January 15, 2009

Transformative Prof Passes, Leaving Long Legacy at C.U.

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Professor emerita Sara “Sally” Blackwell, who died at her home earlier this month, will leave a lasting mark on Cornell University. In 1966, the 92-year-old was a critical force in the transformation of Cornell’s College of Home Economics into the current College of Human Ecology.
Under former University President James Perkins, Blackwell helped compile what is known as the “Blackwell Report,” which examined the changing role of home economics at the time and was used by colleges nationwide as they adjusted their programs.
“Sally combined scholarly skepticism, wisdom, patience, humility and the perseverance of a pioneer in a masterful and compassionate manner,” said Jerry Rivers, professor emerita from the Division of Nutritional Sciences, according to the University.
Blackwell first came to Cornell as an assistant professor in 1948, after receiving her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Pennsylvania State University in addition to a Ph.D. in home economics education and child welfare from the University of Minnesota.
Upon joining the faculty of the Department of Home Economics Education at Cornell, Blackwell instructed classes in research design, analysis and program evaluation. She led the Department of Home Economics Education as chair from 1959 to 1969.
A memorial celebration was held in Blackwell’s honor on Jan. 8 at the First Presbyterian Church.