Chapter 5: From Bronfman to the Unified Science Center

1. The Integration of Research and Teaching

Science has become exponentially more expensive and more complicated since the 1970s. Scientists at Williams have had to balance the pursuit of research against dedicated teaching. External grants have become a larger and more important source of funding, as the cost of equipment and experimental techniques has increased geometrically. Despite sometimes conflicting commitments to professional scholarship and to teaching, Williams has successfully defined a role for itself in the sciences which is in line with its larger mission as a small, liberal arts college.

With Bronfman as a catalyst, research activity among science faculty continued to grow as new faculty were hired; by the nineties more than 95% of the science faculty had active research programs, many of which involved state-of-the-art technology. Faculty research programs provided exciting opportunities for students to participate in research and, beginning in the Bronfman era, there was a steady increase in the number of students who elected to do research. The number of science honors thesis went from about 20 per year in the sixties to about 60 per year in the nineties. Recognizing that collaborative research with undergraduate students is the best way to teach undergraduates about the scientific process, science faculty began to view the mentoring of research students as an important part of their teaching mission. At the same time, Williams and other selective liberal arts colleges reaffirmed their position as the ideal training ground for undergraduate students interested in science careers. Involvement in cutting edge research with professors who are passionate about teaching became the hallmark of science education at Williams. The increased participation of students in high quality research is evidenced by the number of student coauthors on faculty publications. Beginning in the sixties, when student coauthors were rare among faculty publications, there has been a gradual but significant increase in student coauthors. In the 1999 Report of Science at Williams, 34 student coauthors are listed on faculty publications.

2. Intellectual Changes: New Programs and a New Department

Three new programs reflected the continuing trend towards collaboration and interdisciplinary research in science heralded by the design of Bronfman. In the mid-eighties, Programs in Science and Technology Studies, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, and Neuroscience were established.

In 1985, Professors Rosie Tong of Philosophy, Michael Smith of History, and Donald Beaver of History of Science designed and shepherded into existence the new Science and Technology Studies Program, intended to signal the ongoing curricular presence of such studies in many different departments. Professors Lawrence Kaplan, John Burke, and Charles Lovett of Chemistry and William DeWitt, Marsha Altschuler, Michael Lynes, and Robert Slocum of Biology, established the Program in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology in 1988, a course-intensive program designed to prepare students for graduate school in a field of research that has become the dominant focus of chemical, biological, and medical science. In 1990, Professors Paul Solomon and Betty Glick of Psychology and Steven Zottoli and Heather Williams of Biology played a major role in helping to establish the Program in Neuroscience, an increasingly important and popular area of research.

For a time, the Mathematics Department became known as the Department of Mathematical Sciences, reflecting its inclusion of computer science. Increasing pressures from the great expansion in computer technology and student demand for computer studies eventually led to creation of a separate Department of Computer Science in 1986, which established its own curriculum and major. Following the addition of two statisticians to the mathematics faculty in the nineties, the Department changed its name in 2000 to the Department of Mathematics and Statistics.

3. External Sources of Funds

Williams College Science faculty have been highly successful in securing funding to support research. In the sixties, seventies, and eighties the majority of funding was in the form of foundation grants earmarked for general science programs or scientific equipment. During that time a small number of faculty were awarded research grants from the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to support their individual research programs. While funding from various foundations has continued, the number of NSF and NIH research grants awarded to individual faculty has increased significantly in the nineties and comprises the primary source of research funding for nearly half of the faculty. Since 1994 Williams College faculty have received over $1,000,000 per year to purchase equipment and support faculty-student research projects. In 1999 Williams College had 27 active NSF grants awarded to science faculty — more, by far, than any other undergraduate institution.

