Memo from Nora Percival to Catharine Stimpson, regarding the task force report, May 6, 1971
Barnard College OFFICEOFASSOCIATEALUMNAE COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY, NEW YORK 10027 May 6, 1971 To: Catherine Stimpson From: Nora Percival Re: , Task Force Report Thank you for the copy of this report, which I find very good indeed. I think it details a most intelligent approach to our goal of putting Barnard in the forefront of the effort to make positive responses to the emerging needs of women. My own ideas for some time have been running in a vein especially related to your assumptions 4 and 6. What I would like to see done to use our alumnae resources to better advantage is the creation of an Alumnae Advisory Corps. This would not be at all a vocational project, but a flexible multi- faceted tool to create student contacts with alumnae who have ’achieved interesting careers in various fields, often in an unorthodox fashion. An example of the sort of contact I visualize is a college friend of mine who in her forties went back to graduate school for a Ph.D. and is now a successful lay psychiatrist and teacher. She was visiting in.my office one afternoon when a younger alumna came in to ask how she might get some counseling about the relative wisdom of graduate work in psychology or a school of social work, in order to enter the counseling field. A spontaneous session of about twenty minutes with my friend produced "exactly the sort of help I was looking for and didn't know how to find - a chance to talk with someone who has been there herself - the most useful talk I've had out of dozens". My friend was also delighted by the chance to be helpful on a person - to - person basis, and volunteered some of her precious free time on a regular basis if some way could be found to make it available to students for personal counseling. We have literally hundreds of such alumnae in this area - - successful women with the initiative to have forged or often even created their careers, and a feeling of wanting to give back some of the help they got at Barnard. If an imaginative plan could be devised to set up a register of volunteers, to be used on a consulting basis, as well as include these people in occasional conference or workshop sessions for more general exposure, we could offer a valuable service to students, alums
or perhaps young women in general, as well as provide a rewarding service opportunity to the corps itself -- and incidentally build alumnae involvement with Barnard, which is one of our primary objectives. Far from being confined to the mechanics of career training or advancement, the advice this corps could offer might range from the psychological and sociological and family problems of reorienting one's life to the best approach to new career objective --— and everything in between. when personal contacts develop between receptive people of like interests, anything can flower. If you feel this idea has some merit, I would like to explore it further with you before any move is made for a formal proposal to the task force. In any case, I would be glad to have your reaction to the idea.