Oregon State University Libraries and Press

Betty Hawthorne Oral History Interview, March 5, 1984

Oregon State University

Transcript Index
Search This Transcript
Go X
0:00

BH: I am Betty Hawthorne. I started in Foods and Nutrition in 1946 as an instructor and taught for five years. I then took two and a half years off and went to Michigan State University and worked on my doctorate. I came back in January of '54, and was in the Foods and Nutrition Department teaching and doing research until '65. I became Dean in 1965 and retired December 31, 1983.

SL/YL: All in a nutshell?

BH: All in a nutshell!

SL/YL: That sounds good! To begin with, would you tell us a little bit about your youth and your college years?

BH: I was born in Seattle, Washington, and during about half of my first seven years I lived in Japan, and the other half in Seattle. My father was in the 1:00lumber import-export business and the family went back and forth to Kobe, Japan. SL/YL: Did you know how to speak Japanese?

BH: Yes, as a child speaks both languages, I did. It was a good time to learn but I forgot it too as I didn't keep up with it very well. I lived in West Seattle, went to school in Seattle and to the University of Washington there. Like many people, I had difficulty in knowing what I wanted to major in. The first year I was in general studies, which was a special experimental program. Then I went into science and then into chemistry. I was interested in foods, food science and in nutrition. I really majored in chemistry with an emphasis in bio-chemistry, and then picked up foods and nutrition. I stayed there for 2:00graduate work in the School of Home Economics and majored in their human nutrition program with a minor in education so I could teach if I wanted to. I did student teaching in Seattle. I graduated in 1941, and I stayed there in '43 and '44 while I was finishing up my thesis. I went to work for the American Red Cross during World War II, and was a nutritionist for the State of Washington. My degree was really given to me in June of '44. During that winter, while I was working for the Red Cross, I decided I really wanted to go into the military service. I applied and went into the Naval Reserve and served until August of 1946.

3:00

SL/YL: Going back, you said that you became interested in foods and nutrition later on in your education. What interested you at that time that took you away from science?

BH: Well, it really wasn't away from science as science is basic to Foods and Nutrition. It was an application, you know, as nutrition is really an applied field of bio-chemistry. I was interested in physiology and bio-chem, and then interested in nutrition, so it really was a progression rather than a different field.

SL/YL: You added more and more as you went on?

BH: That's right.

SL/YL: And then, what interested you in the Red Cross?

BH: It was war time and it was a special kind of service. I remember I was offered a position to go on for graduate work at University of Rochester in New York. I remember specifically because I got a letter from the gentleman there, 4:00and he said I was throwing away my education to do something of that kind. I didn't consider it such and still don't. When I went into the Navy, I applied for a small nutrition research unit in the Navy, but they had no vacancies at that particular time. I was also interested in business and economics and had taken quite a little of economics and business as an undergraduate student so I was accepted into the supply core instead. I have always considered that a very interesting kind of experience, and don't regret that it was sort of different; it was a good background. Part of my training was at the Harvard School of Business in the Navy Supply School there so it was a very rounding experience. You know, given the same time, and the same circumstances, I would do exactly the same thing again.

SL/YL: What brought you to Oregon State in 1946?

5:00

BH: Specifically, my major professor for my master's degree at the University of Washington had been Dr. Clara Storvick. In the meantime she had moved to Oregon State. When she knew I was getting out of the service, she wrote and said that they had a vacancy and did I want to apply for it. So I did.

SL/YL: Was she the only person you knew at this campus?

BH: I had met Margaret Fincke briefly but Dr. Storvick was the only one I really knew. I stopped by in late August and interviewed. I was selected and came and started teaching in the middle of September of that year.

SL/YL: At that time, had you ever dreamed of becoming a Dean of the College?

BH: No.

SL/YL: When was the first time that ever crossed your mind?

