IRENE ROSENFELD: I'm Irene Blecker Rosenfeld. I am a triple-crowned Cornellian. I have three degrees from Cornell. I got my bachelor's degree from the College of Arts and Sciences in 1975, I have a master's degree in business administration from the Johnson Graduate School of Management in 1977, and then I got my PhD in marketing and statistics from the graduate school in 1980.
And I am delighted to be able to participate in the 20th anniversary celebration of PCCW. It's been a critically important organization in my life personally as well as in the life of the university. I am particularly sorry I can't be there in person, but I'm delighted to be able to do this video tribute.
There are so many reasons that I chose Cornell. But as I've described it to others, they often boil it down to boys and sports. And I'd say that's a little bit simplistic, but the reality is that when I was applying to college so many of the Ivy League schools had been male only. And Cornell was one of the few schools that had been coed since its inception, and so it had a fairly robust female population, as well as the fact they had a very strong women's sports program, which was very important to me as well. And of course the academics were pretty impressive as well.
Probably one of my most poignant memories is Psych 101. I think all Cornellians-- almost all Cornellians take that course. Jim Moss is an institution there. And for me, it was such an impressive course, and he was such an inspirational professor, and he played such an important role in my ultimate selection of my career. I served as a TA for him in my junior and senior years. I taught a course on the psychology of advertising, which really formed the basis for my love of marketing and advertising and psychology that has really carried forward into my career to this very day.
When my daughter Allison chose Cornell, the only piece of advice I gave her is make sure you take Psych 101 with Jim Moss. It was just a fabulous experience.
I think the experience of going to Cornell was a critical factor in shaping how I thought about things, how I looked at both sides of an issue, how I thought about what I could do to make a difference in the world, and it really played a very profound-- had a very profound impact on who I became as an adult. But it was definitely one of the most important formative experiences of my life, and I am forever indebted to the university for that experience.
Well, after getting three degrees at Cornell, I had really had enough of the university, particularly after spending seven years in Ithaca. And so I took a little hiatus from the university when I got my last degree-- almost about 10 years. And actually, it was PCCW that brought me back to the university. And I was so glad to have had that experience, to have met some of the most impressive women I've met in the course of my career, and to have had the opportunity to give back to the university through that vehicle. And ultimately, it was my introduction to the opportunity to serve on the board of trustees, which has been a fabulous experience for me.
Well, PCCW for me personally was a vehicle to reconnect with the university. It was a fabulous opportunity to meet incredibly impressive women, women like Lilyan Affinito, like Pat Kerry Stewart like Toby Levine, like Debbie Smith, Debbie Edelman, Jan Rock Zubrow, Francille Firebaugh. I could go on and on. I've had so many fabulous interactions and experiences with the women of PCCW.
But for the university, I think they've played a critical role in helping the university to think about the role of women as faculty members, the role of women on the staff, and then importantly the importance of representing women more in the granting of tenure for university professors. And so I think it's been an invaluable organization as an advisor to the president. But I think it's been a fabulous organization for me personally just as a networking opportunity as well as the opportunity to just learn from so many impressive women.
I think one of the most impressive aspects of Cornell is Ezra Cornell's original vision of founding an institution where any person can find instruction in any study. And I think that mission has served the university and women in particular exceptionally well. I think PCCW as an organization has played a critically important role in addressing the opportunities for women both in faculty as well as in staff positions, and particularly with respect to encouraging the administration to look at the tenure performance for women in particular. So I think there's a lot of work that that organization has done that has really benefited the university very, very much.
I really hope they have a terrific 20th anniversary celebration. It seems just yesterday we actually had the 10th anniversary celebration. And I remember I brought my daughter Carol with me, and I was on a panel talking about the glass ceiling. And I remember her saying to me, what are you talking about that for? There's no problem. And I really wish-- I wish it were true. But I do know that if the work of PCCW and other organizations like it can continue, there truly will be no glass ceiling and we will have truly achieved our goals.
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PCCW member Irene Rosenfeld '75, '77 & '80 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.