In this letter, the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Illinois indicated that the university would
match the offer made by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology which had invited Luria to join that institution. Despite
the generous counter-offer, Luria left for MIT.
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1959-02-13 (February 13, 1959)
Lanier, Lyle H.
University of Illinois
Luria, Salvador E.
Original Repository: American Philosophical Society. Library. Salvador Luria Papers
Courtesy of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Archives
From Phage to Colicins, 1945-1972
Letter from Salvador E. Luria to Lyle H. Lanier (February 19, 1959)
I appreciated very much having the opportunity last week-end to tell you how much I hope you will decide to remain at Illinois.
As you know from our joint conference with them, Provost Ray and Dean Wall strongly share this hope and will support to the
limit of their resources the effort to match the fine opportunity extended to you by Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
The officers and faculty of all five biological departments have also strongly urged that every possible effort be made to
keep you here.
Concerning salary, I am happy to say that we can match the offer of $19,000 for the academic year made to you by Massachusetts
Institute of Technology. I realize that salary alone will not be the most important consideration in your decision as between
Illinois and M.I.T. -- still, clearly we should not want you to be penalized salary-wise in order to remain here.
I am happy to say also that the executive officers of the five biological departments are all unanimous in recommending you
for appointment to the proposed new Center for Advanced Study in the Graduate College. I am certainly happy to lend my strong
endorsement to this recommendation, and Dean Wall has indicated that he would approve it. Provost Ray assures me that there
is no doubt now but that the Center will be established. We should all like very much to have you included among the first
and most distinguished group of research scholars appointed to this new body. I believe that Dean Wall has already sent
to you the general plans for the Center and the statement of its purposes.
The plan for the establishment of a school of biology is progressing very well, although a considerable amount of work remains
to be done before a formal proposal can be submitted to the Board of Trustees. I enclose a first draft of a statement that
outlines the administrative structure and functions of the school. We should greatly appreciate any comments or suggestions
you might wish to make concerning these proposals. I feel certain that this general type of organization will greatly strengthen
the biological sciences at Illinois, and we should like to establish it on the soundest possible foundation. In matters
affecting faculty appointments, curriculum, facilities, and relations with outside agencies, this type of administrative mechanism
should help us to develop at Illinois one of the really outstanding centers of biological science in the world. Already
the recurring budgets of the constituent departments total almost a million dollars per year, and substantial additions to
them will undoubtedly be made in the coming biennium.
In the matter of space, the new building just finished and the proposed new N.I.H. research unit should provide fairly well
for our immediate needs. I am happy to report, further, that the University Building Program Committee just two days ago
has reviewed the situation of the biological departments and has tentatively decided that those remaining in old buildings
should be moved into new laboratories during the next decade if at all possible.
As I indicated to you last week, if and when the school of biology is approved at all administrative levels -- College, University
Senate, and Board of Trustees -- I should expect to recommend Professor Halvorson for appointment as its first director.
Presumably the director of the school would not also serve as the head of a department, and hence eventually the headship
of the Department of Bacteriology would become vacant. It has turned out, however, that we are not really in a position now
to make any definite plans in anticipation of this vacancy. I can assure you, however, that your views and wishes as regards
this and all other affairs of biology would always receive the most careful consideration.
Let me say finally that we need you here for your scientific eminence, for your educational counsel, and for your influence
on graduate students, as we move towards what we all expect to be a new era in biology at Illinois. All of us hope that
you and Mrs. Luria will finally decide in our favor, and that we can look forward to welcoming you home next September.