BH: I really enjoyed teaching, and I also enjoyed research very much. 6:00Administration, per se, was not something I really thought much about. When they were looking for a new Dean in 1964-65, I was asked if I would be a candidate. I didn't really wish to be. Then as things worked out, one of the persons that the university particularly wanted and had offered the position to, decided not to come; to stay where she was. The search committee and the OSU president then asked if I would think about it, and I had several discussions with them. I took a trip to the beach over a weekend and walked the beach. It's a good place to think, and decided that I'd try it. I regretted giving up the close association 7:00with students, and I tried to maintain some, but you can't do everything. It's had many compensations and I've enjoyed it. I really had to give up doing research because you can't do it all. I did do minor amounts of teaching, not in foods and nutrition, but in general courses such as talking to the Introduction to Home Economics classes. I started the senior seminar class and eventually found other people to teach it. Originally I taught it myself and then brought Mrs. Staton in, and she and I taught it. Later she and Mrs. Peters co-taught it, and in my observation, that was the best combination. I've enjoyed some contacts 8:00with students, but you can't get to know them as you do when you teach.

SL/YL: Could you tell me more about your research with the lipid vitamin co-enzyme relationship?

BH: When I first did research for my master's, it was in ascorbic acid. When I first started doing some research here at OSU, I worked on thiamin and some other water soluble vitamins which were being researched here. That was at a time in which lipid research was evolving more, and I became interested in the possible relationship of vitamins and other factors to lipid metabolism. When I went to do my doctorate at Michigan State, I really worked on the metabolic patterns of overweight, underweight, and average weight women which related to lipid metabolism, but with particular focus of research at Michigan State. Out 9:00of that I became more interested in lipids. Then I took a leave for one term and worked at the Hormel Institute in Minnesota. I specialized in lipids and lipid methodology; when I came back to OSU I was able to do some of that kind of research here. I was really just getting into that research and, regretted having to give it up but many other people have since done many things with lipids. It was interesting, and it was also interesting to be sort of in at the beginning of that research. I didn't make any great contribution.

SL/YL: I know also that you worked with the elephant milk research.

BH: Well, that was really Dr. Storvick's and all I did was work on the lipids in 10:00the elephant milk when the sample was there. I had the easier part; I didn't have to milk the elephant!

SL/YL: Were you along on that trip?

BH: I was on one trip; very interesting! Everybody did whatever they could; they did their part to help learn more about elephant's milk. This research was unusual, I think, for many of the people from home economics.

SL/YL: What do you feel was your greatest accomplishment during the 18 years that you were Dean?

BH: I don't think you can really point to one great accomplishment. I think that the responsibility of an administrator is to try to provide some guidelines for 11:00the faculty as a whole, to think together, and for departments to think together. It has been a period of really great transition in higher education, in roles of women, women's education, and in men's education. I was to try to provide the leadership, the incentive, the hiring of faculty, influencing the hiring of faculty, and the recruitment of faculty that would provide the right kind of guidance for the program. Oregon State was fortunate in attracting many fine faculty, and I think they have provided the kind of input, insights, and basic knowledge that has kept the program moving. I can't give you an exact 12:00figure, but my guess is that when I became Dean in '65, probably not more than 40% of those graduating expected to work. Today, there are usually not more than one or two out of a graduating class who don't plan to be employed at least part-time. It has become a period in which the diversity of career opportunities has grown. It has moved from the greatest number of students being in teaching and dietetics to some in business, and a great expansion in the human and social 13:00service arenas. I think the people looking at providing those opportunities and trying to help the work out there see what home economists have to contribute to those areas. The movement into more field experience classes has been a very real one to show much of the market out there what home economists have to offer. Student teaching was always a field education experience, but students have tended to go to a particular job and those jobs were there. In many public and community agencies, there were businesses that weren't quite ready to hire 14:00but would take students on in a field experience, and they saw that home economics education was different from what many had believed. Many students, going out as pioneers, either through field experience or in the job that they took, by "selling" their abilities have opened wide the opportunities for those who followed. One of the things I've frequently said to seniors is "There's no way you can do just whatever you want to do; you can't divorce yourself from the responsibility you have to those who came after you. People ahead of you have opened doors for you, and you have a responsibility to open doors for others. You can say what you like, or sometimes want to' not feel that responsibility,' but basically you're going to do it, one way or the other." I think it is what many alums have done that have broadened those opportunities. Although there had 15:00always been good relationships with alums, there was, in that period of time, a formalizing of the relationships with alumni. More contacts were made to try to build the bridges with alumni to the School or College of Home Economics, and I think that was very important. I don't know if that answers your questions, it is very difficult to say.

SL/YL: I know you started the idea of giving dinners for graduating seniors. And did you do this to maintain relationships with the students?

