University of Rochester History: Chapter 26, The Depression Decade

THE DEPRESSION DECADE

When President Valentine entered the service of the U. of R., the board of trustees consisted preponderantly, as for years past, of public spirited Rochesterians. Though little known to the teaching staff or student body, these indispensable men stuck squarely behind both groups. To the corporation in 1932 had been added Charles F. Hutchison, 1898, and Ernest A. Paviour, 1910, along with two leading business executives of Rochester, James E. Gleason and Thomas J. Hargrave. It was voted that permission should be sought from the Regents of New York State to increase the board from twenty-four to thirty, but the Regents allowed only twenty-five, elected by secret ballot of the board; usually there were a couple of vacancies.

Advisory Committees for the component units of the University were set up, though until the 1950's, the committee for the Medical Center was not particularly active. The desirability of electing one or more women to the board was debated but, instead, the decision was taken to create an advisory committee for the Women's College, composed of three trustees, and three ladies, two of whom might be alumnae; in 1937 this committee was enlarged to eleven, six trustees and officers of the University, and three graduates and two other women who would hold office for three years. As another change in organization, the executive committee of the board was fixed (1935) at fifteen members (five to be elected annually for three year terms) together with the trustee chairman; seven committeemen would constitute a quorum. Following prolonged study, it was decided in 1938 that the term of service of a trustee, instead of being unlimited, should run for ten years, and reelection was permissible. The executive committee was cut down to eight members and the finance committee, which was given sweeping authority in money matters, would have six members. 1

Next to choosing a president when necessary, the care of University finances, especially of the endowment, was of course the largest responsibility of the trustees, and the magnitude of the responsibility grew with the rapid enlargement of the investment portfolio. The finance committee formed a bridge, so to speak, between the board as a whole and the University treasurer, who with his aides handled the details of financial work. In addition to supervision of the treasurer's office in general, the finance committee saw to it that the books were given a businesslike audit annually, and determined investment policies, meeting frequently to review the securities that were owned and their management. The treasurer in turn consulted steadily with specialists in investment houses, and in the annual report of his stewardship listed the securities held by the University.

President Valentine was elected (1935) a trustee, and in 1936 University Treasurer Raymond L. Thompson, class of 1917, was brought in. On Valentine's recommendation, the geographical distribution of the board was broadened, S. Sloan Colt, a New York City banker, Carl A. Lohmann, secretary of Yale University, and Amory Houghton, president of the Corning Glass Works (who took little actual part in University affairs) being elected. From the Rochester area, Albert D. Kaiser, 1909, and Bernard E. Finucane were chosen in 1939. Although the privilege of alumni election to the trustees had lapsed, care was exercised to have graduates elected and as of 1940 eleven alumni had seats on the board of twenty-four. Businessmen and lawyers with corporation connections formed much the largest element in the trustee body. 2

Chairman of the trustees from 1937 to 1945 was Edward G. Miner, a veteran member who had tirelessly spent himself in the advancement of University interests in many directions. Decade after decade, moreover, he had provided leadership in nearly all phases of cultural and educational progress in Rochester. "At once practical yet imaginative, at once shrewd yet idealistic," Valentine said (1940) of Miner, and he later wrote that "No aspect of the University's work, medicine, music, research, teaching, student interest or faculty personnel has escaped his all-pervading interest and enthusiasm." Not himself college trained, Miner was, nonetheless, an avid bibliophile, who gave his remarkable collection of medical works, especially on yellow fever, to the Medical School; fittingly his name was affixed (1952) to the Medical School Library. Breaking with long-standing tradition, the trustees in 1945 voted an honorary doctorate of laws for Miner. 3

II

Owing to the decline in endowment income as a result of the Great Depression, budget reductions became an urgent necessity. The trustees were sharply divided on whether cuts should be made in faculty salaries, as was done in many other universities. 4

Action of that sort was avoided thanks to funds that accrued to the University following the death of George Eastman on March 14, 1932. Shortly before he took his life, the Kodak magnate had revised his will, eliminating bequests to several educational institutions, and making the U. of R. the residuary legatee of his fortune. A million dollars was left to the Rochester Dental Dispensary, comparatively small bequests were made to a few individuals and to charities, but the balance of the estate, exceeding $17,600,000, passed to the University; about $2,700,000 were specifically earmarked as endowment for the Eastman School of Music, and two million would generate income to maintain the Eastman mansion, willed to the University as the home of its president; after ten years the trustees might dispose of the property as they thought best. (Eastman had confidentially informed Rhees of the future plan for his residence, but not of his intention to make the University his residuary legatee.)

The balance of the munificent bequest was placed in a University Endowment Fund, whose income would be appropriated for the several components of the University as the trustees deemed desirable, and if necessary, the capital might also be invaded; over a million dollars was applied to liquidate the debt incurred in construction of the River Campus. For a few years, money was voted by the University trustees to institutions which had been recipients of gifts from Eastman--the Rochester Community Chest, the Bureau of Municipal Research, and an International Calendar League. Besides, fairly substantial sums and selected paintings were given to a niece and a nephew of Eastman, who were unhappy over the content of their uncle's will.

In addition to the funds that the U. of R. obtained by the will, the death of Eastman relieved the University of annual payments to him of about $580,000 under the contractual arrangements of 1924. 5

In this decade of depression, relatively small benefactions increased scholarship, student loan and research funds, and the Rockefeller and Carnegie Foundations made grants for scientific investigations ranging in amount from five to thirty-five thousand dollars. James S. Watson, 1881, added to the endowment of the Memorial Art Gallery, and from the estate of Francis R. Welles, 1875, the University received more than $300,000.

