February 2010

To honor a president

img0141.jpgIn honor of Presidents Day this week, it seems appropriate to look at one of our own university presidents and the history behind the naming of the Malcolm Moos Health Sciences Tower.

Dedicated in 1971 as Unit A Health Sciences Tower, the building was the first in the planned complex of health science facilities that would create functional administrative and laboratory space twenty-two-stories high above the Twin Cities campus.

In February 1980, the Board of Regents discussed the need to appropriately honor President Emeritus Moos by naming a building on campus after him. Malcolm Moos, the tenth president of the University of Minnesota and the first graduate of the university to hold the position, served as president from 1967 to 1974. The Regents suggested Unit A as a way to recognize the administrative reorganization and physical expansion of the health sciences during his tenure. Then president C. Peter Magrath followed by requesting Dr. Lyle French, Vice President for Health Sciences, to formally nominate the name change to the Honors Committee.

After the building’s original dedication, opinion regarding potential naming opportunities proliferated. Suggestions of people to honor included Dr. Gaylord Anderson, Dr. Elexius Bell, Dr. William Crawford, Dr. Charles Hewitt, Dr. Henry Michelson, Dr. Maurice Visscher, and Dr. Cecil J. Watson. Even after the Regents suggested Moos as an appropriate name, some thought it did not follow the established guidelines for naming a building after a president. Specifically, the building did not serve a general university purpose.

In January 1982, Malcolm Moos passed away at the age of 65.

That April, the Regents unanimously approved a resolution to rename the building and on May 13, 1983 of the following year a name changing ceremony took place.

In 2005, the Regents renamed a second health sciences building to honor the thirteenth University of Minnesota president. The Basic Sciences and Biomedical Engineering Building (BSBE) became Nils Hasselmo Hall.

Theodore A. Olson papers

The AHC Archives project is happy to announce the availability of the Theodore A. Olson papers.

img0140.jpgTheodore Alexander Olson attended the University of Minnesota earning a degree in biology in 1926 and worked as an instructor in Entomology.

He resigned from the University in 1928 and began working for the Minnesota State Board of Health (Minnesota Department of Health). While at the State Board of Health as an associate biologist, Olson conducted research at the Harvard Biological Laboratories.

In 1938 he rejoined the University of Minnesota as an Assistant Professor in Preventative Medicine and Public Health. During World War II, Olson served with the Seventh Service Command Headquarters from 1942 to 1946. After returning to the University, Olson oversaw the establishment of a teaching and research facility in sanitation biology in the newly organized School of Public Health.

Olson’s early post-War research focused on the transmission of human pathogens via cockroaches as disseminators of Salmonella and other diseases. In 1956, Olson’s research focus shifted to freshwater pollution and the environmental quality of Lake Superior. This change realigned Olson’s work with his earlier freshwater research while at the State Board of Health and Harvard University in the 1930s.

Theodore Olson retired as Professor Emeritus School of Public Health from the University of Minnesota in June 1973. He passed away in 2002 at the age of 97.

The collection contains correspondence, reports, and publications of Theodore A. Olson, including material related to the environmental water studies of Lake Superior in the 1950s and 1960s. There is also a later edition of his “The Scientific Vocabulary” dictionary, a popular resource for graduate students in Professor Olson’s courses.