BH: That was really my impetus, but can't say I began it. When Ava Milam Clark 16:00was Dean, I was not a student here, but I know that she used to have students in her home for dinner or for lunches. She maintained rather close relationships with students. As the enrollment grew it became somewhat more difficult, but she still did it. I also think that the demands for administrators to be involved in community and state affairs is greater now. On the other hand, if you look back at the kinds of things she did - she made the whole state her responsibility, so it wasn't really new. My idea was from not wanting to break off from students entirely. For many years I had the dinners here at home. First I had some 17:00catered help, but you can't have that all the time, and I couldn't always plan to be there. Then Laura Cleaveland, who retired from Institution Management, came in and gradually did the catering and that made it much easier. When she got so that she felt she could no longer do it, I decided to take the students to restaurants. I was kind of sorry about that because some students almost seem to think faculty live in a tree or something. I mean, they don't perceive them as human in the sense that they have homes where they live, and I was sorry to 18:00lose that. Because of health reasons and Laura Cleaveland's deciding that she could not do it any longer, I continued to go to a restaurant, but I always felt I missed getting across the thought that I lived in a house!

SL/YL: I think it is a really neat idea. It's very unique to the university.

BH: Well, it was something I enjoyed and it was rewarding for me.

SL/YL: And rewarding for the students. I've heard really good things.

BH: I think they appreciated it and enjoyed it.

SL/YL: And very much looked forward to it.

BH: But if I had been the Dean of the College of Science with 3,000 students, it would have been a whole different thing because of the size, I think people need to understand what problems the Deans of some of those very large colleges have. 19:00We are sort of intermediate in numbers and that made it possible for me to entertain each senior.

SL/YL: I understand that when you were Dean at Oregon State, you had many job opportunities to move away from Oregon State and go to other institutions. BH: Yes.

SL/YL: Were you ever tempted to do so?

BH: Sometimes I would look at them, but I really enjoyed Oregon State and the University gave me many opportunities. I also enjoyed the atmosphere at Oregon State, and I liked living in the Pacific Northwest. I'm a Pacific Northwesterner. So basically, I was not very strongly tempted, especially to a similar kind of job. I was also offered the opportunity to look at higher administration. I strongly favor women taking advantage of that opportunity. I 20:00think when those opportunities first began to come, and if I had maybe had some other administrative experience, perhaps 10 years earlier, I might have done it. Administration for women is an opportunity that has broadened a great deal in the last few years. I like to see women have those opportunities because I think they have much to contribute to the total higher education administration, not only to specific areas.

SL/YL: Could you tell us a little bit about your exchange trip to Japan?

BH: The Johnson Wax Company has Johnson's Companies all over the world. I 21:00learned this. I didn't know much about Johnson Wax before. Through the cooperative section of their Japan-Johnson program they had brought groups of teachers and homemakers to this country as sort of a goodwill exchange for several years. I've forgotten exactly how many, maybe eight. They made the decision that they would like to do a reverse and take some home economists from here to Japan, particularly from the point of view of trying to look at broadening the role of employed home economists in Japan. I don't know just how I was selected, but I was pleased to be. There was a group of thirteen. Helen LaBaron, who was Dean of Home Economics at Iowa State University was on the Board of the Johnson Company. My guess is that that is partly how this exchange 22:00occurred, although their employed home economists were strongly supportive of it. There is a growing group of home economists in Japan who would like to see the opportunities broadened for home economics graduates from Japanese programs.

Also, I think this is true in other countries. Many of the home economics programs in the Far East, particularly China, Korea, The Philippines, and some in Japan were started because of the visits of Ava Milam to Japan. Because of these visits, our school has had strong ties with many of those countries. There were a number of students who had been here to school so there was a fairly significant group of alumni in Japan. The group that I went with was composed of a group of home economists in business, economists, particularly in 23:00communications, extension and university administrators, and home economics administrators. It was a two week opportunity to be hosted and to see Japan. We also participated in a conference of Japanese Home Economists who were interested in trying to broaden relationships. Japan-Johnson was a part of the sponsoring group. It was an unusual opportunity and out of that has developed some progress. I don't think anyone would say they have made a great deal of progress but they are making some. One of our alums, Chiyono Matsushima, has done some things. I just received a copy of some articles of the conference 24:00they've had recently. They are following up on this and previous conferences they have had. Chiyano Matsushima had written a book earlier about some of the progress and effort to expand these relationships in Japan. They've got men, women, and human relations problems like there are in this country, but their whole business system is so different; it is more difficult than here to break into. Many men, as well as women, come in at the bottom level, maybe in the mail room or as a clerk and they've got to work up. They don't start further up, and that has made that system more difficult than it is here. But there are some changes. We also had many opportunities to visit their housing as we had to stay in homes. We also visited art museums. It was a real opportunity.

