Emily V. Wade ’45
INTERVIEWER: Today is March 25, 2009. I am Karen Arenson. I am speaking this afternoon with Emily V. Wade, known as Paddy, a 1945 graduate of MIT who has served for about 30 years on the Corporation. She's now a life member emerita. She was also the second woman to serve as president of MIT's Alumni Association. While on the Corporation she served on a variety of committees, including its Executive Committee and its Development Committee. Also, its Joint Advisory Committee with students, known as CJAC. She has been the Corporation's representative to the MIT Community Service Fund and served for many years as its co-chair.
Paddy, before we discuss these activities, I'd love to talk about how you came to MIT at a time when there were very few women here. Even where did you grow up and were you deep into math and science as a kid?
WADE: I grew up in Portsmouth, Rhode Island mostly, and I don't know that I was deep into math and science. I was very interested in the natural sciences, and I had a good friend who was later a Harvard fellow and an ecologist. So I got introduced early on to the natural world -- the birds and the collected leaves and mushrooms and things like that.
INTERVIEWER: Did you think of going into that part of science?
WADE: No. The reason -- I then went for high school, I went to a girl's finishing school down in Virginia called Foxcroft, and had a good science teacher whom I enjoyed very much. What sparked me to go really to MIT was there was an article in Collier's Magazine about the wonderful world we were going to have with U-235 , the uranium that goes into making bombs. They didn't mention the bombs part, they were talking about using it for making electricity and powering your house, and there was a lovely picture in this article. I guess that's what inspired me to go on into science. I applied both to MIT and Cornell and I got into both of them and came to MIT.
INTERVIEWER: Did you know that MIT took women? Did you check into that specially or did you just assume they did?
WADE: I have no idea. I have no memory. I assume someone told me along the line that they took women.
INTERVIEWER: You could have said Paddy and they wouldn't have known. How did your friends and family react to your decision to go to MIT?
WADE: Was supportive. No problems whatsoever.
INTERVIEWER: Surprise or -- ?
WADE: I don't remember to be honest. I don't think so.
INTERVIEWER: What was MIT like when you were in there?
WADE: It was very different from what it is now. It was fun. The one thing you had to have -- of course, in those days there was no such thing as women's lib., there was no such thing as harassment or any of the problems that one has nowadays. At least they were there probably, but they were not talked about and they were not acknowledged. And no one did anything about any of them. The one thing that I think was really important was to have a sense of humor, because the boys really liked to tease the girls. There were only seven of us in my class.
INTERVIEWER: Out of about?
WADE: There were 728 freshman. There were 95 girls in all of MIT, but most of them were graduate students -- the undergraduates were, as I said there were seven in my class. I don't remember what there were in --
INTERVIEWER: Were you at all close to each other? Did they bond?
WADE: Yeah, somewhat. One of the girls and I were in an apartment together over in Boston -- not my freshman year because I lived with my distant cousin my freshman year. But beginning in the spring, like in the summer, I had an apartment.
INTERVIEWER: Did they have the girls boarding house yet?
WADE: No. There was nothing. Nothing at all for girls. You had to have your own facility to live in.
INTERVIEWER: And the male classmates were basically friendly? They teased you but -- .
WADE: They teased but they were -- .
INTERVIEWER: -- It was good natured?
WADE: Yeah. It was good natured. You kept being asked to freshman smokers, which you didn't go to because they didn't realize you were girls in most cases.
INTERVIEWER: What were the smokers?
WADE: I have no idea, I never went.
INTERVIEWER: Were they like fraternity rushing or was it something different?
WADE: I think it was just for freshman and sort of getting to know everybody in the class or something like that, or maybe they were connected with -- they may have been connected with rushing. I don't know. As I said, I never got that far.
INTERVIEWER: Were there freshman picture books then where you had---?
INTERVIEWER: So it wasn't that they all said oh, here are the seven women in the class.
WADE: No. No. It was very different. Some of the things that were different at Tech, for instance, women could only swim, I think it was Sunday and maybe there was one evening in the week. The rest of the time the swimming pool was strictly male.
INTERVIEWER: No trunks required?
WADE: That's my guess. I never peeked. The other thing is there were no sports to speak of. I mean maybe there were sports, but I don't remember ever hearing about sports.
