Yale Engineering in the Post-World War II Era
Yale Engineering in the post World War II era
There is a surprising similarity between the Yale of the post war years following World War I and the post war years following World War II. In both instances, advances in military technology led to major changes in world order and the world economy during the peace-time decades following the end of the war. The challenge to universities, worldwide, was appropriate readjustment from a wartime environment to a peacetime community of higher education to prepare students to serve a global, peaceful world.
After WWI, the Yale administration moved aggressively to merge the Sheffield Scientific School with Yale College. The AC college emphasized liberal arts and traditional classical education while Sheff was the leading scientific-engineering school of its time. In 1919, a comprehensive study determined the most effective way to solve the duplication of courses offered by the two schools was to establish a mandatory freshman year for both AC and Sheff undergraduates.
As a part of a comprehensive study of Yale curricula, the Sheffield governing board lost its ability to control the former autonomous and highly rated school of science and engineering leaving the Yale Corporation as the sole governing body. It took 13 years, until 1932, for Yale to reestablish a School of Engineering. The new school became a critical part of the change to a research university when Yale, Harvard, and other elite schools recognized the advantage of learning from research over the rote classroom learning taught in a classroom where teachers presented selected wisdom from the past.
In 1951, in the post WWII era, the retirement of Charles Seymour as president, brought a new, young president, A. Whitney Griswold, to face the challenge of change. What followed was a series of studies focused on reorganizing the then School of Engineering by add- ing the teaching of applied science and liberal arts courses to the engineering curricula allegedly to accommodate the post-war changing times.
Also, in 1951, Yale faced rebuilding a decaying campus. Maintenance of classrooms and laboratory buildings, deferred during the depression and war years, put a high priority on renovating old buildings and building new when necessary. Inflation raised costs so prompt action was needed. Faculty salaries - long fixed - needed a fresh look and Yale would need alumni largess to rebuild the campus and balance a growing budget. While the Yale endowment actually grew during World War II years, inflation and a down stock market reduced current income squeezing future budgets.
Griswold followed Seymour’s practice of forming study committees to bring a fresh look and broader participation to solve problems. The long delayed need for a fund drive required organization and an appropriate campaign theme to raise vitally needed funds.
Whitney Griswold exuded a determined personality with set values that resounded long after his sudden death in 1963. He was a committed liberal arts enthusiast who treasured liberal arts education as Yale’s mandate. However, he also realized that Yale was deficient in the sciences when compared to Harvard and other leading institutions so rebuilding old Sheffield buildings and adding new became a second priority. The Kline Science Center, a new physics building, the Gibbs Laboratories, and the expansion of Dunham Laboratory were positive Griswold moves designed to return Yale to a leadership position in science and engineering.
The new president’s often stated view of Yale’s reliance on liberal arts put him in opposition to “service station” programs that he viewed as trade school training unworthy of a Yale degree. Concluding that the Yale School of Nursing was trending towards a vocational school, he demanded a new curriculum and turned the nursing school into a graduate school which accepted only students with a bachelor’s degree. This upset alumni and the faculty of the nursing school which had no choice but to adopt his changes.
Griswold also concluded that the Yale Department of Education was a normal school unworthy of a Yale degree. He insisted that the department become a graduate school with a new program, so the undergraduate program faded away.
In the fall of 1960, after little progress in his concept of a “new engineering program” despite two study groups, Griswold formed a a third committee headed by Professor Barnett F. Dodge. Dodge was a notable chemical engineering professor who had been president of the American Society of Chemical Engineers. Dodge was nearing the end of his career, however, he delayed his Yale retirement to head the latest high level engineering study committee.
The report of this committee, “The study of Engineering Education at Yale University” was submitted to Griswold in October 1961. Despite unanimous support from the president and the Corporation and much positive reaction, confusion in the various engineering departments remained. An ongoing debate on the definition of scientist, applied scientist, and engineer split the science and engineering departments diverting them from their mission to build strong, attractive programs that would bring top students and superior faculty to Yale.
A belief that the rapid pace of technical change in the post war era obsoleted education depending on text books and facts from the past prevailed. In fact, each engineering field taught fundamentals that formed a foundation of a particular area of knowledge. Thus, prospective chemical engineers need a strong foundation in the sciences of chemistry, mathematics, and physics coupled with studies of current manufacturing chemical processes. This accumulated knowledge prepared students for future challenges when new chemicals were needed for newly discovered end uses.
Charges that undergraduates of the Yale School of Engineering were learning only old technology led to distress among faculty members and effectively eliminated Metallurgical Engineering and Civil Engineering when faculty left Yale for brighter prospects elsewhere. Faculty confusion and lack of administrative leaders and strong support from the president’s office led to the demise of the Yale Engineering School in 1966 followed by loss of accreditation by ESPD - the certifying board which qualified college undergraduate engineering programs at the time.
Following Griswold’s death in 1963, Kingman Brewster, Jr. was immediately appointed Yale’s 17th president. Brewster was a direct descendent of Elder William Brewster, a leader of the original settlers who arrived on the Mayflower and formed the Massachusetts Plymouth colony.
Brewster graduated from Yale in 1941 and was editor of the Yale Daily News. He then served in the U.S. Navy as an aviator during World War II. In 1948, he earned a Harvard Law degree. Kingman arrived to fill the Woodbridge Hall office inheriting the latest Yale study of engineering and sciences, The Dodge Report.
There seemed to be a general consensus that Dodge got it right. Support for his conclusions were generally accepted by Yale engineering faculty, Yale College liberal arts leaders, and the Corporation. Brewster could implement the report and put Yale Engineering back among the first rank engineering schools in the country. Unfortunately, that did not happen.
The building programs to upgrade Yale engineering facilities, begun by Griswold, were continued by Brewster. The replacement of old North Sheffield Hall and Winchester Hall was accomplished in 1969 when a fine Marcel Brauer building, the Becton Engineering and Applied Science Center. Investments in renovating other buildings supplied some forward momentum for Yale engineering, but the underlying currents from the president’s office were not positive for engineering.
In the depression years, prior to WWII, the Yale School of Engineering enrolled 200 to 250 students. During the war years and the 1950s, enrollment exploded to 500 to 1000 majors in the engineering school. Now in the 1960s, engineering majors were declining rapidly. Classes that formerly averaged 20% to 25% with engineering majors were now at half that rate. In 1966, students in engineering totaled 48 and those in science 116. Professors and academic leaders in Yale engineering were appalled by the plunge.
Undergraduate Admissions responded to Griswold’s and Brewster’s emphasis on liberal arts by favoring students in liberal arts subjects thus reducing acceptances of those with mathematical and science skills. This pattern remained throughout the Brewster years. Anecdotal comments were bandied about engineering that Yale admission recruiters advised strong candidates with technical skills to “go to MIT.”
The result of the study committees finally led to a single department for Engineering and Applied Science with a mandate to add more applied science and liberal arts courses for those seeking an engineering major. This direction was not received well by the engineering community outside of Yale and, in 1966, ECPD denied accreditation of the newly designed courses. The hope that the new direction at Yale engineering would be an acceptable pioneering move that led the way for other research universities was dashed. The existing Yale School of Engineering, founded in 1932, disappeared in 1966.
When Kingman Brewster resigned the Yale presidency in 1977 to become the US Ambassador to the United Kingdom, Jannah Hoburn Gray was appointed president pro tem and the search for a new president began.
Angelo Bartlett Giamatti
19th President of Yale University
1978 to 1986
Bart Giamatti grew up in South Hadley, MA near where his father, Valentine Giamatti, founded the departments of Italian and Spanish languages at Mount Holyoke College. Bart graduated from South Hadley High School, took a year at Andover, and then entered Yale University with the class of 1960.
Giamatti graduated magna cum laude with a B.A. in English, then earned his Ph.D. four years later. Bart was a die-hard Boston Red Sox fan and also a Spenserian scholar of note. Except for a brief defection to Princeton, his teaching career was in English and at Yale. He was a popular teacher, a mentor to students recognized by his appointment as master of Ezra Stiles College.
Giamatti was elected president of Yale in 1977 at the age of 39, the youngest president ever of this storied institution. In a lecture on Science and the University, Giamatti stated, “Science is at the core of the University’s mission to foster the disciplined imagination.”
Because recent presidents had made similar statements of support for science and engineering with no follow through, when Giamatti cooperated with Werner Wolf to reform separate departments of chemical engineering, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, and applied physics, alumni leaders and the faculty were pleased and supportive. The Corporation, at that time, was not receptive to the reformation of a School of Engineering. However, the newly formed Council of Engineering did restructure and strengthen the then Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science helping in the drive to regain accreditation.
For a number of years, leaders at Yale were in contact with ECPD, the group responsible for accrediting engineering programs. The minimum number of technical courses set by ECPD was 2 1/2 years for a four year program. The ECPD was concerned with the content of the courses and the standing of those teaching in the larger professional community. To regain accreditation, Yale needed to convince the ECPD of the high quality of Yale’s engineering teachers, the technical content of the courses, and a commitment to resolve any shortcomings in the future.
As Werner Wolf noted, the smaller size of Yale’s program, believed by some as a liability, could be counteracted by the quality of the professors who were prolific researchers and active publishers in technical journals.
Among the professors that joined Wolf in the battle for reaccreditation was Gary Haller, a Nebraskan from a small town with a B.S. from the University of Nebraska, a doctorate from Northwestern University, and a postdoctoral fellowship from Oxford University. Haller worked his way up the academic ladder at Yale to become full Professor of Engineering and Applied Science in 1980.
He became deeply and critically involved in the restructuring of Yale Engineering after Yale lost accreditation in 1966. Haller worked diligently with Wolf and others to reconstruct Yale Engineering courses, to reestablish a departmental structure, and to regain accreditation.
In the 1970s, financial problems at Yale were being addressed university-wide with a cost-cutting proposal to further reduce undergraduate engineering. Despite the underlying financial problems of the university, in 1982, Yale finally regained accreditation and, in 1984, Haller was appointed chairman of the Council of Engineering.
Haller has innate diplomatic skills as a technical person with liberal arts credentials. He is a renowned chemical researcher of catalytic processes and nanotechnology which he combines with a love of art, and drama. His skill as a teacher and communicator led to his advancement to chair of the Chemical Engineering Department, appointment as Deputy Provost for Physical Sciences and Engineering (1987-1989) and, after years of close affiliation with Jonathan Edwards residential college, appointment as master in 1997.
In 1986, president Bart Giamatti left Yale to become president of National League Baseball. In April 1989, he was elevated to Commissioner of Baseball. While on vacation in Martha’s Vineyard in September, he was stricken with a massive heart attack and died at 51 years of age. Major League Baseball rededicated its research center at Cooperstown, NY as the A. Bartlett Giamatti Research Center to commemorate a life of achievement dedicated to love of learning and baseball.