25:00

SL/YL: Is that the second time you've been there?

BH: That's right, I hadn't been there since I was a child.

SL/YL: So it must have been very interesting.

BH: It was interesting. I did do a little studying of Japanese before I went, and found I could say a few things, not too much. I found that sometimes I could understand by hearing conversations but not really trying to concentrate. Somehow in the back of your brain some of that must be retained. You may know that Dr. Woodburn and I have both been invited to Korea in September. This is another institution in which the ties to Oregon State are great. The first Dean of the Home Economics program at Yonsei University was an alum from here, and 26:00the current Dean, who is the third one, was also an alum from here, and happened to be one of my graduate students. They're celebrating their 20th year as a college September 13-15 and we will do some traveling before. We haven't gotten our plans settled, but we will be there that week and will be seeing some of Korea. I've never been to Korea. This is supposed to be a good time of year to go.

SL/YL: Also, in 1976 you served on the Curtice-Burns Board, and in 1979 on the Pacific Power & Light Company Board. You were the first woman to serve on both of those boards.)

BH: I joined them in those years and I still serve on them.

SL/YL: What was it like to join them as the first woman?

BH: First was Curtice-Burns which is a food processing and marketing company that started in upstate New York. They use regional brands, therefore, the name 27:00Curtice-Burns doesn't mean much to anybody. In this region the division is Nalley. Nalley's had become a part of that corporation just about a year or so before. The man who had been president of Curtice-Burns just prior to that time is an alum of Cornell University. He was an Agriculture graduate, and had maintained strong associations with Cornell. His wife was a home economics graduate from Cornell. He was interested in having a home economist, particularly one with a nutrition emphasis to bring a consumers perspective to the board decisions. All I can say is that, yes, you know that you're breaking 28:00new ground in that group. They were very kind, very respectful, and a few obviously skeptical. I think that they made it easy in a real sense, and I think they appreciated his decision. I think one has a responsibility to learn all you can about that corporation; what their goals are, and what their problems are. You are not serving your board role if you don't understand their total programs. Every board member brings in a particular background and a particular 29:00perspective, and you fail in your board role if you don't raise questions for discussion. I know you think people will say, "You're the token woman," and my answer to that is, "You may come on as a token woman, but if you remain a token woman, it's because you're not doing your job." I think the next step will be is when they ask another woman to be on the board. The same is true with Pacific Power & Light. Pacific Power & Light was looking for a home economist who would 30:00bring to the board a consumers perspective. Their headquarters are in this state although they operate throughout Wyoming, Idaho, Washington, Alaska, Northern California, and have board members from all of those places. I think because of my position at OSU, the opportunity came to me.

I think also part of the reason I was chosen was because I had done work with United Way; was on their budget committee, and eventually, was on their board. Oregon State University has a representative on the Good Samaritan Hospital Board. The OSU president appoints that person. I was appointed the year that Roy Young was acting president of Oregon State as it was time for a new Oregon State appointee. That person normally serves five years. The way it is set up the 31:00president, every year, asks if that person wants to change. President MacVicar continued to appoint me. At the end of that five years, the hospital had just built and moved into the new hospital building. There were a lot of financial problems with the hospital and some concerns in the community. The discussion between the Chairman of the Board and President MacVicar and myself was whether or not I should stay on longer to maintain continuity; so I actually served eight years on the board. I think you know that that kind of experience added weight to a corporation's looking at somebody's past experience even though it 32:00was slightly different. I can only say that Pacific Power & Light has looked at the possibility of adding other women, and I think it will come before too long. We had one just about all picked out a year or so ago, and then that person was moved by her corporation out of her job, out of the total area of Pacific Power & Light. That person never knew it, but the nominating committee had agreed to approach her. There was an openness there, and I think it's different from the Curtice-Burns Board because basically, it's a very different cross-section of people. It's been an opportunity to get to know a number of business and political leaders in the State of Oregon, and of other parts of this region. I 33:00think it is important to build bridges of understanding between business and education. I think it also helps us to see again, whether we like it or not, that there are people who have certain preconceived ideas of what home economists are. It does help them (Corporation Boards) to see home economists operating in the business world. I also think it is very important for home economists to function in the community. I think one of the ways one builds an understanding of what home economists have to offer is not only in the job, but also in community service. That doesn't mean that you wear a Home Economics label on yourself all the time, but as you contribute to the welfare of the community in which you may live or operate, people know what you are; they understand better. Those two boards have been a phenomenon of the time; an 34:00opportunity that came because of the time in history and where I was. I've also tried hard to make contributions to both Boards.

