DIANA DANIELS: I'm Diana Daniels. And I went to the College of Arts and Sciences and graduated in 1971. And I was among the first college scholars at the University.
SPEAKER 2: What was a college scholar?
DIANA DANIELS: A college scholar was a program designed in the early '70s, late '60s to allow students who ordinarily would have been pigeonholed into a particular major or college and gave us the opportunity to take courses in a lot of different colleges and a lot of different subjects as long as you could justify the courses chosen and that they had some sort of a theme to them and that there was a coherence to what you were studying.
So I took classes in arts and sciences. I took classes in architecture, engineering, ILR. So it really was a very broad course offering that I was able to take.
SPEAKER 2: And that's wonderful. And then you went on to graduate studies, some place else, I think.
DIANA DANIELS: Yes, I went to Harvard Law School after completing my undergraduate at Cornell.
SPEAKER 2: How did you happen to choose Cornell for your undergraduate work?
DIANA DANIELS: Somewhat serendipitously. It turns out that when I was growing up, my babysitter ended up marrying a professor at Cornell. And when I started looking at universities, my parents said, well, why didn't you look at Cornell because Carolyn and Jeffrey were at Cornell. And so we went up and took a look around. And that's my first introduction to Cornell.
SPEAKER 2: Did it turn out to be a happy choice?
DIANA DANIELS: I think it was a great choice. And it really worked out very well for me. And you know, sometimes you never know what it would've been like had I gone to some other school. But as it turned out, I found Cornell to be exactly what I needed.
SPEAKER 2: Do you have any-- looking back on your undergraduate years, do you have any memories that stand out of either something fun or intellectual, does anything stand out in your memory when you think back on Cornell, maybe taking the trays and sliding down the hill in the back of the straight when it was snowing or something, anything?
DIANA DANIELS: Well, when I was-- I remember a number of different things which are very unrelated to each other, but are interesting. When I went to Cornell, which was in the late '60s, early '70s, we still had parietals. And so the girls all lived in the North Campus and had to be in-- the undergraduate women, freshmen and sophomores, had to be in by a certain hour. And there was a mad scramble always at 10:30, 11:00, whatever the hour was, to get the guys out of the dorm. And I remember that very vividly.
And I remember taking modern dance, something that I am not particularly coordinated in. And it was required course. And I remember that very much. And then I remember the fact that Cornell was in turmoil much at the time that I was at the University. And so there were many opportunities to not be in school and in fact be sitting, listening to lectures or being out on the street doing something, whether protesting or sitting in.
So those are just very different kinds of memories. I was a RA in Dixon and had an interesting time dealing with the freshmen girls, many of whom, unfortunately, did things like get drunk and then you have to deal with those. So those are some of the memories I have of Cornell at that time.
SPEAKER 2: Have you always-- had you been consistently involved in alumni activities or did you sort of drift away, start a career, and maybe then come back and get interest get involved?
DIANA DANIELS: I made contributions to the annual fund ever since I graduated. And it was primarily because I had received scholarships the entire time that I was at Cornell. But I really wasn't very actively involved in the university until much later in my-- after I pretty much developed a career. And then I came back to it through the council and through PCCW.
SPEAKER 2: So tell me a little bit about your involvement with PCCW. You've been involved almost from the very beginning. What attracted you to the organization?
DIANA DANIELS: Well, I liked the idea of encouraging women to do two things. One, is to get engaged in philanthropy, which is something that I think women traditionally have not been as actively engaged in. And certainly, now it's more prevalent. But back 25 years ago, 20 years ago, women were not as much involved in philanthropy.
And I like the idea of developing women leaders for Cornell. And Cornell having been from the very beginning a coeducational institution, it just seemed to me important that women play a larger role in the governance and in the leadership structure within the university.
SPEAKER 2: You mentioned something about Cornell that I believe is unique among the Ivy League schools. And that is the fact that it had women from the very beginning. Does Cornell strike you in any way as a rather special university compared to others? I don't know if you could compare. But what are your thoughts about the university and its role that it plays vis-a-vis women.
DIANA DANIELS: Well, I mean Cornell-- Cornell is special in so many different ways. I mean it was a land grant university, non-sectarian, admitting women from the beginning. And so Cornell, to me, is the essence of a modern university. And I'm very proud to have been part of that institution because of the role it plays in this country and throughout the world.
SPEAKER 2: Well, let me see if there's anything else. I think that's about it, unless you've got anything you'd like to add.
DIANA DANIELS: Well, I think you know PCCW has now been around for 20 years. And I think that it has accomplished a lot of what Pat and Lillian were hoping it would accomplish. You have only look at the board of trustees right now and a lot of the advisory councils to see that there are women now playing a major role in so many aspects of life at Cornell. And I think that PCCW should feel very good about the role it's played in helping bring that about.
SPEAKER 2: So would you say is it mission accomplished or is there still a continuing need for an organization such as PCCW?
DIANA DANIELS: It's-- I think it's hard to say right now. I think that clearly at 20 years, sometimes you have to sort of sit back and look at what's been accomplished and at the same time say, you know, should we be sunsetting ourselves? Have we, in fact, done all that we can? And is this now something where women are considered as we look at leadership positions without needing a special organization?
And I know that for many the connection with Cornell comes through PCCW. And so I'm not sure that it necessarily should go away. I think there are things that PCCW can continue to do. But I think that probably the one aspect that Lillian and Pat were concerned about, which was to provide leadership, probably has been accomplished.
SPEAKER 2: OK, thank you very much.
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PCCW member Diana Daniels '71 reflects on how she chose Cornell, her memories of the university, and how Cornell has shaped her life both personally and professionally.
The President's Council of Cornell Women is a group of highly accomplished alumnae working to enhance the involvement of women students, faculty, staff, and alumnae as leaders within Cornell University and its many communities.