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Dictionary of Wisconsin History

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Term: Van Hise, Charles Richard 1857 - 1918

Definition: professor, geologist, university president, b. Rock County. He graduated from the Univ. of Wisconsin (B.M.E., 1879; B.S., 1880; M.S., 1882; Ph.D., 1892). Working closely with university professor Roland D. Irving, (q.v.), Van Hise studied the ancient crystalline rocks of Wisconsin, at first under the auspices of the state geological survey and later as a geologist for the U.S. Geological Survey. He joined the Univ. of Wisconsin faculty in 1879, and following professor Irving's death in 1888 succeeded him as geologist in charge of the Lake Superior Division of the federal survey. In this capacity Van Hise did pioneer work in pointing up the economic potentialities of the Lake Superior region, and established his reputation as an authority on pre-Cambrian geologic formations. His achievements were widely recognized, and he was known as a leading authority on structural and metamorphic geology. He was a member of numerous professional and honorary organizations, and in 1903 was chosen president of the Univ. of Wisconsin, serving in this capacity until his death in 1918. One of the outstanding presidents of the Univ. of Wisconsin, Van Hise was determined to build a state university which would both serve the state, and at the same time rank academically with any institution of higher learning in the U.S. or in Europe. Under his guidance the University expanded into many new fields, enrollment more than doubled, and the faculty was increased from less than 200 to more than 750. The graduate school was organized as a definite division with a dean of its own in 1904, and the faculty was encouraged to do research and writing. A distinguished advocate of conservation, Van Hise contributed to the movement one of its most useful books, The Conservation of Natural Resources in the U.S. (1910), and during his tenure as University president was active in many other national and civic movements. He headed a committee to arbitrate the railroad strike of 1915, participated in a study of the Panama Canal landslides of 1915, and at his death was active in movements leading toward an organization capable of maintaining world peace. Dict. Amer. Biog.; M. Curti and V. Carstensen, Univ. of Wis. (2 vols., Madison, 1949); Bull. Geological Soc. Amer., 31 (1920), pp. 100-110; C. R. Van Hise Correspondence.

[Source: Dictionary of Wisconsin biography]
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