Letter from Harold Frank Robinson to Dean Rusk, United States State Department
This letter to Rusk from the Head of the Department of Genetics at the North Carolina State College emphasized the importance
of developing centers of agricultural training and research in Latin America. The college was home to a Rockefellerfunded
program that trained Latin American scientists in cytogenetics. McClintock played a particularly important role as an instructor
in the program.
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1961-04-10 (April 10, 1961)
Robinson, Harold Frank
United States Department of State
Original Repository: American Philosophical Society. Library. Barbara McClintock Papers
Reproduced with permission of North Carolina State University.
Medical Subject Headings (MeSH):
Fellowships and Scholarships
International Educational Exchange
Box Number: 1
Folder Number: 7
April 10, 1961
Dear Secretary Rusk:
If our aid programs for less fortunate countries are to achieve their maximum usefulness, greater attention must be given
to the improvement of Agriculture and a more adequate training of specialists in this field. In the discussion which follows
only Latin America will be considered, though any suggestions having merit would also have some degree of applicability in
The possibility of increasing food production in Latin America has been amply demonstrated by the Rockefeller Foundation Program
in Mexico and Columbia. This has been a 2-phase program involving agricultural research and the training of nationals. The
latter has been at two levels: participation in local programs, under the supervision of U.S. personnel; and the granting
of Fellowships to a selected group for graduate training in the United States. Effective as the Fellowship program has been
it has failed to satisfy the expanding need for trained personnel. Even though unlimited funds were available for graduate
study fellowships, the U.S. Universities could not absorb and do justice to the numbers that would be required.
An alternative possibility appears to offer more promise. This would involve a logical extension of the University contract
relationship now sponsored by I.C.A. Latin America does not suffer from a lack of Universities. Rather it has a surplus, at
least in Agriculture, a surplus so great that no one institution receives the support needed to secure and maintain a staff
of high caliber and to adequately perform its teaching and research activities. None of the Universities are adequately staffed
to give graduate degrees in Agriculture.
You are, no doubt, aware of the recent plans of the Rockefeller Foundation to assist in developing a graduate training and
research program at the National School of Agriculture, Chipango, Mexico. I have been working closely with Dr. K. J. Wellhausen,
Associate Director of the Rockefeller Foundation in charge of the Inter-American Maize Program, in the research phase of this
endeavor. Dr. G. F. Sprague, Head of Corn and Sorghum Investigations, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agriculture Research
Service, Dr. Barbara McClintock, Carnegie Institution of Washington at Cold Spring Harbor, New York, and other scientists
are also actively participating in advising Dr. Wellhausen on research plans and the training of Latin America graduate students.
Those of us who had even limited contact with this development believe it has merit and should be expanded to include other
The proposal would involve the selection of two or three institutions in Latin America and extend the present assistance program
to include graduate student training. Obviously the choice of institutions would involve whole-hearted local support. La Molina
in Peru might be one such possibility. Additional staff of U.S. personnel would be required in the early phases of such a
program and possibly the opportunity for graduate student training might initially have to be restricted to certain specific
subject matter areas. Extension to other subject matter areas would develop as facilities and other circumstances warranted.
Such a program has several possible advantages. It would ensure that the emphasis of training and the choice of research projects
be geared to problems of local importance. Results obtained would therefore be more readily incorporated into agricultural
practice. Second, local graduate training at the Master of Science level, or its equivalent, would provide an excellent screen
for the selection of those individuals having the potential and the desire to continue graduate training in the United States.
Such a program should permit a rapid expansion in numbers of trained personnel and ensure that those best qualified to benefit
from further graduate training were selected for any fellowships currently available.
It is important to develop centers of training and research with excellence and recognition within the foreign countries.
The development of this plan should lead to increased prestige of their scientists and for local support of the institutions.
Not only would they provide much of the advanced training now required in the United States but employment for their capable