INTERVIEWER: Right. No girls sports certainly.
WADE: Oh, certainly not. And whether there were boy sports, there may have been, but I honestly don't know.
INTERVIEWER: There must have been crew.
WADE: Oh yeah, I think there was crew.
INTERVIEWER: You know about Carl Miller and crew.
WADE: Yeah. There was.
INTERVIEWER: And you ultimately married a classmate.
INTERVIEWER: Who -- .
WADE: Whom I met very early on in my first year. In fact, within the first month. He was the brother-in-law of a naval officer who had been in Panama with my father, who was in the Navy also, in the summer and fall of 1941, just before Pearl Harbor. By the time -- or I don't know, at some point Ellery Sedgwick and Sis told my father that, Oh, my brother's going to MIT. And Daddy said, oh Paddy's going to MIT and they've gotta look you up. So he called me up and asked me for cocktails, and that really threw me. I don't drink cocktails. Still don't. So I got all dressed up and that rather threw him too. So we went and had a Coca-Cola each. That didn't work very well. Then finally, at that point I was living in Boston just temporarily until I moved into my cousin's house, and then finally he called me up some time in the winter and asked me out to go to the play, and he had a little car, a Roadster. He picked me up, it was raining, and I had a fur jacket, and it looked like silver fox but it was skunk, and so we had gotten wet and so I sat -- we were all crowded in, there was another couple. He had his nose buried in my fur jacket and that broke the ice. From then on we were great friends.
INTERVIEWER: You shared a lot of interests in the sciences.
WADE: Yes. He was in the business section, so we never had classes together, but we certainly had a lot of interests together.
INTERVIEWER: Including dancing.
WADE: Yes. We did a little at MIT. We were married before we graduated. We were married the last term of our senior year. See, it was during the war and we went all year round. We only had 10 days off between years, as well as 10 days off between semesters. So, during the final semester of our senior year, which was February to June, Jep decided he wanted to join the American Field Service, because he was 4F because of hay fever in eyes, and we wanted to get married. We'd been engaged a year. So we got married on Saint Patrick's Day. Then he went overseas and I came back to MIT and finished during the summer, my thesis.
INTERVIEWER: And then he finished later.
WADE: And then he finished the following spring. He came back just before Thanksgiving and finished, because he went to India and the war ended.
INTERVIEWER: How did the professors treat you and the other women students?
WADE: Very nicely.
INTERVIEWER: Were they --
WADE: Yeah. Professor Sears I think had a little jaundiced on the eye on the women students, but maybe that's because I used to knit in his class. In 10.250 we'd have to sit in front row. But I got to know Dean Petrie. He was chemistry, and I can't remember another one, chemistry professor, a lot. We used to see them a lot. It was a very informal and very nice relationship.
INTERVIEWER: Did all the students relate to them this way or did you have a special comfort? One of your classmates, one of your friends, so she was just in awe of how relaxed you were and how you would refer to one professor as G. G. to his face, I think. And she said, I just figured oh, maybe they're not so -- . But I mean did everybody -- ?
WADE: I honestly don't know. I grew up in -- I have three half siblings. My sisters are twins and they're six years younger than I am. They're half sisters, and then my brother was born the year I was married. So I grew up essentially with my father and he was in politics. So I grew up meeting all sorts and kinds of people and relating to them somehow. So it wasn't hard -- .
INTERVIEWER: You were relaxed -- .
WADE: I was perfectly relaxed around adults and around men because that was really what I related to.
WADE: I had a lot of fun. I enjoyed Tech very much.
INTERVIEWER: But it sounds like you worked hard too -- ?
WADE: Oh yeah.
INTERVIEWER: -- as do most.
WADE: Yes. I did. I don't know whether I could work as hard as they have to work nowadays, but I did work hard. But I'd been well prepared, because at Foxcroft I had a history teacher who was a marvelous history teacher. She really made you work and laid out how -- sort of taught you how to study and how to allot your time and how to work. That made a big difference.
INTERVIEWER: And chemistry, what was your attraction to that?
WADE: I had chemistry at Foxcroft also.
INTERVIEWER: Why chemistry?
WADE: Because I wanted to study uranium U-235, and I thought chemistry was the way. Anyway, I'm better at chemistry, I never could do physics. It's word problems. I don't work well with word problems. I like formulas. So, it wasn't until I went to try and do a thesis on uranium that I discovered oops, I'm not qualified to do a thesis on uranium. So I did one on a chemical subject.
