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The Goldstein sisters.

Sisters Harriet and Vetta Goldstein joined the home economics faculty in 1913. Their leadership in the field of applied arts would help shape the college for decades and their vision culminated in the present-day Goldstein Museum of Design housed in McNeal Hall.

Friends of College of Human Ecology celebrate its legacy

By Glen Beltt

On April 7, more than 700 people gathered in St. Paul to celebrate the College of Human Ecology and its educational contributions over the past 106 years. At an afternoon storytelling gathering and an evening gala in McNeal Hall, friends of the college shared memories and offered tributes calling for the college's spirit to be carried forward. As part of the University's strategic positioning efforts aimed at transforming the U into one of the top three research universities in the world, administrators made a decision in the spring of 2005 to restructure academic units within the college into newly created colleges. In June, the department of design, housing, and apparel will move into a new College of Design; the School of Social Work and the Department of Family Social Science will move into the expanded College of Education and Human Development; and the department of Food Science and Nutrition will move into the new College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences (CFANS). The College of Human Ecology traces its roots to the late 19th century when classes on domestic economy and cookery were first offered on the St. Paul campus within agricultural programs. The initial course on home economics was given in 1900, and home economics gradually emerged as a separate program of study as course offerings expanded over the years to focus on such topics as nutrition and home management.

The discipline of human ecology, which examines people and their relationship with the world, dates back to the 1920s...

Expansion to include design-related programs was spurred by sisters Harriet and Vetta Goldstein when they joined the home economics faculty in 1913. Their leadership in the field of applied arts would help shape the college for decades. The Goldstein sisters' vision culminated in the present-day Goldstein Museum of Design and its extensive collection, both housed in McNeal Hall. In 1949, the division of home economics became the School of Home Economics; in 1970, it was awarded collegiate status. Over time, the college of grew to encompass three departments--design, housing and apparel; family social science; and food, science and nutrition--and the School of Social Work. Most of the college's programs were located in McNeal Hall, named for Wylle B. McNeal who led the College as dean through formative years in the mid-20th century. An award-winning renovation in the mid-70s created a soaring atrium that connected McNeal Hall and the former horticulture building and became the physical center of the college's identity. In 1990, the college changed its name to the College of Human Ecology recognizing the expanded scope of the college's programs. The discipline of human ecology, which examines people and their relationship with the world, dates back to the 1920s and encompasses a wide variety of academic areas. Keystones of the human ecology approach include considering humans as part of, not outside of, the ecological environment and approaching human concerns from a systemic and interdisciplinary perspective. Human ecology began to gain attention in academic circles based on publications issued in the 1950s and 1960s and grew in importance in the 1970s as ecological approaches gained general favor in academic thought. The phrase "Knowledge transforming people...People transforming lives" was adopted to describe the college's overarching mission. Evidence of that commitment includes a close association with the University Extension Service and sponsorship of a wide variety of special programs and centers dedicated to such missions as sharing the results of design research, caring for elderly people experiencing declining health, and prevention of violence and abuse. The college celebrated its centennial in 2000 and honored 100 alumni for outstanding contributions to society. Across its four academic departments, the college claims more than 16,000 living alumni, more than 90 percent of who are women. Most alumni live in Minnesota, and administrators have worked to help all alumni affiliate with their new college homes within the University.