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Report Calls for Geography Return


Provost Buck's special committee on Geography has recommended that the University set up a separate Department of Geography to fill the gap left in 1948 when an "economy" move terminated the appointments of two teachers in the field and abolished Geography as a field of concentration.

The special Committee's recommendations were confirmed last night by reliable sources both within and outside the faculty.

Donald C. McKay, professor of History, chairman of the special committee set up in May of last year, declared last night that the report was now in the hands of the Faculty Committee on Educational Policy.

Finances Not Discussed

The report does not go into the problem of how to finance a Geography Department, but limits itself to the general desirability of such a department in the University, one well-informed source reported. "Both for academic reasons and for the practical contributions of Geography to the general welfare," the Committee called for the return of the study to Harvard, he said.

"Harvard can not hope to have strong departments in everything," a high-ranking University officer said in March, 1948 in explaining the administration's sudden action.

Stripped of all but one of its geographers by the administrative move, the Department of Geology and Geography was forced to abandon Geography as a field of concentration, disrupting the educational plans of at least 15 undergraduates.

Many faculty members and both the Undergraduate and Graduate Student Councils attacked the measure that spring and called for a re-institution of Geography.

Study Began Last May

After more than a year of protest, the Educational Policy Committee set up McKay's committee last May. At the time, Buck said the committee would decide "what to reinstate' 'as well as consider the place of the field in the curriculum. A few weeks earlier, a Board of Overseers' report is believed to have recommended the resumption of geography in the University.

In addition to McKay, the special committee includes Karl Sax, professor of Botany; Alexander Gerschenkron, associate professor of Economics; John M. Roberts, assistant professor of Social Anthropology; Arthur S. Maass, instructor in Government; Frederick Merk, Gurney Professor of History and Political Science; George C. Homans '32, associate professor of Sociology; Edward L. Ullman, assistant professor of Regional Planning; and L. Don Leet, professor of Geology.

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