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Gropius Resignation Bares Design School Hassel


A drastic cut-back on funds available to the Graduate School of Design exploded this summer with the resignation of Walter Gropius as chairman of the School's Architecture Department. The School of Design is composed of three divisions--architecture, regienal planning, and landscape architecture.

As yet no successor has been named to head the architecture department by Joseph Hudnut '09, Dean of the School. Hudnut himself retired last spring, but has been asked by President Conant to stay on as dean this year.

Gropius resigned on July 23, issuing the following statement: "The large reduction in the staff and budget of the Department of Architecture calls for a drastic reorganization which would be more effective if entrusted to my successor as head of the department."

The budget cuts referred to were ordered last winter by the Prevost's Office, which presented similar economy schedules to other departments of the University. The exact cut that Gropius' department was asked to make is not known, but it is understood that the companion department of regional planning had its budget halved.

Faced with a cut in approprations that was probably of similar dimensions, Gropius resigned. He had already been informed last winter that as an economy move Design 1, a basic course employing many of his own artistic theories, would have to be discontinued effective this fall.


Design 1 had been created as a two-year experiment with a special grant of money from the University. When this fund ran out it was ordered discontinued by Hudnut, who called it too expensive and time-consuming.

At the time Gropuis, who had been lobbying for such a course for 14 years, commented that "it is a pity that after it has been built up and been so successful that the teachers have to be given notice now."

The Student Council of the Graduate School of Design prepared and presented to President Conant a petition asking that the course be retained.

Gropius left Cambridge for Paris on September 6, but before going he discussed the problem with the CRIMSON.

He refused to comment on the report that there had been personal antagenism between Hudnut and himself, but added "So far as Design 1 is concerned, I can not see why it is thought to be more expensive than any other of our courses. The only salaries involved were those of an assistant professor and his own assistant.

Inflation Costly

"The problem is of course primarily a financial one. Inflation has made our endowments much less effective. Last year the heads of all the departments in the School of Design were told to go out and raise money by themselves.

"The truly tragic thing about all these budget reductions is that they may kill the unique system we had here of the three divisions--architecture, landscape architecture, and regional planning--all under the same graduate school.

"At most universities there are separate schools for each of the three. At Harvard we have tried to keep all of them together under one roof, and thus profit by the essential unity of all.

"Now the system is being endangered by these reductions. For instance the department of regional planning is having so much difficulty raising money that it may have to be dropped. If that happens the whole program will be thrown off balance.

"The important duty of all is to try to keep all three division afloat. As I said when I resigned this summer, I feel that I myself would not be the best man to preside over the reorganization that will be necessary in the department of architecture. That, in fact, is why I resigned."

Although no one has been named to follow Gropius as chairman, it is expected that Dean Hudnut will shortly appoint a temporary head of the department.

Gropius himself plans to continue to live in Cambridge where he is head of Architects Collaborative, a group of men specializing in modern design. Gropius founded Architects Collaborative in 1946. One of its main archievements has been the planning of the new Graduate Center.

The 69-year-old Gropius was born in Germany and became internationally famous as head of the Bauhaus, an advanced school of design in Dessau. At the Bauhaus students designed everything from heavy machinery to theatrical masks, using the same techniques of space and from which Gropius later had incorporated in Design 1.

Gropius came to the university in 1938. His reputation help draw many outstanding students to the School of Design, which we called "probably the best in the nation" by Time magazine last winter.

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