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The Alan Gregg Papers

Letter from Chester I. Barnard to Alan Gregg pdf (189,079 Bytes) transcript of pdf
Letter from Chester I. Barnard to Alan Gregg
NOTE: Includes Gregg's handwritten response on the backs of the letter's pages; text cut off in the original.
Item is handwritten.
Number of Image Pages:
4 (189,079 Bytes)
1954-06-23 (June 23, 1954)
Barnard, Chester I.
Gregg, Alan
Reproduced with permission of Chester B. Welch.
Exhibit Category:
"Notes on Giving"
Box Number: 7
Folder Number: 14
Unique Identifier:
Document Type:
Letters (correspondence)
Physical Condition:
June 23, 1954
Dr. Alan Gregg
Big Sur
Dear Alan:
George Merck sent me the other day a copy of your address at the Neurological Institute at McGill, I think, late last year. Since I believe I have received most of your papers, I was surprised that I had not seen this one. George merely loaned me his copy, so that if you have any extra copies I would appreciate receiving one.
Acknowledging this I told George I supposed he realized much more than in most of your addresses this one contained considerable controversial matter. I, for one, certainly disagree with your position about the importance of very large endowment type donations, even when only the income is to be used, in contrast to the small specific project appropriation. This is a matter in which there has been a lot of difference of opinion for a long time. I am not myself opposed to the large ones as was made evident in my last year at R.F. by what was done for the National Bureau of Economic Research and for the SSRC, but I am never forgetting what was accomplished, to mention only four names, by small amounts for Tiselius, Svedborg, Florey and Fleming. There are, of course, a number of others, but these are enough to illustrate my point.
Nor could I ever agree with your position that it takes as much work to produce a small appropriation as it does a large one. I doubt it any business man would accept that as good sense, and certainly others have been in Foundation business do not take you viewpoint there. None of this is very important to me, because, I think, unlike Abraham Flexner, I shall not do any public talking about Foundation policies. It would be impossible for me to say anything without a good many people interpreting it as speaking for the Foundation. Nevertheless I am very much interesting in the whole subject.
Would you let me know where Ben Sur is? The reason for this is that the Board of the National Science Foundation will hold its meeting on August 13 at Berkeley. I am planning to come out with my wife somewhat earlier for some vacation. I have to leave immediately after the meeting and if you are anywhere near San Francisco or down the beach way, I will look you up.
We continue to have our struggles to keep the National Science Foundation going. We didn't come out too badly on the total appropriation, a compromise between the Senate and the House netted us a little over 12 million dollars. The administration had recommended 14 million plus, and the Senate adopted that recommendation. But as usual they had to split with a very stubborn recalcitrant House Committee. The House also put in the Bill a limitation on administration which is very disturbing, but I suppose we shall gradually work our way out of the difficulties.
With best regards--
Chester I. Barnard
June 29, 1954
Dear Chester:
Thank you for your letter. I'd be delighted if your time and inclination were to bring you and Mrs Barnard to or near to these parts in August though I shall not be here but in Washington in the first week in August: leaving here on the 4th and back again the evening of the 7th. Big Sur is a hamlet south of Carmel and we are 29.4 miles south on Route N 1 from the bridge over the Carmel River, and more precisely 0.2 of a mile beyond the Sierra du Mar Motel at the crest of a long climb from the Big Sur bridge, our post box being on the right hand of a clearing and our house clearly indicated on the post box.
If you were to come we could talk over the "controversial" subjects you refer to in commenting on the matter of the talk I gave in Montreal. I enclose a copy and one I gave this May which may not have reached you since there was a slip in my getting a copy of the Montreal talk to you.
It seems to me that the stability of our universities has been gravely weakened by the inflation and that this weakness is more serious than is apparent. Lowell Road told me about a month ago that the calculable income of Johns Hopkins consists of tuition, income from endowment and a steady and dependable income from alumni contributions.
These three total 18% of the University's current expenses, the balance being in term grants for research whose continuation is unpredictable. At the Harvard Medical School tuition income is less than 10% of the budget. Having watched the effects of inflation in Europe in the Twenties I am now seeing the same signs of distress over here.
The real distinction seems to me between stimulating or facilitating research and creating it. In the first instance you furnish supplementary funds to investigators whose facilities and salaries are assured by the University or Hospital (e.g. Tiselius, Svedborg, Florey, and Flemming). In the latter instance you offer funds that give temporary employment to scientists who would deserve an explicit tenure but don't get it because of the temporary character of the grant. None of these men would have been ready to receive our supplementary aid if they had not been living and working on endowment or Government budgeted support.
"A week or so ago I was killing poison ivy on this place by spraying with a chemical called commercially Weedone". It is a powerful growth-producing hormone. The analogy may strike you as fanciful.
But perhaps we can continue in our next
Yours sincerely
Alan Gregg
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