INTERVIEWER: On chemical -- ?
WADE: On sugars, on proving out a German patent that said that you could go from a six carbon sugar to a five carbon sugar by treating it with bromating it and silver.
INTERVIEWER: When you entered MIT did you have a plan for the rest of your life that you were going to go be a chemist or something or that you were going to work or not work?
WADE: I don't think. I did work at MIT for a year when Jep, after he came back.
INTERVIEWER: What did you do?
WADE: Cleaned up after the boys in the freshman labs in the morning and in the chem lab in the afternoon. But the problem in the freshman lab was the boys all knew more than I did, and they were all veterans that had just come back and they were all older than I was.
INTERVIEWER: And you were married besides.
INTERVIEWER: Do you think being at MIT during the war affected the experience? I mean were there a lot fewer -- I don't know. I mean were there fewer male students because of that?
WADE: That may have had something to do with it, although we got a big influx of V-12 students from Lehigh.
INTERVIEWER: V-12 being?
WADE: V-12 were Navy recruits or they all came in Gob's uniforms, in sailor's uniforms. So that was a big influx that came in at one point.
INTERVIEWER: To get their degrees or to study -- ?
WADE: To get their degrees.
INTERVIEWER: How interesting.
WADE: I'm sure it was very different. The thing that was quite different is that there was a complete lack -- in the boys that were there, or at least the ones that I ran into, there was no interest in anything outside of their chemistry major. This was the time we had Dunbarton Oaks, we had the formation of the United Nations and all of this was going on. Having been brought up in a political family, I was interested in all of these things. We had to take a course, in chemistry we had to take a course in public speaking because we had to do an oral thesis. In that course we had to make a speech and write a paper and make a speech on it. I took some United Nations thing or something, and the boys turned to me and said, well, why did you talk about that? And they had talked about some chemical, the process or reaction. It was very interesting. Now, of course, students are so interested in what's going on in the world.
INTERVIEWER: Did you ever think of going into politics yourself?
INTERVIEWER: Do you think your father's experience was a good one? Did he enjoy his time?
WADE: Daddy, in many respects, was very shy. So I think it was very hard for him in many things, but he was governor of Rhode Island for two years beginning in '38, and he did a wonderful job and he put in the first Civil Service Bill, I believe. He also put in a 2 percent sales tax, and someone over in South Shore, South County said, when they collected the two cents from somebody, they said, One for Bill and one for Ann -- that was his wife's name.
INTERVIEWER: So after you graduated you worked at MIT for a year. Then did you -- ?
WADE: We went down to Roanoke, Virginia, and he worked for American Viscose after he graduated from MIT. They had been told by somebody that they should be more efficient and they should bring in an efficency department. So they hired a head of it and they hired Jep and they hired some other younger people like Jep and established them in an office. Then the union came to the heads of American Viscose and said, if you let them in on the floor of the factory, we will go on strike. And Viscose couldn't have cared less. They were making money hand over fist anyway making rayon, so they said, okay, okay, okay. So Jep would go every day, he'd take a book and he'd sit in his office, and every once in awhile they'd have a meeting or something, but there wasn't anything to do. So he put up with it for three months and then he quit and he went and taught at VPI, Virginia Poly Tech, of course, a business type because that's what he knew, and it turned him off of teaching completely because the boys would come in and they'd sort of sit and they'd read something, a newspaper, or they wouldn't pay any attention. He was furious. Before he did that he had applied to Harvard Law School and gotten accepted for the following fall and we came up here and we've been in Massachusetts ever since.
INTERVIEWER: So you've been back in Boston and he became a lawyer.
WADE: Yeah. And he came to MIT as a patent lawyer. That was his first job out of law school.
INTERVIEWER: How long did he stay? Brief?
WADE: I think it was about three years maybe before he went to Choate Hall and Stewart.
INTERVIEWER: He went into private practice handling -- .
WADE: He was working for a Kenway-Jenney law firm that was MIT's patent lawyer, and so he was just working for them but they put him at MIT because of the experience. It was a fascinating time because it was when Jay Forrester patented the memory core, and there were a lot of other very important patents that were coming out at that time, so it was a wonderful time to be a patent lawyer here.
