Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with William N. Lipscomb, Jr., October 14, 2004

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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00:00:03 - Early collegiate teaching career

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Partial Transcript: The following is an unrehearsed interview with Dr. William N. Lipscomb, Jr. for the Charles T. Wethington UK Alumni/Faculty Oral History Project.

Segment Synopsis: Lipscomb talks about receiving a job offer from University of Minnesota. He talks about his profession and teaching at Cal Tech.

Keywords: 1942; 1946; Big 10; Bryce Crawford; Cal Tech; California Institute of Technology (CIT); Chemistry; Chemistry professors; Colleges; Minnesota; National Research Fellow Council; PhD; Post-war; University of Minnesota; Veterans

Subjects: California Institute of Technology; College environment; College teachers; College teachers--Social conditions; College teaching.; Education, Higher; Universities and colleges--Departments; Universities and colleges--Research; Universities and colleges.; University of Minnesota; University of Minnesota Department of Chemistry

00:11:42 - Updating the research lab

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Partial Transcript: But isn't that, isn't that a commentary on, on the, uh, uh, the state of higher education at that point, that you had to go and, and ferret out a used, uh, x-ray?

Segment Synopsis: Lipscomb starts talking about climate change and science. Then Lipscomb talks about getting a new x-ray machine for the chemistry lab. Then he talks about being hypnotized at a dentist's office.

Keywords: Cal Tech; California Institute of Technology (CIT); Climate change; Cold weather; Dentist offices; Harold Klug; Hypnosis; Hypnosis techniques; Laboratories; Labs; Snow; WW2; World War II; X-ray diffraction; X-rays

Subjects: Climate change; College environment; College teachers--Social conditions; College teaching.; Education, Higher; Universities and colleges--Research; Universities and colleges.; University of Minnesota. Department of Chemistry; World War, 1939-1945; X-rays

00:18:26 - Teaching career at University of Minnesota

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Partial Transcript: What was the emphasis on research at Minnesota at that time, right after the war?

Segment Synopsis: Lipscomb talks about starting the research program and the chemistry labs at University of Minnesota. Then he talks about the effect of the end of World War II on teachers.

Keywords: Chemistry; Chemists; Competitions; Large classes; Minnesota; Old x-ray machines; Plagiarism; Post-doctoral work; Post-war; Radiation; Researchers; Veterans; WWII; World War II; X-ray machines; X-rays

Subjects: Chemistry; Chemistry--Research; College environment; College teachers--Social conditions; College teaching.; Education, Higher; Universities and colleges--Research; Universities and colleges.; University of Minnesota; World War, 1939-1945

00:22:19 - The change in students over time

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Partial Transcript: I have a general question for you, Dr. Lipscomb.

Segment Synopsis: Lipscomb talks about how different students are now compared to back when he was younger. Then he talks about receiving a job offer from Harvard University to teach chemistry there.

Keywords: Cambridge University; Chemistry; Honors students; Ivy league schools; Kentucky; Lexington (Ky.); Mathematics; Physical chemistry; Professors; Students; Teachers

Subjects: Chemistry; College environment; College students--Attitudes.; College students--Social conditions; College teachers--Social conditions; College teaching.; Education, Higher; Harvard University; Universities and colleges--Research; Universities and colleges.; University of Minnesota

00:28:02 - Becoming chairman of his department at Harvard University

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Partial Transcript: Again, what kind of reception from the older faculty at Harvard did you receive?

Segment Synopsis: Lipscomb talks about starting his research and teaching career at Harvard. He then talks about receiving donations for a new science building.

Keywords: 1959; 1964; Administration; Beggar on Horseback; Bob Woodward; Chairman of the department; Chemistry; Fundraising; Government support; Ivy league schools; Politicians; President John F. Kennedy; President Richard Nixon; Tom Cabot; War on cancer

Subjects: College environment; College teachers--Social conditions; College teaching.; Education, Higher; Harvard University; Organic chemists; Science; Universities and colleges--Research; Universities and colleges.

00:34:23 - Science and politics

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Partial Transcript: Do you notice any difference whether the administration is Republican or Democrat as far as scientific funding goes?

Segment Synopsis: Lipscomb talks about government funding in science. Then he talks about science being involved in politics. He also talks about the funds that were donated being stolen for another project.

Keywords: Atomic energy; Chemistry; Climate change; Colleges; Dean Bundy; Democrats; Laboratories; President George H. W. Bush; President Lyndon Johnson; Republicans; Scientific politics; Theoretical chemists; Union of Concerned Scientists; Washington, D.C.

Subjects: College environment; College teachers--Social conditions; College teaching.; Democratic Party (U.S.); Education, Higher; Harvard University; Politicians; Presidents; Republican Party (U.S. : 1854- ); Science; Universities and colleges--Research; Universities and colleges.