Celebration features new human ecology dean

Nathan Whalen

The College of Human Ecology on the St. Paul campus kicked off its 100-year anniversary celebration Thursday with balloons, cake, presents and a visit from the school’s new dean.
Shirley Baugher, currently a professor at the University of Nebraska, was offered the dean’s position Wednesday. After expected approval by the University Board of Regents, Baugher will assume her post in June.
“She’s a big thinker,” said Kate Maple, director of student services for the College of Human Ecology.
Baugher impressed the selection committee with her concern for students and her understanding of the college’s larger goals, said Maple, a committee member.
Baugher’s candidacy was strengthened by her previous experience with the University as associate dean of extension and outreach in the College of Human Ecology from 1983-91.
“This college is a phenomenal college,” Baugher said of the second-ranked college. “My goal is to make sure people know that.”
The celebration lasted all day, starting in the morning when the college delivered birthday cakes, donated by General Mills, to various offices around campus.
At a party that afternoon, 200 attendees welcomed Baugher and assembled a time capsule filled with hand-written “wishes” for the school during the next century.
Some of the wishes were broad and idealistic, such as one asking for an end to hunger. Others, like a wish for more endowments for the college, were more practical.
Attendees placed their wishes in a time capsule to be opened at the turn of the next century.
The centerpiece of the party was the unveiling of a sculpture crafted to represent the college’s mission in the 21st century.
“The sculpture is a visual reflection of our philosophy,” said Denise Guerin, associate dean of academic affairs for the college.
The sculpture, titled “Interconnection ##6,” produced by Miami-based artist Jonas Gerard, is said to symbolize the interaction between humans and their various natural and artificial environments.
The $8,500 piece, funded by alumni donations, is displayed in the atrium of McNeal Hall, the college’s home.
The College of Human Ecology traces its roots back to 1884 when the University started a series of lectures for women on home economics — or what was then referred to domestic economy — and cooking.
In 1900, the college marked its birth when it began offering a home economics degree program, then with only two students. There are now 1,150 students.
The department grew steadily, and in 1952 it was named the School of Home Economics, divided between areas such as textiles and clothing, interior design, general home economics and family social science.
“They’re all programs that affect your day-to-day life,” Maple said.
The school moved into McNeal Hall in 1960.
In 1983, the School of Social Work joined the college, and in 1990 it changed its name to College of Human Ecology, a title better describing its focus and programs.

Nathan Whalen covers construction and welcomes comments at [email protected] He can also be reached at (612) 627-4070 x3232.