"I was entirely taken by surprise," and Derwent S. Whittlesey, professor of Geography, yesterday, commenting on the recent administration move eliminating Geography as a field of concentration.
Professor Whittlesey, whose permanent appointment will not be touched by the University action, has just returned from a trip through the Middle-West, where he received a medal from the Chicago Geographical Society for geographical research.
"I can't understand why geography is being curtailed at Harvard, just at the time when it ha become generally recognized as one of the important subjects for study in colleges throughout the country," he added. "I hope the decision will be rescinded."
Professor Whittlesey cited his reasons for believing that "Harvard can hold a position of leadership in American geography" and emphasized "the importance of geography in world-wide thinking."
His listing of the expert quality of the geographers in the University, the large map collection, the Geographical Institute building, and the integration of Geography with other fields in the University was corroborated by a lengthy report recently submitted to President Conant by 18 graduate students in the field.
In addition, the grad students' report named nine other fields that use Geography courses for background and tallied the increase in Geography enrolment since the thirties.
Countering the argument that no department is better than a weak department, a graph included in the report shows that Geography in the University has generally been as complete as corresponding departments in other colleges.