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Berkeley: Departments and Programs

In 1912, a 35-year-old assistant professor of agricultural education, Ernest B. Babcock, proposed that he be allowed to develop a course in the principles of plant and animal breeding. In July, 1913, Babcock was named professor and head of the newly established Division of Genetics, the first academic department of that name in the United States. A year later, a young biochemist named Roy E. Clausen joined the department, which, for the academic year 1914-1915, had a total budget of $5,735.83. The sum covered the salaries of the two men and a stenographer, other costs, and $131.62 earmarked for "research expenses."

Growth was slow, and a faculty complement of seven was not reached until 1959. Instruction at the beginning had an agricultural orientation but as the young science of genetics acquired increasing general significance, the department's teaching responsibilities expanded accordingly. A graduate group in genetics was established with the department as focal point. This led to an increasingly broader coverage of many aspects of genetics and evolution not necessarily related to agriculture, a trend accelerated when the Davis section of the department became autonomous in 1958. By the mid-1960s, the graduate group contained not only all of the department members but geneticists from disciplines as diverse as molecular biology and poultry husbandry, or forestry and psychology. The department administered a National Institutes of Health training grant which eventually supported 12 predoctoral and five postdoctoral fellows a year. By the mid-1960s, over a hundred doctorates were awarded since the first Ph.D. was granted in genetics in the 1920s. Undergraduate majors in letters and science and agriculture were offered, and a range of courses served campus-wide needs at all levels.

The history of the department's research similarly followed the expansion of the whole subject of genetics. Plant breeding research gave way to experimental taxonomy, and formal genetics of Drosophila to cytogenetics of tobacco and of insects. Little by little, radiation genetics, population genetics, developmental genetics on both morphological and biochemical levels entered departmental activities. A variety of organisms from red bread molds to rats were investigated. By the mid-1960s, ecological and biochemical genetics had received added attention. The hundred-odd dollars of the first research budget no longer sufficed to support these studies; federal and state funds increased this figure by several orders of magnitude.

The department's achievement was reflected in the fact that five of the 11 persons who served on the faculty were elected to the National Academy of Sciences, and four were chosen Faculty Research Lecturers. The department entered into its second half-century prepared to meet the challenges of academic reform and the explosion of scientific knowledge. source

Genetics is now a part of the Department of Integrative Biology, and the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology includes a division of Genetics and Development. See also Molecular and Cell Biology.

One of the smaller departments in the University, geography was also one of the older ones. Although the second President of the University, Daniel Coit Gilman, was a geographer, his preoccupation with administration allowed him to lecture on the subject only irregularly. In 1898, the first professor of geography was appointed. He was George Davidson, who had held the honorary title of non-resident professor of geography and astronomy since 1870. Davidson had been a leading scientific figure in the west ever since he had come to California in 1850 to initiate a coastal and geodetic mapping program for the federal government. Between 1877 and 1884 he was a member of the Board of Regents. His appointment in geography, at the age of 72, came after he left the government service. He taught for seven years, and was responsible for the appointment of Ruliff S. Holway to the geography staff in 1904. The year after Davidson retired, Holway took on the direction of the growing department, retaining it until his retirement in 1923. During this period the department had been closely allied with geology, several of the geography staff members having received their graduate degrees in that subject. Instruction emphasized physiography, meteorology, oceanography and mapping, although several courses in commercial geography were given in the College of Commerce. The first master's degree in geography was awarded in 1908.

With the appointment of Carl O. Sauer, formerly of the University of Michigan, as professor of geography and chairman of the department in 1923 there was a marked shift of emphasis, especially towards cultural and historical geography and Latin America. What is sometimes referred to as the "Berkeley school" of cultural geography began to evolve at this time. Close links were forged with anthropology, to the point that a merger of the two departments was at one point seriously considered. Sauer had brought with him from the east a graduate student named John Leighly, the department's first Ph.D., who was to be responsible for the development of climatology within the department. When Sauer stepped down as chairman in 1954, after 30 years, the post fell naturally to Leighly. With Leighly's retirement in 1960, it was assumed by James J. Parsons, himself a Berkeley graduate.

