The Legacy of Learning.
Article Type: Brief Article
Subject: Human ecology (Study and teaching)
Pub Date: 01/01/2001
Publication: Name: Human Ecology Publisher: Cornell University, Human Ecology Audience: Academic Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Health; Science and technology; Social sciences Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2001 Cornell University, Human Ecology ISSN: 1530-7069
Issue: Date: Wntr, 2001 Source Volume: 29 Source Issue: 1
Organization: Organization: Cornell University
Persons: Named Person: Bymers, Gwen
Geographic: Geographic Scope: United States Geographic Code: 1USA United States
Accession Number: 71633550
Full Text: The mutual reward of teacher-student relationships comes when the lifework of the teacher inspires the student to pursue and add to that field of study. In the field of consumer economics, Professor Emerita Gwen Bymers not only has had a significant influence herself but has served as a mentor, colleague, and friend to her students, who, themselves, have become leaders, teachers, and advocates for consumers.

Although educated as a labor economist, Bymers became active in the emerging field of consumer economics in the 1950s. She joined the faculty of the College of Home Economics in 1956, and in 1969 she was named chair of the Department of Consumer Economics and Public Policy. She served for seven years before retiring in 1977. During this time she served on the National Consumer Energy Advisory Committee of the Federal Energy Office. In 1974 the University of North Dakota Alumni Association gave Bymers its Sioux Award, the association's highest recognition of alumni who have distinguished themselves in their chosen field. In 1998, sponsored by former colleagues and students, Bymers was named Master Mentor by the American Council on Consumer Interests.

"I have been exceedingly lucky," Bymers says. "I entered an emerging and important field at the right time, one that was continuing to evolve at Cornell, where even back in the twenties there was a course in providing consumer goods."

Bymers adds that teaching was always her primary goal, not research. "I've considered myself lucky to have had such good students at Cornell who have gone on to excel."

JANE STEVENS GORE, M.S. '68, Ph.D. '77, is the self-help coordinator for the American Embassy in Gaborone, Botswana. Previously, she was a professor of child and family services at SUNY Plattsburgh, where she taught for 20 years. Her academic teaching and research focused on community and rural development and schoolage child care.

"Professor Gwen Bymers was one of those very rare teachers who could translate academic theories, cliches, and gobbledygook into meaningful, real-life experiences. One left her lectures with a clear understanding of what complicated economic theory really meant to consumers, and how economic decisions benefited or hurt thc average American family. I have tried to emulate Professor Bymers's common sense teaching methods when discussing theories and conditions with students. I often left my students with, 'What will all of this high-powered class discussion mean to you as a person, as a professional, as a member of a family, and as a member of a community?'"

GRACE E. RICHARDSON, M.S. '62, M.B.A (New York University), is vice president of Global Consumer Affairs for Colgate-Palmolive Co. Previously, she served as director of consumer affairs for Colgate U.S., Chesebrough-Ponds, Inc., and Con Edison. She has been recognized for her contributions to the consumer affairs profession and has held offices in the Society of Consumer Affairs Professionals in Business and the National Coalition for Consumer Education.

"While I was at Cornell working on a master's degree, Gwen Bymers served as one of the two professors who guided me through my academic courses and thesis. She has continued to guide and mentor me throughout the years that followed. In fact, it was Gwen who encouraged me to pursue a business rather than an academic career, and she has always been accessible when I called to ask about current consumer research or a resource I needed for my work. She is recognized as one of the pioneers in educating students to represent consumers within the corporation. For this I am indebted."

KAREN F. STEIN, B.S. '72, M.S. '74, is chair of the Department of Consumer Studies at the University of Delaware. A nationally recognized expert on elder abuse--particularly financial exploitation--Stein has directed the National Clearinghouse on Abuse and Neglect of the Elderly, a federally funded project, since 1988. She administers the university's academic leadership program, which includes a major in leadership in consumer economics.

"It was Gwen Bymers who convinced me, through her actions, her leadership positions, and her personal history, that one should never be hesitant about accepting challenges and reaching beyond the expected. At a time when there weren't many women in administrative positions at the academic level, Miss Bymers (as her students called her at the time) made me take notice that women could be strong leaders, and she showed me, by example, what it means to exhibit leadership, not merely because of the position one holds but by having the courage to develop a new vision for one's organization and encouraging others to believe in and invest in that vision. I found my own voice because of Gwen Bymers."
Gale Copyright: Copyright 2001 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.