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Professor Isobel Contento Named Rose Chair

Professor Isobel Contento was recently named the Mary Swartz Rose Professor in Nutrition and Education. Contento epitomizes Rose's ideals in her own experiences as an educator and researcher over the last 22 years at Teachers College. During that time, Contento has been devoted to teaching, conducting research, acting as a mentor, and working as a practitioner in the field of Health and Nutrition Education.

Ninety years ago, Professor Rose and Henry Sherman, a Professor of Chemistry at Columbia University, created the program in Nutrition at Teachers College. In doing so, Rose became the first full-time person to develop a program in nutrition at an American university.

As a Professor of Household Arts from 1910 to 1923 and a Professor of Nutrition from 1923 to 1940, Rose conducted extensive research on nutrition and dietetics. She designed the first nutrition laboratory devoted solely to training students in this field. In that laboratory, Rose trained others in her life's work. Some of her studies involved bringing this knowledge to the elementary schools.

Outside of the College, Rose was a founder of the American Institute of Nutrition and a member of the Technical Commission on Nutrition of the Health Organization of the League of Nations. Through these organizations she influenced the recommendations for developing the first dietary standards approved by scientists.

A letter sent to graduates of the Nutrition program in 1983 announced the intention to establish The Mary Swartz Rose Professorship in Nutrition Education to mark the 75th anniversary of the founding of the department. The letter noted that Dr. Rose's accomplishments throughout the world are "a matter of special pride at Teachers College." Four years later, in 1987, the professorship was established by the Trustees of the College, to be given to "an individual chosen for outstanding distinction in scholarship and teaching in the field of nutrition and education."

The first Mary Swartz Rose Professorship went to Professor Emerita Joan Dye Gussow in 1987. Since her retirement, the position has been vacant. Contento is the second professor to be named to that chair.

Contento's research explores the circumstances that influence food choice in children and adolescents. She looks at what influences a change in diet, and what constitutes dietary behavior. She has also developed and evaluated nutrition education programs and is recognized nationally and internationally as a leader in her field.

Aside from her many writings and presentations on subjects such as food choice motivation, nutrition education for the poor, and how parents influence their children's food choices, Contento was a consultant to the Pan American Health Organization in 1995. The year before that she conducted a workshop on educating young children and parents about food and nutrition for the editors of Sesame Street Magazine. As a consultant for the New York City Department of Health for Project LEAN (Low-Fat Eating for Americans Now), she evaluated a project to help people in East Harlem and Bedford-Stuyvesant increase their consumption of low-fat foods. She has also served on the Board of Directors and chaired numerous committees of the Society of Nutrition Education.

Contento received her B.Sc. in Bacteriology from the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, and her M.A. and Ph.D. from U.C. Berkeley. She came to Teachers College in 1977 after serving as a Faculty Fellow in Biology and Nutrition at Johnston College at the University of Redlands in California. She is currently the Coordinator of the Program in Nutrition and Education at TC.previous page