SL/YL: So you had to work harder being the only woman?

BH: I think every board member has to work hard. I mean, I think you have to be willing to take that time. You're taking away from the university in a sense, but, I also think the university looks at a certain amount of that as being good for the university. Both of these appointments were discussed with the President each time before I accepted. I also think you really have to do that on "off-time." You've got your regular job to do. I think it helps as far as the university is concerned, and I think it helps as far as the College of Home Economics is concerned. You do have to do your homework on a board. If you 35:00don't, there are two problems; one you're not going to contribute, and the other is that those jobs carry a tremendous responsibility and if something goes wrong, it falls on the total board.

SL/YL: Last year in 1983 you received the American Home Economics Association Foundation Distinguished Service Award. How did you feel when you received this honor since you were only the third recipient?

BH: Well, you know, I was very appreciative. I do believe strongly in home economists participating in their professional associations. I think wherever you work you need to belong. I think you are building in your own community or in your own institution. What you do, home economics as with any other profession, has a whole national audience and a whole national scope. You can do 36:00many things together in a state association for that state. You can do much more nationally as a national group. I think that many people, really too many people seem to think that if they do their own job well that's all that counts. As if I look at it from an institution's point of view; from Oregon State's even though we have a very strong program in home economics here, without a strong national organization, we wouldn't have national visibility and the opportunity to influence certain things. So, through the years I have functioned and served in various ways in the American Home Economics Association and we have gained from that. You gain a lot, as well as give because you have opportunities to 37:00associate with people in other institutions in other parts of the country. You learn from them. You know we aren't all islands to ourselves. That doesn't mean that you copy each other because circumstances differ; but you learn a great deal, and I have appreciated the opportunity to serve. I was asked this fall if I would be a candidate for president-elect and to work toward being president of the American Home Economics Association Foundation. I had somehow forgotten that they only had one candidate, so I was elected. I appreciate the opportunity to be able to continue to do some kind of service for the association. That's a different kind of job. It's really an attempt to seek funding as with any 38:00foundation; support for special projects, special needs. It will be seeking ways to get members and other organizations to contribute more, and other businesses to make contributions. That can enhance the total program nationally,--just as we have a foundation at Oregon State University which seeks private funds. In home economics we have a number of accounts in the Foundation which support a variety of home economics scholarships, fellowships, and special programs.

SL/YL: You were talking about the Learning Resource Center.

BH: We started it with some money that came from an alum, Mercedes Bates, which was matched by General Mills. Then through the university, we were able to get some federal grant funds to match that. It made it possible for us to get the 39:00first investments money for equipment and slide tapes. You know how it's grown from that start. At that time we didn't have the funds to do it otherwise. So sometimes small gifts can be built up a little that way and they grow. This foundation is a similar kind of organization for the American Home Economics Association.

SL/YL: What were some of your favorite hobbies?

BH: Well, I've always enjoyed doing a little gardening. Health wise, I haven't been able to do as much in the last couple of years, but I enjoy a small garden. 40:00I suppose hiking and mountain climbing which I got into after I came to Oregon State. I have climbed, not all, but many of the peaks in Oregon, and some in Washington. I never made Mt. Rainier, but did climb Mt. Hood.

SL/YL: How about when you were in Japan?

BH: We used to hike when I lived in Japan. I've always enjoyed swimming. When I was a young kid, I had great ambitions, too. I used to like acrobatics which would have been like gymnastics today, but I really didn't have that talent; I used to just try. I was more of a tomboy in a sense; I used to play with my brother more than my sister, -- baseball, football. I've played baseball, and I played high school basketball.

