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March 31, 2011

Grazella Puliver Shepherd

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“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.

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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

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March 23, 2011

Helen Stankard

"First Woman Named to a Case Deanship"

In announcing Helen Stankard’s appointment as Assistant Dean, Case Institute of Technology (CIT) Dean Donald E. Schuele commented, “the title has properly been Miss Stankard’s for a long time as she has been performing all of the duties of a dean.” [1]

Helen Stankard was hired by Case Institute of Technology in 1959 as special assistant to the president, serving both Kent Smith and T. Keith Glennan. It was also the first year that Case admitted women to the regular (i.e., peacetime degree-granting) undergraduate program. In 1967, when CIT joined Western Reserve University to create Case Western Reserve University, Miss Stankard became assistant to the CIT Dean. In 1973 Helen Stankard became the first woman assistant dean of CIT. In 1977, she became CWRU Registrar, a position she held until her retirement in 1986.

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Helen Stankard, 1985

Born in Cleveland in 1921, Helen Stankard earned a B.S. in business education from the University of Akron in 1946. In 1947 she earned a certificate from Radcliffe College’s Management Training Program. Years later she commented that her management training was for businesses employing high concentrations of women, such as hospitals and department stores, but not in the “man’s domain of industry.” [2]

Before her arrival at CIT, Miss Stankard held personnel jobs at several department stores and served as Assistant Personnel Director at the University of Pittsburgh. She served as a Newman Foundation trustee and CWRU Hallinan Center executive committee member. Helen Stankard died in 1991.

[1] 7PI “First Woman Named to a Case Deanship,” press release, 9/21/1973
[2] 7PI “Registrar to Retire in March...” Campus News, (12/4/1985)

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

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March 17, 2011

Mary Frances Pinches

In 1964 Mary Frances Pinches was the first woman to win the Case Achievement Award which recognized exceptional service by a member of the Case Institute of Technology (CIT) faculty or staff. This award, which included a $1,000 honorarium and illuminated scroll, was given to a person who “shall have made a distinct contribution to the well-being of Case -- beyond the scope of normal duties; service shall have been prompted by genuinely unselfish motives -- and the recipient shall have demonstrated a warmth of personality felt by the entire Case community.”

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Mary Frances Pinches, ca. 1929

Miss Pinches was born 2/28/1904 in Tarentum, Pennsylvania. She received the A.B. degree from Flora Stone Mather College in 1927; the B.S. in Library Science in 1930 and the M.S. in Library Science in 1958 from the Western Reserve University School of Library Science.

She worked at Cleveland Public Library (1927-1943) and Ferro Enamel Corporation (1943-1947) before her career at CIT began. On 7/1/1947 she was appointed Supervising Librarian and Assistant Professor. Miss Pinches was responsible for much of the planning for Sears Library, the first all-campus library for CIT. She became Librarian and Associate Professor in 1960 and retired in 1970, when she was named Associate Professor Emeritus and Librarian.

She was involved in professional groups such as the American Library Association, Special Libraries Association, Ohio Library Association, serving on and chairing various committees.

Miss Pinches died in 1987.

Other stories about CWRU women
Other Women's History Month recollections include Carolyn Neff and Bess Barr LeBedoff and Helen Stankard

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March 11, 2011

Bess Barr LeBedoff

“I was a woman in an industry perhaps more traditionally masculine than any industry in the country.” [1]

Thus did Bess Barr LeBedoff describe the numerous personnel positions she held in manufacturing and shipbuilding during World War II. As for many women, when the war ended, so did her employment. After her husband died in 1949, she returned to the workforce, serving as Director of Western Reserve University’s Personnel and Placement Service from 1951-1958.

During her tenure as director the Personnel and Placement Service helped match students and alumni with job opportunities. The department also operated as the university’s employment office, recruiting, screening, and training employees for secretarial, technical, clerical, and minor administrative positions.

On behalf of students and alumni, Mrs. LeBedoff was tireless in her outreach to potential employers. She also adopted a no-nonsense approach to career counseling, including “a frank discussion of what the well-dressed candidate does not wear…” [2]

Among her many civic activities were Cleveland League of Women Voters trustee, Cleveland Metropolitan YWCA director, Lakewood Hospital Board, Women’s City Club, College Club, and others.

Mrs. LeBedoff retired from Western Reserve University in 1963 and died in 1977.

[1] 7PI “Bess Barr LeBedoff” obituary, Cleveland Plain Dealer, (3/25/1977): 48
[2] 4ND 1:1 Memorandum, Bess Barr LeBedoff to Webster G. Simon, 1950

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

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March 04, 2011

Carolyn Neff, Secretary of the University

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Carolyn Neff, 1958

Trusted right hand of University presidents, trustees, and faculty; coordinator of self-studies and accreditation visits; organizer of anniversary celebrations, countless building dedications, conferences, and commencements (when there were three ceremonies each year!), Carolyn Neff was the first woman to serve as an officer of the corporation as Secretary of the University.

Miss Neff “had a great organizing ability....She was, in my mind, the epitome of the staff person, which is a high and honorable calling. She knew how to get things done...her instinct for strategy was formidable.” [1]

She was born Mary Carolyn Neff 7/23/1914 in Memphis, Tennessee. A graduate of Bay Village High School, she entered Cleveland College in 1936 while working as an office manager at Bonne Bell, Inc. After her 1945 graduation from Cleveland College, Miss Neff held several administrative positions at Cleveland College and in the University Development office. In 1955 she became administrative assistant to the president and Secretary of the University in 1959.

In 1967 the newly created Case Western Reserve University faced the challenge of reconciling different policies, systems, and cultures of Case Institute of Technology and Western Reserve University. Miss Neff shepherded and supported the Constitutional Assembly, which devised the new faculty governance structure.

In recognition of decades of service, the 1978 University Ball was given in her honor. She was named Secretary Emeritus of the University in 1979. Her memorial service was held at Amasa Stone Chapel June 20, 1985.

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President Louis Toepfer escorts Carolyn Neff to the University Ball, 11/18/1978

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

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