As of 1934 University buildings and properties were valued at $23,400,000, and the endowment of $51,000,000 was invested nearly two-thirds in bonds, about one fifth in common stocks, and the remainder in preferred stocks and mortgages. By the end of the decade total assets had reached $87,400,000, of which slightly more than $56, 000, 000 was in the endowment portfolio. In tune with a nationwide trend of the late 'thirties, more University resources were invested in common stocks (with prospects of greater yield and growth potential) and less in conservative fixed-income bonds. 6

Overall operating expenditures for the various educational enterprises rose from $2,900,000 in 1932-1933 to over $4,100,000 six years later. While revenues from endowment fluctuated in response, on the whole, to business conditions, they averaged around fifty-five percent of University expenditures. To keep finances on an even keel, economies in operation were ordered from time to time, important educational projects had either to be eliminated or postponed, appropriations for library purposes were cut, teaching staffs were reduced, and, effective in September, 1939, tuition charges were raised. (On an average in 1939 college students paid about forty percent of the cost of their education.) Deficits in the operation of the Medical Center absorbed a large part of general endowment earnings and some capital. 7

III

Strengthening and enlargement of the college teaching force stood high on the academic priorities of Rhees and Valentine. Both executives appreciated that a prime responsibility was to confront capable students with teachers of first-rate talents. As a general rule, a department chairman (an office that had assumed standard form by 1930) recommended candidates for appointment (or promotion) in consultation with his dean, and, if the president approved, formal election by the trustees was seldom more than perfunctory. Under a decision taken in 1935, an instructor, except in unusual cases, could not remain at Rochester for more than three years, and an assistant professor for a maximum of six years; associate and senior professors were given unlimited tenure. The age of mandatory retirement was set (1931) at seventy years.

Rhees and Valentine were both responsible for important faculty appointments, especially in those science departments that had bearing upon graduate study and research or the work of the Medical School or were related to Rochester industry. Brian O'Brien, for example, who became professor of physiological optics in 1930, directed the Institute of Optics 1938-1953 and remained on the staff until 1958. Under his guidance major research projects before, during, and after the Second World War were carried out on the optical properties of metals and thin films, solar radiation, atmospheric optics, and photographic processes. For his inventive genius and original contributions to science, O'Brien (nicknamed "Butch O'Butch") was elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Science, and president of the Optical Society of America.

Fortunate, too, was the U. of R. in the acquisition of young Lee A. DuBridge as professor of physics, a post he held from 1934 to 1946, except for a wartime leave of absence. He turned down lucrative offers from industry, choosing to build a strong department at Rochester, and to carry forward his researches in biophysics, nuclear disintegration, photoelectric emission, and radar. As dean of the faculty of arts and sciences (1938-1941), DuBridge was sympathetic and accessible, highly respected by colleagues and undergraduates alike. In Valentine's evaluation, DuBridge, his close friend, proved that "science and humanity, mind and emotion, can be brought into almost perfect balance in one man." From the directorship of the radiation laboratory at Massachusetts Institute of Technology during the Second World War, he returned briefly to Rochester withdrawing (1946) to take the president's chair at California Institute of Technology. 8

On the recommendation of DuBridge, Sidney W. Barnes began what proved to be a thirty-three year tenure in 1934. Concerned with nuclear physics and x-ray line widths, Barnes also designed cyclotrons for the U. of R., the first of them in 1935. He contributed generously to technical journals and shared in government research connected with the atomic bomb in the early 1940s.

To the department of engineering were brought three men who remained for lengthy periods:

J. Lawrence Hill, mechanical engineering (1930-1947); Lewis D. Conta, class of 1934, who started to teach soon after graduation and after obtaining a Ph.D. at Cornell, advanced to a professor ship in mechanical engineering (and later of airspace science). His researches centered on internal combustion engines and rocket fuels. Besides, he acted as consultant and carried out research tasks for business firms and was chosen (1966) vice-president of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. Finally, there was Charles H. Dawson, teacher of electrical engineering from 1938 to 1958.

From 1933 to 1940 Benjamin H. Willier, specialist in experimental embryology, headed the biological sciences. In choosing him, Rhees had in mind an outstanding biologist "sympathetic with the spiritual aspects of life, so he can help youth adjust to a non-traditional conception of the universe." In 1933, too, Curt Stern, a refugee geneticist of the Jewish tradition from Germany was taken on in zoology. "We must have a keen sympathy," Rhees put it, "with eminent men displaced for reasons which seem to us inhuman and trivial." Larger opportunities in time lured these two distinguished scientists away, Willier going to the Johns Hopkins and Stern to the University of California, Berkeley. David R. Goddard (1935-1946) in botany, notably plant respiration and growth, and Donald R. Charles (1937-1954), geneticist, were able practitioners of their respective branches of science. In recognition of his excellence as teacher and counselor, students, colleagues, and friends set up the Donald R. Charles Memorial Award in biology. 9

A fresh chapter in the teaching of psychology at the University opened with the coming of Leonard Carmichael in 1936 as professor and dean of the faculty of arts and science, with particular responsibility for shaping educational policy and for dealing with the faculty at every turn. A modest, intellectually honest man but poor at undergraduate instruction, Carmichael was primarily interested in training a few men for psychological research and for that purpose facilities for original investigations were greatly expanded. Scarcely had he familiarized himself with the Rochester environment than he accepted a bid to become president of his undergraduate college, Tufts, and Elmer A. K. Culler, an experimentalist in human psychology, especially in hearing and conditioning, succeeded to the directorship of the laboratory of psychology, remaining until ill health forced his resignation (1945). 10

