Jing Lyman, 1925-2013

A “first lady” of Stanford University, who played a crucial role in setting up one of the US’ leading institutes for gender research, has died

December 19, 2013

Source: Linda A. Cicero / Stanford News Service

Jing Lyman was born Elizabeth Schauffler in Philadelphia on 23 February 1925, but acquired her unusual first name after her mother spontaneously called her “the Lady Jingly Jones”, after a character in a poem by Edward Lear.

Her family moved to Washington DC and the heart of American life when her father took up a position at the National Labor Relations Board and her mother at the “New Deal” Resettlement Administration during Franklin D. Roosevelt’s presidency. She later recalled roller-skating on the terrace of the US Supreme Court. She was to remain strikingly well networked among the nation’s movers and shakers for the rest of her life: indeed, she was once described by a colleague as “a social network unto herself”.

A year in Switzerland studying at the Institut des Jeunes Filles came to a dramatic end when the outbreak of the Second World War forced Ms Lyman’s father to come and rescue her. They eventually escaped from Europe by fleeing to Paris and then Bordeaux for a ship that would take them home across the Atlantic. She went on to study at a boarding school in Vermont and then at Swarthmore College, a small liberal arts university near Philadelphia, graduating with a degree in English and history in 1947.

After marrying in the same year, Ms Lyman moved with her husband Richard to Harvard University and then to Stanford in 1958, where he taught British history, served as president from 1970 to 1980 and, after an interlude as president of the Rockefeller Foundation, returned in 1988 to run what is now the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies.

She soon developed into a leading national figure in initiatives promoting fairer housing, community development and women’s economic empowerment. She also provided much of the impetus for the creation in 1974 of what is now Stanford’s Michelle R. Clayman Institute for Gender Research.

Her efforts were honoured in an annual lecture series at the institute, established in 2011, which pays tribute to her as someone who had “connected, fuelled and inspired the women’s movement since the 1960s”, notably by bringing together “philanthropic funding for women and girls”. She and her husband were also honoured together when the Stanford Alumni Association in 1991 gave them its rare Degree of Uncommon Woman and Man Awards.

Ms Lyman died on 21 November after a long illness and is survived by two sons, two daughters and four grandchildren.


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