I had to wait two days for the UPS guy to bring me John Rogers’ memoir from an Amazon warehouse somewhere, so take a moment and picture me drumming my fingers and peering out the front window. When he finally got here I was just delighted with what I found.
Women, Rocks, and Professors turned out to be lucid, well organized and straight forward. Although it is mercifully without any sort of literary pretension, Rogers also had an ear for a good story. While I certainly knew of him as an early geologist at Rice, I had failed to grasp just how early and what an important role he played in the history of the department. Hired by the first chairman (and provost) Carey Croneis, Rogers was one of only three faculty his first year at Rice. His memoir lays out in detail how the department grew, how their thinking on curriculum evolved, and how they worked with students. It’s an invaluable guide of real historical importance and I suspect that his discussions of various field trips will help me identify some of the images in a big, fat folder of unlabeled Geology Department photographs.
Rogers also spends a fair amount of time talking about his time as master of Brown College, an experience he credits with sparking a lifelong interest in and commitment to the education of women. This is from the first Brown College Handbook, which I went and dug up in the Woodson. Interestingly, while not the first master (Frank Vandiver held the post during the 1965-66 school year) Rogers wound up having to put this together himself and struggled to do so the entire summer:
Bonus: So when he got to Rice he discovered that the entire department–offices, secretary’s space, lab, and classroom–was crammed into what had until recently been the Chemistry Department’s library (discussed at some length here). One of the interesting things about this space is that it opens onto a second story porch, which is difficult to see from the ground. Here’s what he has to say about it: