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March 31, 2011

Grazella Puliver Shepherd


“Those who knew Grazella Shepherd will not forget her. That is the safest of prophecies. Her creativity, dynamism, and faith in life’s possibilities brought opportunities for intellectual growth to thousands, many of whom never met her or shared the joy of dialogue with her.” [1]

Grazella Shepherd was the director of the Division of General Education at Cleveland College of Western Reserve University. Cleveland College was the unit of the university dedicated to educating part-time, working adults. It offered degree programs, non-degree programs, and a vast array of courses to stimulate the minds of adults. It was located in downtown Cleveland (where most people worked at that time).

Mrs. Shepherd was born 12/25/1892 in Lawrence, Kansas and grew up in Abilene. She received her B.S. from Kansas State Normal School. She moved to Cleveland as an educational representative of the Victor Talking Machine Company, selling their music appreciation records to school systems. She married Arthur Shepherd in 1922. He was assistant conductor for the Cleveland Orchestra and later, Professor of Music at Western Reserve University.

Cleveland College hired Mrs. Shepherd as Radio Education Secretary in 1930 and she was appointed Director of the Division of General Education in 1943. (This was the non-credit arm of Cleveland College.) By her retirement in 1960 almost 40,000 people had registered for non-credit courses. Through her work in the Division of General Education Mrs. Shepherd worked closely with the Women’s Association of Cleveland College on various projects such as the Lecture Series (later, the Fall Lecture and now the Grazella Shepherd Lecture Day) and the annual Book Sale. In 1954 Mrs. Shepherd worked with the Women’s Association to start Living Room Learning.

Grazella Shepherd had envisioned “a new kind of educational program. Her basic idea was to move adult education from the confines of classroom and campus, extend its curriculum far beyond traditional, sequential offerings, and take this education out to the many adults whose formal education had been completed, but who harbored a desire for further learning in the company of others.” [2] She tested her idea in 1947 with 8-week sessions in various homes. Together, Mrs. Shepherd and the Women’s Association secured a $20,000 grant from the Cleveland Foundation for a 3-year study of the possibility of launching such a program. The program began in February 1954 and celebrated its 25th anniversary in 1979 shortly after Mrs. Shepherd’s death.

At her retirement in 1960 university trustees elected Grazella Shepherd Director Emeritus of the Division of General Education.

Grazella Shepherd at her retirement reception May 20, 1960.

Grazella Shepherd was involved for many years with the Musical Arts Association (parent organization of the Cleveland Orchestra) as trustee and executive committee member and president of the Women’s Committee. She established the record lending library and developed the Music Memory Contests. Her memorial service was held in the Severance Hall Chamber Music Hall on 4/7/1979.

[1] Margaret W. Gokay, Twenty-Five Years of Living Room Learning (Women’s Association for Continuing Education, CWRU), 1979, p. 3.
[2] Ibid., p. 5.

Other stories about CWRU women
Other Women’s History Month recollections include Carolyn Neff, Bess Barr LeBedoff, Mary Frances Pinches, and Helen Stankard

Posted by hxy2 at March 31, 2011 02:58 PM

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