Valentine brought off a singularly fine coup by winning W. Albert Noyes, Jr. physical chemist, away from Brown University, from which Carmichael had also come. Aside from an attractive salary, Noyes was promised funds for research and fellowships and given assurances that Lattimore Hall would be remodeled as he desired. From 1938 to 1963 he occupied the senior chair in chemistry, and he served terms as dean of the Graduate School (1952-1956) and acting dean of the college. During the Second World War, he undertook several highly responsible scientific assignments, recounted in another context. His researches centered on electrochemistry, photochemistry, vapor pressures, and for his discoveries and his editorial work on chemical journals he received many honors at the hands of fellow chemists, including election (1947) as president of the American Chemical Society, an office once held by his father. 11

Simultaneously with Noyes, three other gifted and productive research workers, Albert B. F. Duncan. Dean S. Tarbell, and Winston D. Walters took up duties in the chemistry department. Duncan investigated molecular structure and spectroscopy, while Tarbell, an organic chemist, studied the reaction of phenolic ethers and organic sulfur compounds; he was credited with determining the chemical structure of fumagillin, an antibiotic used in treating amoebic dysentery and other parasitic diseases. The author of more than 175 publications in professional periodicals, Tarbell was elected to the prestigious National Academy of Sciences, as was Noyes, and belonged to important scientific advisory bodies. Walters' chief areas of research and writing were reaction kinetics and isotope exchange reactions. One of the greatest undergraduate teachers in Rochester history, and a very competent departmental administrator, Edwin O. Wiig, joined the chemistry staff in 1932 and continued until retirement thirty-three years later. His research articles within the orbit of physical chemistry dealt with photo and nuclear chemistry and reaction kinetics. 12

Instruction in sociology, which had been absent from the curriculum for more than a decade, revived in 1933 with the coming of C. Luther Fry, who had been on the staff of the Institute of Social and Religious Research. He was promised time to carry on investigations in conjunction with Rochester social agencies and that he did, publishing extensively as previously, but he died in 1938 at the age of forty-four before his work was anything more than fairly started. Teaching of government was broadened by courses in international relations and European democracies and dictatorships given by Walden Moore, 1930 to 1942. So outspoken was he on controversial public questions that the trustees voted (1936) to promote him by only a narrow margin; a majority of the trustees felt the board should not attempt "to regiment the freedom of thought and expression of a high-minded teacher." Moore's fervent advocacy of American intervention in the Second World War provoked lively applause and lively dissent on the campus and in the city. Running for Congress on the Democratic-American Labor ticket in 1942, Moore was defeated, and he then enlisted in the armed forces and never came back to the University. 13

Learning in 1933 that the administration was seeking an economist, Trustee Raymond N. Ball humorously remarked that it "could probably obtain the services of any number of ex-bank presidents for very reasonable compensation." William E. Dunkman, fresh from the Columbia Graduate School, was chosen and for more than thirty years he gave instruction in money and banking particularly. His major research interest lay in Federal Reserve Board policy, and he taught for a year as a Fulbright Professor in Japan. From 1935 until his resignation in 1952, save, for an interlude in the Second World War (as was true for Dunkman, too), Frank P. Smith taught business courses, chiefly accounting, and shortly before he withdrew his administrative abilities led to his appointment as dean of the Graduate School. 14

Appointed in 1933, Carl K. Hersey taught art history, medieval and Renaissance art, and modern architecture into the 1960's. The Salamantine Lanterns is his best known contribution to learned literature. From 1935 to 1964 Henry C. Mills offered instruction in the principles of teaching in secondary schools and successively served as dean of the School of Liberal and Applied Studies, University vice-president for educational administration, and acting dean of the College of Business Administration. For eleven years (1931-1942) Maynard L. Cassady taught the history and literature of the Bible and comparative religion, and when he resigned "drastic financial limitations" precluded the naming of another teacher in religion.

Teachers of literature appointed in the 1930's who had long spans of teaching at Rochester included Wilson Micks (1933-1948), a specialist in French literature before 1500 and in the dialects of southern France, and Howard G. Harvey (1934-1964), who concentrated on the Renaissance and Classical periods of French literature and authored Cyrano de Bergerac and the Question of Human Liberties. From 1933 to 1954 Ewald P. Appelt presented work in the German novel and Goethe, and at his death German-American societies in Rochester established in his memory an undergraduate prize for high achievement in German. His colleague, Arthur M. Hanhardt, who came to Rochester in 1937, made a specialty of German drama and prose in the nineteenth century, directed a laboratory in the German language (as Harvey did in French), and was guest lecturer at universities in Germany. 15

As his top assistant, Valentine picked a very personable former Rhodes Scholar, Frederick L. Hovde, who was called upon to administer a new set of prize scholarships, to prepare policy papers on various aspects of college affairs, and to present a course stressing the non-technical aspects of chemistry. Drawn into national service soon after the onset of the Second World War, Hovde remained in that work until elected (1945) president of Purdue University.

Following the death of Librarian Donald B. Gilchrist in 1939, the University Library Committee chose as the new director John R. Russell, who took over his multifarious responsibilities in April, 1940; previously he had been chief of the Division of Cataloguing at the National Archives in Washington and he had spent a year studying libraries and their methods in Europe. A disappointed aspirant to the librarianship wrote Valentine that he regretted that he would not have a chance to work with him, since the President was reputedly the "prize academic tough guy in the country." Under the leadership of Russell, the University libraries expanded to over a million volumes, one of the major academic libraries of the country. 16

To the physical education staff was added in 1931 Louis A. Alexander, who excelled as a basketball teacher for more than a quarter of a century, and he coached baseball, too. Named director of athletics in 1939, he filled that office until mandatory retirement twenty-seven years later; the alumni established the Alexander award given annually to the top male athlete in the Senior class.

