The Academic-Science Division
To the President of the Virginia Polytechnic Institute:
A full report from this office would cover a very wide range of activities. It would include material which would ordinarily be expected from the dean of a division, a dean of students, and a registrar. The greater portion of this report is based upon individual reports which were received from the heads of the departments listed in the Academic-Science Division. Some of the individual reports go into considerable detail and are, therefore, somewhat lengthy. It seems advisable under the circumstances to refer here to only that part of the material which may not appear in print elsewhere or which may deserve emphasis.
For the most part the individual departments are well organized. They all have frequent meetings for the purpose of maintaining efficient and uniform methods of procedure. Whenever defects have come to the surface, steps have been promptly taken to find and remove the cause. The growth of the division as a whole has been conservative but normal.
From the standpoint of education and training the members of the staff are well equipped. Eighty-seven per cent of all teachers who rank as instructors or above hold a master’s degree or better. Ten hold a Ph.D. degree and two the honorary LL.D. degree. All of those who hold only a bachelor’s degree are pursuing work leading to a more advanced degree and some who already hold a master’s degree are taking more advanced work in this and in other institutions. The departments are well represented in the leading state and national societies.
The teaching methods vary, as might be expected. During the session of 1929-30 it was possible in most Instances to hold down the size of the sections. In the English department the freshmen were placed in sections according to their supposed ability, this being determined by the placement and psychological tests given them at the opening of the session as well as by their first theme. It was found possible to run a few “repeat” classes in English, mathematics, physics, and chemistry for students who had failed on the work of the first or second quarter. It should be noted that the teaching of the freshmen was not left entirely to assistants and inexperienced instructors. In nearly every instance professors carried their part of the responsibility.
Considerable research was reported as being in progress or completed by the following departments: chemistry, physics, geology, and metallurgy and metallography. Some was completed under the supervision of the department of mathematics in cooperation with other departments and with the senior class. Nearly all departments published something, some of them a good deal, the records of which will appear elsewhere in due time.
Public service was rendered through various channels. Every department made contributions through radio and other talks, some through surveys and commissions, and some through the solution of problems which were sent in from every direction.
Those departments housed in the Second Academic Building, and the departments of physics, geology, and metallurgy and metallography are all sadly in the need of room. It is impossible for these departments to function with maximum efficiency under the crowded conditions which now exist and which will grow with the probable increase in enrolment. The increasing enrolment is bringing us face to face with another problem. Many sections, particularly those of the freshman class, have already passed the maximum theoretical limit in numbers. If the attendance continues to grow, as in all probability it will do, nothing but an increase in the teaching staff will solve the problem. Of course the solution of this problem will require an increase in equipment, particularly for those departments which give laboratory work. Special attention should be called to a situation which exists in the department of physics. The teaching staff has not been increased since 1923. During the session of 1929-30 the staff was composed of one full professor, one associate professor, one assistant professor, two assistants, and three student assistants. It is to be hoped that arrangements can be made to increase the number of full-time instructors in this department.
Some new courses. have been announced for the coming session and others will be added in the future if the need for such courses appears. Every effort to improve instruction by the elimination of inexperienced teachers and otherwise is the policy recommended by the Academic-Science Division.
In some way it seems to have been taken for granted that it is the duty of the dean of the college to take part in the solution of every problem which may arise in connection with any student activity. Without pausing to consider the justice or injustice of the situation, he has assumed the responsibility. Transactions in this direction have amounted to a continuous performance, and even a reference here to details would be impossible. It may be well to refer to certain student publications and certain student committees which have during the last year or two come in for more than normal criticism from widely separated points. Dealing with such matters requires patience, tact, and sympathetic cooperation with the students concerned. These matters are still under consideration, and it is believed that progress has been made.
J. E. Williams, Dean of the College.