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Punk legend Patti Smith recieves the Hepburn Medal at Bryn Mawr College

Patti Smith | Photo by Chris Sikich | countfeed.tumblr.com

Most colleges consign punk rock to dorm rooms, obscure airwaves or an out-of-the-way venue. Maybe even a class or two. But when it comes to the top brass, not too many pledge allegiance to the punk flag. Then again, not too many Main Line schools get to salute a legend like Patti Smith.

“I suspect Bryn Mawr actually has a punk spirit,” college President Jane McAuliffe said Thursday night before presenting Patti Smith with the Katharine Hepburn Medal.

Photo by Chris Sikich | countfeed.tumblr.com

Kim Masters of The Hollywood Reporter, the night’s master of ceremonies, pointed to actress Katharine Hepburn and her mother, family-planning advocate Katharine Houghton Hepburn — both Bryn Mawr graduates — as “trailblazing women who defied convention.”

And while that description also fits Patti Smith, she’s not necessarily the first candidate you’d come up with for the Katharine Hepburn Medal, which was first awarded in 2006 to recognize achievement in film and theater, women’s health and civic engagement. The previous winners — actresses Lauren Bacall and Blythe Danner, mural maven Jane Golden and HIV expert Helene Gayle — fit more neatly into the medal’s mission.

But Smith’s CV is anything but neat; you’ll run out of hyphens before she runs out of energy. She’s a rocker-memoirist-photographer-actress-model-playwright-muse-critic-painter-poet — and you know I’m forgetting something. Not bad for a South Jersey girl who dropped out of Glassboro State College to be somebody in New York City. Continue reading →