University of Rochester

Nominees Sought for Jane R. Plitt Scholarship Two Students Were First Recipients Last Spring

October 18, 1999

Nominations are now being accepted for the Jane R. Plitt Scholarship, open to any part-time or full-time female University student who displays leadership qualities and exceptional community outreach.

The scholarship was created by Plitt's sister, Arlene Kossoff, and her husband, Richard Kossoff, to encourage others to emulate Plitt's lifetime commitment to equal rights for women. Academic achievement is not a factor and nominations by fellow students or self-nominations are welcome. Application forms are available at the Susan B. Anthony University Center; nominations will be accepted until Dec. 1. The name of the winner will be announced at the annual Susan B. Anthony Dinner in February.

The first award of the Jane R. Plitt Scholarship was made last semester. The recipients were Melissa Diaz, who is working toward a master's of science in education, focusing on secondary school studies, at the Margaret Warner Graduate School of Education and Human Development; and Heather Hall '01, who is majoring in religion and history and minoring in art history.

At the University, Diaz was a residential advisor, coordinated the Young Mothers program of the Rochester City School District for the Susan B. Anthony Center, and was the political activist chair for the Spanish and Latino Student Association. She also volunteered at the Legal Aid Society of Rochester and participated in the Big Brothers/Big Sisters program. She is currently a tutor at the Puerto Rican Youth Development and Resource Center.

Hall spent a year with AmeriCorps, a national service program, before coming to the University. She has been active with the Community Service Network, Circle K International, and Alternative Spring Break. She also tutored at an elementary school in Rochester and worked on fundraisers to send children to camp. She is vice president of the Religion and Classics Council, writes for Messenger magazine, and is helping coordinate a religious diversity celebration at the Interfaith Chapel on Nov. 22.

Plitt is a visiting scholar at the University who has been dedicated to achieving equal rights for women. As a local businesswoman, she helped eliminate men-only grills and eating areas and led efforts to assure equality on the job. She was executive director of the National Organization for Women (NOW) and played a key role in opening membership to women in the Jaycees and other service organizations, including Rotary and Kiwanis.

Plitt has researched and written a book about a local 19-century female entrepreneur who created the first retail franchise in America and launched more than 500 beauty shops throughout the world under her innovative business model. The book, Martha Matilda Harper and the American Dream: How One Woman Changed the Face of Modern Business, will be published by Syracuse University Press in the spring when a major exhibit on Harper will open at the Rochester Museum and Science Center next year.