture Committee
and is part of WOW '98, or UI "Weeks of Welcome," a series of
events for new and returning UI students.
After her lecture Elders will hold a question-and-answer session with
the audience and will then sign copies of her book, Joycelyn Elders:
From Sharecroppers Daughter to Surgeon General of the United States.
Elders' medical training began in the U.S. Army, which she entered as
a first lieutenant after her graduation from Philanderer-Smith College
in 1945. During her service she received training as a physical therapist,
and after she left the Army, she attended the University of Arkansas Medical
School (UAMS) on the G.I. Bill. Elders received board certification in
pediatric endocrinology in 1978 and joined the UAMS faculty as a professor
She was appointed director of the Arkansas Department of Health in October
1987. Then in 1993, Elders, who grew up in an Arkansas sharecropper family
and never saw a physician until her first year of college, became the first
woman and the first African-American appointed U.S. Surgeon General.
Her tenure on President Clinton's cabinet was marked by controversy,
beginning with her Senate confirmation hearings, during which she was questioned
extensively about her views on sex education, condom distribution, and
abortion. As director of the Arkansas Department of Health, she had supported
the distribution of condoms to teenagers to help reduce teen pregnancy
and AIDS. She also had been a vocal pro-choice advocate and supported medical
uses of marijuana. After lengthy debate the Senate confirmed her appointment
to Surgeon General in September 1993.
As Surgeon General she continued to speak out on contentious topics,
suggesting legalization of drugs as a viable solution to drug violence,
supporting broad sex education in schools, and issuing various controversial
statements about guns, homosexuality, and other issues. But the height
of controversy surrounding Elders occurred during 1994 World AIDS Day at
the United Nations when she suggested that masturbation should be encouraged
as a way to prevent teenagers from engaging in other sexual activities.
The next day President Clinton asked for and received her resignation,
although Elders maintained her stand on the issues and said she did not
regret speaking out.
After leaving the Surgeon General post, Elders returned to the faculty
at the University of Arkansas Medical School, where she still teaches.
She has been listed in 100 Outstanding Women in Arkansas, Personalities
of the South, and Distinguished Women in America. She has also
won numerous awards including the Arkansas Democrats' Woman of the Year,
the National Governors' Association Distinguished Service Award, the American
Medical Association's Dr. Nathan Davis Award, and the National Coalition
of 100 Black Women's Candace Award for Health Science.
Until students return to campus, Kelly Soukup, Lecture Committee adviser,
will answer questions about the lecture. He can be reached at (319) 335-3059.
The Lecture Committee chairman for 1998-99 is Trinity Ray. The committee's
office phone number is (319) 335-3255.