At the undergraduate level geography always had a substantial service role. Graduate students generally outnumbered undergraduate majors. Through June, 1965, the department awarded a total of 56 Ph.D. and 92 M.A. degrees. Most of these graduates went into academic work. Enrollment in geography courses rose sharply. In 1965, there were 50 undergraduate majors enrolled while there were some 60 graduate students. In the 1960s, economic and urban geography, Asia, and the Soviet Union were added to the subjects that were traditionally stressed in the department. By the mid-1960s, the ten-man faculty included former senior staff members at Singapore, Rio de Janeiro, and Vancouver. There were numerous visiting appointments, especially of prominent European geographers.

Originally housed with geology in Bacon Hall, geography moved to the basement of South Hall in 1923 and later to Agriculture Hall and to Giannini Hall. After 1960 it occupied the top floor of the Earth Sciences Building, the geography of the entire San Francisco Bay Area appropriately spread before it. source

Geology and Geophysics
Joseph LeConte's initial title was professor of geology, natural history, and botany, and he gave the first courses both in geology and in the life sciences. Indeed, for several years almost every student on the Berkeley campus attended his lectures in physical geology.

The department was originally housed in South Hall, described at the time as "an enduring structure of brick and stone," and it remained there for 38 years. And, at first, South Hall also provided space for the museums of geology, mineralogy, economic botany, and ethnology.

As early as 1872, Eugene W. Hilgard, professor of agriculture, had taught mineralogy; in 1879, in response to the growing demand for mining engineers and geologists, the Department of Geology added courses in ore deposits and petrography, given by A. Wendell Jackson.

The appointment of Andrew C. Lawson in 1890 was particularly important. While LeConte continued to teach the popular, introductory course in physical geology until 1898, Lawson taught mineralogy, crystallography, petrography, and economic geology; and he initiated the fundamental course in field geology, the first of its kind in the west and probably in America. In his second year, he started the first graduate courses; in his third year he was mainly responsible for the establishment of the distinguished scientific publication series of the University Press. His paper, "Geology of Carmelo Bay," appeared in May, 1893 as Vol. 1, No. 1 of the Bulletin of the Department of Geology.

John C. Merriam, later to become president of the Carnegie Institution of Washington, was appointed honorary fellow in paleontology, and gave the first course in that subject on the campus in 1894. Within three years, the number of paleontology courses grew to eight. By the turn of the century, the number of graduate courses in geology and paleontology had risen to four; the teaching staff until then usually consisted of three regular members and as many temporary assistants.

Between 1909 and 1921, Merriam headed a separate Department of Paleontology; when he left for Washington, it was reunited with the Department of Geology, to be separated once more in 1927.

Already in 1887, the University had established the first Seismographic Stations in the Americas, one at Berkeley and the other at Lick Observatory. By the mid-1960s, it operated 18 stations. But the first course in seismology was not offered until 1912 by Elmer F. Davis. In the next year, Davis gave two courses, and in 1922-23, Father Macelwane gave four, two of them at the graduate level. In the same year, John P. Buwalda started instruction in physiography and established the valuable summer field course in geology, later to be carried on successfully for 33 years by Nicholas L. Taliaferro. This development was largely an outgrowth of the need for more geologists by the petroleum industry.

From 1906 to 1944, George D. Louderback was a leader in the affairs of the department and of the campus as a whole; for 11 years he was chairman, and for an equal span he was dean of the College of Letters and Science. By 1925, the department was offering 7 lower division, 27 upper division, and 16 graduate courses.

In 1946, a separate geophysics major was set up; in 1957, a special course was begun for engineers; and in 1963, the name of the department changed to Geology and Geophysics. Principal emphasis was on the field, structural, sedimentary, stratigraphic, and historical aspects of geology until about 1945; increasing emphasis was then placed on igneous and metamorphic petrology, the deformation of rocks and minerals at high pressures, paleomagnetism, mineral equilibria at high pressures and temperatures, and mineralogical studies by such means as the electron probe and x-ray fluorescence. These more quantitative studies necessitated more elaborate equipment and more technical assistance.

