After suffering from a long illness, Professor Jennie Tiffany Towle Farley ’54 passed away June 19 after a prolonged illness, a loss to both the School of Industrial and Labor Relations and the greater Cornell community. She was 69.
Best known for her work in women’s issues, Farley played a major role in establishing Cornell’s women’s studies program. In addition to her work with this program, she taught ILR Human Resources 366: Women at Work, writing courses, a leadership seminar, and a freshman colloquium in previous years.
With these classes, she attempted to raise consciousness about women’s issues in both ILR and Cornell as a whole.
“She brought a lens to women in work in the ILR school,” said Susanne Bruyere, extension associate and Farley’s co-worker in ILR.
Even when she entered the hospital, Farley had no intention of leaving academia.
“She never wanted to retire … She was horrified at the thought of even being partially retired,” her husband, Donald Farley ’55 said. “When she went in the hospital, she brought a suitcase of papers and exams.”
She herself graduated from Cornell with a B.A. in English in 1954, a M.S. in Sociology in 1969, and a Ph.D. in sociology in 1970. Before teaching, Farley worked as a journalist, with an editorial position at Mademoiselle and Seventeen and worked as writer for The Scandinavian Times, among other publications.
In addition to her academic pursuits, Farley involved herself in a variety of organizations and movements on campus.
She served as a faculty trustee from 1988-1992, as the president of the alumni board of trustees of Delta Chi fraternity from 1998-2002, and as a member-at-large in the Faculty Senate from 1997-1999. She held positions on the Faculty Council of Representatives from 1992-1995 and the Cornell Work and Family Advisory Council of the Office of Human Resources. She also volunteered her teaching services as a teacher of English as a second language.
Most of all, Farley truly devoted her time and heart to women’s issues.
Beginning in 1991, she dedicated time to the Cornell Advocates for Rape Education (CARE) and started as an ILR sexual harassment advisor in 1998. She also played a key role in establishing the Women’s Information Network and strongly supported the Women’s Community Building in Ithaca.
Andrea Parrot ’81, chair for CARE, said Farley was a “wonderful addition to the Cornell community.”
“She wasn’t just interested in what she taught, she was interested in making [the campus] a better, safer place for all students,” said Parrot. “Cornell would be a much, much better place if most faculty here had ten percent of the dedication Jennie had outside of the classroom.”
Despite her array of activities, Farley would welcome anyone who came to her for help, according to Parrot.
“She was very generous with her kind of motherly support.”
Her son, Peter Farley ’86, said, “She really helped to mentor many of today’s present faculty.”
He said one of the greatest lessons he learned from her is that “everyone’s opinion is important regardless of position.”
A memorial service will be held on Sept. 23 at 4:30 in Call Auditorium in Kennedy Hall for Farley.
Archived article by Shannon Brescher