The four significant sources of external funding for the sciences at Williams are: the federal government, private foundations, corporations, and the alumni. The largest grants, and the most difficult to acquire, are those from the government, including the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, the Office of Naval Research, the United States Geological Survey, and the National Institute of Science and Technology (formerly the National Bureau of Standards). Foundations, like the Olin Foundation, the Kresge Foundation, the Sherman Fairchild Foundation, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, have awarded a number of grants of varying size. Some corporations have donated money for specific equipment or instructional purposes; these include the Research Corporation, Alcoa, DuPont, GTE, IBM, and Shell. The Petroleum Research Fund has long been a source of grants for the Chemistry Department, and the Research Corporation has provided funds to Chemistry, Physics, and Geology.[1] Reunion classes are sometimes asked to direct a portion of their reunion gift to a particular need in the sciences. In rarer cases, individual alumni may give money to fund something which interests them personally (a number of former science majors have given such gifts to their departments or to fund the type of research they did while at Williams).[2]

While Williams is at a competitive disadvantage in obtaining grants when compared to large research universities, it does not have the same enormous overhead and personnel costs to subsidize.[3] Unlike major research universities, Williams does not incur the enormous housing, health care, and scholarship expenses of maintaining a large number of graduate students.[4] If Williams misses out on some of the most lucrative grants, it is neither surprising nor terribly damaging, because science at Williams is relaively inexpensive when compared to science at major universities.

Fortunately there are some sources of funds not involving research front competition at a national level: grants from the Research Corporation and several private foundations are earmarked specifically for small colleges.[5] For example, between 1967 and 1977 the College benefited from an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation grant which supported activities in Bronfman Science Center. Grant funds were combined with discretionary science division funds to sponsor faculty (and some student) research. Approximately 20 to 25 projects were sponsored each year, with maximum awards of $2,000, for an annual total of about $25,000. The Sloan grant, “helped to promote effective teaching through joint faculty-student research. It has had a highly beneficial impact on Williams’ ability to attract and hold superior staff members.”[6]

External support is used for a wide variety of purposes. In 1981-1982, the Herman Goldman Foundation approved a three year $60,000 grant which was specifically earmarked for start-up costs in the sciences.[7] In 1988-89, the Sloan Foundation renewed for a second five years a New Liberal Arts Program grant, totaling $500,000, aimed at helping to increase the technological and quantitative literacy of students in the humanities and social sciences.[8] By 1984-1985, the Intel Corporation had contributed new computer equipment worth $55,000.[9] In December 1986 the W.M. Keck Foundation gave $450,000 to the Geology Department to form a student-faculty research consortium of geology departments at ten liberal arts colleges.[10] By May 1990 the College had succeeded in raising $2 million which secured $400,000 from the Kresge Foundation to form an endowment for buying and maintaining major pieces of equipment.[11] New items included a 24 inch optical telescope, a gas chromatograph, a mass spectrometer and a transmission electron microscope.[12] The Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) awarded the College $900,000 in June, 1991, to support introductory biology courses, summer research, the development of a science workshop (to be analogous to the very successful writer’s workshop), and biochemistry, molecular biology and neuroscience courses.[13] This award was augmented by $500,000 in 1993. The College was awarded two more HHMI grants in 1996 and 2000 for $900,000 and $800,000, respectively. In May 1992 the Essel Foundation awarded $1.05 million over five years to fund research and teaching in neuroscience.[14]

Williams has also used corporate and foundation money to host a number of lectures and conferences. For more than two decades, since 1968, IBM provided funding to bring scientists to speak at Williams to stimulate students’ interest in science, no matter what their majors. At first, the lectures had the predominant theme of “science for the non-scientist”; about ten to fifteen lectures were held each year.[15] Speakers usually gave one non-technical lecture for the general public, and another in depth lecture for departmental majors and interested faculty. IBM money supported an in-house symposium on “Women in the History of Science” in January 1980, an event quite early in the development of studies of women and gender in science and technology.[16] Two years earlier in May, 1978, Mellon Foundation money had enabled holding a conference on catastrophe theory attended by 30 faculty and 15 visitors.[17]

