Morris Marden’s Account of the Founding of the UWM Graduate Program

The following is “an account of the behind-the-scenes acts which aided in the development of UWM’s present graduate school” written in 1990 by Morris Marden. He sent it with the documents listed at the end to be deposited in the UWM Graduate School files.

Reminiscences regarding the UWM graduate program by Morris Marden

What follows is an account of my activities over a period of about thirty-five years during which I was privileged to contribute to the eventual development of the present graduate program at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Milwaukee Extension Center of the University of Wisconsin

My account begins with my September 1930 arrival in Milwaukee, fresh from a year of postdoctoral research at Madison and Princeton, followed by a year in Zurich, Switzerland and Paris, France. During those two years I held an appointment as National Research Fellow.

The course offerings at the Milwaukee Extension Center were primarily at the freshman and sophomore undergraduate level. However, I gave some advanced courses in mathematics during evenings, especially for the benefit of engineers employed in Milwaukee industries.

A major change occured in February 1940 when the graduate faculty at Madison approved a proposal authorizing graduate work at the Center. (See Document 1.) Having attending this faculty meeting, I remember particularly the support by Dean Mark Ingraham, who contrasted the little done by the University of Wisconsin for the city population in comparison with its long service to the state farmers. The proposal permitted students to earn at the Center half the credits required for a master’s degree with their earning the remaining half on the UW Madison campus.

The particular courses to be offered in Milwaukee were to be chosen after consultation of the Milwaukee departments with the corresponding Madison ones. General supervision of the graduate work at Milwaukee was undertaken by a committee selected by the Milwaukee Center faculty. A report of the graduate work at Milwaukee during the years 1941-1945 is contained in the committee report. (See Document 2.) (While the committee membership changed from year to year, I happened to be always elected as chairman of the committee.)

Because this was the war period, there were few offerings during 1940-1945, but, at the end of the war, graduate courses were added in the various sciences, in engineering, in commerce and in social work.

University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

In 1956, the Milwaukee Extension Division merged with the Milwaukee State Normal School to form the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. The merger legislation provided for the continuation of existing programs, but not explicitly for the expansion of the graduate work, which was to remain under the control of the UW-Madison Graduate School.

Master Degree Programs

During 1957-1961, I served as chairman of the UWM mathematics department. At that time my very close friend, Steve Kleene, was serving as chairman of the UW-Madison Mathematics Department. Kleene and I determined that a complete master’s degree program in Applied Mathematics could be compatible with the merger legislation. Subsequently, the UW-Madison Graduate School permitted us to drop the “Applied” restriction, whereupon other Milwaukee departments pressed for permission to set up graduate programs. During that time the UWM faculty elected a graduate committee of which I was chosen as chairman. Subsequently, the UW-Madison graduate school dean invited me to have lunch at Madison with him and two assistant deans. At this luncheon it was agreed to allow UWM departments to propose master’s degree programs, but subject to the same high standards as the same programs at Madison.

Ph.D. Programs

During 1961-1963 I was occupied mainly with my mathematical research under a relatively large grant from the National Science Foundation. In the spring of 1963 the Mathematics Department asked me to serve again as department chairman, but I hesitated to accept this position. However, Vice Chancellor Charles Vevier and UW President Harrington both wanted me to take the chairmanship. [Vevier was then in charge of the UWM in the Latin America absence of Chancellor Klotsche.] To discuss the matter, I attended a private conference with Vevier and Harrington.

As an inducement for me to accept the chairmanship, President Harrington promised the appointment of an associate chairman who could relieve me of routine departmental matters. While I thanked the President for this offer, I told him that my primary interest was for the UWM Mathematics Department to be allowed to have a Ph.D. program. To this the President replied that he felt UWM not ready for Ph.D. programs for another five to ten years.

He said, further, however, that he would agree to a Ph.D. program for us provided I could get the approval of three agencies:

  1. UW-Madison Mathematics Department,
  2. Executive Committee of the UW-Madison Graduate School,
  3. UW-Madison Graduate Faculty.

With the help of three of my Madison friends, all prominent mathematicians, I succeeded in getting approval of all three agencies. (This activity went on without the knowledge or assistance of any UWM faculty or administrator except Vice Chancellor Vevier.)

Subsequently, the UW Board of Regents, in approving a Ph.D. program for the UWM Mathematics Department, created a UWM Graduate School, separate from the UW-Madison school together with a separate graduate dean and Graduate Faculty Council. (Incidentally, I was then designated by the Board as the first one to bear the title of UWM Distinguished Professor.) Karl Krill, a close associate of President Harrington, was selected as the first UWM Graduate School Dean and a number of UWM faculty members, including myself, were chosen as the first UWM Graduate Faculty Council.

Subsequently, there was a rush of various UWM departments seeking to establish Ph.D. programs. The Graduate Faculty Council examined carefully each request insisting upon high standards. Some of the early requests were at first refused, but during the next few years many departments strengthened their staff and offerings and in their cases Ph.D. programs were finally approved.

Historical Documents given to the UWM Graduate School Files by Prof. Marden

  1. “Recommendation of the Graduate Faculty on Graduate Work in Milwaukee”, UW-Madison Graduate School Document 612, dated February 1941.
  2. “A Report to the Dean of the (UW-Madison) Graduate School”, dated February 12, 1956.
  3. UWM Graduate Committee Report, dated April 29, 1957, and minutes of this committee during 1956-7.
  4. Report and minutes of the UWM Graduate Committee for 1957-8.
  5. Report and minutes of this committee for 1958-59.
  6. Correspondence, reports, and minutes, 1959-60.
  7. Report and minutes, 1960-61.
  8. Master Degree Programs, December 10, 1963.