Alexander was elected to the Helms Foundation College Basketball Hall of Fame, and when he retired he was royally feted by former players, colleagues, and citizens of Rochester; the trustees honored (1968) him by naming the basketball arena the Louis A. Alexander Palestra. A testimonial of high esteem was tendered to Lyle E. ("Spike") Garnish, who came to the University as a trainer and endeared himself to nineteen classes of undergraduates as a coach or associate of coaches in several sports. 17

At Alexander's side most of the time after 1937 was Paul E. Bitgood, like Alexander himself a star undergraduate athlete at the University of Connecticut. Under his tutelage many U. of R. records in track were broken, and he also coached freshmen and varsity football teams and headed the diversified program of intramural competitions.

No roster of the University personnel acquisitions of the 1930's would be adequate without mention of amiable James M. Young, who arrived (1934) with a degree in landscape architecture from the University of Michigan. Beginning as supervisor of grounds, he moved up to superintendent of physical plant at the River Campus, retiring in 1967. 18

IV

In view of the income accruing from the Eastman bequest of 1932, the trustees, on a proposal by Rhees, invited each faculty person to draft a Ten Year Plan of progress, covering both his own department of learning and the institution as a whole. Professors seized upon this unprecedented invitation with avidity, ideas were freely exchanged wherever and whenever two or more faculty members met, report after report was compiled and then coordinated by a special committee. Finally completed in June of 1934, the faculty blueprint for the future of the arts and sciences accented four or five principal points. It was felt that "graduate work and research should be valued chiefly as contributions to the improvement of college work given undergraduates;" graduate fellowships, however, were urgently recommended. Second, the student body in each college should be restricted to 750 and new scholarships should be created to attract a greater number of able students living at some distance from Rochester. It was proposed, too, that a concrete plan should be devised for bringing visiting scholars of eminence to the campus for short periods and that the regulations on sabbatical leave should be clarified. Several more teachers should be engaged to instruct in the College for Women alone (a trustee rule of unknown date prohibited a wife from teaching in the same faculty of the University as a husband), and, in general, the best teaching personnel available should be hired. This last recommendation conformed perfectly with the thinking of a trustee who urged the employment of "eight to ten men of the Dexter Perkins' type, regardless of cost." With time, though not immediately, a good share of the 1934 agenda was actually implemented. 19

From time to time modifications were applied in academic methods and in the college curriculum; uniformly, innovations were fully debated in the powerful Committee on Educational Policy (C.E.P.) before submission to the faculty for decision. For example, in the early 'thirties widespread criticism was heard to the effect that enrollment and student morale were adversely affected by the excessive quantity of work required and by stiffer grading than prevailed in comparable colleges. Committees of undergraduates and the C.E.P., which undertook a detailed investigation of these complaints, concluded that student performance suffered in fact from overloading. Legislation was then enacted instructing teachers to reduce the number of long papers and to be less exacting in marking. To make grading standards more equal, graphs were prepared for each teacher showing how his marking compared with that of his colleagues, and a five-step scale of literal evaluation of student achievement replaced the traditional numerical system (1935).

Numbering of courses was changed (1931) so that undergraduate offerings in each department were numbered 1 to 99, courses for both undergraduates and graduate students, 100-199, graduate courses only, 200-299, and graduate research, 300-399. It was agreed that an agenda should be distributed well in advance of a faculty meeting and (once more) that all college regulations in force should be codified (1933). Another faculty action ordered that the awards "distinction," "high distinction," or "highest distinction" should be spelled out on diplomas. Under proper controls the faculty approved (1932) the grant of credits for study on Junior year abroad programs.

Comprehensive examinations and the regulation on demonstrated facility in a foreign language as a prerequisite to graduation often engaged the attention of the faculty, and in 1934 the comprehensive examination was made more flexible and the reading test in a foreign language discontinued. In the name of efficiency Greek and Latin offerings were merged in the department of Classics, and art and archaeology were similarly consolidated. So small was the male registration in the Classics that a running controversy in the Campus debated whether they possessed any relevance at all to the realities of contemporary life. 20

Not surprisingly, the mood of ferment and educational experimentation quickened after the advent of President Valentine. Soon after he came on the scene, a valuable program of class officers was set up, a faculty member acting as guide and mentor for the members of a given class throughout their college careers. In rapid succession a weekly bulletin of forthcoming University events was started, the first accurate directory of administrative and faculty personnel was published, and the annual catalogue of the College (and of other components of the University) underwent drastic revision. Presently, the agenda of the orientation week to acquaint Freshmen with the work of the college was overhauled, greater consideration being paid to instruction in habits of study and the use of the library.

On recommendation of Valentine, the trustees adopted "Regulations and Procedure for the College Faculty and Related Matters," which prescribed among other things that after 1950 teachers must retire at the age of sixty-five (unless specifically requested to remain by trustee vote); faculty who retired before 1945 might continue to teach until seventy, and those who retired between 1945 and 1950 might carry on until sixty-eight.

Pointing out that the Rochester curriculum contained more courses than comparable colleges, Valentine secured faculty approval of a committee to consider reducing the offerings and reforming teaching procedures. Certain appointments to the faculty entailed, to be sure, innovations in course offerings. The upshot of committee deliberations was revision of the arts program of 1927, allowing the student more freedom in selecting his courses, reducing obligatory requirements, and expanding the class officer system. An interesting new course leveled departmental walls by uniting philosophy, religion, and the fine arts. A new engineering program enabled a student to obtain both a B.A. and a B.S. upon the completion of five years of successful work, while a somewhat similar five year program was instituted in the department of education.

More significant, however, was the establishment of an Honors Division--a radical upgrading of an existing institutional arrangement, a radical departure from mass-production techniques which seemed to be on the increase in American higher education. Approved by the faculty in February of 1939, the program started off with Juniors of the class of 1941. It was (and remained) a meritorious scheme to tailor education for a few able, mature upperclassmen to their tastes and interests. The first bulletin of the Honors Division explained that the purpose was "to provide unusual opportunities and incentives for students of exceptional intellectual ability, interests, and promise who also possess the necessary initiative and willingness to accept responsibility..."

