1960s History | Zoology | SIU

Southern Illinois University



College of Agriculture, Life and Physical Sciences


This article considers history of zoology at Southern in the 1960s -- an eventful decade that saw the full glory of leadership under President Delyte W. Morris and ended with a disruptive minority of students and act of arson on Old Main. As the decade began, Southern Illinois University was increasingly known, nationally and internationally, as a university on the move. Enrollment was just over 12,000. By 1964, SIU was the 21st largest in the United States with more than 20,000 students and faculty in excess of 1,000; by that time, there was a campus in Edwardsville as well as Carbondale. Graduate programs blossomed. The doctoral program in Zoology (approved in 1958) and those in a handful of other departments were joined by 14 additional doctoral programs in the early 1960s. 

In Fall 1960, the Department of Zoology (chaired by Harvey Fisher) included Hilda Stein, Willard Gersbacher, Charles Foote, William Lewis, Willard Klimstra, Howard Stains, John Downey, George Garoian, Edwin Galbreath, Richard Kudo, Richard Blackwelder, Everett Wilson, and John Crenshaw, Jr. There were 49 departmental courses. The program was housed in the Life Science building, now known as Lindegren Hall, as well as in some so-called temporary buildings, such as the nearby green barracks. During summer sessions in the late 1950s and early 1960s, Zoology often hired visiting professors to teach their specialties, such as limnologist Heinz Loffler (Univ. Vienna), mammalogist Lendell Cockrum (Univ. Arizona), and animal behaviorists Ed Banks (Univ. Illinois). With the implementation of the General Studies program at SIU, the Zoology faculty participated in GSA201 (Introductory Biology). The departmental curriculum saw revisions. Some courses were dropped or revised. Others were added, including Animal Taxonomy, Freshwater Invertebrates, Developmental Biology, Helminthology, Cytology, Osteology, Population Ecology, Population Genetics, and Animal Behavior, plus advanced courses in invertebrates, entomology, limnology, and systematics. By Fall 1969, a total of 59 zoology courses were listed. Graduate students and their faculty advisors actively pursued research in such areas as fisheries and wildlife biology, ecology, limnology, parasitology, genetics, embryology and development, reproductive physiology, animal behavior, vertebrate paleontology, herpetology, ornithology, mammalogy, entomology, and systematics. Graduates were known for their well-rounded education in all aspects of zoology. The University's location near abundant forest, wildlife, and fisheries resources added to the educational and research opportunities available to students, as did the Pine Hills Field Station headed by John Parsons. 

By the end of the decade, SIU's enrollment exceeded 35,000 -- SIUC contributed 23,000 to the total. Plans were underway for a medical school and law program. At SIUC, the Life Science II building was dedicated and soon occupied by Zoology, Microbiology, Physiology, Botany, and Psychology. The Zoology faculty saw considerable change in the 1960s, including retirements and expansion positions. By late 1969, the faculty consisted of William Lewis, Willard Klimstra, Howard Stains, George Garoian, Edwin Galbreath, Richard Blackwelder, Herman Haas, DuWayne Englert, Ronald Brandon, William George, Jan Martan, Joseph Beatty, Eugene LeFebvre, George Waring, John Stahl, John Krull, Bruce Petersen, Benjamin Shepherd, William Dyer, and J. E. McPherson; Dr. Fisher remained at the helm. During the 1960s, Zoology graduate students completed 17 Ph.D. dissertations, 89 Master's theses, and 17 Master's research papers. 

The national phenomena of student unrest and dissension began to appear at SIU in the late 1960s. Sit-ins and other protests began to occur on campus over such issues as women's hours, alleged discrimination, and the Vietnam War. People in authority and institutions became targets of the discord. On Sunday, June 8, 1969, fire destroyed the Old Main building on the SIUC campus. Eleven months later, under continued strife, Chancellor Robert MacVicar announced the University was closing indefinitely. But, it did not close for long. Recovery steadily and successfully occurred in the 1970s.