While President Conant is away on his six-weeks' "scientific study" mission to England, his administrative and executive duties will be carried on here by Henry L. Shattuck '01, Senior Fellow of Harvard College, who will serve as presiding officer of the Corporation, and by Den Chase, temporarily occupying the position of executive officer of the University.
Their duties will be nominal, since the offices in Massachusetts Hall have been taking care of things smoothly during the course of President Conant's frequent visits to Washington in the interests of national defense.
Shattuck is a prominent Boston trustee and lawyer, who served as Treasurer of the University from 1929 to 1938. As chairman of the Corporation, his main function will be to head the meetings of that body and of the Overseers, while Dean Chase will preside over the faculty meetings. Any particularly important action will, of course, necessitate communicating with the President in England.
Dr. Conant's assignment to duty abroad came as a surprise to the Faculty and to the rest of the College. President Roosevelt made first mention of it in his press conference in Washington on Saturday.
President Conant is amply qualified for his important mission. One of the foremost research chemists in the United States, he served during the last war with the Bureau of Chemistry and the Bureau of Mines. He headed a large staff of men carrying on experiments on the manufacture and effects of poison gas.
Towards the latter part of the war, as Major Conant, he supervised more than 100 chemists in a secret experiment on poison vapor, during which he and his staff were closely guarded and virtually held prisoner.
After the Armistice, he was officially credited with having discovered an efficient and money-saving process for the production of "Lewisite" gas, but this was never used.
Dr. Conant's research work while he was on the faculty at Harvard, from 1917 until he became President in 1932, brought him international recognition. He was especially noted for his work on the nature of chlorophyll and also did important research on haemoglobin, the red corpuscles in the blood.
For the last eight months he has been closely connected with Army and Navy authorities in Washington, in his post as member of the National Defense Research Committee. His work there has been "to correlate and support scientific research on instrumentalities of warfare."
Away Six Weeks
Defense officials in Washington would not state definitely the extent or nature of the study that the Conant mission will undertake abroad. He is expected to be away from the United States for about six weeks, and will leave one of his colleagues in London to act as permanent secretary and liaision officer for future scientific missions, which President Roosevelt has said may take place "from time to time."
The White House announcement of Dr. Conant's dispatch by President Roosevelt stated that "First hand observation of recent English scientific research and experiments is important for the prosecution of America's program of research on problems of national defense.