History of Biology at Gallaudet

1864-1940: Natural Science Department

In 1864, when the National Deaf-Mute College (later changed to Gallaudet College)opened, all undergraduate students were required to take the following areas of courses:

  • Language, Ancient and Modern
  • Mathematics
  • History and Philosophy
  • Political Science
  • Natural Science

The Natural Science area included courses in Chemistry, Natural Philosophy (physics), Astronomy, Botany, Zoology, Physiology, Geology and Mineralogy, and Physical Geography. Sophomores took two twelve-week terms of Botany. They were expected to learn physiological and structural botany and the names of ordinary plants. During their junior year, students took Physiology in the first two terms and Zoology in the last two terms. Zoology students studied the elements of zoology including physiology and the general principles of classification.

In 1884, the Gallaudet catalog had the following statement:

"Whenever practicable, use is made of Bech's binocular microscopes, with the manipulation of which students are familiarized. Morton's college lantern is also used for purposes of illustration."

One graduate landed a job as a microscopist at the Coast Survey in 1886.

In 1896, Botany was reduced from two terms to one term. Students were expected to fully describe and determine the names of ordinary plants, excluding only a few of the more difficult plant families. In Physiology, students studied Red Cross First Aid methods such as the application of bandages, resuscitation, what to do in emergencies, etc. Each student was required to read and report on special articles pertaining to health and hygiene. Popular articles by Dr. Harvey Wiley, who was at that time Chief of the Bureau of Chemistry, U.S. Department of Agriculture, were among those supplementary reading materials.

Rev. J.W. Chickering was the Professor of Natural Science from 1884 to 1899. In 1900, Charles R. Ely replaced Rev. Chickering as the next Professor and Herbert E. Day joined the faculty as an Assistant Professor of Natural Science.

During the academic year of 1922-23, General Bacteriology was added to the area of Natural Science. This course was offered to two members of the senior class selected by the Classification Committee. This course included laboratory studies of molds, yeasts, household bacteriology, and preparation of cultural media followed by a study of as many pathogenic bacteria as possible.

1940-1953: Division of Mathematics and Science

The course of higher instruction leading to collegiate degrees occupied four years, and embraced the following courses:

  • Language, Ancient and Modern
  • History
  • Mathematics
  • Philosophy and Political Science
  • Vocational and Practical Work
  • Natural Science

In 1940, the Natural Science requirements of Biology (formerly Zoology) and Botany became electives. Physics was required for all Freshmen who did not elect to take mathematics. Students also had to take Inorganic Chemistry and Organic Chemistry to meet the Natural Science requirement.

Mr. Walter Krug (B.A. Gallaudet, 1927; M.S., Gallaudet, 1932) joined the Gallaudet faculty in 1927 as an Assistant Professor of Mathematics. He was also in charge of College Men (the title of his position was later changed to Dean of College Men) serving in that capacity for 35 years, from 1927 to 1962. He taught Latin during the year of 1927-1928. He later became the chairperson of the Division of Mathematics and Science in the fall of 1948.

Mr. Jonathan Hall, who was son of Dr. Percival Hall, president of Gallaudet (1910-1945), joined the Gallaudet faculty in 1938 as a researcher and Instructor in Science and Drawing. He received his Master's degree from Gallaudet in 1938. He later became Assistant Professor of Natural Science in 1941.

In 1942, all male freshmen were required to take either Biology (4 credit hours) or Mathematics (5 credit hours). Biology was an elective course for female freshmen. In 1944, a special laboratory deposit was required of students in Biology and Bacteriology.

In the fall of 1948, the college year was changed from a three-term trimester to a two-term semester plan. Beginning with the Freshman class, a total of 122 semester credits, two of them in physical education, was the minimum requirement for a Bachelor's degree.

The course of study were grouped into six classifications, the first five of which were known as Areas of Concentration, namely:

  • Education
  • Home Economics
  • Language and Literature
  • Mathematics and Science
  • Social Studies
  • Special Divisions

To meet the science requirements, freshmen had a choice of either Biology, Chemistry or Physics.

At the close of the sophomore year, or upon the completion of the Basic Academic requirements throughout the year, students had to elect a field of concentration from the five major areas of studies. Students who fulfilled all the requirements of the Area of Mathematics and Science were eligible for the Bachelor of Science degree. In order to meet the requirements for the Bachelor's degree, a student had to complete with at least an average of C and a minimum of 30 semester hours in the chosen area of concentration.