Each admitted student chose two seminars (or the equivalent) each semester, meeting weekly, at which papers independently prepared by seminar members were critically discussed and surgically analyzed. Relationships between teacher and taught, between older learner and younger learner, were a little closer if the group met in the privacy of a faculty home, tea being served at an appropriate point. At the end of the Senior year examiners invited in from other institutions set rigorous, comprehensive written and oral examinations. If a candidate failed, he was denied a degree, but he might try examinations again in the succeeding autumn. Satisfactory achievement was graded as highest or high honors, honors, or merely pass.

No question that this elite community of learning within the college community--an adaptation of the Oxford tutorial pattern to the American environment--was expensive. Yet, unquestionably, the Honors Division furnished the most effective and stimulating form of undergraduate instruction in those departments of learning that were involved. The enthusiasm of students who entered the program matched that of the faculty participants. 21

V

Before collegiate training was divided between two campuses, many a professor lived within walking distance of Prince Street. When that luxury ended, a good deal of complaint was registered because of the difficulty of getting from one campus to the other, four miles apart. As noted before, the western end of the first floor of Burton Dormitory was assigned to the Men's Faculty Club, partly furnished with money supplied by the University. The state of Club finances obliged the University treasurer to cut down the rental for facilities three times; a plan to erect a separate clubhouse, which had been explored in the late 1920's, was considered anew, but for financial reasons the idea proved still-born. At one point (1937) the administrative authorities thought of ousting the Faculty Club from Burton Hall in order to provide more living quarters for students, but an alternative was hit upon in the shape of an improvised dormitory in the Stadium.

In 1935 a Women's Club of the University was organized with Mrs. Arthur J. May as president. It brought together the wives of the members of the several faculties and selected women members of the University staff for social and literary functions. Valentine turned down a request for club quarters in Cutler Union. 22

Throughout the depression decade the Rochester branch of the American Association of University Professors met regularly, enrollment reaching sixty-seven (1937). Many meetings discussed teaching and research (student newspapers in the late 'thirties often protested that undergraduate instruction was being neglected by research-oriented professors), faculty tenure, and faculty representation on the board of trustees. The Association was the host for a regional conference of the A.A.U.P. on "Academic Freedom," as the University itself was for the American Association for the Advancement of Science (1936--the first time since 1892) and for the annual convention (1935) of the Geological Society of America. 23

VI

The Institute of Optics, which occupied the top floor of the Bausch and Lomb Building, abandoned teaching of optometry (1934), since the demand for instruction was insufficient to warrant continuance. Thereafter special attempts were made to attract students to optics with offerings in optical physics, the principles of optical design, physiological optics, photographic theory, and color. Registration was not large and stress was placed upon original research. When in 1933 the companies sponsoring the Institute ceased providing subsidies, the University assumed the costs of operation. 24

A second collateral component of the University complex, the Extension Division and Summer Session, experienced so many innovations in the depression era that it was said that the whole nature of the enterprise had been modified. Administration of extension study at the Eastman School passed to the Extension Division, which ceased (1931) to be under the jurisdiction of a committee of the college and was organized as a separate part of the University structure.

Classes were conducted late in the afternoon, in the evening, and on Saturdays. For the most part, offerings paralleled courses in the regular college and were taught by the college faculty. Enrollment in extension courses rose to 2,575 students in 1930-1931, and Summer Session registration in 1929 touched a peak of 909; both opportunities appealed to public school teachers and administrators and to others desirous of collegiate instruction, and the Summer Session enrolled many undergraduates for one reason and another.

Attendance fell off sharply in the darkest months of the depression, but started upward again in 1935. The number of courses for which college credit was given increased, and strenuous efforts were put forth to keep the quality of work on the same level as in regular college courses and to develop adult education classes for which no academic credit was allowed. Series of lectures were arranged in world affairs and in modern art, social service and police work, in insurance and real estate appraisal. Radio programs were frequent and well received.

Throughout the depression years the ledger of the Division showed a slight surplus and salaries of teachers were guaranteed, no longer contingent on class enrollment. Hard-pressed students signed short-term notes to cover tuition charges, almost all of which were paid off as agreed. Expenses for a Summer Session averaged around $130. The management planned social diversions for the students and also maintained a Bureau of Educational Service to assist qualified teachers in obtaining positions. Other significant trends of the times were an increase in male students and of others than public school teachers. Almost all the registrants were high school graduates, but a majority of them did not seek a college degree. For the year 1936-1937 the age range in the Extension Division extended from eighteen to sixty-four years, with twenty-seven as the median. In the final academic year of the decade, 1,620 learners enrolled in the Extension Division and 469 in the Summer Session. Obviously, this section of the University satisfied a real community need. 25

As previously, graduate studies in the thirties were carried on under the authority of the University Council, which delegated administrative responsibilities to its committee on graduate studies, of which the dean of graduate studies was the executive officer. "It has not been our policy to advertise our graduate facilities," wrote the dean of graduate studies in 1931, "or to encourage prospective candidates to do graduate work here." Yet it was increasingly appreciated that advanced training in the arts and sciences was essential to the proper discharge of the duty of a university. And it was well said that "Just as the way for the academic man to get ahead was to earn the doctorate, the way for an institution to get ahead was to offer it."

Progress in graduate training--in the highest level of formal education-was shown in one way by the number of advanced degrees awarded. Whereas in 1932 113 masters degrees (Arts, Science, and Music) were conferred and six Ph.Ds., in 1939 recipients of the doctorate went up to fifteen, though master's awards fell to ninety-nine. 26

The time limit within which study for the master's distinction had to be completed was raised from three to five years (1931) and work for the master's degree in the departments of engineering and education was offered. During the hardest period of the depression, 1932-1935, quotas of high-ranking graduates of the University were given free tuition--"emergency" scholarships--to pursue advanced studies, and students at Colgate-Rochester Divinity School were admitted to graduate instruction at no charge.

