President Pusey will ask the Board of Overseers to approve the appointment of William Liller '48, Robert Wheeler Wilson Professor of Applied Astronomy, as new Master of Adams House, a high University official said yesterday.
Pusey's nomination must be ratified by the Overseers at their next meeting on March 11 before the appointment is official. The Overseers have rarely, if ever, refused a presidential appointment. If approved, Liller will take over as new Master in September, succeeding Rueben A. Brower, who will retire in June after 14 years as Master.
President Pusey refused to comment on the report yesterday. Several other members of the Harvard Corporation said that the appointment was not discussed at yesterday's Corporation meeting.
However, two University officials said that Pusey "has been discussing" his choice with the University Fellows since November, when Brower announced his decision to retire.
Liller was "busy observing" at the Harvard College Observatory last night, his wife said, and was unavailable for any comment.
After twelve years as a graduate student and instructor at the University of Michigan, Liller joined the Harvard Faculty in 1960. He first taught Astronomy 1, where he was wildly popular as a lecturer.
"You'll like Liller," the '63 Confi Guide said. This year Liller is teaching Nat Sci 9, the introductory course on "The Astronomical Perspective," and Astro 101, on "Observational Approaches to Astronomy."
Liller takes his observation seriously. He and his wife, also an astronomer, spend much of their time at the College Observatory. "Astronomers don't keep office hours," one of Liller's friends said. "They live at the Observatory."
In 1952, Liller left Michigan for a year to head the Harvard Meteor Expedition in New Mexico. He is now a member of the International Astronomical Union, and chairman of the Committee on Astronomical Motion Pictures of the American Astronomical Society.
A member of Adams House as an undergraduate, Liller has been a Fellow of the House since 1962, where the Science Tables series has been his special interest. Liller has also served on the College's Admissions Committee for the past three years.
Dean Glimp, who said he knew nothing about the appointment, said Liller was "a wonderful guy." Glimp met Liller when both were members of the Adams House Senior Common Room. Glimp was Dean of Admissions when Liller first joined the Admissions Committee.
"Bill Liller is an approachable, human guy," Glimp said. "He's extraordinarily good company." Another of Liller's friends said that Liller, 40, "looks even younger than he is, and won't seem over-bearing or formidable to students. They'll be able to talk to him."
Students have speculated that if the Overseers approve Liller, the Adams House image could change drastically. "What will happen to the artists and musicians," one said, "with a scientist for Master?"