PAT STEWART: I'm Pat Stewart. I was College of Arts and Sciences, class of 1950.
SPEAKER: And how or why did you choose to go to Cornell?
PAT STEWART: I think probably two reasons. One was I had been at a coed secondary school, and I enjoyed the interplay of male and female. And I really didn't know what I wanted to do, but I figured it probably was something related with business, and I thought that the business world was coed, and that it would be better to be in a coed environment.
And in part, because I didn't know I wanted to do, the diversity of offerings at Cornell was particularly attractive to me. That's what made my decision.
SPEAKER: OK. And where were you coming from? Where was your home?
PAT STEWART: Long Island.
SPEAKER: Oh, OK. Do you have any special memories of your student days?
PAT STEWART: Well, I was there at a very interesting time. I went there in the fall of 1946 when we had a good number of veterans coming back. And the women's class was small relative to the men's class. And the veterans are a very interesting group to be with because they worked very hard, so there was stimulation in the classes, but then they played very hard, too. So it was fun.
SPEAKER: Why have you stayed involved, or returned to involvement, with Cornell?
PAT STEWART: Well, I got involved almost immediately in fundraising for my class and it grew from there. I stayed involved, I think, because I felt that Cornell had offered opportunities to people, and that it was the kind of organization I wanted to continue to foster.
SPEAKER: So you were continuously involved.
PAT STEWART: Yes.
SPEAKER: What does Cornell and/or PCCW mean to you, as a woman?
PAT STEWART: Well, going back, when I first was involved in Cornell, everything was men's classes, women's classes, men's clubs, women's clubs. And I was involved in those groups, but then as we merged together, it became more interesting and seemed to me to be more effective.
And but then as Lil and I started-- now, I'm talking about Lilyan Affinito and I first met at Cornell women's clubs activities. And we kid one another and say, stuffing envelopes. But and then as we were both on the board, we looked at the women's involvement in alumni affairs, it was not what we thought it should be. We didn't think that we were attracting some of the women whose expertise and experience the university should benefit from.
So we then started to think about, what could we do to attract this group of women? And we looked, and we thought, and then Lil found a group in the University of Pennsylvania that was doing something similar. And we built on that to try and involve women who were not going to spend their time doing things that they didn't think were really effective, whether their careers, their families. And that was our incentive to start PCCW.
SPEAKER: And so tell me just a little bit about the very beginning when you started PCCW.
PAT STEWART: Well, because these were women who were not, for the most part involved, in the university, we had no university source to get them, to bring them out from. So we clipped newspaper articles, and magazine articles, and word of mouth, and put together the first class that way. And it turned out to be a very successful group of women.
We did have a little difficulty selling our idea to the administration, until finally, Frank Rhodes said, I want this group. And that did it. This was not the typical alumni group, and so it had to be sold.
SPEAKER: So what do you think is the thing that differentiates PCCW the most from other alumni groups?
PAT STEWART: I think it's focus. Its focus is on things like the grant program that has been very effective in providing funding for nontenured women faculty who are working on their dissertations, their theses, to get tenure. And that's been a very gratifying experience, and I think extremely worthwhile. And then I think our scholarship program has been effective and will be more effective as we are raising still more funds for it. And I think those are two very important things for women to have accomplished.
SPEAKER: I do, too. Has PCCW evolved into the organization that you envisioned?
PAT STEWART: Well, it's grown, and we didn't really know where it would go. And we'd stay quite active early on, but then we thought it was the responsibility of the younger women and the women who were involved to take it in the direction where they felt there was need. And so I think that, as I said, we tried to stay hands off and stay in, but not try to direct.
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PCCW member Patricia Carry Stewart '50 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.