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Historical Timeline

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A timeline of significant events in the college's history

1859
Jacob S. Whitman, professor of natural science, was one of four faculty at the opening of the Farmer's High School. The President was Evan Pugh, who held a Ph.D. from Göttingen in chemistry.

1888
Department of Physics separates from original Department of Chemistry & Physics

1889
George ("Swampy") Pond arrives as Head of the Department of Chemistry.
"Even chemistry, a mainstay of the curriculum since the days of The Farmers' High School, attracted relatively few students in comparison to those choosing engineering. Part of the Department of Chemistry's troubles initially stemmed from the less than satisfactory performance of both students and teaching staff." Pond reorganized the curriculum and declared that "no inferior work can be accepted here." p 36

1895
School of Mathematics and Physics created, I. Thornton Osmond, Dean

1896
School of Natural Science forms, including Departments of Botany, Chemistry, Geology and Zoology - George Pond, Dean

1902
Program in Industrial Chemistry added to School of Natural Sciences.
"The Department of Chemistry consistently enrolled more undergraduates and was better equipped than any other department outside the School of Engineering. Its assay and quantitative laboratories and balance room had to be outfitted mainly with hardware imported from Germany, in the absence of satisfactory domestic sources of scientific instruments." p 51

1906
Geology transfers to the new School of Mines.
Botany transfers to the School of Agriculture.

1907
Physics added when the separate School of Mathematics and Physics dissolves.
Mathematics went to Liberal Arts.

1913
Pre-Medicine Program added

1922
Graduate School created, Frank D. Kern, Professor and Head of Botany, as Dean.
"The School of Natural Science customarily awarded the Master of Science, ostensibly a degree conferred for academic scholarship; but again, many students, especially those in chemistry, received it after completing several years of nonresident professional work and a brief thesis. Standards for original thesis work were not high in any of the schools, and seminars were few." p. 112
"Doctoral studies were inaugurated in 1924, with the first Ph.D. being awarded to Marsh W. White in the field of physics in 1926. (White was a member of the physics faculty at that time and continued in this capacity until he retired in 1960.)" p. 113

1924
Zoology transfers to Agriculture.
School of Natural Science is replaced by School of Chemistry and Physics, with Gerald R.Wendt, "nationally renowned research chemist" as Dean.
"This change paved the way for the appointment of Dean Wendt but did not address a more serious problem. Scientific knowledge was expanding at a rapid rate as the twentieth century gained momentum, yet a lack of money had prevented the old School of Natural Science from keeping pace. It encountered difficulty in hiring faculty well versed in the latest scientific methods and theories, and was unable to acquire modern equipment for use in student laboratories or to enlarge many of those labs to accommodate more students." p. 113
"Dean Gerald Wendt...first issued a series of guidelines designed to improve the quality of instruction. No new faculty were to be hired who did not possess the Ph.D. Present members of the teaching staff were strongly urged to work toward doctoral degrees, preferably at institutions having reputations for excellence in advanced scientific studies...The school would continue to utilize graduate assistants, but only those holding master's or equivalent degrees were to be given undergraduate teaching assignments." p. 160

1926
Division of Industrial Research created within the School.

1929
Petroleum Refining Laboratory (PRL) created.
Frank C. Whitmore becomes Dean, School of Chemistry and Physics.

1932
Wheeler P. Davey named the School's first "Research Professor".

1941
Ellen H. Richards Institute, for research in home economics, created, jointly operated by the Schools of Agriculture and Chemistry & Physics.
During World War II, the PRL conducted research on high-altitude aircraft lubricant, and researchers in Chemistry & Physics did research and development on drugs (in particular, finding ways to increase the yield and purity of penicillin).