We are fortunate that participants in the critical post war year era are still at Yale (2014) and willing to share their experiences. Hereafter follows reflections of Professor Robert B. Gordon, ’52, ’55 D. Eng, Engineering at Yale in Transition, 1960 Onward, an expanded version by Werner P. Wolf, ‘ 54 PhD Oxford University - Perils of Engineering at Yale, the writings of Allan Bromley from his books and autobiography, Dean Paul Fleury’s comments, and Kyle Vanderlick, present Dean of SEAS, will add her reflections.
Engineering at Yale in Transition, 1960 Onward
Robert B. Gordon, 52BE, 55 D. Eng.
What follows is an account of the School of Engineering as seen first by a Yale College undergraduate physics major, then a graduate student in engineering, and, finally a junior faculty member who experienced the events leading to the demise of the School in the1960s.
To an undergraduate in 1949, the location of Mason and Dunham laboratories just up Hillhouse Avenue from Silliman College testified to the prominent place of engineering at Yale. Here, along with Winchester and Strathcona Halls, North Sheff, and the Sheffield Laboratory, was the physical presence of engineering in the central campus, unlike that of physics and chemistry, up out of sight on Prospect Street. In the colleges, engineering majors were numerous, and largely indistinguishable from other Yale undergraduates. Alumni talked about Sheff, but engineering was as much a part of Yale undergraduate life as English, history, or economics. Only through reading papers by historians of technology would one learn that engineering had a rather turbulent history both nationally and at Yale, and that unlike the doctors and lawyers, engineers had endured a hundred-year struggle to establish themselves as a distinct profession.
From its first appearance at Yale, in the mid 1850s, through the rest of the nineteenth century, engineering, which lacked Latin and Greek requirements, was an uncomfortable companion to the academic curriculum in Yale College. While graduate study was needed to enter the legal or medical profession, an undergraduate degree fulfilled the education requirement for a licensed professional engineer. At Yale there was the additional complication that engineering had been the province of the Sheffield Scientific School, long considered by many in the Yale College faculty as an unwelcome intrusion in the university (Cunningham, 6.) Nevertheless, by 1919 enrollment in engineering was overtaking that in the College (Havermeyer and Dudley, 101), and Yale engineering had attained a national prominence that it maintained through the following decades.
As I entered Yale in 1949, civil, mechanical, electrical, chemical, metallurgical, and industrial engineering were flourishing as they had for the past half century. Undergraduate enrollment was strong. Student chapters of the professional engineering societies had a vigorous presence on campus.
Engineering students at Yale took courses in analytical mechanics, thermodynamics, electromagnetism, and physical chemistry that were as challenging as courses offered in these subjects in the physics and chemistry departments. However, in 1949 the practice of engineering, unlike that of physics and chemistry, rested primarily on a core of physical science that had originated largely in the nineteenth and very early twentieth centuries. Those engineering faculty who undertook research made contributions to areas that physicists and chemists found of limited interest, in part because the problems were messy and did not yield easily to the reductionist methods of pure science. Engineers working in applied mechanics, for example, advanced the classical theory of elasticity onward to new theory for plasticity, friction, and fracture mechanics, areas not then of interest to most physicists. Similar opportunities existed in other branches of engineering.
During World War II, many physicists and chemists were drawn into work that, in peacetime, would have been the province of engineers. Applied science became recognized nationally as a contributor to military success and economic growth to a degree not seen before the war. These developments confronted the traditional engineering disciplines with the need to deal with unfamiliar territory. University administrators raised the question, was engineering different from applied science? Many engineers thought it was, because as a profession, engineering contained essential components that were not physical science, pure or applied. Successful engineers needed the capacity to deal with the economic, political, and social issues that would arise in the application of science to public works and competitive industry.
Here is a Yale example: Wilbur Cross, former professor of English in the Sheffield Scientific School and the University’s provost before he became governor of Connecticut, describes how, as governor, he was able to turn to one of Yale’s engineering departments for help when a combination of political and design issues threatened to derail the completion of the Merritt Parkway, then under construction. Cross was able to arrange the release of Professor W. J. Cox of Yale’s Civil Engineering Department from teaching so that he could appoint Cox Connecticut’s commissioner of transportation. Cox sorted out the engineering and political problems that had halted construction, and got the parkway built (Cross 387-8.)
Some of the skills that led to success in engineering did not mesh well with the expectations for faculty appointments and promotions at a university that had a strong commitment to the traditional disciplines of the humanities and pure science. Instead of through the traditional scholarly apparatus of books and research papers, some engineers expressed their professional competence through consulting and design work, or by acquiring patents. Additionally, the professional requirements in undergraduate engineering education were seen as an unwelcome intrusion into the privileges of a liberal-arts college faculty. Through their accreditation organization, engineering societies set course requirements, but the learned societies that faculty in the arts and sciences belonged to did not have this ability. These issues of faculty appointments and accreditation for engineers had been dealt with at Yale through the semi-independence of the School of Engineering. In 1957 this solution was about to unravel.
And in 1957 I returned to Yale from teaching at Columbia University as an assistant professor of metallurgy.
In part because Professor C. H. Mathewson had already built up a commitment to research in physical metallurgy in the 1930s, faculty in Yale’s metallurgy department had been quite successful in coupling the new applied science of materials with the practice of metallurgical engineering. The undergraduate metallurgy requirements included a course on the physics and chemistry of metals while a laboratory course, that met two full afternoons a week, covered practice. Faculty and their graduate students published their research in the Physical Review, Journal of Applied Physics, Philosophical Magazine, or Acta Metallurgica, as well as in the Transactions of the American Institute of Mining and Metallurgical Engineers. Faculty members were active as consultants in industry and government laboratories. The example of metallurgy showed that a merger of applied science and engineering practice could be attained through evolution rather than wholesale reorganization of existing departments.
Misconceptions about engineering appear to have been deeply imbedded in the Yale administration. Rumor had it that the president and provost saw what we did in the Metallurgy Department as a form of advanced blacksmithing. Yale engineering departments suffered from the lack of understanding of the essential components of engineering among both administrators and many applied scientists. It was easy for an outsider to suppose that a subject such as soil mechanics, an essential component of civil engineering, might have limited intellectual content. In fact soil mechanics was a sophisticated branch of applied mechanics that dealt with combined fluid and plastic flow in granular materials; today, study of the mechanics of granular materials is an active area of research in condensed matter physics. Despite the intellectual vitality of engineering there were, however, some good reasons to be concerned about the current state of the engineering departments at Yale.
Jack Cunningham has described how many members of the Yale engineering faculty, while known to be rigorous teachers, published little research in academic journals; in electrical engineering almost no one did. A further concern was that all but a few of the electrical engineering faculty were graduates of their own department (Cunningham 61.) A sense that Yale engineering was not as strong as it should be, particularly in published research, coupled with incomplete understanding of the substance of engineering practice, attracted the attention of the university administration, and resulted in appointment of a series of committees that evaluated the Engineering School. An unsettlingly time was inaugurated for both junior and senior faculty of the school.
At the faculty meeting called in February 1960 to hear President Griswold’s plan for engineering at Yale, it was evident, even to the most junior faculty present, that Dana Young, the engineering dean, had been by-passed. He introduced the president with the simple statement that he had been instructed to assemble the engineering faculty, period. As they listened to the president’s plan for their future, tension, anxiety, and gradually, latent hostility grew among the assembled faculty members, except for the select few who had been the president’s confidants.
Yale was to have a department of engineering and applied science modeled after the similar organization at Harvard, one that had been established a decade earlier, when enthusiasm for applied science was riding the momentum of wartime accomplishments. Here was another example of the old story of Yale belatedly following the lead of Harvard, as it had with the adoption of the residential college system thirty years earlier. With the colleges the similarities of undergraduate life at Yale and Harvard made this a natural adaptation of the Harvard residential houses to the Yale scene. But the situation with engineering at the two schools was quite different; by 1960 Harvard‘s undergraduate engineering program had shrunk under the shadow of neighboring MIT. Yale had an established and distinguished record of educating engineers in a liberal tradition; Harvard then did not. If the new Yale department were to be dominated by physicists, as seemed likely, many of the engineering faculty felt that those aspects of their profession that were not applied science would be undervalued. This soon proved to be true.
The reorganizing of engineering brought with it some needed reforms. Department chairmen would serve limited terms so that this task would rotate among senior faculty. Faculty appointments would receive wider scrutiny than had been customary. However, the new Yale department would be formed by commingling two disparate cultures: the existing faculty had a strong commitment to the engineering profession, with all that that implied outside of the domain of applied science, while most of the new faculty members were physicists, some lacking either experience or interest in those aspects of engineering that were not applied science. From todays vantage point one wonders how experienced university administrators thought the result would be a single department where faculty could agree on appointments, curricula, and other academic matters.
In fact, they didn’t agree. Many of Yale’s talented engineering teachers left. Engineering accreditation was lost. For those who stayed - stress, argument, and confrontation - became the norm in faculty meetings. The rather feeble attempts to retain a place for engineering as a profession failed. Undergraduate enrollment plummeted. The introduction of a common qualifying examination for doctoral students in all the disparate fields incorporated in the new department resulted in well-qualified engineering graduate students leaving to complete their degrees elsewhere. Industrial engineering and administrative science were gone. Civil engineering, the field that had the most direct impact on the built environment, vanished.
In Metallurgy we were doing research on the properties of materials under very high pressure. One application of this was discovery of a mechanism, diffusion creep, that would allow solid rock in a layer beneath the earths crust to flow plastically at a rate fast enough to allow continents to move. Since the concept of plate tectonics was then a new theory disbelieved by many geologists, the diffusion creep model was of considerable interest to geophysicists. I was able to transfer my appointment, laboratory, and graduate students to Yale's department of Geology & Geophysics. Thereafter, I was an outside observer of events in Engineering & Applied Science, except on a few occasions when, as geology department chairman, I had to deal with some joint faculty appointments in engineering.
Jack Cunningham gathered together the story of the trials and tribulations of the Department of Engineering & Applied Science, particularly in teaching undergraduate engineering. A new form of school of engineering emerged after several decades and a near demise in the 1990s. Applied physics now had its own department. Yale acquired a belated presence in environmental engineering with appointments in the chemical engineering department.
There remains the question of what may have been learned in the course of this protracted reorganization of engineering education at Yale. One concern points to the consequences of restructuring long-established disciplines through reorganization imposed by advisors who are not responsible for the outcomes of their proposals. The determination of the Yale administration, in the 1960s, to eliminate areas of study that were perceived as no longer cutting edge both disrupted undergraduate teaching in engineering and led to important missed opportunities.
In the formation of the Department of Engineering and Applied Science, Yale divested itself of civil engineering. At many other universities civil engineering departments would soon be nuclei for environmental studies and environmental engineering. Yale also eliminated its geography department and its program in conservation, both potential components of the new field of environmental studies.