Requirements for the Ph.D. degree, as they were eventually defined, conformed essentially to the rules and practices in vogue in established American graduate centers. The degree would be awarded, the official catalogue stated, "in recognition of high attainment and original research in a special field," (just why this agricultural term came into universal use is a mystery to the present writer), "and also in recognition of a broad and well correlated knowledge of the general field [!] of which the special field [!] is a part." At least three years of study were prescribed, as well as a reading knowledge of two foreign languages, German and French preferred, and a dissertation which had to "show power of independent research, give evidence of high scholarship, and be a contribution to knowledge." Two examinations would test the attainments of a candidate: a general one covering the major area of study and a final examination dealing with the content of the dissertation and the limited segment of knowledge in which the dissertation was written. 27

By decision of the University Council, doctorate level training was extended in the 'thirties to the departments of anatomy, vital economics, pathology, biophysics (including radiology), physics, mathematics, geology, psychology, French, English, and economics, and at the Eastman School in theory, composition, musicology, and musical literature. Full-time work for the doctorate was confined, however, almost exclusively to the science disciplines. Increasingly, appointments of senior professors were made, as has been noted, on the basis of competence to direct advanced studies and research.

Whereas in the 'twenties the Dandelion yellow doctoral hood of the U. of R. had been bestowed only seven times, in the depression decade there were ninety-five recipients. Fifty of them were trained in the biological sciences, thirty-three in the physical sciences, six each in social studies and in music and arts.

For full-time graduate students, definitely a minority, tuition charges stood at $300 together with small diploma and (optional) health fees. To help needy aspirants to research degrees, several graduate assistantships and fellowships were established, and administrative officers repeatedly recommended that more fellowships should be made available and that funds should be obtained so that more of the arts departments could be equipped to train learned doctors.

While the Ten-Year Plan was being drafted, most of the science departments together with the Music and Medical Schools favored the organization of a full-fledged graduate school, but most of the departments in the humanities and the social studies took a negative attitude, and that stand coincided with the thinking of President Rhees. "We do not contemplate a 'Graduate School'," he told the trustees in 1934, because the necessary money was not at hand and because greater emphasis on graduate training would inescapably impair the instruction of undergraduates, which he regarded as the primary concern of the U. of R. But in 1937, Valentine leading, graduate work was organized as a "Division of Graduate Studies" and thenceforward a regular catalogue on graduate offerings was published annually. Step by step, in other words, the way was prepared for an authentic graduate school, not large but of excellent quality.

It was decided by the University Council in 1935 that two copies of each master's thesis or doctoral dissertation (except for the Eastman School) should be deposited in Rhees Library and that the titles of Ph.D. dissertations should be printed on the Commencement programs. 28

VII

The 1930's saw several noteworthy additions to the institutional facilities on the River Campus. First in point of time was a maintenance building erected (1934) on the south side of the campus. Next, several Rochester firms united in financing the construction of a cyclotron or atom smasher in the Bausch and Lomb Building. It produced radioactive substances helpful in diagnosis and treatment of specific human ailments, and it was an important tool in fluoride investigations. 29

For research purposes, the two lower floors on the north side of Morey Hall were converted into a laboratory of psychology and new laboratory areas were laid out for physical chemistry in Lattimore Hall. Toward the end of the 'thirties undergraduates from out of the city had increased so greatly that more residential quarters were required. The best solution seemed to be to fit up rooms inside the Stadium, and that was done (1939); forty-two students could be accommodated in tight quarters but at low rentals. Mrs. Henry A. Strong, moreover, gave the money for a fine organ in Strong Auditorium, former President Rhees making the dedicatory address (1937), and a plaque placed in the Todd Union saluted Francis J. Bellamy, 1876, author of the famous pledge of allegiance to the national flag. 30

President Valentine sketched out (1936) an interesting scheme to erect four residences for professors on the River Campus. One professor who liked the prospect of closer association with undergraduates heartily approved, writing, "a college is not a collection of buildings; it is a way of life." The plan was thoroughly studied, a site for the homes was actually chosen not far from a small pond at the southern extremity of the campus, but financial considerations evidently defeated the idea, as was also true of a proposal to erect a planetarium. 31

A bindery which could bind and repair books for the entire University less expensively than by commercial firms was installed in Rhees Library, and proposals were heard--but not heeded--to build an extension on the east side, which would provide administrative offices and more classrooms. But shelves were installed (1939) on three more levels of the Library stack, increasing the capacity by about 110,000 volumes, which it was believed would be adequate for ten years. Eighteen more cubicles for study were made available along with a locked section for books whose circulation was restricted.

Considerable professional interest was aroused about books on microfilm, "something nearly as revolutionary as the invention of Gutenberg," Librarian Gilchrist supposed. A thoughtful essay by an undergraduate strongly advocated (1933) the establishment of a university press and printing plant to publish books by the faculty, official catalogues, and the like, but the suggestion died, alas, in its cradle. For a brief period, an archivist, Morley B. Turpin, was attached to the Rhees staff. Instructive, frequently changed exhibits were displayed in the Rhees foyer and the well-liked Fortnightly Bulletin occasionally carried items of interest other than book accessions.

Formulation of purchasing policies, especially materials for research purposes, devolved upon the Library Committee which was broadened (1931) to include professors from each of the three major components of the University along with representatives of the Board of Trustees, As of 1930 the libraries of the University possessed approximately 191,000 volumes, 136,000 belonging to the Arts college; by the end of the decade the holdings had nearly doubled--to over 345,000, of which almost 200,000 were on the shelves of the Rhees Library. By 1939, Rhees was receiving 1,759 scholarly journals currently, or twice as many as twelve years before, and 2,580 learned publications were coming to the whole University.

