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Granular Sand by Julien Chopin, PhD Candidate in Physics

History of Physics at Clark

The "Collegiate Department" of Clark University (1902)

The faculty of Clark University were not the only ones experiencing difficulties dealing with President Hall. The founder himself was not only becoming disappointed but downright angered by Hall. Clark's unhappiness was to lead profound changes in his University.

Clark's original intention was to establish an institution which would train well-prepared graduates of secondary schools of the Worcester area. In Clark's 1893 will he was explicit; he had planned a university having three components: a department of original research, a library, and a department for the "general and liberal instruction" of undergraduates and the general public. Clark was unhappy over Hall's unwillingness to establish this third component as well as with Hall's failure to attract large numbers of tuition-paying students and financial support from the community. Clark was so disenchanted that he declared his unwillingness to provide additional support for his university. The trustees convinced Clark to provide temporary maintenance support.

In 1893 Clark executed a new will which provided that his executors would satisfy all existing commitments to the university, but which left no new funds. If, however, the trustees were to satisfy three conditions, his estate would provide additional support: (1) President Hall must resign within one year of the probate of the will; (2) the Trustees must recruit major benefactors within two years of probate, with matching funds to come from Clark's estate; and (3) the trustees must reorganize the university to include an undergraduate college of modest cost. (In an 1897 codicil, Clark relented on his demand for Hall's resignation, but stipulated the Stanford should have its own president, and that the college and the university could only be unified after Hall was no longer president.) Clark, recognizing that an annual tuition of $100 was unaffordable by local students, stipulated that undergraduates should have to pay no tuition in the first year of the "undergraduate department", $25 in its second year, and $50 in its third year and beyond. Three months later in a new codicil Clark directed the trustees to establish a college "as originally intended and proposed as the principal feature of Clark University," an institution of moderate expense in which male secondary school graduates would acquire "in a three years course a practical education which shall fit them for useful citizenship and their work in life." Clark's words were similar to those used by his friend Leland Stanford when in 1888 Stanford directed the establishment of his university. Clark died in 1900; the conditions of his will forced the trustees in 1902 to establish a "collegiate department" (as it became formally known), under an independent president or lose any additional support from the Clark estate. The college was to have its own administration, separate faculty and facilities, and be non-residential. (A street car line ran right past the one-block campus, and, for a five-cent fare, provided connections to all parts of Worcester and twenty- seven neighboring towns.)