Environmental engineering and the undergraduate major in Environmental Studies suffered a delayed and overly painful birth at Yale in part because of the previous elimination of disciplines that would have been among its natural parents. Other examples of untimely excisions come to mind. Yale had a strong research program in celestial mechanics; it was abandoned shortly before this field became a crucial component of the space age. History of Science, with its distinguished faculty, was terminated by administrative fiat and no consultation with its faculty, and then found to be needed a few years later.
The School of Engineering needed to change in 1960. Incremental change rather than wholesale reorganization would have accomplished this while preserving the inherent strengths of the engineering school at Yale. Limiting department chairmans terms of office and setting up new appointment committees would have been a good way to start. Nor was there a need to terminate existing departments or eliminate some core components of the established engineering profession. One hopes that, with the lessons of experience, there will be no repeat performance of the 1960s engineering restructuring at Yale.
- Wilbur L. Cross, Connecticut Yankee, New Haven: Yale University Press, 1943.
- W. Jack Cunningham, Engineering at Yale, New Haven: Connecticut Academy of Arts and Sciences, 1992.
- Loomis Havermeyer and Samuel W. Dudley, The Engineering Heritage at Yale, 1852-1957.
The Downs and Ups of Yale Engineering after 1961
What Happened and Why
Werner P. Wolf
Adapted from a talk given to fellows of the Henry Koerner Center for Emeritus Faculty on September 20, 2007.
When I was asked to give one of these talks I just couldn’t resist wanting to tell you about the epic saga that has occupied me over most of the 44 years I’ve been here: “The Perils of Engineering at Yale.”
At first, I thought I would tell you a tale of intrigue and skullduggery, but when I came to think carefully about the history of Engineering at Yale I found that the story really illustrates how wise and not so wise decisions are made, and what one can learn from those that have worked, and those that have had unwanted results. If everyone had understood clearly what they were actually trying to achieve, we could have avoided a lot of problems. As a famous Yale alumnus put it in another context: “It’s the vision thing.”
In 1952 Yale Engineering celebrated its centennial and at that time it was estimated that Yale had produced 15% of all US engineers. By the time I came here, 10 years later, everyone was talking about the demise of Engineering, and that was followed by a lot of turmoil during the next 20 years. And then by 1982 everything seemed pretty good again.
However, just another 10 years after that, in 1992, the Provost suddenly proposed the virtual elimination of engineering at Yale. As many of us remember, that didn’t actually happen, but it was quite dramatic at the time. And then by the time of the Yale Engineering Sesquicentennial, in 2002, only another ten years later, our celebrations were led by a Dean of Engineering and faculty colleagues who had just won the Nobel Prize and the National Medal of Technology, respectively. It’s been quite a ride.
I’ll try to describe what actually happened but, more importantly, what I think one can learn from what happened. What has become evident is that decisions made by people of good will often have unintended outcomes, and that decisions made by people who don’t really understand a problem, and rely on the advice of expert advisors, are especially likely to create new problems. Very often problems arise because some recommendations are followed, some followed selectively, some are deliberately rejected, and some are just ignored. All of this illustrates just how difficult it is to run a complex place like Yale, and what one might do to improve the process.
Engineering has had a long history at Yale involving the Sheffield Scientific School, and really I don’t want to talk about those early days. But, suffice it to say, the interaction between the Liberal Arts side of Yale College and the Science and Engineering side of the rest of Yale has had stresses in the past. So, when President Griswold, very much on the arts side, started to look into the role of Engineering at Yale in the mid-1950’s there was a lot of apprehension and distrust that exploded just before I came to Yale. It centered on the publication of what came to be known as the “Dodge Committee Report” in 1961.
President Griswold had convened a small advisory committee including members from both inside and outside Yale, and they produced a brief 12-page report on “Engineering Education at Yale University.” That report produced a lot of discussion among Yale Engineering faculty, students, and alumni. Many were extremely unhappy, and I think that it is interesting to look back with the advantage of hindsight at what the report really said, what actually happened as a result of the report, and why it went wrong. At every stage the people responsible seemed to be trying to do what they thought best for Yale, and to address the problems they saw.
The Dodge Committee report recommended primarily that modern engineering had to be based on a closer contact with science and, in particular, with scientific research. So they recommended the creation of a single department of Engineering and Applied Science in Yale College to promote contact with the sciences, and also contact between the different branches of engineering. The School of Engineering was to remain with a purely professional program like the schools of Law or Medicine.
At the time that was regarded as a revolutionary idea but with the advantage of hindsight, I think one can now say that it might have been the start of a very good plan – if it had been executed properly. So what went wrong?
During the first decade there was a strong push to encourage research in Applied Science, and that worked out very well. Bill Bennett, who had just been involved with the invention of the first gas laser, was the first person to be hired to do more research and I came a few months later. It soon became clear that the business office in Engineering wasn’t used to active experimental research when I found out that we had exhausted the entire supply of requisition forms for ordering supplies after I had been here for only three months. But, while research was flourishing, no one bothered to give much thought to undergraduate programs. All courses were given the same label – E&AS, all one word – and they were listed in the Yale College Blue Book in more or less random sequence. Students could choose just about any set of courses they liked and get a degree in “Engineering and Applied Science.” There were no requirements or concentrations for, say, electrical or chemical engineering, even though these fields are really quite different.
Needless to say, the people who accredit engineering programs, (an organization then called ECPD) who started in 1936 with Yale as one of the charter institutions, didn’t like this and withdrew accreditation from all our previously accredited programs. Most of the faculty didn’t seem to notice, and those in charge simply said: “Yale doesn’t need accreditation.”
Of course that turned out to be quite wrong. Everyone outside Yale, and some inside, concluded that Yale had simply given up Engineering, and by 1974 the undergraduate enrollment had dropped from about 100 before all of this started to 14 per year, for a faculty of about 50.
When one looks at the Dodge Report one finds that they never recommended doing away with separate programs in the different branches of engineering, or giving up accreditation, but at the time no one bothered to take note of that part of the report. In fact, undergraduate education was so much neglected that I myself was never asked to teach any undergraduate courses during the first 13 years of my time at Yale.
By 1971, a new chairman had taken over, Bob Wheeler, and he immediately recognized that the undergraduates are, in fact, very important at Yale. Within two years he had restructured our undergraduate offerings so that three different programs could be defined and accredited by ECPD again, and he also realized that one of the most important functions of the department was to provide courses for Yale undergraduates in majors other than Engineering. So we started to teach courses such as “Perspectives on Technology,” “Engines, Energy and Entropy,” “Air and Water,” “Energy: The Next 30 Years,” and “Elementary Electronics,” for students who wanted to understand how their stereos worked. Also Bill Bennett started teaching his very popular course “The Computer as a Research Tool.”
All of this was quite successful, and by 1980 we had some 40 majors per year, and several hundred students enrolled in courses for non-majors each year.
But in the 1970’s a new problem arose. During the early stages of the new department there were lots of faculty slots to be filled, and it was easy to get faculty consensus for new appointments. But in the 1970’s money became very tight, there were some significant cuts in the total budget, and very few new appointments and promotions could be made. In a department with a wide range of interests, achieving any consensus became very difficult under these conditions. There were four main interest groups – electrical, mechanical, chemical engineering, and applied physics – and very often, only one of the four groups would be in favor of any given candidate.
By 1976 I had become chairman and I managed to persuade both the faculty and the administration that we needed another external review to help sort out that problem. We developed the perhaps unique idea of convening five different advisory committees, one for each of the main areas, and one comprising the chairs of the four area committees.
At the end of the process the fifth committee submitted a report that recommended splitting the E&AS department back into separate departments of Electrical, Mechanical, and Chemical Engineering, and putting them into a new division, separate from the existing Division of Physical Science, which they felt didn’t really understand Engineering. The idea was that the director of that new division would be able to make decisions and communicate with the administration without interference from the basic scientists.
Bart Giamatti was president by then, and he just couldn’t accept the report as presented. Instead of three departments, he decided to split the department into four units – which were only later called departments – of Electrical, Mechanical, Chemical Engineering, and Applied Physics. He also rejected the idea of a separate Division of Engineering, but instead kept all of engineering within the same Division, and simply renamed it Division of Physical Sciences and Engineering. At first he promised to change the composition of the divisional committee to include more engineers, but after a year, he went back to the old composition.
The basic move to split engineering back into separate departments turned out to be a very good one, and it was widely hailed as a renaissance of Yale Engineering. By 1984 undergraduate majors hit a peak of 72, the largest number in 30 years, and the three engineering programs were fully accredited with the old names of Electrical, Mechanical and Chemical Engineering again.
To encourage interdisciplinary activities, and also courses for non-majors, the four departments were now unified into what Giamatti called the “Council of Engineering” with a chairman who had relatively little power. He asked me to serve as the first Council chairman and left me to figure our what the Council was supposed to do.
For a number of years this structure worked quite well. The departments were able to design their own programs and to reach consensus on faculty appointments in their own areas, and everything went along fine. We had a small fund drive for Engineering, which brought in $13 million, although we never got to see most of that money because it was quickly earmarked for “deficit reduction.”
Around 1989 we started a dialog with Benno Schmidt, who was president by then, and persuaded him to reverse some of the cuts in the size of the faculty that were made in the 1970’s, and he announced a new “Engineering Initiative” (that we all called the Schmidt Initiative) which was to make available 10 new junior faculty slots over the next 5 years.
We were very encouraged by this, but while we were debating how to use these new resources, Benno Schmidt took another initiative, one he did not announce publicly. He asked the University Council to set up yet another special committee to review science and engineering. The University Council consists of alumni volunteers, who meet twice a year, and over a period of a couple of years they took a cursory look at various programs and, without any kind of detailed study they concluded that Engineering really needed quite a few more additional faculty. In fact they concluded that we were really much too small to have any “national impact in engineering circles,” and they recommended an additional 26 faculty positions, many of them at tenure level, which someone estimated would cost an additional $100 million.
Their report was presented to Provost Frank Turner in 1991, just as he was facing a budget problem that he thought he should address with a cut of 15% across the whole Faculty of Arts and Science. Needless to say the idea of spending another $100 million didn’t sit very well, so he convened another committee to consider how to “restructure” the faculty by making selective cuts.
As soon as we heard about the “Restructuring Committee,” we were concerned, because its 15 faculty members did not include anyone who might represent any activity that could in any way be described as interested in “applied” fields. And then, while the committee was considering specific options, the Provost came out with a White Paper in which he outlined his ideas on “Building on Strength.”
Of course the idea of strengthening an area that is already strong is a good one, but it surely must be combined with a second principle of “Covering the Essential Bases.” There are certain fields that simply must be represented at a major university and it is unthinkable that one should eliminate one of them simply because, for some reason, it is not perceived to be “strong” at a particular point in time.
When we read about “Building on Strength” without any mention of covering “Essential Bases,” we worried that engineering might be in trouble, because we knew that there were always some confirmed critics of Engineering within Yale, and when the Restructuring committee came out with its draft report in January 1992 we were shocked, but not surprised, that it recommended the virtual elimination of Engineering and Applied Physics from Yale, among a number of other equally drastic cuts, such as Sociology, ISPS, and Linguistics.
