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NYS College of Human Ecology
Established 1925
Type Contract
Dean Alan Mathios
Faculty 92[1]
Undergraduates 1,202
Postgraduates 190
Location Ithaca, New York, USA

The New York State College of Human Ecology (HumEc) is a statutory college at Cornell University. The college is a unique compilation of studies on consumer science, nutrition, health economics, public policy, human development and textiles, each part of the discipline of human ecology.

Students at the College of Human Ecology delve into biology and chemistry, economics, psychology, and sociology, applying their expertise in fields such as health, design, nutrition, public policy, and marketing. Studies done by professors and students vary from studying the financial impacts of tax legislation to designing safer workplaces and facilitating healthy growth of premature infants.

For 2007-2008, HumEc has a total budget of $73 million, with $33 million from tuition and $9 million from state appropriations.[2]



Martha Van Rensselaer Hall, home of The College of Human Ecology

The beginnings of the College appeared in the year 1900, when a reading course for farm women was created. In 1907, the Department of Home Economics was created within Cornell's New York State College of Agriculture. In 1919, the Department of Home Economics became a school within the Agriculture College. In 1925, the school was converted to the New York State College of Home Economics, the first state-chartered college of Home Economics in the country.[3]

The focus of the college at the turn of the 20th century was home economics. The field was a critical pathway for women to obtain higher education. From its inception, home economics was multidisciplinary and integrative with an emphasis on science applied to the real world of the home, families and communities.

Eleanor Roosevelt played an integral role in the development of the College of Home Economics from the 1920s to the 1940s. As the wife of Franklin D. Roosevelt, the governor of New York from 1928 to 1932, and later as America's First Lady, from 1933 to 1945 (during her husband's tenure as President of the United States), she employed her fame and influence in ways that resulted in greater financial support for home economics programs and increased publicity for the College. It was with Eleanor Roosevelt's support that in February 1925, that the New York State legislature passed a bill, which made Cornell's School of Home Economics the New York State College of Home Economics.

From 1922 until 1950, Cornell's hotel administration program operated as a department within the college, until it spun off into a separate endowed unit.[4]

In 1949, the College was administratively designated as a partnership college (officially, a statutory college, or in preferred parlance at Cornell, co-officially, a contract college) of the State University of New York. The New York Legislature changed the College's name in 1969 (coinciding with an administrative reorganization of the College) to its present name — the New York State College of Human Ecology — to reflect a more "modern" focus of the College beyond "domestic arts."

Deans of the College of Human Ecology
Martha Van Rensselaer and Flora Rose 1924-1932
Flora Rose 1932-1940
Mary F. Henry (Acting) 1940-1941
Sarah Gibson Blanding 1941-1946
Elizabeth Lee Vincent 1946-1953
Helen G. Canoyer 1953-1968
David C. Knapp 1968-1974
Jean Failing 1974-1978
Jerome M. Ziegler 1978-1988
Francille M. Firebaugh 1988-1999
Patsy M. Brannon 1999-2004
Lisa Staiano-Coico 2004-2007
Alan Mathios 2007-Present


The college enrolls approximately 1,200 undergraduates and 200 graduate students and has approximately 300 faculty members.

Admission is extremely competitive. Applications for the College of Human Ecology usually run around 1200. About 89% of the entering students are ranked in the top 10% as compared to the average of 85% for Cornell.

The College of Human Ecology comprises several departments:

  • Human Development (HD)
  • Policy Analysis & Management (PAM)
  • Division of Nutritional Sciences (DNS)
  • Design & Environmental Analysis (DEA)
  • Fiber Science & Apparel Design (FSAD)


The college's undergraduate programs lead to the B.S. in one of the following areas:

  • Biology & Society
  • Design & Environmental Analysis
  • Fiber Science & Apparel Design
  • Human Biology, Health & Society
  • Human Development
  • Individual Curriculum
  • Nutritional Sciences
  • Policy Analysis & Management

The college also has programs that lead to the following graduate degrees, administered by the Graduate School:

Notable alumni and faculty


External links



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