KATHY MILLER-SCHLEGEL '72
How did your time at NU impact who you are today?
Kathy: I still keep in touch with friends from Northwestern, although none of them were Economics majors! But then, there were not many women majoring in economics back then and most of my friends were education, music, theatre or engineering. The theatre majors were the most fun. I grew up mostly in New York but stayed in Evanston which seemed more like home to me. I didn’t leave Evanston until I married for the first and only time in 1990 (at Sheil by Father Krump who was the pastor there back when I was a student) and moved to Mokena, a southwest suburb and my husband Jim’s home town. We still go to the football games!
What was your favorite memory?
Kathy: I enjoyed working in the Library, in the Special Collections Department. I worked for Russell Malone, the head of the department, and Roxanne Siefert. She was collecting alternative newspapers from various political, radical and fringe groups. I still remember her commenting that she enjoyed the Anarchists the best because they were the most organized! I was usually stationed at the entrance to the department in the old Deering library, sitting at the typewriter taking care of their correspondence. I met a lot of interesting people visiting the library there!
Who was your favorite professor?
Kathy: My favorite economics professor was Dr. Delahanty, and also Dr. Deschwinitz. Outside of the Department of Economics, my favorite professor was Dr. Sam Schoenbaum, a Shakespearean scholar and biographer. I enjoyed going to England after graduation and seeing his books highlighted in the bookstore in Stratford on Avon. I also appreciated Dr. Cember, who was a professor of engineering and the father of a good friend and sorority sister, Marilyn Cember Zimmerman.
What was your favorite class?
Kathy: In Economics, I enjoyed a class in American Economic History. I also enjoyed economic geography and multi-dimensional algebra. I had no idea that algebra class would come in handy when I joined IBM and they introduced relational data bases! My favorite classes, though, were my philosophy classes.
Where did you study?
Kathy: I usually studied at the Library. First at Deering Library, and then in the new Library when it opened my junior and senior years. I also studied in the dorm.
Where on campus did you live?
Kathy: My freshman year I lived in Allison Hall on the 4th Floor. My second year I lived at Northwestern Apartments. My last two years I lived in my sorority house, Delta Zeta (DZ).
Did you have a favorite dining hall?
Kathy: We didn’t have a choice of dining halls, but we had a wonderful cook at DZ.
What activities did you participate in outside of the classroom?
Kathy: I worked at the library, I volunteered with NOVA (Northwestern Volunteers in Action), I played flag football on the DZ team, I helped out theatre friends with their productions at a variety of tasks, like lighting and costumes.
What was the campus climate during your time in school? What significant event(s) were going on in the world and how did it influence your time in school?
Kathy: It was a tough time to be a pretty conservative girl with two brothers in Vietnam! Things actually improved after Kent State and the student strikes. I think people in the various political factions became more open to one another and less judgmental. I remember them blocking off Sheridan Road, and classes shut down for 1-2 weeks. This changed my mind about going to grad school - I wanted to get out and join the real world before I went back to school. Five years after graduation, I did return to get an MBA at the University of Chicago.
What was your experience as a woman in economics?
Kathy: My first experience was as a freshman, during New Student Week. The Department of Economics was hosting a mixer (non- alcoholic) for students thinking about an Economics major. I attended, and was met by the head of the department who asked me why I was there. I told him I was planning on majoring in Economics. He responded: “why, are you going for an MRS?” I told him I was just an undergraduate, and just going for a Bachelor’s degree. I then asked him what an MRS degree was, I had never heard of that degree before. After he stumbled with a response, someone with him explained to me what he had meant. So, you could say my first experience was not welcoming, but I never had a problem with the classes, and I never felt I was treated differently because I was a woman. I will comment that in one class my freshman year another woman told me I really shouldn't speak up so much in class – the boys didn’t like it. It made me glad I had gone to a small Catholic girls high school. No one had ever told me before not to express my opinion!
What skills did NU teach you that helped you succeed in your career/personal life?
Kathy: Economics and philosophy helped develop good analytical skills. Northwestern had such a variety of academic specialties and students, it exposed me to other options and other ways of thinking. I’m still growing!