Oral History Interview with
Edwin C. Lewis
TZB: Well, here's a question for you. If you had to compare
Iowa State College of 1960, this is really mean, and Iowa State
University of 2000, what do you think the major differences
are? Just one or two.
ECL: Both people and physically, buildings, et cetera, one.
Another one is the emphasis on outside funding, research
funding, for example. Back in 1960, there was a lot of state
funding of research, college research institutes, now, not
much. And the big jump that we've made has been in supported
research, in research centers and things of that kind, so that
you don't have... there are areas outside of the Colleges that have
gotten really big, really powerful. Much more so than would
have been the case in 1960. On the funding side, the other
aspect which is very different is funding, the donations to the
University, through the Foundation, are almost all now
targeted. Whereas, thirty years ago, at least, certainly forty, but even thirty years ago, we got a lot of the money that came
from donors, came just to the University, in general. And we
were able to use it where we thought it needed to be used.
ECL: And we lost that, by we, I mean Central Administraton, lost that flexibility. I can remember being able to get
programs started, with seed money for new programs out of
Foundation money, because it was available to use at our best judgement.
ECL: And now it's all targeted.
TZB: Do you think that Iowa State, and this is just my
perception, that it was a much more personalized atmosphere in
1960, everybody knew each other, and its much more insular...
ECL: Some of that was size. Certainly that, it's a good
point, the student population was much more the 18 to 22, direct from high school. The on-campus residential, yeah.
So there was a lot of interaction in, among students outside
of class as well as in class. I don't think people accept
yet, for example, this is my own bias, I don't think they
accept that one of the reasons that VEISHEA is going the way
it's going is because this is not 1930 or 1960 anymore.
It's the 21st Century, and VEISHEA, frankly, is
not relevant anymore. And they're still trying to recreate
or maintain mid-20th Century phenomenon in a 21st
TZB: Well, that last question I have really has to do with
women's issues. Because you are considered in many arenas to be
a champion. That basically you were a part of the
Administration where the Women's Center was created...
TZB: ... the University Committee on Women, was created by
George Christensen, I think in '71...
TZB: So you had some things, were involved with these things.
ECL: All right, women's issues.
TZB: Oh and including childcare, you also were in charge of
the Program for Women in Science and Engineering for awhile too, I believe.
ECL: That's right, it reported to me later on.
ECL: Well, I need to give you some background. After I'd
been here a few years, I was advised by others in the
Department, senior faculty, that if I was going to get promoted, I needed to have some research activity. I needed to have an
area that I was doing research in. So I looked around, and one
of the things that struck me, in my experience by that time in
the Counseling Center, was that most of the tests, and most of
the information that we had to work with about careers, and most
of the interest tests and things like that, were normed against
men. And there didn't seem to be much that was aimed at women.
And yet it was pretty evident from the psychological literature
that there were some important differences in career patterns
between men and women. So I wrote a paper on this, which was
published in one of the counseling psych journals. It was
pretty well received, so I decided I'd pursue that. So I
started doing literature search, trying to pull the stuff
together, and this was, actually, I started in '63 which was the
year that Betty Friedan's book came out, and got people, a lot
of people got really interested in this stuff. And so I put
together, it ended up being a book, that the University Press
published in '68, Developing Women's Potential, which was basically a survey and somewhat of an analysis of what
the research suggested about women's career patterns. I tell
people, if anybody has an occasion to go back and look at it
now, remember, this was back in the Sixties. I wouldn't
necessarily say some of the things now that I said then. But
you know, I remember reading once in Science magazine, one of the editorials, a guy saying,
"I report these results in
a sad scientific spirit," and that's kind of what I was doing.
So, my point is that I had some interest in this area, and knew
something about it.
ECL: Then, in the, around 1970, there was, I think, an
editorial in Science that talked about, need to pay more
attention to women in the academic area, particularly things
like salaries and that sort of thing. And some of the schools, universities and colleges, particularly more to the east, were
beginning to create committees to do this, and at least see what
their situation was. So I went to George Christensen and I
pointed this out, and I said, "You know, I think it might be a
good idea if we would do this." And he said, "Why don't you
write it up, why don't you write up something to take to the
Cabinet." So I did, I wrote a paper, kind of a proposal for him
of what we might do, and he took it to the Cabinet. And the
Cabinet agreed. I remember though, his coming back and saying,
"Carl Hamilton isn't sure about this. He thinks we're just
going to get ourselves in trouble." But anyway, we did it. And
then I kind of worked with the Committee. A woman by the name
of Marguerite Scruggs chaired it and it's probably familiar to
you. And they did a report in which they recommended, among
other things, they pointed out some areas of concern, that
needed to be looked at more carefully, but they also recommended
that there be a Committee on the Status of Women created.
ECL: Also, as it happened, about the same time, just after my
book was published, and I got somewhat known for that, Governor
Ray created a Governor's Commission on the Status of Women, and
I was asked to be on that. And so I had some contacts from that
standpoint, too. So anyway, we created this Committee, which
became a standing committee and I kind of became sort of the
liaison with it, for our office, partly because of my interests, and it kind of went from there.
TZB: And so that's the University Committee on Women?
ECL: The University Committee on Women, right.
TZB: And were you also involved with the founding of the
Women's Center? Which happened almost the same time.
ECL: In the sense that it was an outgrowth of the Committee
on Women. Jean Adams, who was chairing the Committee on Women, was, that was one of her major interests, was having a Women's
Center. And so yeah, I supported him, I worked with them to
help it be created, to see that it got created. I don't really
take much credit for it. Jean was the person that really did
the hard work on it.
TZB: But, then again, the Administration has to be receptive
at the same time.
ECL: And I think George was, George particularly, and Bob
Parks, were very receptive and very concerned. I've always
thought that Mrs. Parks was probably, played some role in the
background of this too, Ellen.
TZB: Well, just to finish up, you later supervised the
Program for Women in Science and Engineering. Do you think that
opportunities for women changed while you were here at Iowa
State? Or the atmosphere for women changed?
ECL: I think it did, of course it changed nationally as
well. But yeah, I don't think there's any question about it. I
think faculty, male faculty, became somewhat more sensitized. I
think that it certainly became more acceptable for women to be
in non-traditional fields. Certainly in math, or the
engineering and science area, the fact that we were actively
recruiting women students for those areas...
ECL: ... was important. I remember, one of the things that
struck me, one of the reasons I got interested, originally in
the, the more that I think about it was when I first came here, like I said we were in Building H. There was a conference room
down at the end of the hall that we used for staff meetings, and
things like that. And on the wall, the first thing that I
noticed, was on the wall, there was all the curricula, we had a
lot of curricula at that time. All the curricula were there, and whatever the entrance test we were using at the time, the
average scores of the people on the entrance test, each of those
curricula, the students were on there, and it was graphed, you
know. And there was one curriculum that was way up above, was
the top one, but it was a curriculum, at that point I didn't
know these curricula, didn't know what that was. It was a
curriculum called Home Ec and Related Science, I think that was
the name, Related Science was in there, I think it was Home Ec
and Related Science. And I asked, "What's that curriculum?"
Well, what it was, it was a curriculum for girls who wanted to
be in Science, but whose families insisted they had to be in
Home Ec. And that was the brightest group of students on the
whole campus. And I remember thinking later, when I got
interested in it from a counseling standpoint, "Why is it that
we don't have very good tools for helping the brightest group of
people on the campus?"