Nancy McNeal Roman came Cornell in 1917 as an instructor
in home furnishings and administrator of the 4-H program. She
had received a bachelor's degree in home economics from the University
of Chicago in 1916 and an M.A. in Education from Columbia University
in 1927. Before Cornell, Roman taught grade school and high school
in Kentucky and Florida, and served as principal of two grade
schools. She was also an instructor in home economics and education
at the University of Chicago from 1914 to 1917.
In 1925, Roman became an extension professor in the College
of Home Economics. She traveled across the United States and
Europe studying progressive school systems and general educational
methods. As part of her extension work, she wrote pamphlets
designed to help homemakers furnish their homes inexpensively
and attractively, such as Old Chairs with New Seats and
New Desks from Old.
Beginning in 1946, when Roman was appointed resident professor
of housing and design, she taught classes on furniture making,
painting, fabric purchasing, and simple home construction. Roman
said her goal in teaching was to prepare her students for the
problems they would face in decorating their first homes. She
was also interested in the connection between furnishings and
home management and family relations. After her retirement,
Roman traveled extensively.