At that point approximately 14,000 volumes were catalogued annually, many of them gifts such as the useful Farmers Library from the nearby village of Wheatland; each year the Librarian in his annual report listed the benefactions of books by generous friends of learning. For a five-year period a collection of "Johnsoniana," owned by R. B. Adam of Buffalo, was placed on loan in Rhees; though reputedly the best in the world, it was only of limited value for exact scholarship. The granddaughters of Thurlow Weed, master nineteenth century politician of New York State entrusted (1935) the very large and valuable collection of papers of "the wizard of the lobby" to Rhees Library, and to it also went the papers of Henry A. Ward, naturalist, and of the Pfaudler Company of Rochester for use in research on economic history.

Circulation figures, the sole mathematical index to the use of the Library, moved up almost every year; citizens of Rochester frequented Rhees in growing numbers, and to those interested in serious study borrowers cards were freely issued. Student use of the charming Welles-Brown browsing room was so limited that it was eventually closed in the evening, but the Library itself was opened on Sunday afternoons. 32

Motor traffic on the River Campus far exceeded expectations and certain roads had to be widened, though there was plenty of space for parking until about 1935 when regulations had to be imposed. Reiterated appeals to the city authorities to straighten River Boulevard and so reduce driving hazards met with little success. Trustees debated at length on the names that should be assigned to campus roads--ancient Greeks and Iroquois tribes were considered, and Valentine suggested the Presidents of the U. of R., "saving the road to the dump for the present incumbent." In the end, however, unexciting names--Library, Alumni, Faculty, and Fraternity Roads--were adopted (1937). 33

On the two hundredth anniversary of the birth of George Washington two elms on the Eastman Quadrangle nearest to the Library were officially designated "Washington Memorial Trees"--but that recognition was quickly forgotten. For eventual replanting anywhere on University properties deemed desirable, some 3,250 saplings were set out near the pond on the River Campus and west of Helen Wood Hall (1940).

VIII

What operation and maintenance of the physical facilities of the University actually entailed is best recounted in the language of Clarence A. Livingston, general superintendent of buildings and grounds.

Operating the physical plant of a large university is not life in an ivory tower... It requires a combination of engineering, architectural and public relations skill, a yen for diplomacy and a good measure of common sense and patience. Operations go on twenty-four hours a day....

Miles of sidewalk and roadway must be cleared during winter nights...professors scribble and doodle on acres of blackboards which must be cleaned in readiness for succeeding classes; thousands of doors need oiling, adjustment of automatic door closers or replacement of keys; countless windows to be washed in unending rounds; hundreds of plumbing fixtures with drains to be cleared and faucet leaks stopped; thousands of light bulbs renewed as use burns them out; miles of corridors and acres of floors cleaned and waxed daily; steam provided for innumerable radiators and coal stockpiles maintained against possible delivery failures; repairs to buildings and furniture of every description; regular painting of structures, outside and in, planned without disturbance to inside activities; miles of steam tunnels and underground high pressure piping, with leaks that always develop at most inopportune times.

Switchboards galore, underground service cables, panel boxes and transformers for light and power need constant attention; rubbish collections from vast numbers of trash cans; lawns to be cut and shrubbery trimmed, with surgical assistance to ailing trees; these are some of the routine jobs that keep a university plant running. When over-enthusiastic vandals from competitive schools wreak pre-game vengeance, and use their inventive genius to paint or destroy, it is always the Service Department that has to make good... 34

Next Chapter: Undergraduates and Graduates in the 'Thirties
Back to: History of the University of Rochester Homepage