If foundation grants by nature tend to be quite specific, most alumni gifts are rather general in nature, but not all. In 1981-1982, alumni contributions in honor of Professor Samuel Matthews were used to renovate the laboratories on the third floor of the Biology building,[18] and in June 1984, the 25th Reunion Class of 1959 allocated $400,000, or nearly one third of its $1.4 million gift, to endow a fund from which start-up costs were to be drawn.[19] Alumni donations have also endowed fellowships for summer research students. The Wege-Markgraf endowment, gifts from Peter Wege and the class of 1952 in honor of Emeritus Professor of Chemistry Hodge Markgraf, supports summer fellowships in chemistry. The Betty and Lewis Somers (class of ’48) Student Summer Internship fund supports summer fellowships in physics. The Williams Bicentennial Psychology Scholarship Fund supports summer fellowships in psychology. The Arnold Bernhard Foundation Summer Science Fellows Program, endowed by Jean Buttner, Williams Trustee from 1982 to 1997, supports summer fellowships across the division.

4. The Summer Programs

The Bronfman Summer Research Program

The most enduring and perhaps most significant summer program has been the Bronfman Summer Research Program.[20] Started in the summer of 1967 with the awarding of “research traineeships” to six Williams’ students to spend ten weeks working in a laboratory with a Williams faculty member, the Summer Research Program has grown to be the largest summer research program among predominantly undergraduate institutions. From 1968 until 1984 NSF departmental grants, Sloan Foundation funds, and individual faculty research grants supported an average of about 25 summer student research fellowships per year. By 1990, the number of summer research fellowships had more tripled through a combination of College funding and an increase in the number of faculty and departmental grants. Since 1998, more than 140 summer student fellowships ($3300 for a 10-week stipend) have been awarded per year; about 30 of these are from College funds and the remainder are from a variety of external sources and alumni-endowed fellowships.

Figure 39: Summer Research Student

Originally the purpose of the program was to provide research experience to specially deserving undergraduates, who were to take the initiative in designing their own projects and be responsible for their execution. Over time, students’ independence has lessened, so that faculty play a more influential role in determining what research to carry out. A single summer’s experience often leads to students becoming research assistants to faculty members during the rest of their undergraduate stay. The current purpose of the Bronfman Summer Research Program is to help Williams faculty carry out research and Williams students experience the research process. Various sources supply financial stipends to students who remain on campus during the summer months as research assistants. Many of the projects that are started during the summer are often completed during the school year, with students using their part of the work to complete honors’ theses.[21] Said one participant, “The program really helped me learn how to do research outside the confines of the classroom, in fact teaching myself the way to research has become a valuable learning experience.”[22] In many cases, if the research that a student provides is used in a professor’s paper, the professor lists the student as co-author. The program not only benefits students, but also faculty, as they can save a large amount of time and increase their productivity by having extra hands and minds in the laboratory. However, depending on the project, the time that a faculty member devotes to training and mentoring students could be used to conduct the research alone more productively. It is worthwhile noting that the program extends outside the laboratory as well; students have also participated in theoretical researches, particularly in physics and mathematics.

Figure 40: Professor Thomas E. Smith and summer research student

The Summer Research Colloquia

In summer 1986, the Williams science community started a new program, The Summer Research Colloquia, designed as a series of weekly luncheons followed by speakers from the faculty remaining on campus. The Bronfman Science center provided the lunch, and the different departments provided the speakers. In the first year, 10 speakers discussed their research, with an average audience of 65.[23] The increase in the number of summer research students has resulted in a corresponding increase in the size of the audience and is often standing room only.

The Summer Premedical Program, 1968 to 1982

Founded in 1968 and offering a five-week course of instruction to newly admitted Freshmen, “The Summer Program is designed to assist the science oriented student in adjusting to the demanding course load required in premedical studies and to provide an exposure to the college environment prior to the beginning of formal courses.” [220] [24] The curriculum included Calculus, Chemistry, and Biology (with extensive laboratory work). Also included in the curriculum were “visits to medical institutions and conferences with physicians on medical practice, delivery of health care, and medical ethics.”[25] Funding for the premedical program was provided by the Weir and Klingenstieg Foundations.

