M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives

UNIVERSITY ARCHIVES

Finding Aid for the
DEPARTMENT OF BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES
RECORDS, 1936-1973, 1983-1988
(UA-623)

Finding aid includes an administrative history only.

For reference queries contact Grenander Department Reference staff or (518)-437-3935.

Administrative History Compiled by
Orson Kingsley, History 599 Intern
October 2004







M. E. Grenander Department of Special Collections & Archives 
University Libraries / University at Albany / State University of New York 
1400 Washington Avenue / Albany, New York 12222 / (518) 437-3935


VOLUME: 5 cubic ft.

ACQUISITION: These records were deposited in the M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections & Archives, University Libraries, University at Albany.

ACCESS: Access to these records is unrestricted.

COPYRIGHT: The researcher assumes full responsibility for conforming with the laws of copyright. Whenever possible, the M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives will provide information about copyright owners and other restrictions, but the legal determination ultimately rests with the researcher. Requests for permission to publish material from this collection should be discussed with the Head of Special Collections and Archives.


TABLE OF CONTENTS

Administrative History

Scope and Content Note


Department of Biological Sciences
Administrative History

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Today’s Department of Biological Sciences dates from 1966, but variants of this name have been used off and on since 1904.[1] Today, “the objective of the department [of biological sciences] is to provide the undergraduate student with a broad background in the biological sciences and adequate supporting strength in the physical sciences.”[2] Today’s department also offers a Bachelor’s degree in the Arts and Sciences, a Master’s degree, a B.S./M.S. combination program, and a Doctor of Philosophy degree. Undergraduates can take interdisciplinary programs in both human biology and biochemistry and molecular biology. Graduate students have the option of taking the Biodiversity, Conservation, and Policy program, or the Forensic Molecular Biology program. PH.D. degrees are offered in two main areas; Molecular, Cellular, Developmental and Neural Biology, along with Ecology, Evolution and Behavior. A joint seven-year biology/optometry program with SUNY-Optometry is also available to students who wish to get a Doctor of Optometry degree.

The Executive Committee of the New York State Normal School at SUNY Albany started teaching in 1845, under the heading of Natural Science.[3] On March 15, 1845 the first faculty member of the department was employed at the school. Merritt G. McKoon was appointed assistant teacher of Natural Science.[4] Due to the schools purpose of training teachers for grades one through eight at this time, all sciences were taught under the rubric of Natural Science (also called Natural Philosophy). Unfortunately for Professor McKoon, he abruptly resigned on June 9, 1845, “on account of the extreme sickness of his family.”[5] With Professor McKoon’s sudden departure, William W. Clark to took over teaching the course while still a student at the school. He was paid $60 for his services.[6] Clark was kept on as a teacher of both natural philosophy and chemistry after he graduated on August 27, 1845.[7]

The first class on physiology was taught in 1846 by the school’s principal, David Page.[8] Between 1851 and 1861, due to a rapid series of resignations, there were nine different teachers who taught natural philosophy.[9] Beginning in 1854, and lasting throughout the rest of the nineteenth century, the professors who taught natural philosophy were technically known as Professors of Natural Science; both being general science.[10] In 1868 botany was added as a course, to go along with physiology and natural philosophy.[11] These three courses remained the staple of the biology program until 1890 when zoology was added to the curriculum. This expansion of classes caused the school President, on January 12, 1889, to expand the number of faculty members for the department from one to two. Miss E. Helen Hannahs, an 1884 graduate from the Normal School at Albany, became the first female teacher in the field of natural science at Albany.[12] In 1890 the school changed from teaching both subject matter and methods of teaching to strictly methods of teaching.[13] In 1891 the word “science” first was used, replacing natural philosophy.[14]

In 1898 Charles S. Gager became the first professor to be hired under the newly introduced heading of Biology Professor.[15] In 1904 the school reintroduced subject matter to the curriculum, and the Department of Biological Science was formed. Eight biology classes were offered during this year, with Dr. Gager teaching six of them.[16] The initial reintroduction of subject matter as opposed to pedagogy was confirmed in December 1905 when the Normal College was made a four-year liberal arts college for teachers with the same standards as other New York colleges of good standing. In 1914 biology was listed as an available minor for the first time in the Annual Circular.[17] That same year the first Master’s thesis cataloged as a biology thesis, titled “Theories of Immunity,” was accepted from Alice M. Adams. She was awarded a Master of Arts in Education degree.[18] In the mid-1930’s the first graduate class in biology was offered, and in 1944 an official list of graduate classes required by the department was made available.[19]

In 1960, the SUNY Master Plan placed priority on the Master’s and Doctoral programs at Albany.[20] In 1962, the Master’s program in biology was opened up to anyone who had the credentials to take it. Previously it had been restricted to teachers.[21] In 1965 a Ph.D was offered in biology for the first time.[22] Joseph T. Tupper received the first PH.D in 1970 with his thesis “Microelectrode Studies on the Electrical Properties of Isolated Mitochondrial Membranes.”[23] The B.S./M.S. combination program and the honors program were first listed in the school’s undergraduate bulletin as being offered for the 1983-84 school year.[24] The interdisciplinary program of human biology was first offered in the school bulletin in 1990.[25] In 1992 the biochemistry and molecular biology program was first listed as available.[26] In 1997 Albany began offering a joint seven-year biology/optometry program with SUNY-Optometry for students to gain a Doctor of Optometry degree.[27] The Master’s program has also expanded over time. Beginning in 1998 graduate students could take courses leading to a degree in Biodiversity, Conservation, and Policy.[28] In 2001 a sequence in Forensic Molecular Biology was made available. In the fall of 2003 the first students enrolled in this program upon its changing to a regular M.S. program.[29] In the rapid moving field of science, the biology program at SUNY Albany is continually evolving to meet the needs of society.