Footnotes to Chapter 26

  1. Trustee Records, VII, December 10, 1932, February 11, 1932, June 15, 1935, November 27, 1937. RAR, XVI (1938), no. 5, 4. Charter and By-Laws of the U. of R. (1951), 10-11.
  2. RAR, XVII (1939), no. 3, 7. Alan Valentine to Alvin C. Eurich, August 28, 1944. Valentine Papers.
  3. R T-U, November 27, 29, 1937. RAR, XVI (1937), no. 2, 8-9. U RLB, XI (1955), 1 ff. R D&C, May 14, 1945. Alan Valentine to Embry C. MacDowell, 1906, March 14, 1947. Valentine Papers. Trustee Records, VII, November 27, 1937.
  4. For a preliminary analytical assessment of the impact of the depression on colleges and universities in general, see, Malcolm M. Willey, Depression, Recovery and Higher Education, (New York, 1937).
  5. New York Times, March 15, April 5, 1932. Rush Rhees to Edward G. Miner; March 21, 1932. Rhees Papers. Rhees to Karl T. Compton, March 24, 1932. Ibid. Rhees to Mrs. George B. Dryden, June 11, 1932. Ibid. President's Report, 1931-1932. R D&C, September 13, 1932. Trustee Records, VI, June 18, 1932. Ibid., VII, February 11, 1933. Executive Committee Minutes, IX, December 5, 1932. A tabulation, dated October 7, 1955, gives the Eastman residuary estate as $16,400,000, the value of his home as $650,000, and of paintings and rugs as $1,200,000. According to this accounting, the Eastman benefactions to the University, first to last, exceeded fifty-two millions. Incidentally, Eastman's wardrobe was appraised at $250 and his jewelry at $1,200.
    In "The People, Yes" the poet Carl Sandburg movingly suggests that Eastman's purpose in taking his own life was to secure his last testament with its keen dispersal for science, music, research... against the childishness of a second childhood." Carl Sandburg, Complete Poems (New York, 1950), pp. 446-447.
  6. Rush Rhees to Alan Valentine, fall of 1934, Rhees Papers. President's Report, 1938-1939.
  7. Trustee Records, VII, February 9, 1939. (Medical School) Advisory Board Minutes; October 24, 1933, December 13, 1938, pp. 119 ff.
  8. Rush Rhees to Lee A. DuBridge and vice versa, March 7--June 25, 1934. Rhees Papers. Rhees to T. Russell Wilkins, March 19, 1934. Ibid. Alan Valentine, Trial Balance, pp. 149-150.
  9. Rush Rhees to William E. Weld, September 8, 1931, Rhees Papers. (Medical School) Advisory Board Minutes, September 26, 1933. R D&C, May 23, 1947 (Stern). Ibid., April 13, 1967 (Barnes). Faculty Minutes, January 12, 1956 (Charles).
  10. Alan Valentine to Leonard Carmichael, June 26, 1936. Valentine Papers. Valentine to Ada L. Comstock, March 23, 1938. Ibid. Valentine to Elmer A. K. Culler, May 23, June 1, 1938. Ibid.
  11. Alan Valentine to Henry M. Wriston, March 8, 1937. Valentine Papers. W. Albert Noyes, Jr., to Valentine, February 11, March 30, 1938. Ibid. Valentine to Noyes, February 15, March 11, 1938. Ibid. R T-U, September 9, 1938.
  12. R T-U, May 27, 1961 (Tarbell). Ibid., July 10, 1965 (Wiig).
  13. C. Luther Fry to Rush Rhees, March 28, June 28, 1933. Rhees Papers. RAR, VII (1933), no. 5, 1. New York Herald-Tribune, April 13, 1938 (Fry). Harper Sibley to Rhees, January 29, 1936. Rhees Papers. Campus, LXVIII, September 18, 1942.
  14. Raymond N. Ball to Rush Rhees, March 27, 1933. Rhees Papers, Campus, LXXI X, May 9, 1952 (Smith).
  15. R D&C, August 10, 1954 (Appelt). Campus, December 14, 1956 (Hanhardt).
  16. R D&C, March 14, 1936, August 23, 1945 (Hovde). RAR, XVIII (1940), no. 4, 15-16; R T-U, February 9, 1940 (Russell). Charles R. Flack to Alan Valentine, February 27, 1940. Valentine Papers.
  17. Campus, LXVII, December 19, 1941; Faculty Minutes, June 2, 1966, R D&C, June 8, 1968 (Alexander). Campus, LXXIII, March 3, 1948; RAR, X (1949), no. 5, 18 (Garnish).
  18. Campus, LXX, June 1, 1945 (Young).
  19. Faculty Minutes, XI, passim. Raymond N. Ball to Rush Rhees, November 28, 1932. Rhees Papers.
  20. Faculty Minutes, XI, XII, passim. "C.E.P. Recommendations on Student Load," March 22, 1935. Rhees Library Archives.
  21. New York Times, March 12, October 1, 1939. RAR, XXVII (1966), no. 3, 4-6.
  22. Alan Valentine to Lee A. DuBridge, November 3, 1937. Valentine Papers.
  23. Dorothy L. Bernstein, "History of the Rochester Chapter of the A.A.U.P. " Rhees Library Archives.
  24. Rush Rhees to Bausch and Lomb, May 25, 1933. Rhees Papers. President's Report, 1933, 14. M. Herbert Eisenhart to Alan Valentine, January 7, 1938. Valentine Papers. Valentine to Eisenhart, January 11, 1938. Ibid. Valentine to Frank W. Lovejoy, April 23, 1938. Ibid.
  25. President's Reports, 1930-1939, passim.
  26. For 1938-1939 an official set of registration statistics indicated 187 studying for master's degrees, 108 of them in Arts and Science, 77 at the Eastman School, and 2 at the School of Medicine and Dentistry; 70 candidates were then working toward a Ph.D., 48 of whom were in Arts and Science disciplines, 14 at the Medical Center, and 8 at the Eastman School. The President's Report, 1938-1939, 115, which presumably included all graduate students whose names were on the rolls, whether actively at work or not, showed 237 master's aspirants in arts and science, 80 at the Music School, and 7 at the Medical School; candidates for the-Ph.D. were reported as 85 in arts and science, 10 at the Music School, and 16 at the Medical School. President's Report, 1939-1940, 38.
  27. See, Ernest V. Hollis, Toward Improving the Ph.D. Programs (Washington, 1945) and Bernard Berelson, Graduate Education in the United States (New York, 1960) for the findings of detailed investigations over the whole range of graduate studies.
  28. Report on Graduate Studies, April 30, 1931. Rhees Papers. President's Reports, 1933-1934, 1936-1937. University Council Minutes, February 17, May 21, 1931; July 14, November 3, 1932; June 12, 1934; January 9, 1935; June 9, 1936; December 15, 1937. Lindsay D. Harmon, et al., Doctorate Production in United States Universities, 1920-1961 (Washington, 1963), p. 70.
  29. Lee A. DuBridge to L. W. Douglas, March 26, 1938 (copy). Valentine Papers. J. F. Volker to Harold C. Hodge, February 2, 1967. Rhees Library Archives.
  30. Leonard Carmichael, "The New Laboratory of Psychology at the U. of R.," Journal of Experimental Psychology, XIX (1936), 783-788. New York Times, October 9, 1938. "Notes," June 20, 1939. Valentine Papers.
  31. Alan Valentine to Edward G. Miner, November 25, 1936. Valentine Papers. Dexter Perkins to Valentine, November 1, 1937. Ibid. Rush Rhees to L. M. Todd, May 10, 1929. Rhees Papers.
  32. New York Times, December 15, 1940. Richard G. Bennett, 1933, "Advisability of Establishing a University Press and Printing Press at the U. of R." Rhees Library Archives.
  33. RAR, XV (1937), no. 5, 10-11.
  34. Clarence A, Livingston, op. cit., pp. 79-80.