1948
George L. Haller becomes Dean.

1953
School of Chemistry and Physics becomes College of Chemistry and Physics.

1955
Erwin Mueller becomes the first person to see an atom.
Chemistry & Physics is in fourth place, behind Agriculture, Engineering, and Mineral Industries, in research expenditures. p. 243

1956
Ferdinand G. Brickwedde becomes Dean.

1962
Core Colleges system, intended to guide the general basic education of Undergraduate students, formed, consisting of Chemistry & Physics, Liberal Arts, and Arts & Architecture.

1963
Departments of Biochemistry, Biophysics, Botany, Mathematics, Microbiology, and Zoology join Chemistry and Physics to form the College of Science Chemical Engineering moves to the College of Engineering.

1965
Department of Astronomy created Department of Computer Science created Clarence I. Noll becomes Dean.

1967
Departments of Botany and Zoology merge to form the Department of Biology.

1968
Department of Statistics created.

1971
Thomas Wartik becomes Dean.

1972
Statistical Consulting Center established.

1975
Four existing biological sciences departments reorganize to three:
Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics
Department of Microbiology and Cell Biology
Department of Biology

1979
Departments of Biochemistry & Biophysics and Microbiology & Cell Biology merge to form Department of Microbiology, Cell Biology, Biochemistry & Biophysics

1982
Department of Microbiology, Cell Biology, Biochemistry & Biophysics changes name to Department of Biochemistry, Microbiology, Molecular and Cell Biology.

1983
Laboratory for Elementary Particle Science established.

1984
Biotechnology Institute established as part of Department of Biochemistry, Microbiology, Molecular and Cell Biology Center for Statistical Ecology and Environmental Statistics established.

1985
Department of Biochemistry, Microbiology, Molecular and Cell Biology changes name to Department of Molecular and Cell Biology.
Braddock Bequest establishes undergraduate and graduate awards in the physical and biological sciences .

1986
Eberly Family gift establishes eight chairs and one professorship in the college.

1987
Center for the Commercial Development of Space (later Center for Cell Research) established.
Center for Particle Science and Technology (joint with Science, Engineering, Earth & Mineral Science and Agriculture) established.
Center for Biostatistics and Epidemiology (joint with Hershey Medical Center) established.
Leonard N. Zimmerman becomes Dean.

1988
NASA Space Grant Program established.
Center for Multivariate Analysis established at Penn State.

1989
Gregory L. Geoffroy becomes Dean.

1990
College renamed Eberly College of Science Institute of Molecular Evolutionary Biology established.

1991
Biotechnology Institute transferred to Intercollege Research Program Center for Biomolecular Structure and Function established.

1992
Department of Astronomy becomes Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics.
Center for Cell Research transferred to Intercollege Research Program.
Center for Gene Regulation established.
Center for Likelihood Studies established.

1993
Department of Computer Science merges with Computer Engineering Program to create the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, jointly administered by the Eberly College of Science and the College of Engineering.
Center for Gravitational Physics and Geometry established.

1994
Department of Molecular and Cell Biology becomes Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.
Statistical Consulting Center for Astronomy established.
Material Physics Center established.

1996
Hobby-Eberly Telescope, the largest and most powerful optical telescope in the continental United States, is completed in Texas. The HET is a joint effort involving Penn State, the University of Texas at Austin, Stanford University, and Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet Muenchen, and Goerg-August-Universitaet Goettingen in Germany.
Life Sciences Consortium (based in the Intercollege Research Program, with significant links to the Eberly College of Science) established.

1997
Howard Grotch becomes Interim Dean.

1998
Daniel J. Larson becomes Dean.
Five of Penn State's 15 Presidents were trained in fields found in this college:
Evan Pugh held a Ph.D. in chemistry
William H. Allen was a professor of chemistry and natural history
John Fraser was professor of mathematics/astronomy and lecturer in military tactics
John W. Oswald had a B.S. in botany
Joab Thomas was professor of biology

 

* SA Penn State Sourcebook and Bezilla's Penn State: an illustrated history (page numbers indicate excerpts from the latter). Additional information drawn from Science files.

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