41:00

SL/YL: Who did you go hiking and mountain climbing with?

BH: I belonged to the Mazama Club here in Oregon, and then I joined the Mountaineers Club which operates out of Seattle. I hiked with both of those groups. I think you've interviewed Clara Storvick and Margaret Fincke; it was really Clara Storvick who got me into this. And I used to do some skiing.

SL/YL: Cross Country?

BH: No, downhill. However, when I first started skiing at Hoodoo Bowl, we had to park at the highway and ski cross country into Hoodoo Bowl; then we always had to save enough energy to ski back out! So, in a sense, we did cross country along with downhill. Jumping was never one of my ambitions. I enjoyed watching it, but I was never that good. I enjoyed getting out, and did quite a little 42:00hiking and camping out. I liked the out-of-doors.

SL/YL: It's a great country for it.

BH: Both ocean and mountains. I've also always enjoyed reading. I've had less time for recreational reading during the last number of years, and I've got a lot of books piled up that I'm going to get started on.

SL/YL: That's what I was going to ask you. What do you plan on doing now that you've retired? You mentioned traveling.

BH: Well, yes we're going to have this one trip. I still continue on the two boards, and I will still be somewhat active in the American Home Economics Association. Actually, this week I was asked by the University of Nevada if I would come to consult with them on their graduate and research programs in home economics. When they called I said, "Do you understand I'm retired?", because 43:00some of the people don't. Yes, they knew I was retired. This was the Dean of the Graduate School, and the Director of Research. I said yes, so I'm going this week on Wednesday. I will be there Wednesday night, Thursday, and Friday till Friday afternoon and then stay over with some friends Friday night. I am going to come back Saturday, leaving at 6:45 from Reno in order to get back to the basketball game here. I've got to see that last one!

SL/YL: Are you a basketball fan?

BH: Yes, I enjoy spectator sports. I was at the women's basketball game on Friday night. I heard that that was a more exciting game than the men's game 44:00Saturday night.

SL/YL: Do you have anything that you'd like to add which we may have overlooked during the time you spent as Dean?

BH: Well, I think one of the most rewarding aspects of both teaching and/or administration is the alumni and what they do. With those that you care, you maintain some kind of contact with. You can't with all, you know, some don't want you to, and there is a certain number that do. I think one of the most rewarding parts of all of the whole teaching education process, at whatever level, is what happens to the people that go through it, and what they do. You know, the education that you may have been a part of, in whatever role, is a 45:00small part of their total life, but is one factor, and you take real pride in it. There's an interesting book called Unseen Harvest. It's the title of a book that's really written about education and the educational process, and I think it says it very well; that much of what people who are in the whole education realm do, they never really see, or never know what happens. I think people who are in education, in any role, receive a certain kind of satisfaction that is 46:00different from people who go into business. There's much that they do that they don't see, but it is there. I guess I would say, I think life has been very good to me in giving me the opportunity to be in administration. It's been an interesting time to live, there have been many changes, and I expect there will be many more.

SL/YL: I hope there will be. We need to have them.

BH: That's right, you know; that's what life's all about. When I look back, I remember one time being with a group of seniors who were talking about older people who didn't really know how to adjust. I've forgotten what the 47:00circumstances were, but I listened to that for a little while. They were talking about their parents and their grandparents. Finally I said, "If you really think back on the changes that have occurred in your parents and grandparents lives, the whole plumbing, the whole radio, television, communications; don't talk about them having not adjusted." "You're going to have to adjust too, but they already have." If you stop and think of the changes that have occurred from the time when they were born, they've seen tremendous change; cars, transportation, etc. I mean, there has been a tremendous era of rapid growth. Sure, you're now 48:00looking at the moon and space. It's interesting, they may take a more philosophical look at it now. I look forward to Kinsey Green's coming, what she has, the background that she has to bring, her competencies and her special talents. I think she's coming at a very good time for the college. She has some very real talents in public relations, and in the political arena. Those things are much more important than they were when I started. I had to learn some of those on the job. The political involvement now was not a factor in the early 49:00days at all. It has become so, and is very important, so there's going to be a lot of dynamic changes ahead.

SL/YL: Thank you very much.

BH: You're very welcome.