Department Names

1904-1911: Biological Science
1912-1913: Biological and Earth Science
1914-1933: Biology and Physiography (included geology, mineralogy, etc.)
1934-1940: Biological Science
1941-1965: Biology
1966- : Biological Sciences

Department Chairmen, Chairs, and Chair Persons:

Clifford A. Woodard, Chairman, 1909-33
Carleton E. Power, Chairman, 1933-43
Ralph G. Clausen, Chairman, 1943-51
Minnie B. Scotland, Chairman, 1951-57
Paul C. Lemon, Chairman, 1957-63, 1964-1967
Edward Berg, Acting Chairman, 1963-64
Robert D. Allen, Chairman, 1967-72
Frederick H. Truscott, Chairman, 1972-73, 1975-76
Corrado Baglioni, Chairman, 1973-75
Leonard S. Lerman, Chairman, 1976-78; Chair, 1978-82
Henry Tedeschi, Chair, 1982-86
John Jacklet, Chair, 1986-91; Chair Person, 1997-99
Joseph Mascarenhas, Chair, 1991-95; Chair Person, 1995-97
David A. Shub, Chair Person, 1999-2003
Albert Millis, Chair Person, 2003-

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Notes

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1. State University of New York at Albany, Undergraduate Bulletin 1966-1967, p. 115.
2. State University of New York at Albany, Undergraduate Bulletin 2002-2003, p. 81.
3. An Historical Sketch of the State Normal College at Albany, N.Y. and a History of its Graduates for Fifty Years: 1844-1894, Albany, NY: Brandow Printing Company, p.4.
4. State Normal School Albany: Executive Committee Minutes: 1844-1868, Albany, NY, 1941, Vol. 1, p. 19.
5. State Normal School Albany: Executive Committee Minutes: 1844-1868, Albany, NY, 1941, Vol. 1, p. 24.
6. State Normal School Albany: Executive Committee Minutes: 1844-1868, Albany, NY, 1941, Vol. 1, p. 31.
7. Annual Report of the Executive Committee of the State Normal School: 1844-1852, January 27, 1846, No. 32, p. 5.
8. Annual Report of the Executive Committee of the State Normal School: 1844-1852, January 27, 1846, No. 32, p. 29.
9. An Historical Sketch of the State Normal College at Albany, N.Y. and a History of its Graduates for Fifty Years: 1844-1894, Albany, NY: Brandow Printing Company, p.5-6.
10. An Historical Sketch of the State Normal College at Albany, N.Y. and a History of its Graduates for Fifty Years: 1844-1894, Albany, NY: Brandow Printing Company, p. 5-9.
11. Annual Report of the Executive Committee of the State Normal School: 1860-1868, January 24, 1868, No. 63, p. 28.
12. State Normal School Albany: Executive Committee Minutes: 1869-1909, Albany, NY, 1941, Vol. 2, p. 543.
13. New York State Normal College, Annual Circular and Announcement, 1890, p. 8.
14. New York State Normal College, Annual Circular and Announcement, 1891, p. 8.
15. New York State Normal College, Annual Circular and Announcement, 1898, p. 6.
16. New York State Normal College, Annual Circular and Announcement, 1904, p.36-38.
17. New York State College for Teachers, Annual Circular and Announcement, 1914-1915, p. 46.
18. NYSCT Commencement Exercise, Master’s Theses A Bibliography 1914-1978, p. 4.
19. New York State College for Teachers, Official Catalogue, 1944, p. 69.
20. “Self Examination,” October 1, 1964, p. 1.
21. State University of New York College at Albany, General Catalogue, 1962-1963, p. 30.
22. Alumni Quarterly, Spring 1965, p. 7.
23. State University of New York at Albany, Doctoral Dissertations A Bibliography, 1963-1978, p. 37.
24. State University of New York at Albany, Undergraduate Bulletin 1983-1984, p. 97.
25. State University of New York at Albany, Undergraduate Bulletin 1990-1991, p. 102.
26. State University of New York at Albany, Undergraduate Bulletin 1992-1993, p. 105.
27. State University of New York at Albany, Undergraduate Bulletin 1997-1998, p. 72.
28. State University of New York at Albany, Graduate Study, Department of Biological Sciences 1998, p. 2.
29. Conversation between Michael DeRensis, Office of Graduate Admissions, and Geoffrey Williams, University Archivist, October 14, 2004.


Department of Biological Sciences
Scope and Content Note

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The collection includes biology seminar reports, 1936-1966; laboratory manuals, 1983-1988; proposals for departmental program development, 1967-1972; and staff meeting minutes, 1965-1973.

Photographs of faculty and students from the Department of Biological Sciences from the University Archives Photograph Collection are available for viewing online from the University at Albany Libraries' Digital Collections database.


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Last updated August 21, 2007