Following 1975 several additions to the program took place. In 1977-78, the program secured new grants from the Pfeiffer Foundation and the Favrot Foundation, thereby increasing its financial support beyond the Weir Foundation’s funding. In 1979 the summer’s class included two students from Harvard.[26] Admitting students who planned to attend another college such as Harvard was controversial and not well received by many of the science faculty. They felt that the program was designed for Williams students only, and that the program should not be open to other students.[27] In 1980, the program received another grant from the Nichols Foundation, but the last session of the premedical program was held in the summer of 1982.

The Summer Science Program (SSP)

In summer 1987, Williams revived and redesigned the Summer Premedical Program, making it a program for newly admitted minority students with an interest in science. The five week long intensive program began in early July, the summer before freshman year. The purpose of the program was “to promote the continuing participation in science and science related studies by members of minorities that have historically been underrepresented in the sciences.”[28] In the past, many professors felt there had been a lack of minority presence in the sciences at Williams.[29] The program hoped both to initiate minorities into the science community and to reinforce and cement their expressed interests in scientific careers.

Like its predecessor, the curriculum designed for the Summer Science Program was very challenging, and students were expected to work extremely hard. Daily lectures in Chemistry, Mathematics, and English[30] were supplemented by two laboratory periods a week, with additional laboratory or field experience in geology and biology. More specifically, the mathematics course covered primarily Calculus while the English course covered the literature of minority writers such as Zora Neal Hurston and Toni Morrison.[31] Although the courses were not formally graded, they gave students an opportunity to experience real college courses. The first class of students in the summer program included ten students from the United States and two students from the Republic of South Africa.[32]

In addition to academics, an extensive extracurricular program helped acquaint students with the Williamstown area and major cities and places of cultural interest within New England. Some of the activities involved trips to Williams’ research facilities, Hopkins Forest, Williamstown Medical Associates, The Williamstown Theater Festival, Tanglewood and Boston.[33] Such visits were an explicit part of the stated purpose of the Program: “The Program was designed to provide both exposure to the demands of the college environment as well as close individual contact with Williams faculty and Williams science research students.”[34]

Figure 41: Summer Science Program Students and Professors

SSP funding has been principally provided by Williams, aided by a GTE Foundation Focus Grant for 3 years’ academic follow-up, and support from the College’s Howard Hughes Medical Institute 1991 grant. Costs include faculty stipends as well as each student’s round trip transportation, room, board, and field trip expenses and textbook and laboratory expenses.[35] Attempts to secure outside support encountered reluctance to fund a program already funded by its originator.[36] Without new monies, it seemed unlikely that the program would expand beyond its 14 to 16 student capacity. However, in 1998 the second director of the Program, Professor Charles Lovett, who succeeded Professor Olga Beaver, the first director, received additional funds from the College to expand the Program to 18 students and to include summer research for SSP students after their first year at Williams. All four programs, The Summer Premedical Program, The Bronfman Summer Research Program, The Summer Research Colloquia and The Summer Science Program, have both promoted and reflected increased levels of scientific activity at Williams.

Self Presentation and Report of Science at Williams

The annual publication Report of Science at Williams provides a record of the college’s activities in science. It is the most extensive and regular source of self-presentation on the part of the science departments at Williams. The choices made by its various editors illustrate some of the major concerns of the scientist at Williams.

