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Arlene Greenfield

Arlene Greenfield

Photo courtesy of: Patton College of Education

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Retired Army Colonel discusses philanthropy, challenges for women


"Philanthropy, in a very simple definition, is contributing of one's time, talent or treasure. ... Oftentimes, it's not all three at one time. Sometimes it's way down the line that you give your treasure."

Arlene Greenfield shared these and many other words of wisdom with students and faculty of The Patton College of Education as the first fall semester Violet L. Patton Lecture Series speaker on Oct. 15 in McCracken Hall.

Greenfield's extensive biography boasts several philanthropic organizations, including Women in Philanthropy at Ohio University, as well as multiple senior-level command and staff assignments in the U.S. Army during her 30 years of service. She began her lecture with what she described as "the condensed, 'Cliff's notes' background of women in the army."

According to Greenfield, the story of women in the army begins with the birth of our nation and women such as Margaret Corbin and Molly Pitcher. Her summary continued through the 18th and 19th centuries,
when women "got around the rules by masquerading as men," until her own decision to join the Women's Army Corps during her senior year at Ohio University in 1971.

Field training was much different for women during the '70s, compared to what they experience today.

Greenfield described her first "overnight" - as opposed to the weeks that the army spends outdoors to train now – when, because it rained, the women were sent back indoors.

"Really, when I think about the evolution and the changes since then ... it's been giant leaps, even though, as with many areas, we often think, 'Why isn't this happening fast enough?,'" said Greenfield.
"The military is a microcosm of society."

Greenfield said in her description of the slow transition to accepting women in the military. She also acknowledged that the process is not finished, citing the examples of sexual harassment that we hear about today. She said that she handled the reluctance within the ranks to change by deciding simply to do the job she was assigned to do, while using the resources and individuals that were available to help her through the frustrating times.

Greenfield's lecture concluded with the advice to students that even though many of them won't end up actually working in their fields of study at college, they should continue the process of "learning to
learn," as she did in her seemingly surprising shift from studying Home Economics to becoming a colonel in the U.S. Army.