Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Sheffield Scientific School
The Sheffield Scientific School was founded as Yale Scientific School in 1854 and renamed in 1861 in honor of Joseph E. Sheffield . The school was incorporated in 1871. Following World War I its curriculum coexisted with Yale College's science programs, but gradually, through the influence of "aggressive, powerful alumni" (including Edwin Oviatt , editor of the Yale Almuni Weekly) who "took control out of President Hadley's hands and forced a radical reorganization of Yale"1, became completely integrated, with the Sheff ceasing to function as a separate entity in 1956.
The Sheffield Scientific School helped establish the model for the transition of American higher education from a classical model to one which incorporated both the sciences and the liberal arts.
The stage began to be set at Yale for the transition beginning in 1846, when professorships of agricultural chemistry and practical chemistry were established. The school of Applied Chemistry became part of a newly created Department of Philosophy and the Arts. Applied chemistry was followed in 1852 by a professorship of civil engineering, when the Yale School of Engineering was formed.
In 1853 and 1854 science and engineering courses were listed in the Yale College course catalog as offered by the Yale Scientific School...a school which did not yet exist! Plans for actually forming such a school, and plans for raising the funds needed to do that were formulated; and in 1858 Joseph Earl Sheffield donated funds and real property (the old Yale Medical School building) on the northeast corner of Grove and Prospect Streets (now the site of Sterling Tower, Sheffield Hall and Strathcona Hall (SSS)) for its creation. In 1861 the school became the Sheffield Scientific School in recognition of his generosity. Sheffield's rebuilding reinforced the division of Hillhouse Avenue into an upper, residential section, and a lower section devoted to education.
A series of lectures, later known as the Sheffield Lectures was instituted by the school in 1866; Professor Othniel Marsh of the school led four Yale scientific expeditions in search of fossils in 1870-3.
In 1872-3 Sheffield Scientific School's first new building, North Sheffield Hall was built, designed by Josiah Cleaveland Cady , on what had been the gardens of the Town-Sheffield mansion, at the site now occupied by Becton Laboratory on Prospect Street. This was followed by Winchester Hall and Sheffield Chemical (1894-5). Only the latter, Sheffield Chemical, is still standing, renamed Arthur K. Watson Hall.
The Vanderbilt-Sheffield Dormitories and Towers, built by Charles Coolidge Haight (from 1903 to 1906) were incorporated in what is now Silliman College.
During the 1918-1919 reorganization of the educational structure of Yale University the three years "select" course at Sheffield Scientific School was eliminated and a four year course of study for those studying "professional science" and "engineering" was approved, while graduate courses were transferred to the Graduate School, leaving only undergraduate courses taught at Sheffield Scientific School from 1919 to 1945.
Loomis Havemeyer stated: "During the second half of the nineteenth century Yale College and Sheffield Scientific School, separated by only a few streets, were two separate countries on the same planet.": the academic students (Ac students) would look down on the practical students Sheff students").
The first degree of Bachelor of Science was awarded in 1922 to the graduating class of the Sheffield Scientific School.
In 1932 the School of Engineering was reestablished and Sheffield Scientific School engineering classes were transferred to the new school.
In 1945 the Sheffield Scientific School resumed its original function of graduate level instruction in science. Undergraduate courses for the Bachelor of Science degree were transferred to Yale College, and undergraduate courses for a Bachelor of Science in industrial administration were transferred to the School of Engineering.
In 1956 the Sheffield Scientific School was terminated as an active school. The Board of Trustees still exists to oversee the Sheffield Scientific School property and meet legal requirements. The schools faculty is defined as teachers of science to graduate students under the Division of Science.
- George Jarvis Brush became Director of the Sheffield Scientific School from 1872 to 1898.
- Russell Henry Chittenden became Director of the Sheffield Scientific School from 1898 to 1922
- Charles Hyde Warren became Dean of the Sheffield Scientific School from 1922 to 1945
- Edmund Ware Sinnott became Director of the Sheffield Scientific School from 1945 to 1956
- 1 Kelly, Brooks Mather, Yale: A History, Yale University Press, New Haven, Connecticut, 1974.
- Pinnell, Patrick L., Yale University: The Campus Guide, Princeton Architectural Press, New York, 1999.
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