The format of Report of Science at Williams (initially subtitled “A Record of the Professional Activities of Faculty and Students in the Natural Sciences”) has changed little, although the illustrations and graphic presentation have become more professional. Most of the volumes begin with a description of the goals of science at Williams and the courses of instruction available in the sciences. Discussions of major research grants, which are absolutely crucial to the welfare of the departments, and of lecture series grants usually follow, as well as a summary of the disbursement of College discretionary funds for the natural sciences. The report continues with annual chronicles by each science department, including information about travel, research, lecturing, and other activities of the faculty. The last two sections of the report normally contain abstracts of faculty publications and student honors theses for the academic year.[37]

One of the most interesting aspects of the Report is the way in which it addresses student participation in the sciences. Student course work, summer activities, and research are prominently featured in the publications. Not only is student activity featured prominently, it is made clear that students and faculty work together closely on various projects, even during the summer. The picture thus portrayed suggests a context within which the sciences at Williams do strike a balance between their two main foci: teaching and research. After all, there is probably no more stimulating educational experience that a student interested in science can have, than to participate in actual research.

5. Science at Williams vs. Major Research

Comparison of the role of science at Williams to that at large research universities affords an interesting measure of Williams’ place in science in America. Clearly both students and faculty at Williams have needs and goals different from those of their counterparts at large research universities. Williams, committed to quality teaching, seeks to provide an atmosphere of relaxed interaction between students and faculty members. Science at large research institutions like Harvard, Berkeley, Michigan and Duke, operates under a business paradigm. There, scientists are evaluated primarily on the basis of their ability to obtain large grants. Increasingly the scientist becomes an entrepreneur in search of capital, while the technical know-how of the laboratory resides in postdocs and graduate students. Graduate students, essential to the production of research and publication that helps secure external funding, are fed, sheltered, and paid by the University out of grant money. They are much more like employees than students.[38]

All of the faculty at Williams have done their doctoral work at large research universities, but by coming to Williams have made a decision to spend time doing more than just research. In most cases, however, working at Williams means relative isolation from the research front, and also entails somewhat lesser average pay. However, the sense of isolation has been ameliorated to some degree by the internet, weekly departmental seminars by world-class scientists, and a larger faculty activiely engaged in research. On the other hand, Williamstown and the College offer a quality of life difficult to match at most universities.

The almost unavoidable separation from where the hottest action is, from the front lines of research, makes it difficult for faculty at Williams to transfer to major research institutions, although there have been a few exceptions. The College expects its faculty members to teach and teach well (and good teaching remains the primary criterion for the award of tenure), a requirement which is simply not emphasized at research universities. Whereas undergraduates at major universities rarely work with or are taught by eminent professors, at Williams, students can begin as early as freshman year (or summer) to carry out original investigations with professors.

Faculty Leave

According to Professor Markgraf, the program of faculty leave at Williams is aimed at exposing scientists to the very cutting edge of research as a “recharge” for their own research skills.[39] To be a scientist, one must do research and report the results of that research to one’s colleagues. If, as in the past, Williams professors spent nearly all of their time teaching, they would scarcely deserve to be known as scientists. As elsewhere, faculty at Williams are given one year of sabbatical leave (at three quarters pay) after every six years of work, or one semester of leave each three years.[40] In general, Williams scientists use their leave to finish a project or spend time at a large research university where they can take part in and observe cutting edge research (generally, this latter type of leave is best done over an entire year).[41] For example, in 1974 Professor Stuart Crampton of the Physics Department received a NATO Senior Fellowship which permitted him to conduct atomic hydrogen maser research at the University of Paris.[42] Williams thus attempts to maintain a balance between doing research and teaching by allowing faculty members, on a regular schedule, to spend time away from the college, during which time they are immersed in research.

Beginning in the late eighties, an increasing number of faculty opted to stay at Williams during their sabbatical leave. In particular, a growing number of faculty were supported by large federal grants and were able to stay abreast of new technology and maintain an active research lab year round (often facilitated by a grant-supported lab technician). For such faculty, the demands of teaching keep them away from the bench during the academic year, but not away from managing the lab and mentoring research students; for them, a sabbatical leave is an opportunity to do experiments in their own lab and write papers.