But in another way the recommendation was surprising. In the fall of 1990, only a few months before the Restructuring Committee was appointed, Benno Schmidt, in his address to the incoming freshmen had said, and I quote:
"Never in Yale's history has excellence in science, applied science and engineering been more central to the academic mission of the University. Yale must be committed to the highest excellence in engineering as it is in other major areas of teaching and research. In an age of technology, the progress of our society depends on the commitment of its leading universities to excellence in science and engineering. This belief has led me to try to encourage Yale to a renewed commitment in these areas by major enhancements in our teaching and research facilities and by this significant expansion in our engineering faculty."
And now, a little over a year later, he seemed to be going along with the virtual elimination of Engineering. As many of you will remember, there were some stormy faculty meetings in February 1992, and we were really delighted at the time by the great support expressed by our faculty colleagues in the Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences, who all agreed that the report was wrong and needed to be reviewed by an independent committee. The vote for the establishment of the independent committee was something like 200 to 2. It was just unthinkable that Yale should not have a strong representation in areas of technology as we approached the 21st century.
The new committee, chaired by Tom Carew, held a number of hearings and, within a month, it was all over. The Provost resigned almost immediately, and a few months later the Dean of Yale College and the President had both resigned as well.
So what next for Engineering? Appoint another committee, of course.
This time there was a great deal of discussion about the charge to the committee, and the composition of the committee, with input from many faculty members. Finally a committee of 8 distinguished members from outside Yale and 3 from inside Yale convened in the spring of 1993 and they made a number of quite explicit recommendations:
They clearly affirmed the importance of Engineering for Yale.
They confirmed that the existing programs indeed had areas of genuine excellence.
They repeated the recommendation of the 1980 committee that there should be a new division separate from Physical Sciences.
And that this division should be led by a strong Dean (or someone with an equivalent title) who was given authority and who reported directly to the Provost.
They also made the point that their plan should be implemented in full, and not in selected parts, and they added “the barrage of external review and internal University criticism of Engineering should stop.”
So what happened? At first nothing happened – nothing happened because just as the report came out a new President, Rick Levin, took over. But once he was in office, one of the first things he did was to put out a press release affirming support for the future of Engineering at Yale. One very important feature of the press release was that Rick Levin allowed the Engineering faculty to make suggestions for the wording of the text, and the result was that there were indeed a lot of suggestions for changes in the wording. None of the changes were such that they altered the essence of what the President was going to say, but it illustrated that even someone as enlightened and sympathetic as Rick Levin could produce unwanted strong reactions in some nervous audiences.
The idea of a separate division was once again rejected, but the search for a strong leader was miraculously solved by the return to Yale of Allan Bromley after 4 years as Science Advisor to President George H. W. Bush. Bromley was a physicist, but he had an undergraduate degree in Engineering, and he certainly exuded the leadership personality that all of the previous committees had looked for. Perhaps even more important, Rick Levin did not need to be persuaded that Engineering was important, and he was pleased to find someone like Allan Bromley to take charge of the Yale Engineering program.
Allan insisted that he had to have the title of Dean of Engineering, to bring us into line with other Engineering programs, and the President readily agreed. So for the first time in over 30 years Yale had a Dean of Engineering again.
Allan elegantly circumvented the perennial objection to a separate Division of Engineering by simply announcing that the old Council of Engineering would henceforth be called the “Faculty of Engineering,” and that he would approve all proposals for faculty appointments. After he had approved them, the usual Divisional Committee for the Physical Sciences could consider them formally, but there was never an appointment submitted by Bromley that the Divisional Committee failed to approve. Those of you who knew Bromley will understand why.
So for the first time in many years we had the kind of administrative arrangement that was similar to that at other universities, and without anything actually happening to the faculty, or the facilities, Yale was suddenly perceived as having revitalized Engineering.
Allan stayed as Dean for 5 years as a very effective and visible leader, and Paul Fleury, also an excellent and very visible leader, succeeded him. Paul is now finishing his 7th year as Dean, and we are all waiting with great expectations the arrival of the next Dean, Kyle Vanderlick. It will be interesting to see how she will lead Yale Engineering over the next 5 years.
During the past 12 years the external image of Yale’s Engineering has improved steadily and one very important consequence of that has been our ability to attract some very good new faculty members, and that of course reinforces the image. It helps greatly that the President and a succession of recent Provosts have been very supportive in material ways, such as providing suitable set-up arrangements that help to attract new faculty members.
A new department of Biomedical Engineering has been started and a splendid new lab was built to house that program. After all these years of struggle, things now seem to be going very smoothly. The undergraduate enrollments have gone up again, and at the last Commencement there were 72 majors in Engineering – coincidentally the same number as the peak in 1984, following the Giamatti reorganization in 1981.
Having a dean who is visible and well connected to the outside world brings other benefits that enhance the reputation of the whole enterprise. In the last 5 years we’ve had 6 elections to the National Academy of Engineering, one to the National Academy of Science, 7 to the Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering, 3 as Fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, a National Medal of Technology, a Nobel Prize, and some three dozen other awards to various faculty members.
Some of these awards were to faculty who had come to Yale only since the latest “renaissance,” but about one half of the awards and elections went to faculty who were here during the dark days of Restructuring, and who had done their work here over many years before then. John Fenn’s work for which he got the Nobel Prize, for example, was done just around the time the Restructuring Committee wanted to close down the department of Chemical Engineering in 1992.
So what made the difference? I think it was just that people outside Yale suddenly were made aware of the fact that there really is an active program here. We knew that ourselves all the time, but the Administration didn’t, alumni didn’t, many other people outside Yale didn’t – and some inside Yale chose not to recognize it either. But does that mean our problems are really behind us? The answer, sadly, is no. In the ranking of Engineering programs put out by US News last year Yale was ranked 39th, a position close to where we have been for many years. So why should that be? Because for some people “size does matter.”
The US News rankings are based on several inputs and our total number of students puts us at 39th, our output of PhDs at 38th, the number of dollars spent on research at 36th, and the subjective ranking by other deans at 36th rank. So anyone who wants to criticize our programs can still find ammunition. On the other hand, if one wants to measure the quality of our programs there are several other rankings that paint a very different picture. One is a survey, put out by the research organization ISI that measures the impact of research papers by counting the number of citations by other authors per paper published. And, . . . .guess what? In the most recent one, Yale Engineering comes out at number one in such a ranking, ahead of the University of California at Santa Barbara, Stanford, Cal Tech, Harvard, Cornell, and Princeton in that order.
Earlier this year the Chronicle of Higher Education came out with a new ranking scheme, one that tries to measure the activity of different fields and, . . . guess what?
Yale’s Mechanical Engineering comes at 3rd rank, behind Berkeley and Cal Tech and ahead of Columbia and Georgia Tech; and Electrical Engineering comes at 4th rank tied with MIT, behind Cornell, Princeton and Rice, and ahead of UCLA and Columbia.
Of course none of these rankings really give a complete picture, but they do show that beauty is in part in the eye of the beholder, and that one’s opinion of any program depends very much on how one looks at it.
So Yale will always have a problem with Engineering. We will never have a program that competes in size with many of our peers, and some of our national rankings will continue to suffer accordingly. The days when we produced 15% of all US engineers are, sadly, behind us, even though the impact of the current research work is very high. It’s a situation we just have to live with, and we just have to make sure that future Provosts don’t come to the misguided conclusion again that Engineering is just not worth doing at Yale.
So that’s a brief survey of the history, but why does all of this really matter, as the title of this talk asks? For Engineering at Yale the answer of course is that understanding the difference between quality and size has kept us alive, and maybe it will keep us alive again the next time there is a budget panic. Engineering is distinct from Science and Yale needs both. Science tries to understand Nature. Applied Science uses that understanding to look for new phenomena, like lasers and semiconductors. Engineering is the step that takes small semi-conductor lasers and turns them into supermarket scanners.
But I think that the case study of Yale’s struggles with Engineering illustrates something else, something that affects us all. It illustrates how decisions are sometimes made at an institution like Yale, and how the process can go wrong. The key, I think, is summarized in three words – “lack of feedback.” Every time the Administration perceived a problem concerning Engineering they appointed a committee. The reason they needed a committee was, presumably, because they felt they didn’t know enough about Engineering to form sound decisions on which they could act, and which they could defend when challenged.
But, as we have seen, in almost every case, some of the committee recommendations were rejected or ignored, and no one seemed to notice or care. The administration never checked with the committee before they rejected any of their recommendations, and the committees were never asked to come back later to see what had actually happened. It is hard to solve complex problems in one go, and a process of iteration – feedback followed by action – is really needed to get things right.
In general, one would surely like to see a management process in which
- A problem is clearly formulated;
- Goals are established;
- Constraints are spelled out;
- Measures of success are specified and,
- If success is not achieved, the goals and constraints are re-examined.
That’s exactly what engineers do when they design and build a system. Once the system has been built they check it out, and, if it doesn’t work as specified, they work to fix it. That kind of approach is important not only for Engineering, but also much more generally, and it is one reason why all Yale students should have some contact with the “engineering approach” to problems.
If successive administrations had taken that approach to “improving” Engineering at Yale, I think we could have been where we are now a long time ago.
The above ideas were originally developed some six years ago and, on the occasion of YSEA’s Centennial, it seems timely to add a few afterthoughts.
First, the role of Yale Engineering Alumni, and YSEA in particular, was not mentioned in my talk because I was addressing a group of faculty members few of whom had much contact with Engineers. But it is certainly true that the continued existence of Engineering at Yale has had a lot to do with the support of our loyal alumni over the years.
My own contact with YSEA started soon after I became chairman in July 1976, when I was searching for ways to get the message out that Engineering and Applied Science at Yale was really thriving, all of the earlier obstacles and missteps not withstanding. It occurred to me that it might be helpful to organize an Open House to showcase what was actually going on, and I was delighted to find that YSEA was more than willing to help.
Financial support was readily offered and, perhaps even more important, contact with the large and generally disgruntled community of alumni was established. Many alumni had been very critical when the 1961 report was first published, and they had not kept up with what had actually happened.
The Open House that was organized in April 1977 was a great success, and the very favorable response of those who came back to visit the campus proved to be very helpful in reestablishing contact with our friends. That contact again proved most valuable when we faced the “Restructuring” crisis of 1992.
A flood of letters from YSEA members sent a clear message to the administration that they had made a big mistake and, no doubt helped to convince them to accept the recommendation of the faculty review committee.
Less dramatic, but also very valuable help came from the YSEA Board who steadfastly supported the Yale Scientific Magazine as it lurched from one financial crisis to another. I was personally involved with that venerable, but always brittle, publication over many years, and I can attest to the fact that, without the help of YSEA, it might well have ceased publication.
