UNI’s Home Management House: more than just a classroom

According to the Rod Library, this is an early photo of the Superintendents House taken between 1907 and 1915. It was built for the Superintendent of Buildings and Grounds.

Courtesy Photo

According to the Rod Library, this is an early photo of the Superintendents House taken between 1907 and 1915. It was built for the Superintendent of Buildings and Grounds.

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Editors Note: This article was published on Oct. 21, 1977. The Home Management House is now the Alumni House located on the North East side of UNI’s campus by 23rd Street.  

The Home Management House is the tall brick house on the northeast corner of the campus, and it is also called the Home Economics Lab. The course which utilizes the Home Management House is 31:172, but the Home Management House is more than a house or a course.

Dr. Barbara Pershing, director of the house and assistant professor in the Home Economics Department, says that the house is a very valuable teaching tool.

To the three girls that are living in the Home Management House, it is a tremendous experience.

Vocational Home Economics teaching majors are required to live in the house for nine weeks. Married students have the option tof taking another course. During the nine week period, the students completely share the responsibilities of running the house.

Usually there are three to eight girls in residence. They each pay $200 for the nine weeks. The money goes entirely for food, entertaining, household supplies, and projects.

The students living in the house rotate the various household duties like managing, cooking, and housekeeping.

For the past nine weeks, the house has been occupied by three girls and a graduate assis tant. They are receiving three hours of credit, but Cindy Reis, Diane Park and Nancy Waterman feel they are receiving much more than the credits in valuable experiences.

The girls said that it has been a summation of everything they have learned in their college courses. Pershing said, “It is an application of all the things they have learned. We are trying to make it as relevant as possible.”

Diane, Cindy, and Nancy will enthusiastically agree that it is relevant. Because of their experiences in the house, they are looking forward to their upcoming student teaching experiences.

There are several requirements that must be met while living in the house. They must set up realistic budgets, ranging from low cost to liberal. They must entertain at least once a week. They must have new flower arrangements weekly, using dried or fresh flowers. They must use all of the different appliances, and conduct consumer product comparisons. They are to use food guidelines from the USDA, and each group is involved in an improvement project.

Nancy Waterman said, “It’s not easy. It is work, and there is always something to do.”

Diane said that it has been valuable in learning about responsibilities. She said, “If you goof, it affects everyone else.”

It’s not all work, and they have a lot of fun, too. They have had a few flops to laugh about, they have shared a lot of ideas, and they said they have all gained weight. They even had a Tupperware Party!

Cindy Reis suggested that home ec teaching majors should plan to take the course the semester before they get married, because of the valuable experiences in running a home.

The house is furnished rather formally, but there is a relaxed and casual atmosphere. The girls have been adding a few new plants and are planning a macrame project.

The house is also furnished with the very latest appliances, vacuum cleaners, and the major appliances are in consignment and replaced yearly.

Diane said they have learned a lot about consumer decision making and the differences in appliances. She added that they can see what a home needs and what it doesn’t need.

The girls have picked a favorite vacuum cleaner from the four and they think there are too many unnecessary buttons on the washer and dryer.

The three residents have clothing and textile or family life emphases, and the cooking has been the most challenging. They have shared a lot of recipes and tried many cookbooks. Their favorite dish is Cindy’s meringue shells with peaches and ice cream.

During their weekly entertaining, they have served dinners for friends, faculty members, and had a very special buffet for their parents.

All three girls had previously lived in the dorms, and found the first few weeks in the house to be really challenging. Their first night they had plumbing problems. Their microwave oven was out of order for a week, and recently their steps were torn up and replaced.

According to Pershing, “We are striving for good group living. It’s a chance to experiment.”

Pershing said that many campuses have given up their home management residences, and they now wish they hadn’t. She feels they lost something that was very valuable.

Looking into the future of the house, Pershing has plans to include as many students as possible in the Home Management.

  For more information on the Home Management House visit the Rod Library website: scua.library.uni.edu/university-archives