6. Physical changes: Renovations and New Construction

A major physical change in the science facilities was the transformation of Jesup Hall into the Center for Computing. The growth in power and the spread in use of computers had been enormous in the period between 1967, when Williams acquired its IBM 1130 computer, and the early eighties. The advent of time-sharing, networking, and personal computers radically altered the computing environment at Williams; Bronfman became increasingly incapable of supplying the space required for the expanding facilities. In the 1983-1984 academic year Jesup Hall was renovated to “house both administrative and academic computing staffs, major equipment, and 70 student work stations.”[43]

Bronfman was built for a college with a student body of 1200 men and its designers could not foresee that a year after the building’s completion the College would become coeducational and increase its enrollments from 1200 to 2000 students. The corresponding increase in the number of science faculty over the next twenty years, coupled with increased research activity and growing numbers of faculty who remained in their laboratories during their sabbatical leaves put great pressure on available space in the science buildings. Several major reallocations of space took place in Bronfman, most notably the transformation of the sub-basement storage rooms into classroom and laboratory space in 1984-85. Other physical changes involved minor renovations to the Thompson Biology Laboratories, and an extensive renovation of the Physics building in 1985, the roof of which was modified to accept the construction of a new observing area, complete with a 24″ reflector.[44]

By the bicentennial year, it was clear that severe shortages of office and laboratory space would soon have to be remedied with new construction, quite possibly including a unified science library.[45] In 1990 the College hired the facilities planning consultants Dober, Lidsky, Craig and Associates, Inc., to study the needs of the science programs at Williams. Their report revealed the urgent need for space in the sciences and recommended the construction of a new Science Library, renovations of existing science buildings, and strategic additions.[46] In 1992 the College had committed $13 million in its capital plan to build a science library and to renovate the chemistry building in 1998.[47] While this commitment sought to address unsafe conditions in chemistry and a library collection that was scattered in inadequate storage sites and suffered great losses due to theft and damage, the capital plan did not take into account the growth that had occurred in the sciences since Bronfman was built. Moreover, student enrollments in the natural sciences, mathematics, and psychology had reached unprecedented levels, making Williams exceptional with 40% of its student body majoring in such fields. In 1993 the architectural firm of Tsoi/Kobus & Associates was selected to develop a program for upgrading the science facilities. A Science Facilities Committee, appointed and led by Vice President Healy, worked with Tsoi/Kobus to develop a Master Plan for the Sciences. The completed plan included upgrading and expansion of research and teaching labs for chemistry and biology, consolidation of the science libraries, core facilities, and fragmented departments, accommodation of departmental space deficiencies, and promoting of interdisciplinary activities while maintaining departmental identities. The estimated project cost was $35 million in 1993 dollars, $40.5 million in 1998 dollars.[48]

Following approval by the Board of Trustees in 1995 of a $40.5 million budget to upgrade the science facilities, a team of three architectural firms, Einhorn, Yaffee & Prescott, Zimmer, Gunsel, & Frasca, and Earl Walls Associates, was selected to design a new science facility that would unite all of the science departments in a single complex. The project comprised a new laboratory building housing teaching laboratories for chemistry, biology, biochemistry, neuroscience, and environmental science and research laboratories for chemistry. Named after the chemist Edward Williams Morley[49] (class of 1860), the laboratory building was connected to the renovated Thompson Biology, Chemistry, and Physics Laboratories; the four buildings surround the Schow Science Library, donated by Nan and Howard Schow (class of 1951). Also included in the project were renovations of Bronfman for physics and psychology research laboraotries, renovations of Clark Hall for geology teaching laboratories, and renovations of Thompson Chemistry Laboratories for offices and laboratories for the Computer Science Department.