Students who chose the area of Mathematics and Science, had to meet the following requirements:

  1. at least two years, or 12 semester hours of credit in French or German;
  2. at least 18 semester hours of credit in Social Studies;
  3. a grade of C or better in College Algebra and Trigonometry in order to take Analytical Geometry and/or Calculus; and
  4. a grade of C or better in College Physics in order to take advanced work in Physics

The courses in the Area of Mathematics and Science were as follows:

  • College Algebra, Solid Geometry, Plane Trigonometry, Plane Analytic Geometry, Calculus
  • Physics I, Modern Physics, Electricity and Magnetism
  • General Chemistry, Qualitative Analysis, Quantitative Analysis, Organic Quantitative Analysis, Physical Chemistry
  • General Biology, Invertebrate Zoology, Vertebrate Zoology, General Bacteriology
  • Descriptive Astronomy, Observational Astronomy

1953-2002: Department of Biology

Institutional planning and increased funding in Congress resulted in academic expansion in 1955 with the addition of 85 new courses. A ten-million dollar construction program and the College's initial accreditation by the Middle States Association of Schools and Colleges in 1957 led to the establishment of departments of different areas. The Biology Department had its origin as Natural Science under the Division of Science and Mathematics with Mr. Walter Krug appointed the Chairperson of the Division in 1948. With the formation of the departments, Mr. Krug therefore became the first chairperson of the Biology Department.

Upon the death of Mr. Krug in the spring of 1962, Dr. Clyde Reed became the acting chairperson for 1963-1964. Associate Professor John McKinlay was selected in the fall of 1963 from outside the department to serve as chairperson and remained in that position for two years (1963-1965). In its history, the Department has had thirteen different Chairpersons:

  • Walter Krug, 1948-1962
  • Clyde Reed, 1963-1964
  • John McKinlay, 1963-1965
  • Betty Bray McAtee, 1965-1968
  • Eveline Lloyd, 1968-1976
  • Edith Rikuris, 1976-1980
  • Ann Powell, 1980-1983
  • Eveline Lloyd, 1983-1987
  • Paul Cunningham, 1987-1992
  • Jane Dillehay, 1992-1994
  • Edith Rikuris, 1994-1995
  • Carole Bateman, 1995-1998
  • Ann Powell, 1998-2010
  • Kathleen Arnos, 2010-present

When the Department was established in 1953, the curriculum for Biology majors was as follows:

Required courses: General Biology, Evolution of the Vertebrates, Vertebrate Embryology, Human Anatomy & Physiology, Comparative Anatomy and Genetics

Elective courses: Histology and Laboratory Techniques, General Botany, General Bacteriology, and Independent Study

By 1962, the Gallaudet catalog listed the following curriculum:

  • Required Courses: General Biology, General Botany, General Zoology I and II, Human Anatomy and Physiology, Genetics and Microbiology
  • Elective courses: minimum of 8 additional hours in consultation with the departmental advisor

Required course in related fields: General Chemistry

Since 1962, minor changes to the Biology curriculum have occurred as some courses were dropped and new ones added to the program. For example, Entomology and Ichthyology, offered during the years of 1973-1981, were dropped because the professors of these courses left the department. Cytotechnology, taught by Professor Platt from George Washington University, was available during the years of 1965-1973. Additions to the curriculum have included Animal Physiology (1980); Molecular Biology (1988); Cell Biology (1997); Human Genetics (1997) and Research Methods in Biology (1997).

Changes in existing courses also occurred. For example, the Human Anatomy and Physiology course was changed from a one semester course for both Biology and physical education majors to a two semester course specifically for Biology majors (Human Anatomy and Physiology) and a one semester course for physical education majors (Fundamentals of Human Anatomy and Physiology). By separating the two groups of majors, each group receives individual attention to prepare them appropriately for their specific career interests. Special Topics were offered from time to time depending on student interest and instructor expertise, such as Neurobiology, Biogeography, Parasitology, Evolution, Art in Botany, Endocrinology, and Medical Terminology.

2012-present: Department of Science, Technology, & Mathematics

The Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics, and Information Technology programs are now under the Department of Science, Technology, and Mathematics.

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