Human ecology celebrates centennial

by Fabiana Torreao

After a 45-year absence, trolleys, forerunners to today’s campus connectors, returned to the St. Paul campus. Instead of carrying University students around campus, the trolleys took about 100 alumni on tours.
The trolley tours were part of the College of Human Ecology centennial celebration open house Saturday.
The tours started at the Home Building arch, saved from the oldest building on campus. After seeing 42 new facilities and renovations, most alumni said they were struck by the beauty of the campus.
Organizers expected 400 alumni to attend the celebration at McNeal Hall that ended with a party at the Gateway alumni center.
“This is a very nice experience,” said Ernie Banttari, professor emeritus of plant pathology and trolley tour guide. “(The trolleys) were brought to be reminiscent of the days when street cars were here.”
Banttari said most riders wondered about the old dormitories where they had once lived.
“I have some fine memories of the dormitories,” said Marion Krinke, with her sister-in-law, who both graduated from the college when it was known for home economics. Helen remembers crawling up the stairs by the house manager’s room of her former dormitory, now demolished, after coming back from a party at 3 a.m. She had to wake up three hours later to make breakfast for the whole house.
“I bet they don’t have nearly as much fun as we did,” Helen said.
Originally called the home economics department in 1900, the college grew from two students to 849 undergraduate and 320 graduate students in 1999. Once concerned only with research in household-related activities, the college now offers courses from four departments: design, housing and apparel, family social science, food science and nutrition and the School of Social Work.
“This is a time for us to think about all the accomplishments made in the last 100 years,” said Joe Warthesen, head of the college’s food science and nutrition department.
A popular site at McNeal Hall on Saturday was the taste-testing lab, where visitors would guess at the flavor of discolored gelatin.
The college performs taste tests for academic purposes as well as for private companies and industries, said Jian Wang, a research associate at the food science and nutrition department.
“It is wonderful for people to come and look at the department,” Wang said. “A great opportunity to show our research.”
The college also presented a display of part of its Kirschner cookbook collection of nearly 1,000 cookbooks donated by Doris Kirschner, a Twin Cities home economist.
Saturday’s activities also included tours of the Goldstein Gallery, historical equipment exhibits and other research displays.
“This treats the graduates the way they should be treated,” said Carolyn Schwarze, “as distinguished guests. And that is how I feel today.” Schwarze is an alumna who returned to the campus for the first time since her graduation 25 years ago.
Reinforcing the celebration theme, “Thousands of people affecting millions of lives for a hundred years,” Daniel Detzner, the college’s interim dean, pointed out the work of Sally Hasselbrack. She was a graduate student 20 years ago who developed a process that makes fabric fire-resistant.
Today, all U.S. planes, both military and commercial, are equipped with such fabrics, treated and tested at the college. Hasselbrack received an outstanding alumni award during the Gateway celebration.
“The work that this college is committed to includes research in food, clothing, shelter, housing and community: basic aspects of life,” Detzner said. “The University is committed to improving the lives of Minnesotans and around the country.”

Fabiana Torreao covers St. Paul campus and welcomes comments at [email protected]