Construction of new spaces for the sciences has proceeded remarkably well, overseen and supervised by the energetic and indefatigable Philip and Dorothy Schein Professor of Chemistry Charles M. Lovett. Inevitable project snags, delays, unanticipated events, and overlooked provisions have been kept few, because of continued careful planning, timely advisories, and continued and deliberate solicitation for the active involvement of faculty, staff, and others who as end-users will have to live with the final results. Faculty, staff, and students have been unusually understanding and cooperative with the forced relocations, cramped spaces, and other dislocations resulting from the renovations.

Some of those hardships and discomfort began to be alleviated in fall semester 1999, when the teaching and research laboratories in the Morley Science Laboratories opened, and the Schow Science Library began to serve students on an extensive basis. Renovations in Thompson Biology Laboratory were first to be finished, permitting biology department faculty and staff to move back into their building by the end of July, 2000. In early August, Computer Science and Chemistry moved into their new quarters in Thompson Chemistry Laboratory. Meanwhile relocation of departmental library collections in summer 2000 has completed the transfer of science and psychology collections to their new home, the Schow Science Library.

Figure 42: Front Entrance to the New Science Center

Figure 43: Shelves in Schow Library

Figure 44: West Atrium of Schow Science Library

Figure 45: Teaching Laboratory in Morley Science Laboratories

The expanded laboratory facilities should enhance Willams’ competitive ability to attract that special breed of scientist committed not only to research, but also to teaching. The new facilities will permit such faculty to maintain and develop their own careers in research, and because of the resulting satisfaction and excitement will undoubtedly lead to even more student involvement in faculty research. At a time when hands-on experience seems more essential than ever to educating and retaining students in the sciences, student-faculty collaborations represent an invaluable addition to the curriculum. In turn, the opportunity to participate actively in ongoing research programs is likely to prompt still more prospective student-researchers to choose to come to Williams.

Figure 46: Research Laboratory in Morley Science Laboratories

Figure 47: Morley Science Laboratories Greenhouse

Figure 48: Study Area in Morley Science Laboratories

Figure 49: Southeast Entrance to Morley Science Laboratories

7. Conclusion

At the beginning of its second century in 1893, Williams had recently entered the modern age with respect to laboratory facilities, and was struggling to modernize its curriculum as well. Gradual growth and modest experimentation characterized the next 75 years, interrupted by two World Wars and somewhat diminished by the Great Depression. Revolutionary change in the 1960s produced a new Williams, a co-educational college without fraternities, with a faculty increasingly productive in research.

Since the mid 1960s, the sciences at Williams have had a new sense of unity and coherence, chiefly because of creation of the Bronfman Science Center. Bronfman has provided facilities for current and relevant research by both students and faculty, and helped faculty obtain outside funding. Faculty continue to worry about what constitutes a proper and effective balance between research and teaching, while their Science Executive Committee’s unified administrative presence helps keep the sciences thriving. In fall 2000, with the post-bicentennial renovations nearly finished and the newly created Schow Science Library open and functioning, the dedication of the Morley Science Laboratories testified to scientists’ abiding confidence in continuing along the revolutionary path defined a third of a century ago.

If the future course of research and the nature of science education in the twenty-first century necessarily remain unpredictable, Williams at 207 is better equipped than at any time in its past to participate in the vanguard of those leading institutions which will construct and define what the sciences and their social relations will be.


