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The "New" College and the National Science Foundation

"New School Plans Depend on Funds", Red and Green, 1970.

Red & Green article previewing proposed experimental school on the MSC campus.




While no one person can be said to have created the EC at MSC out of whole cloth, there is one man who could be considered its father. Dr. Eric Clausen, who would become the director of the EC during its four-year existence, was also the primary advocate for its inception. Dr. Clausen, in response to a call from Dr. Kasper Marking, Dean of MSC, put together a proposal to the National Science Foundation for a grant to operate a “New College” at MSC.

The “New College,” as it was originally named in the endowment grant and presentation to the MSC Educational Policies Committee and Faculty Senate, was to be “a comprehensive pre-service program on earth science teaching.” The four-year program would provide for a wider range academic preparation for developing "superior" earth science teachers. In addition to this primary goal, the EC would open its doors to all MSC students as part of a two-year general education experience.

Dr. Hoffman and Experimental College students in Pioneer Hall, c. 1974-75.

EC Instructor Dr. Thomas Hoffman and Students

In his search for funding for the experimental college project, Dr. Clausen contacted the National Science Foundation (NSF). At the time, the NSF was offering to fund dozens of new or experimental schools that focused on the sciences. The NSF envisioned these seed programs serving as academic laboratories for developing advanced science curriculum. NSF funding was offered as incentive to help propel American education standards in the sciences, which educational observers viewed as inferior since the embarrassment of the Soviet Union's launch of Sputnik in 1957.

NSF funding would decline greatly amid the economic downturn of the mid-1970s but at the cusp of the 1970s, MSC received a development grant of $242,000 for the first two years of the program,  with more funds added for the remaining two years of the project. Additional funding from the NSF and MSC sources would push the funding to just over $400,000. Adjusted for inflation, this sum would be equivalent to $2,336,649 in 2012.

Experimental College
The "New" College and the National Science Foundation