Of course the generous financial help of some of our most affluent alumni has been vital in such projects as the building of Becton Center and the Malone Engineering Center. Most recently the gift of ten endowed professorships, again by John Malone, has helped to build the momentum.
In this connection, mention should also be made of the recent role of Dean Vanderlick. Her appointment had just been announced when I gave my talk to the Koerner Center fellows, and I feel sure that her activities will be mentioned in more detail elsewhere in this publication. She has been very active in establishing contact with the Yale Corporation and the Administration, which resulted in the reestablishment of a School of Engineering and Applied Science in 2008, and it helped to bring about John Malone’s latest gift.
However, in the context of the earlier history it is perhaps of interest to note that she too tried to reorganize Engineering at Yale, and that the outcome was again rather different from her original plan. After some heated discussion, she finally renamed two of the departments, and the Applied Physics department moved out of the School of Engineering and Applied Science. Of course the separation of Applied Physics from Engineering strikes a very personal chord for me, since I was originally brought to Yale in 1963 to build up Applied Science in the then new department of Engineering and Applied Science.
Another phase in the cyclical history of Engineering at Yale has clearly started.
Werner P. Wolf
Revised August 19, 2013
Summary of Principal Dates Between 1961 and 2011
1961 Dodge Committee Report on the Role of Engineering at Yale strongly criticized by faculty, alumni and students.
1962 Creation of the Department of Engineering and Applied Science in FAS to promote Applied Science research.
1966 Loss of ECDP accreditation for all Yale undergraduate engineering programs.
1973 Re-accreditation of programs in Electronic Science and Engineering, Engineering Mechanics, and Engineering Science. Start of several new courses for non-majors.
1974 Number of undergraduate majors falls to 14, (from about 100 in the 1950’s).
1980 At the initiation of the faculty, visits of 4 external committees to review programs in Electrical, Mechanical, Chemical Engineering and Applied Physics.
1981 Report by the chairs of these committees recommends splitting E&AS into three departments and the creation of a new Division of Engineering. President Giamatti decides instead to create a department of Chemical Engineering and three sections of Electrical, Mechanical Engineering, and Applied Physics.
No separate division for Engineering. Council of Engineering created to run and coordinate courses for non-majors, and a common graduate program.
1982 Accreditation of undergraduate degrees in Electrical and Chemical Engineering.
1983 The section of Applied Mechanics becomes the department of Mechanical Engineering and Electrical Engineering is also designated a department
1984 Engineering graduates 72 undergraduate majors.
1985 Accreditation of an undergraduate degree in Mechanical Engineering.
1989 President Schmidt announces an “Engineering Initiative” planned to add 10 junior faculty positions over the next 5 years.
1991 Visiting committee reviews program in Applied Physics and endorses its strength. Recommends against possible merger with Physics.
1991 Report by a committee of the University Council recommending the addition of 26 new faculty positions to Engineering, with an estimated cost of $100 million. Rejected by the Provost in light of a budget deficit.
1991 Creation of the “Restructuring Committee” by the Provost to consider selective cuts in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. No representation of Engineering among the 15 Yale faculty members.
1992 (Jan) Draft report of the Restructuring Committee proposes combining all Engineering activities into one department again, with a 40% cut in faculty, and merging Applied Physics with Physics after a 25% cut.\
1992 (Feb) Faculty of Arts and Sciences questions the draft report and sets up an independent review committee.
1992 (Mar) Independent committee rejects most of the proposals of the Restructuring Committee. The Provost resigns.
1992 (May) The President and Dean of Yale College resign.
1993 Creation of a new committee to review the Engineering programs endorses the importance of Engineering and affirms current strengths.
Recommends the creation of a separate Division of Engineering (again), headed by a strong Dean (or similar title) to make decisions.
1993 Newly appointed President Levin publicly affirms the importance of Engineering for Yale.
1994 Appointment of D. Allan Bromley as Dean of Engineering.
Bromley renames the Council of Engineering as the Faculty of Engineering and decides that he will approve all faculty appointments and promotions before they are sent to the Divisional Committee for approval.
2000-2007 Appointment of Paul Fleury as Dean of Engineering.
Active recruitment of faculty continues, with the strong support of the
President and a succession of Provosts.
2002 Yale Engineering celebrates its sesquicentennial, and the recent awards of the Medal of Technology and the Nobel Prize to two of its faculty members.
2002-07 A period of significant recognition for Yale Engineering with numerous academy elections and awards to faculty members, both old and new.
2003 Department of Biomedical Engineering started.
2005 Malone Center built to house primarily Biomedical Engineering.
2006 Yale Engineering comes in first place in the ISI ranking of citations per paper published.
2007 In a new national ranking by the Chronicle of Higher Education that measures departmental activity, Mechanical Engineering comes third, while Electrical Engineering comes fourth, tied with MIT.
2008 Appointment of T. Kyle Vanderlick as the next Dean of Engineering.
Creation of a new School of Engineering and Applied Science.
2010 Reorganization of the School involving the renaming of the two
Departments of Mechanical and Chemical Engineering to Mechanical Engineering and Material Science and Chemical Engineering and Environmental Science, and the removal of the department of Applied Physics from the School of Engineering and Applied Science.
2011 Announcement of ten John C. Malone Professorships for the School of Engineering and Applied Science. To date, two have been filled in areas of Biomedical Engineering.
For a detailed discussion of the early history, see Engineering at Yale: School, Department, Council 1932-82 by W. Jack Cunningham, Connecticut Academy of Arts and Sciences 1992.
David Allan Bromley
First Dean of the Yale Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science
Bromley was born on May 4, 1926 in Westmeath, Ontario, Canada, a small farming town of two hundred people. His father was illiterate, but his grandfather, David, took interest in his bright grandson who, at age four, learned to read the King James bible. When Allan was seven years old, he walked four miles to a one-room school house. He learned his lessons quickly skipping grades three and seven. At 17 years of age, he entered the freshman class at Westmeath high school. His scholarly interest soon turned to science.
He completed high school as valedictorian of the Westmeath HS class of 1943. He then took a year off to work in a lumber camp earning enough money for college and board. He received a scholarship by posting the highest score ever recorded on the Canadian countrywide examination for college entrance. He then won a four year scholarship from a temperance association for an essay on the evils of alcohol.
At first, his interest was English, but that changed when he learned more about engineering and physics from his roommate who was majoring in electrical engineering. When considering his future employment, he narrowed his choices to either surgery or nuclear physics. He eventually chose physics.
Allan won the Governor General’s medal as the highest grade scorer when he graduated from Queen’s University in 1948. He turned down an Oxford scholarship in favor of graduate work in cosmic-ray research at the University of Rochester. When the cosmic-ray studies were dropped at Rochester, he was asked to work on the Rochester cyclotron (at the time, the second oldest in the world.) The cyclotron was in a basement and his budget was $20.
After earning his PhD in 1951, Allan joined the faculty at Rochester where he taught physics for four years. He helped rebuild the old Rochester cyclotron to make it the world’s first variable energy cyclotron. A high point for Allan was meeting Enrico Fermi who gave him access to nuclear physics laboratories in Italy which remained strong for the rest of his life.
Bromley returned to Canada from Rochester in 1955 moving to Chalk River where Atomic Energy of Canada gave him a lead position working with a Van de Graaf accelerator. In 1955, he did early work on silicon semiconductor detectors. Precision heavy ion studies in nuclear physics were then pioneered by Bromley and others to give Chalk River an international reputation in this field of physics.
In 1960, Bromley returned to the US to help Yale upgrade the three accelerators now available on upper Prospect Street. Bromley was assigned to the heavy ion linear accelerator which he quickly determined needed upgrading to be competitive with progress in the heavy ion field. After some internal dissension, Allen received support for a 10 MV tandem program. By 1966 the Wright accelerators at Yale were improved and rededicated with senior members of the world-wide nuclear physics community attending.
Also, in 1960, Allan was asked to chair a survey committee to prepare a U.S. National Academy of Sciences overview of the entire field of physics. The final report, published in 1972, contained five volumes which became a model for the presentation of the aspirations and needs of a field of science. It also gave Allan Bromley high level contacts in many fields of academia, government, and industry.
In 1970, Allan was appointed chair of the Yale physics department cementing his love of Yale and his desire to move Yale to the top of the world of physics. Allan continued his firm attachment to Yale for 40 years which included four years as presidential science advisor to George W. Bush.
In 1972, Yale President Kingman Brewster appointed Bromley Henry Ford II professor of physics. Allan worked to raise Yale to a high rank among US university physics departments. With continued global interest in heavy ion physics, he needed a larger accelerator (able to reach to 20MV levels.) This could be accomplished by increasing terminal voltage of existing equipment. However, funding for this large increase was denied for two years by the Department of Energy. Finally, with the active support of now president Bart Giamatti, the funding was approved and construction began in 1983. By 1987, further improvements had the accelerator operating at 22.7 MV.
Allan wished to write his own nuclear physics textbook, but found the world changing so rapidly he kept putting it off. He finally did write an eight volume treatise on heavy ion science which he edited and reedited in 1984, 1985, and 1988.
In 1980, Allan was elected vice president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and moved up to the presidency in 1981. He also received many honorary degrees from universities - worldwide. He was particularly proud of his honorary Doctor of Science degree from his alma mater, Queen’s University. In 1988, he received the U.S. National Medal of Science from president Ronald Reagan.
In 1989 he was appointed advisor to the president for Science and Technology by President George W. Bush. He negotiated close access to the president and an office overlooking the White House. He launched many science initiatives during his four years in the White House. He testified before congressional committees numerous times and organized or led important science and technology committees. As chairman of the President’s Council on Science and Technology (PCST) he headed the prime advisory group on science that reported directly to the president.
When George W. Bush lost his bid for a second term, Bromley was unable to produce a long range plan for U.S. science and technology as had the first science advisor, Vannevar Bush. In the immediate post WWII years, Vannevar Bush laid out plans for the country that were followed during the cold war years. Bromley wished to do the same for the US as we entered the twenty-first century.
When Allan returned to Yale in January 1993, he became the first ever Sterling Professor of the Sciences appointed by the then president, Howard Lamar. Lamar also asked Bromley to give the prestigious Silliman lecture which he first refused until he found that Niels Bohr and Enrico Fermi, among other famous scientists, had given Silliman lectures. He finally agreed to prepare the required three lectures which were then published by the Yale University Press in 1994 under the title, “The Presidents’ Scientists.”
Also in 1994, the new Yale president, Rick Levin, asked Bromley to head up Yale Engineering. At first, Bromley refused, but when Levin replied, “you owe this to Yale,” he agreed. He insisted that he be named Dean of what he now called the Yale Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science. While Bromley had an engineering degree from Queen’s College, his career was mostly in physics. He was, however, a proud engineer wearing an iron ring received in a special ceremony at Queen’s College.
Allan’s goal was to “get more Yale students into engineering and more engineering into Yale students.” Bromley took charge at a critical time for Yale Engineering.