[1] Markgraf Interview. | Back |
[2] Ibid. | Back |
[3] Ibid. | Back |
[4] Ibid. | Back |
[5] Ibid. | Back |
[6] Report, 1973-74, p. 8. | Back |
[7] Start-up costs refer to the expenses of establishing and equipping a laboratory and research program at a new institution. Such costs have grown exponentially in the last fifty years. In the mid-80s, costs of $125,000 for a newly hired professor’s research laboratory in physics at a large and active midwest state university were normal. Universities financed the start-up costs from the amounts received for indirect costs from other research grants; researchers were supposed to generate sufficient grant money to support their labs and themselves, and pay back the start up costs through the indirect costs awarded the institution as part of their grant. | Back |
[8] Report, 1988-89, p. 4. | Back |
[9] Report, 1984-85, p. 34. | Back |
[10] Report, 1986-87, p. 38, and 1987-88, p. 41. In the following year, this grant was renewed and increased to $600,000 as two more colleges were added to the consortium. (Report, 1988-89, p. 50.) | Back |
[11] Markgraf Interview. | Back |
[12] Report, 1990-91, p. 3. | Back |
[13] I bid., p. 2. | Back |
[14] Dethier Interview. | Back |
[15] Report, 1972-73, p. 5. | Back |
[16] Report, 1979-80, p. 10-11. | Back |
[17] Report, 1977-78, p. 16. | Back |
[18] Report, 1981-82, p. 13. | Back |
[19] Report, 1983-84, p. 5, and 1984-85, p. 6. | Back |
[20] A limited number of College funded research positions was supplemented by federal URP (Undergraduate Research Participation) and private foundation (e.g. Research Corporation) monies, and other external sources of funds. | Back |
[21] Report, 1975-1976, p. 10. | Back |
[22] Interview, 4/24/92, with Brian J. Prendergast ´93, a student who worked for the psychology department for Professor Daniel Willingham under the Bronfman Summer Research Program in the summer of 1991. | Back |
[23] Report, 1986-87, p. 10. | Back |
[24] Report, 1971-72, p. 8. | Back |
[25] Report, 1974-75, p. 14. | Back |
[26] Report, 1979-80, p. 9. | Back |
[27] Interview with Professor of Mathematics Olga R. Beaver on 4/27/92. | Back |
[28] Report, 1988-89, p. 15. | Back |
[29] Interview with Professor of Mathematics Olga R. Beaver, Director of the Program. | Back |
[30] Olga R. Beaver, Letter sent to pre-freshman minority students about the summer program. | Back |
[31] O. R. Beaver Interview. | Back |
[32] Report, 1987-88, p. 12. | Back |
[33] Ibid., pp. 12-13. | Back |
[34] Ibid., p. 12. | Back |
[35] O.R. Beaver, Letter to pre-freshmen minority students. | Back |
[36] O.R. Beaver, Interview. | Back |
[37] Report, 1972-73 through 1991-92. | Back |
[38] Patrick Naughton’s Interview with Professor J. Hodge Markgraf, 24 April 1992. See also published work by Henry Etzkowitz on this model of research organization at major universities. | Back |
[39] Ibid. | Back |
[40] Ibid. The “mini-sabbatical,” the semester’s leave after three years teaching, has contributed to increased discontinuity in the curriculum, and created problems in terms of continuity of supervison and advice for some students doing long term (more than one year) research. | Back |
[41] Ibid. | Back |
[42] Report, 1973-74, p. 37. | Back |
[43] Report, 1983-1984, p. 9. | Back |
[44] Interview with Professor David Dethier, 30 April 1992, by Patrick Naughton. | Back |
[45] Two years later, 40 million dollars has been approved to construct new laboratory, office, and teaching space, a consolidated science library, and to make extensive renovations in existing science buildings. | Back |
[46] Science Facility Planning Study, Dober, Lidsky, Craig and Associates, Inc., 1991. | Back |
[47] The decision to renovate chemistry was due, in part, to a tour of the chemistry building taken by the Board of Trustees and Vice President for Administration and Treasurer David Healy, who became a strong advocate for upgrading the science facilities. | Back |
[48] Science Quadrangle Master Plan Report, Tsoi/Kobus and Assoicates, Inc, December, 1993. | Back |
[49] Edward Williams Morley was perhaps the most famous Williams Alumnus. Known especially for his involvement in the Michelson-Morley experiment, which demonstrated that the world was not surrounded by luminiferous ether, Morley was President of the American Chemical Society, President of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and a member of the National Academy of Science. Upon his death in 1923, Morley bequeathed to Williams College his scientific apparatus, his books, his three gold medals, and the sum of $100,000 (over $1 million in 1999 dollars). | Back |