The Berkeley General Catalogue, 1964-65 listed five lower division, 17 upper division, and 19 graduate courses in geology and mineralogy, along with five upper division and six graduate courses in geophysics. To meet this continued expansion, the academic staff grew to ten in geology and to four in geophysics.

Student enrollments used to reflect changing needs of the petroleum and mining industries more than they did by the mid-1960s; by that time, there was additional need for students trained in engineering and groundwater geology, and in various kinds of geochemistry and geophysics. Graduate training became virtually indispensable for employment in all fields. In the fall of 1962, graduate enrollment was 50 (including 11 in geophysics); in the spring of 1965, it rose to 68 (including 16 in geophysics). source

Geology and Geophysics are now part of the Department of Earth and Planetary Science.

Instruction in German language and literature was a part of the University's program from its beginning in Oakland in 1869. At first, German was but one of the four commonly taught languages of Western Europe, for all of which one professor of modern languages (Paul Pioda) was responsible. The first appointment of a man, Albin Putzker, to teach only German became effective in 1874 and the organization of a separate department, with two members, was carried out about ten years later. The curriculum during the first 20 years or so was limited; there were few electives and there was very little that could be called graduate work. The professors had heavy teaching loads (12-14 hours per week) and one and the same man would normally teach beginning language, Middle High German, Gothic, and Goethe and Schiller--all during the same term. Because German was required for many scientific majors, it was studied by about one-third of the student body. But there were few German majors. In 1895, for example, there were no graduates with a degree in German; in 1896, there were ten German majors awarded the B.L. degree, but none received the M.A., the M.L., or the Ph.D. degrees in that subject.

There was a marked change after the turn of the century, with the advent of President Benjamin Ide Wheeler in 1899 and the appointment in 1901 of Hugo K. Schilling, the man who dominated the department for the next quarter century, as professor of German. By 1907, the number of full-time staff members was eight, the number of courses (undergraduate and graduate) was greatly proliferated, the elective system flowered, and the number of students greatly increased; in 1906, there were 25 who received the A.B. degree with a major including German and two who took the M.A. degree.

During the decade beginning in 1910, there were several losses by death or retirement and consequently several new appointments. The staff thereafter remained comparatively stable until after the end of World War II. There was a sharp drop in student enrollment during and after World War I and the department suffered some adverse publicity because of the alleged pro-German sentiments of some of its members. There was, however, a steady increase in numbers of students in the 1920s and 1930s, reaching a total of about 1,600 on the eve of World War II. The decline during the war years was more than offset immediately after the war; in 1946, there were 2,172 students in all courses.

Since the end of the war, the staff of the department was almost completely reconstituted (in 1965, there was only one active member whose tenure pre-dated 1941). In the middle 1960s, there were 23 full-time staff members, 65 to 70 teaching assistants, and three non-academic employees. These people served a student population which, in 1963, numbered 1,893 in the lower division, 438 in the upper division, and 121 enrolled in graduate courses. The department became in all respects the largest German department in the United States. It continued to afford a liberal, humanistic education to some 90 to 100 undergraduate major students and a professional training as scholars and teachers to some 80 or 90 graduate students.

During its first half century, its staff was not noted for the amount and the quality of its published writings. After that time, however, the many important contributions to the history and criticism of German literature--where the interest of its members was centered--brought distinction to the department.

Among the department's influential members during its first century (omitting those still active in 1965) may be mentioned the following: Albin Putzker (1874-1906; head of department, 1874-1900); Hugo K. Schilling (1901-30; chairman, 1901-24); Clarence Paschall (1902-43; chairman, 1924-37); Lawrence M. Price (1914-51); Clair Hayden Bell (1909-54); Edward V. Brewer (1921-54; chairman, 1945-54); Archer Taylor (1939-58; chairman, 1940-45); C. Grant Loomis (1941-63; chairman, 1957-62); and Hans M. Wolff (1946-58.) source

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