LUCY JARVIS: I am Lucy Jarvis. And I went to a college called Human Ecology. And I graduated in 1938. But when I graduated in 1938, it was called the College of Home Economics.
SPEAKER: And how did you happen to choose Cornell for your undergraduate studies?
LUCY JARVIS: Well, it was a long time ago. And in those days, not many girls went out of town to college. And I wanted to go either to Wisconsin or California. And my parents said that's too far away from home, choose something closer to home. And so I chose Cornell for two reasons. One, it was closer to home. And another, I could get a scholarship to go to the College of, what was then called, Home Economics.
SPEAKER: Do you have any memories of your student years at Cornell that you might want to share?
LUCY JARVIS: Oh, I have many memories.
SPEAKER: Pick a few.
LUCY JARVIS: Well, for one thing, I had an extraordinary advisor. I don't know whether that's still on the curriculum these days. But it was a much smaller student body. And by the way, there were eight men to one woman on the campus in those days, which is very different.
And I had an advisor whose name was Alice Burgoin. I remember her name to this day. She was an extraordinary woman, enormously sympathetic, charming, bright, way ahead of her time, and very well organized, which I wasn't.
And one of the things that she left me with is a method of planning my week. Sit down, and she said, sit down, and this is what I want you to do. I want you to plan 24 hours a day, every day for a week. And I did that. I never took 8 o'clock classes, so it was easy.
But what was interesting was that if I first put in all the classes, and then I would put in the time for eating, and then I would put in the time for sleeping. And then I found that I had all these hours in which I could do other interesting things. And she said the reason for my doing this is that you will have time during the week, hours in which you can joyfully do nothing and never worry about it because you have covered all the things that you must do, like going to class and doing homework and doing research and going to the library, et cetera.
And it not only helped me to plan my week. But it also gave me leave to join the dramatic club, which I wanted desperately to do and became very active in. And so I had hours in which I could do that.
It also gave me an opportunity to sign out in the evening. In those days, freshmen had to sign out and be in by 9 o'clock during the week and 11 o'clock on the weekends. But if you went to dramatic club or the theater or you had something that was related to your work in the university, you were allowed to sign out for later. So many a night, I spent at dramatic club painting sets, doing costumes, doing makeup. It was in my blood even then.
SPEAKER: Scheduling is a very critical part of life. And so many people mess up their lives because they can't keep track of them. So that was an extraordinarily valuable lesson that you learned from your advisor.
LUCY JARVIS: Oh, indeed, it was. I do it until today. If I don't write it down, I mean, for years, even long after I graduated, I planned my life that way. But now, even in my mind, I will lay out a plan of action. And of course, I have a schedule book in which everything is written down. But it was an enormous influence that she had.
SPEAKER: How have you stayed involved with Cornell since your graduation? Shall I repeat that? Have you stayed involved with Cornell since your graduation? And if not, what has brought you back into the Cornell--
LUCY JARVIS: Oh, yes, I have very much stayed involved. Actually, not for the first 10 or 15 years, maybe 20 years. On and off, I would go to Cornell events, but I wasn't actively engaged in the university and the work of the university and working with students and so on.
I went to events. Or I would go to something to recommend a student. Or I would go to these sometimes there was a tea in New York or wherever, in Connecticut, if I was living in Connecticut at the time, for young women who were being considered as possible applicants. And I would go and meet them and give an opinion. But one day, I met Francille. I forgot her last name.
LUCY JARVIS: Fran Firebaugh. And she was very active in the College of Human Ecology at the time. And she inspired me to come back and really be active. And very shortly after that, I was invited to the board of the College of Human Ecology and to the alumni board. And I don't know whether that was a good idea or a bad idea. But I've been hooked ever since.
SPEAKER: It's a good way to get hooked. It's a good place to be hooked into also. Now besides being a member of PCCW, do you serve the university in any other capacity, for example, as a trustee or on faculty or--
LUCY JARVIS: Well, I was on a board for four years. And then I became a member of the board of the College of Human Ecology, which I am now, and on the board of the alumni committee for the College of Human Ecology. And in fact, I am a lifetime member. In fact, I am a emeritus on the board.
SPEAKER: You have a long lifetime to be in there too.
LUCY JARVIS: I have a long lifetime. It was the best deal I had. I paid my dues. I paid lifetime dues, which gave me lifetime membership. And then they made me emeritus on the board, which means, I guess, forever.
SPEAKER: Please share any observations or thoughts that you may have on what makes Cornell a special place, especially a special place for women.
LUCY JARVIS: Two things. There is an incredible amount of spirit that lingers on forever. For many years, including to date, I have been on committees to raise money for the college, not only for the college but for the university. And I am amazed at the kind of reaction. In all these years, I've had only one person turn me down in anger and for reasons that were really so negligible and so ridiculous that it's not worth repeating.
But all these years that I've called hundreds and hundreds of people to ask them to contribute to the university, I've had nothing but enthusiastic response. And whenever you meet Cornellians anywhere, there is a camaraderie, and there is that rapport. I can tell you that the spirit is so extraordinary and so heartening.
I mean, my eye doctor, for example, we were chatting about one thing and another that has to do with my eyes. And then suddenly, I discover that he went to Cornell. Well, we've become buddies ever since.
SPEAKER: My eye doctor went to Cornell too, in fact.
LUCY JARVIS: Is he the same doctor?
SPEAKER: My eye doctor is a member of PCCW.
LUCY JARVIS: And then I became involved in the Cornell medical school as well. And I'm totally devoted to them, to the dean, Tony Gotto, who is extraordinary, to the people at New York Presbyterian who are all Cornell affiliated. And all my doctors are from that area.
SPEAKER: Do you have any thoughts about what makes-- I'm going to start that one again. Do you have any thoughts on what Cornell means to its women students and/or its faculty?
LUCY JARVIS: Yes, that's very interesting. I meant to answer that to the previous question. I mentioned before that it was eight men to one woman when I came there. And now, I believe it's 50-50. And the College of Human Ecology had enormous influence and emphasis on the education of women in science and in many other subjects. It has spread enormously now, as you could see, that they have management and architecture and design and so on.
And encouraging women not only to study at the college itself but take advantage of the entire university and everything it had to offer, which was something that I really took advantage of. I mean, I took courses in engineering and in architecture and in public speaking and in science and in economics. And it's something the College of Human Ecology puts a great emphasis on, especially for women. And in those days, we were only women.
The change came in the '60s when they started admitting men to the college. And that was the time they changed the name from home economics to, which it was always a misnomer, to College of Human Ecology and had spread its whole message and its influence and its curriculum. But there was always encouraging women to improve their education, not only for scientific reasons over foods and nutrition, in my case, but for daily living because human ecology meant that it really influences everything you do in life.
Just as a good architect will plan and build for daily living on all levels, so was human ecology have the emphasis on that and particularly for women. And we had Flora Rose, who was one of the founders of the college, who fought an enormous battle to start a college in which women could-- the emphasis could be for women and about women.
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PCCW member Lucy Jarvis '38 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.