INTERVIEWER: The Radiation Labs and so forth. Interesting. So, at that point you stopped working and started raising a family?
WADE: Yeah, I've been a volunteer ever since. I've worked with the American Red Cross and helped set up the first blood bank in Boston, the Blood Donor Center, which was on Dartmouth Street I think.
INTERVIEWER: It's interesting that they hadn't had one and you thought gee whiz that's -- .
WADE: No, I didn't have anything to do with it, they were doing it but I just worked on it and volunteered with the Red Cross.
INTERVIEWER: What prompted you to move into the volunteer area rather than continuing to have a paid job? Did you think about it consciously or it was just the thing to do?
WADE: No. Well, to be honest, I didn't need the money, so I thought that this was something. And my father had always brought us up on the idea of giving where we could and being involved in having a civic duty.
INTERVIEWER: I heard a tale about when you were a student you used to save money by walking across the bridge?
WADE: It wasn't to save money, I just walked across the bridge.
INTERVIEWER: But then you would put money into a charity pot or something?
WADE: I think someone was making things up. I don't remember doing that at all.
INTERVIEWER: Maybe she did that and -- . Okay.
WADE: I did walk across the Mass Avenue Bridge a lot though.
INTERVIEWER: Did you expect when you left MIT to come back and get involved or did -- ?
INTERVIEWER: -- you stayed involved all those years?
WADE: One of the other things that was different during the war was I don't remember Karl Compton at all who was the president. I mean maybe I saw him, but I honestly don't remember ever seeing him. Mrs. Compton, however, was always there, and she took a special interest in the women and couldn't have been nicer. She was a wonderful person. She was just great. I knew Dr. Killian very well for some reason at some point. We used to go to Bill Coolidge's. Bill Coolidge was a graduate and was very involved with MIT. He had a wonderful place up in Topsfield, and he'd have a Sunday sort of Open House where he'd ask interesting groups of people. Jim Killian was a great friend of his and was usually there. We were fortunate enough to be asked a couple of times. So I got to know a lot of the presidents somehow -- Jay Stratton we knew quite well, and Kay, of course, and Howard. Then Jerry Weitzner. Jep was on the Search Committee for him I believe. So all through the years we somehow managed to keep in touch and keep involved. I don't know really how.
INTERVIEWER: So, your husband actually was on the Corporation for a number of years. I mean he seemed to -- .
WADE: He was in the '70s, yes.
INTERVIEWER: -- Know these people and were they interested, do you think, in his knowledge about intellectual property and patents?
WADE: One of the things that he did a lot of, he was on the Investment Committee, and he was very instrumental in working out sort of the modern way that MIT managed its money with Glenn Strehle, and he was very instrumental in that.
INTERVIEWER: Glenn was treasurer?
WADE: Yes, Glenn was treasurer.
INTERVIEWER: So he spanned a number of presidents.
INTERVIEWER: And so Jeptha served for about a decade.
WADE: Yeah, he was 10 years. He was almost all the '70s. Howard called him in when -- you know when they had the riots everywhere -- ?
INTERVIEWER: In the late '60s, right?
WADE: Yeah. Jep was on the Corporation then evidently.
INTERVIEWER: And Howard Johnson was president.
WADE: Yes, Howard was president. Howard called Jep in and Jep came and sat with Howard while they were trying to break into his office.
INTERVIEWER: What did your husband think of that experience?
WADE: He found it interesting.
INTERVIEWER: What was his view of the protesters and the protests and the anti-war?
WADE: I honestly don't remember. I don't know.
INTERVIEWER: What was your view? Did you have a reaction?
WADE: No. I sympathized with them in many respects. But I don't go in for the violent-ness that some of them did. MIT got off much easier than most places. They were much less obstructive than maybe even at Harvard.
INTERVIEWER: Why, I wonder. Any ideas?
WADE: I think because of the general -- in those days they were also involved in what they were doing at MIT. Yes, they knew and were aware of what was going on, but they weren't that much of an activist group. There weren't that many of them as there are now.
INTERVIEWER: Do you think given your views that maybe Jeptha tried to calm Howard Johnson down and say some of what they're doing -- ?
WADE: I doubt it. I think they had a good relationship. I don't think there was any of that.