The Faculty of Engineering that Bromley headed lacked visibility in the engineering community which translated to loss of interest in Yale engineering among the student body. Morale among faculty and students was extremely low. Bromley’s hope of reinstalling the School of Engineering was unlikely given the “near death” experience of the Benno Smith years when a proposal to eliminate engineering was rejected by the faculty senate. In the wake of this decision, renewed attempts to revitalize engineering had lacked long term support and the overall policy at Yale admission and elsewhere on the Yale campus was , at best, lukewarm.
Bromley, with strong connections in the federal government, the global academic community, and the private sector added needed new energy including financial contacts which began the rebuilding of Yale Engineering. Facing numerous problems, Bromley used his tried and true initiatives of forming working groups to solve these problems. He first formed an administrative group consisting of professors, his administrative assistant, and an undergraduate student which met daily. He then formed a Dean’s committee which included chairmen of individual engineering departments plus the Chairman of Computer Science. On a a monthly basis, the Dean’s committee met with the Dean of the Graduate School and Deputy Provost for Science and Technology which dealt with faculty recruitment.
President Rick Levin backed his transforming appointment of Bromley with a pledge to spend $500 million dollars for buildings and faculty that would put Yale back among the top engineering schools. Bromley use his strong connections with the federal government, the global academic community, and the private sector to put new energy and financial support into rebuilding Yale Engineering. The golden years of the Sheffield Scientific School provided Yale with a rich past in engineering and technology. Bromley was the spark that would rebuild Yale’s leadership in science and engineering.
In 2000, after six years of notable achievements including successful recruitments of key professors and additional alumni support, Bromley relinquished the deanship of Yale engineering. He did not retire but, continued teaching his fascinating class in science policy. He strongly supported Paul Fleury, the new dean, until his untimely death in 2004 after 40 years of service to Yale and two countries.
Paul A. Fleury - Yale’s second Dean of the
Yale Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science
2000 to 2008
In early 2000, following the announced intention of Dean D. Allan Bromley to step down, Dr. Paul A. Fleury, formerly dean of the University of New Mexico School of Engineering, was appointed by President Rick Levin as second dean of the modern Yale engineering era. Fleury arrived in the fall of 2000, the first non-Yale graduate in 50 years to become dean.
Fleury’s credentials include 30 years at Bell Laboratories where he led three different divisions as Director of Physical Research and, later, as Director of Materials and Materials Processing. He and his research teams pioneered experimental advances in laser spectroscopy of condensed matter which led to new insights into the behavior of liquids and solids with special emphasis on base transitions and critical phenomena. Fleury’s research was recognized by the Michelson Morely Prize and the Frank Isakson Prize which was followed by his election to both the National Academy of Engineering and the National Academy of Sciences.
As Materials Director at Bell Labs, he managed the inventions and transfer into manufacturing of the “MCVD” process for production of high quality optical fiber which greatly advanced communication technology.
During 1992 and 1993, Fleury served as Vice President for Research and Exploratory Technology at Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, NM. His responsibilities included materials science, physical and chemical sciences, pulsed power technology, computer science, and networking technology. His division included over 1000 scientists and administrative personnel.
Fleury joined Yale at a time when Yale Engineering was poised for rebirth thanks to the vision of Allan Bromley and the support of Yale President Richard Levin.
One of Fleury’s first initiatives was to convene a national symposium, “Challenge to Innovation in the 21st Century” which brought key Yale alumni, technology industry and national laboratories leaders, academic leaders, and government research officials to the Yale campus. Several symposiums were chaired by Yale deans from the School of Management and the School of Law. This event gave Yale Engineering high visibility in the technological world. Later, in 2002, Fleury put together the first large scale Yale Engineering alumni reunion to celebrate the sesquicentennial (150 years) of Yale Engineering.
2002 was a remarkable year for the Yale Engineering faculty. John Fenn received the Nobel Prize in chemistry and Professor Jerry M. Woodall received the National Medal of Technology for the development of important compound semiconductor heterojunctions which include light emitting diodes and solar cells.
In the spring of 2004, the J. Robert Mann Engineering Student Center (one of many gifts from Bob Mann ‘51BE, former president of YSEA) was opened as an intellectual cultural, and social meeting place for engineering students and friends.
During Fleury’s eight years as Yale dean, more than thirty ladder faculty were hired, the Biomedical Engineering Department was formed, the Environmental Engineering program reached a critical mass earning national recognition. When Professor Michael Devoret was added to the Applied Physics faculty in 2001, he and his colleagues, Rob Schoelkopf, Dan Prober, and Steve Girvin nucleated a formidable research group dedicated to the emerging field of quantum information and engineering computers which has gained global recognition.
Between 2000 and 2008, seven Yale Engineering faulty were elected to the prestigious National Academy of Engineering. Prior to 2000 there were no Yale Engineering faculty in the Academy.
In 2004, Paul Fleury and Steve Girvin were elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences along with Yale College Dean Richard Brodhead and Provost Susan Hockfield. (Broadhead soon became president of Duke University and Hockfield became president of MIT.)
An important result of the rising recognition of Yale faculty excellence was the considerable increase in Yale engineering graduate students of high caliber.
With the support of Yale Provost Andrew Hamilton, the Yale Microelectronics Cleanroom received an $8 million upgrade and renovation to become competitive with other leading materials science facilities. The Yale Institute for Nanoscience and Quantum Engineering (YINQE) was formed to provide world class fabrication and characterization of materials for over 200 Yale researchers.
In 2005, Fleury assembled a team led by John Tully, Vic Heinrich, Charles Ahn, and Udo Schwarz which competed successfully for a grant to support Connecticut’s first Materials Research Science and Engineering Center. This was funded by the National Science Foundation. In an extremely competitive environment, Yale’s proposal was one of only two in the nation funded that year. This multiyear, multimillion dollar award put Yale in a world class and visible program in the expanding field of materials science. The current version, The Center for Research of Interfacial Structures and Phenomena (CRISP) is prospering at double the original size following a successful re-compete in 2011.
Also, in 2005, the Malone Engineering Center, designed by Caesar Pelli, became the first new engineering building in nearly 40 years. Made possible by the generous donation of alumnus John Malone, the center was an instant landmark which now houses the fast growing Biomedical Engineering department and YINQE. For its advanced environmentally responsible construction, the Malone building was awarded LEED gold level certification.
In July 2007, Paul Fleury completed his tenure as Dean with a memorable farewell dinner at which President Levin announced that Yale Engineering would receive a new building, 17 Hillhouse Avenue, in the heart of the present engineering campus - the former home of the Yale Health Plan.
In 2007, total graduates of Yale Engineering reached a near-term high of 72 undergraduate degrees awarded well on the way to the goal of 100 per year that Fleury had articulated upon his arrival at Yale.
As the Frederick William Beinecke Professor of Engineering and Applied Science, Fleury continues at Yale as professor of physics. He maintains his close affiliation with YINQE and many advisory groups. Included are long standing relationships with Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the Los Alamos National Laboratory, the National Research Council Board of Physics, and A Visiting Committee on Advanced Technology, National Institute of Standards and Technology.
A partial list of other recipients of Fleury’s professional service includes: Brookhaven National Laboratory, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the University of California, the American Physical Society, and the NRC panel of Physics.
Richard C. Levin
22nd Yale University president
When Benno Schmidt suddenly resigned the Yale presidency in 1992, the Yale Corporation appointed Howard Lamar as interim president thus allowing a search committee to consider numerous presidential candidates capable of addressing the university’s many serious problems.
The next president faced a plateful of troubles: a serious budget shortfall, residential colleges in dire need of rebuilding, and a City of New Haven in turmoil. Like many New England cities, New Haven suffered from urban blight, a high crime rate, and continued loss of manufacturing jobs. The new Yale president would need energetic, imaginative leadership to succeed.
In April, 1993, Rick Levin accepted the presidency citing Timothy Dwight’s challenge of rebuilding a “ruined college” in 1795 as proof that successful rebuilding of Yale’s greatness was indeed possible.
Levin, true to his roots of liberal arts education, looked to past examples of success to aid him in making decisions to redefine and to rebuild Yale. He would need new programs and improved financial income to lead Yale to success as an elite educational institution. His partnership with New Haven would also become a model for other center city university presidents. By creating positive cooperative relations with the city government to improve city life, both Yale and New Haven would benefit.
Levin turned to Harvard and the history of their greatest president, Charles Eliot (president for forty years -1869 to 1909.) Among the management skills that Levin borrowed from Eliot were: Developing a vision for the future and communicating it repeatedly and effectively, setting achievable goals, taking calculated risks, and being undeterred by initial failure or gainsayers. Also of prime import was his choice of strong leaders to support his initiatives and then giving them authority, direction, and total support. Levin learned early that creating new departments produced better results than trying to reform existing departments. Restructuring an existing academic department often resulted in fractious debate while seldom producing a worthwhile solution.
Levin’s first major appointment was Linda Lorimer, Yale Law graduate and former president of Randolph-Macon Woman’s College. Levin believed that her experience, as a college president, would be especially valuable to him as the new president of Yale University. Her first task was to improve relations with New Haven’s government. Thus, Levin’s initial challenge would reshape the town-gown relationship that had troubled the university and the city for over 100 years.
As initial results of the New Haven initiative opened a door, he solidified the cooperative effort by creating a Yale Office for New Haven, State, and Campus Affairs. He then appointed Bruce Alexander, ‘65BA, as university Vice President with a broad mandate to improve city, state, and campus relationships.
Bruce Alexander spent his business career at Rouse Company whose successful redevelopment of the Baltimore, MD waterfront (Harborplace) became a nationally renowned revitalization of Baltimore’s inner city. Other successful Rouse inner city developments followed: Portland, ME (Pioneer Place), Miami, FL (Bayside) and New York City (South Street Seaport.) These creative projects brought international acclaim to the Rouse Company. Revitalization of inner city seaports was accomplished by an attractive mix of new business investment and city built recreational features.
Alexander’s mission at Yale was to build harmonious relationships with New Haven’s elected and appointed officials by working on common goals. Success would change century old friction into a positive partnership. The first cooperative initiative was the 1977 opening of the Yale Center for British Art on Chapel Street where storefronts would pay city property taxes. New Haven leader’s complaint that Yale’s tax free property status was a financial burden on the City was resolved by this compromise. Thereafter, negotiations would determine a “payment in lieu of taxes” fair to both Yale and New Haven. In 2013, Yale’s voluntary payment was $8.1 million ranking Yale as New Haven’s fifth largest taxpayer.
Levin, Lorimer, and Alexander constructed a Yale Homebuyer program that encouraged Yale staff, professors, and graduate students to buy or build homes in downtown New Haven adjacent to the Yale campus. New housing would replace old with the help of this attractive Yale program available to employees and their Yale colleagues. During Levin’s years, over 1000 staff and faculty members bought homes with the help of the Homebuyer program.
