[Diary entries during the first months as Rockefeller Foundation's Director of Medical Sciences]
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2 February - 16 April 1931
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Medical Subject Headings (MeSH):
Director of Medical Sciences, 1930-1945
Box Number: 3
Folder Number: 10
Feb 2 1931
At Exec Com. Meeting I made the following comments apropos of the proposed action of the Exec Com to appropriate sums to Red
Cross for unemployment relief:--I have seen more misery and suffering than anyone in this room in a Europe during the past
six years. So have the other officers in Europe. But it is in Europe that the RF has been greatly respected for its tenacious
adherence to study, prevention and farsighted constructive programs. If policy of RF is to be dictated by emotion and sympathy,
the RF officers in the less fortunate countries will have some difficulty in adjusting themselves to a new attitude of the
Board and in explaining it to applicants for similar aid to local emergencies. I have lived abroad so long that human misery
is human misery regardless of nationality and yet I do not feel that the aid proposed is sound as a policy.
If as is suggested the Officers are to call an Exec Com. Meeting when the need arises what are the criteria for deeming the
necessity important? MM stated these (see the record of this meeting)
Debevoise said that the RF is an American corporation and its funds are of American origin and that measures taken by RF to
meet American emergencies could hardly be criticized. I replied that this expression helped to define the attitude of the
As far as Debevoise's statement goes I am in disagreement with its wisdom not with its legality.
No action was taken: I trust it will be permanently postponed.
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Feb 4th 1931
Took [. . .] with A.F. His advice is to make a report on medical education in America next Nov and take a definite stand
on the funds needed for support of the 6-8 really strong schools--for their completion. He says I will kill myself if I try
to do something everywhere and get in the thick of thin things.
He offered to talk to Fosdick anytime I needed it. I told him I would never request that.
I asked him if he knew where I stood with the Trustees or other officers and later explained that I had been unsettled by
MM's raising the question as to whether there should be any Med Sciences as apart from Natural Sciences. He said RB.
Fosdick was convinced that there should be a continued action of the R.F. boards in association with the development of medicine.
And that he had told Fosdick I was the best man they could get. No remarks on the other's attitude.
Feb Mar 5
[. . .] said reorganization scheme of all the studies at Chicago was adopted by Univ. Senate in 12 minutes. The Trustees
accepted it the next day with very little discussion. Then it was released to the Press as a far-reaching and extremely important
reform. The faculty rubbed their eyes, decided they'd had one put over on them and opposed with 2 hour discussions the
next two proposals of Hutchins!
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March 13 1931
On EED's proposal for $15,000 for a Mineral Inquiry. I said my opinion was that it is a fine thing to be done but that
we ought not to do it. I definitely fear it. MM says he doesn't fear it at all
April 9 1931
MM Questioned me regarding my interpretation of the decision of the R.F. "to get out of medical education." I replied
that there was no doubt in my mind that the resolutions and documents were clear but that I had not had adequate time to study
the circumstances in the U.S. and could not say whether I thought it wise for the G.E.B. to cease support to any and all medical
schools for their general institutional needs. MM said that there need be no fear of being obliged 8 years from now to stick
to present policy. He said we ought to stick to the decisions we made in 1929 to avoid aid to medical schools as such and
I replied that it would be more correct to say that we ought to stick to decisions they made in 1929, since none of us were
directly responsible for those decisions.
MM also said that he was about ready to quit hoping that [. . .] could work in with the rest of us on a unified and cooperative
team work without budgetary declarations. Odia[?] is too much the head of a wedge, and the pressure is strong.
(MM) He wanted to know if I thought there was anything more important than a study of mentality, personality etc. in a concerted
attack. I said the only policy that in my mind competed closely was picking off the best men and aiding them in whatever
field if they are getting good results, and that it sometimes seemed to me that the best way to proceed was to bet on the
directors judgment of good men and give the directors rein and responsibility.
I agreed that a request from Stanford for an institutional aid for its medical school--is a new place for EEB programs--must
be turned down now.
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April 9 1931
It is not easy to see the best course to follow in urging the continued support of the GEB in American medicine. It is clearly
likely without good luck and good management to go glimmering.
For the sake of record and clarifying my own mind I put down the following considerations:
1) I was asked to join the G.E.B. as an officer thereof. As such I can put in a general recommendation that must be acted
upon. The when of putting in such a report is perhaps very important, as well as what is in the report. Resignation from
the G.E.B. would probably be no more effective than waiting for eventual survival of myself as are authority there.
2) It is probably valuable to increase my authority outside the Foundation as someone the RF cannot afford to lose. The departure
of WSC and the prestige of knowledge secured by travel in his field (the East) would make my services less dispensable.
The character of reports and recommendations in the office, and the building up through devoted services to personnel here
when requested, would undoubtedly strengthen my position here. Reports on MS projects of previous years might be very effective.
The confidence and support of RBF, DLE, GHW and RLW and AT are valuable. Also evidence of organizing ability in the office
3) Day's procedure and mental processes are good but his attitude of reallocation of responsibility to the SSRC for example
and his unrestrained expenditure seem to me to be unwise and self-destroying eventually. Natural that he will have a free
hand for a while--needs to be checked later.
4) [. . .] departure will throw Day's lavishness into sharp relief, and make about 1933 a peak for MS undertakings.
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April 16 1931
Augell's speech at the GEB Trustees Meeting on the subject of education in America was good. The points he made were
in the main as follows:
American education suffers from
1. Having such manifold objectives and the lack of a generally accepted philosophy of education. There is no agreement upon
the desirable objectives to be secured.
2. Utterly untrained teaching personnel.
3. Limited means of the institutions
4. Intellectual provincialism--too much local preoccupation [with] local problems and prestige. Education is not thought
of in generous or national terms.
5. Society in America is breaking into new cleavage planes and it is probably natural that any educ. system of 30 yrs ago
may be outmoded at the present time.
The problem is whether the GEB can command the services of persons of sufficient prestige and intelligence since possible
success depends on getting the services of men who have a sound philosophy of education. The time required will be considerable.
April 23 Laski said that Oswald G Villard never invited the staff of the Nation to his house--not at least to take up with
them socially--so said his son.
April 24 MM said that "if AF had an arrangement with Chicago on the gift well what of it" That is I think a ridiculous
position and one of dubious responsibility.