History of LMU Biology Department

The History of LMU Biology Department
By Dr. Peter J. Haen

To find out about the origins of the LMU Biology Department I contacted the “Grand Old Man of the Biology Department”: Dr. Carl Kadner. Dr. Kadner’s tenure at LMU spanned 40 years. For all the information prior to 1970 I had to rely on the great memory and notes of Dr. Kadner. The earliest record that Dr. Kadner could come up with was the name of a Rev. Phee, S.J. who in 1927 taught premedical courses at what is now known as Loyola High School campus. Prior to 1936 the courses offered in biology were given to satisfy the minimum medical school requirements of zoology, embryology and comparative anatomy. Laboratory activities consisted mainly of dissections and the study of microscope slides. Equipment was rudimentary.

In 1930 Loyola University moved to the Westchester campus, and the administration hired Melchior Dikkers Ph.D. to teach organic chemistry and other science subjects. Dr. Dikkers was the first professional scientist at the university. From 1931-34 he also taught Embryology and Comparative Anatomy, and was the first moderator of the Premedical Society. After leaving Loyola University he taught at Immaculate Heart College for a number of years. During the early 1930’s the school catalogs also mention a few other biology instructors, including a certain Antonio Duboc who taught biology and French, a Rev. Pierra Seminart who taught mainly extension courses on a part-time basis, and a Fr. Rudolph, S.J., who had taken graduate courses at Hopkins Marine Station in Pacific Grove. Fr. Rudolph also taught biology courses until 1936 when he became the Novice Master for the young Jesuits. Later on he was appointed Treasurer at Loyola University and then did a spell as an administrator at Loyola High School.

In 1993 Harold Harper, B.S. came to Loyola University’s science department to teach Organic Chemistry and Zoology on what was scheduled as a one year assignment. Instead he organized the major and set up the first facilities of the newly formed Biology Department. He also set up a major vitamin assay laboratory in the basement of St. Robert’s Hall and did vitamin assays for some of the largest corporations of that time. Harper went on to get his Ph.D. in 1941 from the University of California and left Loyola University to take a position at the University of San Francisco. From there he moved to UC Berkeley for a very distinguished scientific career and ending up as Dean of the Graduate School. In the same year that Mr. Harper was hired the University Bulletin also mentions a Dr. Fulco, M.D. who taught Embryology and Comparative Anatomy for one or two years. According to Dr. Kadner he then left to join the Ross-Loos Medical Center staff.

1936 was a very important year in the history of the LMU Biology Department. That was the year that Carl Kadner, B.S. was hired. He joined Harold Harper on the permanent staff of the department and began his illustrious teaching career. He introduced the first laboratory courses in General Physiology, Parasitology and Genetics. Carl Kadner received his Ph.D. in Biology together with Harold Harper in 1941, and when Harper left that year Dr. Kadner took over as Chairman of the Biology Department of Loyola University. The 1930-ies were certainly interesting years for the new Loyola University at the Westchester campus. The Engineering major which had been planned in the early thirties was terminated and Daniel E. Whelan, who headed that program, was named Dean of the newly formed College of Science in 1936. Biology was part of the College of Science until 1947 when the College of Arts and Sciences was formed. Dean Whelan entered the military service around 1944 and Romeo P. Allard was named acting Dean of the College of Science.

In 1941, when Dr. Harper left, Dr. Eugene Hodapp, a graduate of St. Louis University was hired to replace him. He taught Anatomy and Embryology courses. In 1943 Dr. Kadner accepted a commission in the army and served for three years in the South Pacific in malaria control. During the 1943 – 45 period the enrollment in the University dropped to around 50 students. All qualified premed students were assigned to Carroll College in Denver. When Dr. Kadner left for the World War II Mr. Floyd Jenkins, S.J. was assigned to Loyola University for a year to replace him. When there were no students left in the Biology Department in 1944 Jenkins went on with his doctoral studies and Dr. Hodapp returned to St. Louis. When WWII was over there was a tremendous influx of students into Loyola University, Fr. Roland A. Reed, S.J. was assigned to the Biology Department after several years of graduate studies on the East coast. Fr. Reed developed new embryology, genetics, and microbiology offerings. In 1946 Dr. Kadner returned from his service in the Army. In 1947 Fr. Alfred Kilp, S.J. came to the Biology Department and built up the Botany program and other courses that were suited to the teacher training program. It should be noted that this was Fr. Kilp’s second stint in the Biology Department. When he was still a scholastic, Mr. Kilp, S.J. served as a Biology Instructor at Loyola University during the 1937 – 38 academic years.

These three gentlemen, Dr. Kadner and Fathers Reed and Kilp did sterling work during the hectic period following WWII. The rapid increase in enrollment taxed their energies to the max. As a result graduate students from UCLA and USC were hired to conduct the laboratories. This practice continued until the 1950-ies when the Department started the policy of using their own seniors for that function.

As a consequence of the large enrollments of the post-war era another faculty member was hired: Thomas D. Pitts, a graduate student from UCLA. Although he was originally hired on a part-time basis, his outstanding talents both as a teacher and a researcher were soon recognized and he was quickly made a full-time permanent member of the staff. He taught General Biology, Comparative Anatomy, Parasitology and developed the Immunology program. Following the completion of his doctorate he was awarded a major research grant which was renewed for a number of years. This program added stature to the Biology Department, provided employment for a number of students as well as giving them the opportunity to do research. At that time it was the largest research grant ever awarded to the university.

In 1953 Fr. Reed was named Academic Vice President and Fr. Jenkins, S.J. who had just completed his doctorate at St. Louis University was assigned to the department as his replacement. Fr. Jenkins took over the teaching of Embryology, Comparative Anatomy, Paleontology and Micro-technique.

Then follows a period stabilization and continued growth that lasted until 1970, a year that marks the beginning of a second phase of the history of the LMU Biology Department. Only one new faculty member joins the Biology Department between 1953 and 1970, and that was Sr. Patricia Lacy, RSHM. She came from Marymount College and joined the staff when Marymount College joined Loyola University on the Westchester campus. Sr. Pat Lacy was the first female religious to become a faculty member at the University. She offered the first courses in Molecular Biology along with Genetics. In 1970 she was appointed Assistant Dean of the College of Arts and Science. She left the university in 1972.

Fr. Reed, S.J. came back to the Biology Department on a full-time basis in 1969. His sudden death in 1970 was the beginning of a second period of growth and development of the department. Before starting the tale of the second period of the history of the LMU Biology Department it should be mentioned that the Biology Department was responsible for the teaching of several laboratory courses at the St. Vincent’s School of Nursing. Since most of the Department were already spread thin with many teaching assignments special staff was hired to teach under the direction of the Chair of the Biology Department. Some of the more prominent of these part-time faculty members were Dr. Robert Barlet, Dr. Lucy Basset, Mr. Gerard Thompson and Mr. Mel. This program was terminated around 1970. In the 1970-ies exploratory talks were made to establish a School of Nursing at LMU in association with St. Vincent’s Hospital whose Nursing program had folded.