To focus students on civic service, Levin emphasized volunteering in the New Haven community, directed strongly at improving the New Haven public school system. In addition to undergraduate students who volunteer at local schools, professors also participate by counseling public school teachers to help them improve their teaching skills. In law enforcement and politics, New Haven and Yale formed partnerships that were positive for the shared community.
The success of Alexander and Lorimer in radically improving relations with New Haven demonstrated Rick Levin’s ability to find and motivate executives that achieved university goals.
Yale’s Financial challenge
When Levin became president, the Yale endowment was $3 billion and the fund raising campaign to rebuild the ten residential colleges was underway. David Swensen was Levin’s chief financial officer and his ability to manage and grow the Yale endowment was critical to Levin’s plans to renovate the residential colleges and finance other forward looking programs that would keep Yale among the elite institutions of higher learning.
The neglect of building maintenance during the depression of the 1930s and the World War II years brought Yale to a crisis point. The original eight residential colleges were all built in 1932 and 1933. Now, sixty years later, after years of only minimal emergency repair, these stone and brick structures were falling apart. A consensus of the Corporation supported a building fund raising campaign that pre-dated Levin’s presidency, so it became a challenge for Levin to assure that the “and for Yale” campaign was a success. At the time, the campaign goal of $1.5 billion was the largest campaign ever undertaken in the history of US universities.
Of the total goal, $500 million was earmarked for the renovation of the residential colleges. The rebuilding plans, fortunately, drew positive attention from alumni who had fond recollections of college life and had funds to contribute.
When the chance to be first among the colleges renovated was offered to Robert Bass BK ’71, his commitment of $20 million assured that Berkeley would be the lead project for complete renovation. Major changes in building practices and building codes over decades required major changes to address the living patterns of the students. Among these changes was the elimination of bunk beds installed to accommodate the flood of returning servicemen in the 1950s. The Berkeley College comprehensive redesign of existing space became a model for other college renovations. The individual renewal of each college was a priority so different architects were selected to assure unique features were retained.
Since renovating one college per year was the time table, a new building, “the swing dorm,” was built to house displaced students allowing them to retain the common bond of living together. The complete emptying of each college assured workers free reign of the premises thus speeding construction, saving money, and avoiding chaos if workers, students, and supporting staff tried to occupy the same space.
Yale Engineering & Applied Science
When Rick Levin announced, in January 2000, a proposed investment of $500 million for science and engineering, the corner was turned in the recovery of Yale Engineering.
The Yale Sheffield Scientific School of the 19th century was the high point of Yale University’s leadership in technology education. As Harvard turned away from the sciences and Boston Technical became MIT, in 1900, Sheffield was growing fast and earning world-wide renown. When Levin became president Sheffield was an ancient memory and Yale engineering was recovering from a near death experience. Now Levin’s clear intension was to put Yale back among the leading universities by renewing emphasis on science and engineering.
Levin was aware of Vannevar Bush and his seminal report - Science The Endless Frontier - prepared for President Roosevelt in 1945. The V. Bush report laid out post WWII plans for government involvement in basic research as an engine for economic growth for the US economy. Among the recommendations that became law was the creation of the National Science Foundation.
The NSF annually dispenses basic research grants primarily to universities from funds authorized by Congress for projects selected by peer review from those submitted. (Yale became a research university in the 1930s as the university emphasized research projects as the preferred way to teach science.)
In numerous stimulating speeches, President Levin emphasized Yale research, particularly basic scientific research, where discoveries of new scientific principles and phenomena lead to major industrial advances that become a competitive advantage for the US economy. A shortage of home-grown science and engineering talent had produced a large and steady inflow of foreign students including significant increases at Yale in both undergraduate and graduate students from Japan, China, and India. Well educated foreign students are a net gain for the US. Those who remain in the US become contributors to our scientific excellence - those who return to their home countries - become missionaries for the US way of life and help their countries raise their standard of living.
The recession of the 1980s (dot com bust) forced IBM, AT&T, and Xerox - all large private companies with significant basic research departments - to cutback or eliminate basic research programs. Thus, major corporations that formerly invested in basic research were no longer producing new scientific discoveries. The call for increased federal funding for basic research at universities now deserved national attention to answer this critical need.
Yale University, with heavy commitments to research in many fields, was one of many US research universities now pressed to address this national concern. The federal government limits its direct research investments to defense, public health, and occasional special projects such as the space program or alternative energy programs. Annual Congressional appropriations for basic research grants are awarded by the National Science Foundation to private and state research universities including Yale.
Levin served on a congressional committee that published Rising Above the Gathering Storm (2007) which highlighted the shortcomings of US technology and basic research. This report was an appeal to return to the V. Bush initiative by encouraging expanded federal support (NSF funding) for basic research at research universities. The Levin goal is to maintain US world leadership in technology.
At Yale, the perilous years of the 1990s faded quickly as new science and engineering buildings were built and an increase in hiring engineering faculty replaced a former negative environment that resulted in the disappearance of whole departments. Now, according to Levin, the most popular undergraduate major was the newly formed Biomedical Engineering program housed in the magnificent new Malone Engineering Center.
When the Yale Tomorrow campaign was launched in 2006, Yale’s total investment in Engineering and Science rose to $1 billion and Undergraduate Admissions began special programs to attract science and engineering students in sharp competition with MIT and other top rank science and engineering universities. Clearly the Yale horizon for engineering was brightening.
In 2007, the next exciting good news came from Bayer Healthcare, one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical company, who suddenly decided to close its West Haven North American headquarters. Bayer put their magnificent 136 acre complex, just seven miles from the Yale campus, up for sale.
Creation of the West Campus
In 2008, Yale was engaged in a $1 billion campaign to upgrade its science and medical facilities when a rare opportunity to purchase a 136 acre development of the Bayer Healthcare Company emerged.
When Yale entered the bidding the prestige of our world renowned university may well have adjusted the goals of the Bayer executives. Yale was awarded the complex at a surprisingly attractive price of $109 million. This included 17 buildings, many fully equipped with new laboratory equipment, parking space for 3000 automobiles, and groomed recreational space ideal for a university campus. A large, high ceilinged, heated warehouse, designed for storage of pharmaceuticals, was recognized as an ideal storage for fine art potentially saving the university fees formerly budgeted for storage of valuable Yale art.
The clear benefits to the University were an available, state-of-the-art research facility that offered growing Yale science and medical facilities space to expand. “Making it possible for Yale scientists to develop new discoveries, inventions, and cures years earlier,” said President Richard Levin at Yale’s announcement of the Bayer purchase.
As president Levin noted, “The West Campus purchase has transformative potential only some of which we can envision today. We’ve given our successors an opportunity to dream in new ways we can’t imagine today.”
The West Campus is organized with a combination of research institutes and four scientific core facilities that serve the institutes and the larger university.
Building a Biomedical cluster in New Haven
Rick Levin, as a graduate of Stanford University, was aware of the essential part that Stanford played in developing Silicon Valley. It was Fred Terman, Stanford’s Electrical Engineering professor, who is credited as founder of Silicon Valley. Terman’s appeal to Stanford graduates William Hewlett and David Packard and their cooperation with Stanford as they built HP into a major corporation was the first successful start-up in Stanford Industrial Park. The research excellence of Stanford became an incubator of the strong US electronics industry.
Yale’s strength in biotechnology is founded on Yale Medical school research. Levin expanded the Yale Office of Cooperative Research which is responsible for interface between Yale researchers and private businesses. Pharmacologist Professor William Prusoff developed an antiviral drug - Zerit - which showed promise in treatment of AIDS. In 1994, Bristol-Myers, who was funding a portion of Prusoff’s research, gained FDA approval for use of Zerit in a drug cocktail for treatment of AIDS patients. Royalty income from Yale’s portion of the Zerit patent grew from $3 million per year to $32 million helping to finance new research laboratories at the medical school.
According to Rick Levin, over forty companies - mostly biotechnology based - now serve the greater New Haven area. These companies have added $2.5 billion in capital investment to the region.
As a preeminent research university, Yale brings to New Haven hundreds of millions of dollars annually in research funds - both from NFC and DARPA grants (federal government) and private businesses. These funds support research groups in biotechnology, computer science, engineering, and the hard sciences.
President Levin’s legacy
On the occasion of Levin’s retirement in June 2013, the Yale News published a ten page article entitled, 20 ways Yale was transformed during Levin’s 20 years.
Of the twenty presidents that preceded Levin, there were just five who served longer terms and two of these are considered among Yale’s greatest presidents.
Beginning in 1740, Thomas Clapp, in 26 years, turned Yale from a Congressional seminary into a college with secular curricula added to the classical studies. Clapp also rewrote the duties of the Yale Corporation - a document still in effect today - that strengthened the powers of the Yale presidency. In 1795, Timothy Dwight, in his 23 years, following the formation of the United States government, set Yale College on a course to become a university by adding a medical school, a scientific school, and the first college Art gallery in the new country.
While it is too soon to measure Levin’s tenure in comparison with others over the past 300 years, the broad impact of his many major efforts to expand Yale’s mission clearly place his record in contention for greatness. While rebuilding a crumbling infrastructure and adding 40 new buildings, the Yale endowment increased from $3.2 billion (1993) to $19.3 billion (2012). Relations with the New Haven and Connecticut governments are now based on positive partnerships - misunderstandings and rancor of the past are gone. The economic condition of New Haven is stronger due to improved inner city neighborhoods and the addition of a biomedical cluster of businesses working with Yale researchers.
The addition of the Yale West Campus with basic research institutes creates new knowledge and invention that is useful worldwide.
Internationally, Yale is among the most respected world universities anchored by a new liberal arts university in Singapore Yale-NCU - a Levin sponsored initiative. The global outreach of Yale is apparent from the expansion of undergraduate and graduate foreign students now at Yale and the press to have all undergraduate students spend at least a semester of study in a foreign country.
The Yale tradition of excellent education for exceptional students has expanded and blossomed as the Levin years adhered to the fundamental mission of the founders of 1701.
The Yale Science and Engineering Association (YSEA)
Past and Future
The Yale Engineering Association (YEA) was created in 1914 with E. M. Herr ‘84S, president of Westinghouse Electric, elected as the first president. By 1915, there were 500 dues paying alumni members. Meetings were held at the Yale Club of New York and, at one of those early meetings, the first public demonstration of a transcontinental telephone call was made.
At one time, the YEA maintained an office in New York City with a paid staff that served alumni and Yale administrators. Monthly meetings, which were always held at the Yale Club, often featured well known Sheffield graduates or distinguished leaders residing in New York City. Speakers included Juan Trippe ‘21S, President of Pan American World Airways who built a world headquarters across the street from the Yale Club. Trippe was twice featured on the cover of Time Magazine and selected as one of their 100 most important people of the 20th century. Other featured speakers included George S. Moore ‘27S, president of CitiBank, and William H. Draper, Jr., first head of NATO.
The logic was clear in the 1960s: The YEA - one of the oldest and largest alumni groups in Yale’s long history - should be expanded to include other sciences. At the time, undergrads were required to chose among a list of Division 4 courses to meet their degree requirements. All courses of this division were science and technology, with engineering just one of the many science courses.
As president of the Yale Engineering Association in 1967, J. Robert Mann (Bob) was asked by then Yale President Kingman Brewster to expand the YEA to include all division 4 science alumni. The resulting expanded association was eventually named the Yale Science and Engineering Association (YSEA.) Finding a new name for the expanded organization became a major challenge.
When Bob Mann ’51 BE and Hugo Beit ’53 BE (both native New Yorkers and close friends) became the YEA leaders in 1962 they represented a younger generation who would inherit the problems roiling the Yale engineering campus as Yale administrators moved to restructure engineering. The addition of hard science alumni to the then Yale Engineering School alumni was and is a difficult task.
While previous YEA alumni leaders graduated from a thriving Yale Engineering School of the 1920s and 1930s (the successor to the very successful Sheffield Scientific School), Bob and Hugo represented the post world war II graduates who were asked to deal with an expanded alumni group which would include scientists. The change of venue from New York City to New Haven embroiled the YSEA in the turmoil on the Yale campus described previously by Bob Gordon and Werner Wolf.
Bob Mann earned his Yale Electrical Engineering degree (with honors) in 1951, then began a successful career in electrical contracting in New York City. He retained his strong ties to Yale University while also volunteering time and money to various trade and eleemosynary institutions.
Bob’s active life as CEO of EJ Electric Installation involves him in complex electrical contracting projects including office buildings, power plants, hospitals, data communication centers, airline terminals, industrial plants, universities, movie studios, transit facilities, high voltage distribution, and sports stadiums. Bob maintains professional affiliations at a high level with: the National Electrical Construction Roundtable, British-American Chamber of Commerce, National Building Museum, and Lincoln Center to name part of an impressive roster.
He is a published author on electronic engineering and maintains educational affiliations with Yale University. He is an advisor to the International Yacht Restoration School in Newport, RI.
As an active Yale alumnus, Bob is or was a member of the Yale Alumni Board, the Federation of Yale Alumni Organization, and the AYA Board of Governors. As an advocate for Yale science and engineering, he has helped develop new courses, attracted research grants from private business, and has personally contributed to outstanding laboratory facilities particularly in systems design and microelectronics. He has served as visiting lecturer on electrical engineering at the Yale School of Architecture.
Gifts to Yale include the J. Robert Mann, Jr. Microelectronics Teaching Laboratory, the Mann Electronic Design and Fabrication Lab, the J. Robert Mann, Jr. Engineering Student Center (a popular meeting place for engineering students at the center of Yale’s Engineering campus,) and the Harry Nyquist Distinguished Lectureship in Electrical Engineering.
In 2002 he received Yale’s highest alumni award - the Yale Medal and in 2011 became a Sterling Fellow in recognition of his outstanding involvement with Yale University.
Hugo Beit, who served 25 years as the YEA/YSEA secretary, came to New York City in 1941 at the age of eleven. The Beit family were refuges from an embattled Europe. Hugo’s father, Herbert, moved his family to Switzerland in 1934 after the Nazi’s surge to power in Germany drove many families to seek refuge elsewhere. In 1941, the family embarked from Lisbon, Spain by boat to settle in New York.
The Beit family chose New York City following the footsteps of Hugo’s great uncle, James Speyer, who had moved to the city in 1861. James represented an international banking firm, Speyer and Co., based in Frankfurt, Germany with affiliated branches in London, South Africa, and New York. The Speyer and Beit family included executives who were educated at Oxford and were investors in the first London Underground.
To begin his education in the United States, Hugo spent eight weeks at summer camp at Keewaydin, Vermont before attending the Eaglebrook School in Deerfield. He then spent four years at Deerfield Academy before entering Yale in 1949 as a major in mechanical engineering.
As an undergraduate, Hugo served three years on the editorial board of the Yale Scientific Magazine; the oldest undergraduate publication dedicated to science and engineering in the country. He became chairman of the YSM then continued his close relation with Yale as an alumni, first with the Yale Engineering Association, and later on the YSEA executive board member where he served as secretary for twenty-five years.
On occasion, a volunteer organization gives birth to a special person who becomes the backbone of its successful mission. During Hugo’s many years of service to Yale Engineering the trend was negative. Notwithstanding the problems, he spent four decades in a mission to help reclaim and rebuild the great traditions of a once great engineering school.
From the presidency of Charles Seymour in the 1940s to Rick Levin’s twenty successful years as president, Hugo Beit was a constant champion of Yale Engineering.
The Search for a Name
Archive records of the YEA indicate that, in January 1964, the addition of hard science majors would be added to the alumni roster as prospective members of the YEA.
The YEA executive board that Bob Mann headed in 1964 were all Yale engineering alumni, so obtaining consensus for a new name was a difficult task. The first request to the general membership with a list of suggested names received a cold reception: most YEA members were content to keep the original name.
Finally, in January 1966, Bob Mann suggested that the new name be: Yale Association for Science, Engineering and Industry. This was modified to Yale Science and Engineering Association with the hope that placing Science ahead of Engineering in the new name would help bring in new members from among Yale science alumni.
Besides a name change, the venue for YSEA meetings was moved from New York City to New Haven. Again, the hope was that being on the Yale campus would help add more science alumni to the membership list. Also a close affiliation with the newly formed Association of Yale Alumni (AYA) would be helpful to the YSEA mission.
Hugo, as secretary, took on the formidable task of reviewing the Yale list of academic departments to determine which majors would quality as alumni partners of engineers. In the 2002-2003 Yale academic year, his annual register of executive officers and affiliated groups included seventeen Yale academic departments whose alumni would be eligible to join the Yale Science and Engineering Association. His YSEA list also included five engineering departments, eleven science departments, plus all alumni of the School of Forestry, and all those associated with the Peabody Museum. This is a formidable constituency. The more limited Yale Engineering Association (prior to 1964,) included only graduates from the Yale School of Engineering (undergrad and higher degrees) which, at one time, exceeded 1500 Yale alumni members in the 1950s.
In 2009, an e-mail solicitation was made to 23,000 Yale science and engineering alumni drawn from a Development Department alumni data base. This formidable alumni roster presents a difficult challenge of directly contacting prospective YSEA members.
As turmoil engulfed engineering at Yale, the move to New Haven proved to be anything but beneficial to the newly formed YSEA. While the YSEA was awarded three places on the AYA governing board, a partnership relationship between the two organizations never became reality.
Critical needs for Engineering and Science at Yale
While the direction is positive for engineering and science on today’s Yale campus, the deep divisions of the past need to be finally resolved. In 1947, the centennial of the Sheffield Scientific School was celebrated with a three day event including lectures by president Charles Seymour, Dr. Linus Pauling, Edmund W. Sinnott and others.
Sinnott, who spoke on Science and the Whole Man, presented a strong argument for a truce in the 200 year debate between the superiority of scholasticism (the classical teachings of the 18th century) and the “new education” (championed by the Sheffield Scientific School in the 19th century.)
The different philosophies of human personality are most easily defined by the left brain-right brain theory. The right hemisphere is responsible for emotion, creativity, and intuitive thoughts while the left hemisphere is responsible for logical, analytic and objective thought. Since each of us develops a full hemisphere over time, our brain functions are built up in each hemisphere to produce a unique personality.
The division of human thought entrenched in our minds can also be described as rationalism - the realm of science and engineering and romanticism - the realm of theology and the humanities. Each philosophy has energetic proponents. Fortunately, in our day, both recognize the reality of the other.
Sinnott concluded “that mind and spirit may supplement each other so that we grow in wisdom and gain full access to the truth along these two great highways.”
Yale, as a leader in liberal arts education, (right hemisphere development) also needs to lead in science and engineering education (left hemisphere development.) Each division needs great teachers and excellent facilities to nurture the next generation. Graduates will carry with them Yale’s ultimate goal of advancing a peaceful world. Those leaders of tomorrow will make right choices that move humanity forward.
When the Sheffield Scientific School was incorporated into Yale University in 1919, the Sheffield Governing Board, which had effectively built a very strong school, turned over its administrative responsibilities to the Yale Corporation. The Yale School of Engineering established in 1932 by the Corporation looked for directed leadership from the Corporation.
Since the Yale Corporation is the ultimate director of all Yale schools and departments, this executive body should contain experienced members with scientific and engineering degrees. Recent history of the turmoil in engineering restructuring could have been more effective had there been more engineers and scientists in the committees charged with improving courses and direction. While the Corporation has occasionally elected engineers and scientists as members, the number serving should reflect the balance desired in degrees awarded in science and engineering. This support from the highest level would assure good relations between the schools and departments as the academic community goes about its critical purpose of educating the best students for a peaceful world.
The current executive committee of the YSEA is working to build its membership from a sizable body of Yale alumni engineers and scientists. YSEA’s proficiency to advocate for Yale goals depends upon maintaining and expanding its membership. YSEA’s major goal is to raise Yale’s stature as a university with a great tradition of educating effective leaders in science and engineering. To succeed, we need the experienced help of those graduates who have much to offer.
At the 100th centennial of the Sheffield School celebration in 1950, Edmund W. Sinnott lectured on “Science and the Whole Man.” The world will survive and create a paradise for future generations only if we avoid the destructive forces of dominance, hatred, and conflict. The scientists and engineers will continue to lengthen our lives and provide tools of progress. What we create, however, will be used for good or for bad depending on the will of the leaders of the world of tomorrow.
Yale West Campus Organization (2014)
Available to Institutes and Yale Researchers
Yale Center for Molecular Discovery - offers access to small molecule compound and siRNA collections and assay design.
Yale Center for Genome Analysis - full service facility for RNA expression, DNA genotyping and high-throughput sequencing. Among the most efficient genome sequencing operations in the world.
High Performance Computing Center - State-of-the-art computer systems that can analyze massive amounts of data.
West Campus Analytical Chemistry Core - Maintains high value instruments for biological, chemical and other research projects. Operates mass spectrometers, superconducting NMR spectrometers, and flow cytometers.
2014 Research Institutes
Chemical Biology Institute
Cancer Biology Institute
Systems Biology Institute
Microbial Diversity Institute
Energy Sciences Institute
Institute for the Preservation of Cultural Heritage
Yale: A History - Brooks Mather Kelley, Yale University Press 1974
D. Allan Bromley - Nuclear Scientist and Policy Innovator, World Scientific Publishing 2006
The Work of the University - Richard C. Levin, Yale University Press 2003
The Worth of the University - Richard C. Levin, Yale University Press 2013
Engineering at Yale - W. Jack Cunningham, Connecticut Academy of Arts and Sciences 1992
Centennial of Sheffield Scientific School, George Alfred Baitsell - Yale University Press 1950