Bio Dept. Debates Use of New Center

The Biology Department is in a quandry over the use of its space in the massive new Science Center that will open, if all goes well, in the fall of 1972.

Carroll M. Williams, Bussey Professor of Biology, said Wednesday that he believed the department should move its large introductory courses and one or two intermediate-level offerings to the Center.

After getting the basics, "the student ought to come back to the department's building, where he'll have contact with post-doctoral fellows and members of the staff," he said.

Williams is the director of Biology 2, the souped-up cousin of bio's other big introductory course, Nat. Sci. 5. George Wald, Higgins Professor of Biology and head of Nat Sci 5, questioned the feasibility of moving the lab for his course from the Biology building to the Center.

"Are you going to have a greenhouse in the Center? Are you going to raise frogs there? What are you going to do when you needs rats? Call Buildings and Grounds for a truck to cart them three blocks?" he said.

The Center will rise nine stories and will stretch in back of the Gordon Mckay Lab from Oxford Street to Littauer Center behind the Physics Department.

This location is several blocks from the Biology labs, but Williams said, "It has been my position that the faculty should put up with a little inconvenience if it will benefit thousands of undergraduates."

Although the design has not been finalized, general interior space allocations now include lecture halls for 600, 450, 150, and 100 people. All these halls would be outfitted with modern audio-visual equipment that present science rooms lack.

Alongside the Science Center will rise a new home for the Computer Center. Also, air-conditioning equipment for these buildings and some of the existing science facilities north of the Yard will be housed in a building under the parking lot behind Gordon-McKay Labs.

At a faculty meeting two weeks ago Wald raised the possibility of giving space in the Center to professors and graduate students for research. Divorcing these research labs from the main building, Wald said yesterday, would not be inconvenient because their specialized nature would require only certain kinds of equipment.

Williams replied that this would defeat the primary purpose of the Center, to upgrade undergraduate teaching. "It is an instructional facility, with primary concern for undergraduates," he said.

In 1965 the faculty of the Biology Department voted unanimously to include only undergraduate courses in the proposed Center and this vote has not been rescinded.

Furthermore, an anonymous donation last year of $12 1/2 million came with a qualifying, statement that the money be used for an undergraduate facility. Total cost of the building is roughly $17 1/2 million.

Wald, one of those who voted in 1965, contended yesterday that "it was a clouded vote." During the meeting, he said that he would raise the issue again, though he did vote for the motion.

Whatever his objections, the possibility of including research labs in the Biology Department's space in the Center seems to be nil. John R. Raer, Professor of Botany and head of a committee to determine what the department will do with its new space, said yesterday, "The only consideration now is laboratory space for undergraduates."

Final Say

Final say in determining which under-graduate courses move their labs to the center, though, will rest with the directors of each course.

In addition to Biology, the Physics and Chemistry departments will have large blocks of space for undergraduate laboratories in the new Center. Both the Math and Statistics departments will move en mass to the biulding while Astronomy and Geology departments will each have small areas.

The bulk of the building, though, will be taken up by a science library that will be roughly equivalent in size to Lamont.

With a floor space of about 290,000 square feet, the Science Center will be larger than Holyoke Center. Jose L. Sert, Professor of Architecture and Dean of the Faculty of Design, will submit his preliminary designs for the Center in about a month. Sert also designed Holyoke Center