Dana Lyda Farnsworth, professor of hygiene emeritus and former head of University Health Services (UHS), died Saturday at a convalescent home in Watertown, Mass. He was 81.
Farnsworth was a major pioneer in university health programs. He was the first to recognize the need for mental health services among college students, and the first to institute a university health system that met the needs not only of students, but of faculty and staff as well. He introduced such a system first at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1947 (MIT), and later at Harvard, where he was UHS director from 1954to 1971.
University mental health services spreadrapidly across the Farnsworth's 1964 discoverythat one of every 10 students had emotionalproblems severe enough to merit therapy.Farnsworth's expanded general health offeringswere slower to catch on, said Warren E. Wacker,current director of UHS. Wacker called Farnsworth"probably the most outstanding person in thedevelopment of college health in the mid-20thcentury."
During Farnsworth's tenure as director, UHS hadsuch extensive facilities that it was oftenreferred to as the Farnsworth Hilton, Wacker said.
From 1971 to 1973, Farnsworth served as vicechairman of the National Commission on Marijuanaand Drug Abuse. He was one of the first medicalauthorities to warn of the permanent mind-alteringeffects of such drugs as LSD.
Farnsworth was born April 7, 1905 in Troy, W.Va. He graduated from Harvard Medical School in1933 and interned at Massachusetts GeneralHospital. From 1935 to 1941 he was assistantdirector of health at Williams College and had ageneral practice in North Haven, Maine.
In World War II, he served as a commander inthe Navy Medical Corps. After the war he returnedto Williams as health director, a position he alsoheld at MIT.
He is survived by his wife, Elma MorrisFarnsworth