INTERVIEWER: So after he rotated off the Corporation -- .
WADE: I came right back on.
INTERVIEWER: -- You were picked. Were you surprised when you were invited?
WADE: Yeah, I was.
WADE: I don't know. I didn't expect it.
INTERVIEWER: Did you ever talk to them about what made them invite you?
INTERVIEWER: But at that point I guess Howard was still president or Jerry Weitzner had become president?
WADE: No, Paul was president. I came on in '79, and I think Paul had just -- .
INTERVIEWER: And did you know him much?
WADE: I think we had met him, because he was chancellor, wasn't he?
INTERVIEWER: He was under Jerry.
WADE: Under Jerry. And with Jep being on the Corporation with Jerry, so that we did get to know Paul.
INTERVIEWER: What was the Corporation like when you joined it? Did you always wonder and here you were and lo and behold it was like what?
WADE: But you see when I was at Tech, no one had any awareness of the Corporation or anything that went on. I mean there wasn't. There was nothing like CJAC or anything like that. I mean maybe there were committees with students, but I certainly wasn't aware of it if there were.
INTERVIEWER: No, CJAC I think was invented during the whole period of the riots in the late '60s to give students representation.
WADE: When I was on CJAC, what they were talking about was the apartheid and the voting on the South -- .
INTERVIEWER: Disinvestment from South Africa to wanting to get anything with the relation out of MITs -- .
WADE: Jep was involved with that too.
INTERVIEWER: Involved with that portfolio. But given that Jeptha had been on the Corporation, I mean did you sort of know what to expect by the time you got there?
WADE: I doubt it. I enjoyed it thoroughly and I still do. I go to all the meetings, even though I'm emeritus and can't vote, but I can shoot off my mouth on occasion.
INTERVIEWER: Do you think the trustees are influential in the way MIT is going?
WADE: Oh, absolutely. I've been on visiting committees now in three universities -- Harvard, BU and MIT. The difference is unbelievable. At Harvard I was on twice on the Visiting Committee for the Museum of Comparative Zoology. The second time, the head of the Committee was Bob White, who then went on to be head of the National Academy of Engineering, I think. He admitted, Yeah, I'm going to write a report, but it really doesn't matter. It's going to go into the trash. It's not going to -- no one pays any attention. BU didn't -- I was asked there because I knew an assistant to John Silber. They somehow got the idea that they should have a visiting committee, but they didn't know what to do with it.
Again, it was a very futile -- it was interesting. I'm not saying -- both of them were very interesting and I learned a lot. But as far as having any influence on the governance I don't think it did. But at MIT it very definitely does. To me it's very impressive how the visiting committees, and I was on a whole bunch of them it seems like, the caliber of the people that are on them -- the caliber of the people on the Corporation is just astounding. Then the visiting committees, of course, bring it outside people as well. It's very interesting their questions and what they know and what they discuss and how they could relate to the professors in the departments. There's a great deal of good flow of information back and forth I think. Then the final part when we talked to the administration and they all come in and they're interested and they listen. That makes it all worthwhile and really makes a big difference.
INTERVIEWER: Can you think of any recommendations from any of your visiting committees where maybe they went a little against the flow or came up with something that wasn't in place where six months or a year later you could see the results, or was it sort of less -- ?
WADE: Maybe if I was closer to then I might be able to, but at this point I'm afraid I can't. Because that was 20 years ago.
INTERVIEWER: On the Corporation you were also put on the Executive Committee, which was quite an honor. I had the sense that different people were there for different reasons. In other words, everybody brought something different. Did you ever think about what your contribution was or what you were trying to do or why they valued you so much?
WADE: No, I didn't. I wonder increasingly why they asked me to do that. Because I don't have the knowledge or the -- but sometimes I can think about things and come at them from a different perspective or a different approach than other people.
INTERVIEWER: Which I guess if you're trying to gather information and analyze, it's useful to have different points of view.
WADE: Certainly I found that in committees that I've been on that it's very helpful if people come at things from different -- .
INTERVIEWER: So there were a lot of businessmen and a lot of people who knew a lot about finance and whatever, and you came from the nonprofit world.
WADE: Yeah. But I had a lot of interests and I've always been interested in education, but mostly in the environmental. I also have a strong environmental bend. And that's something I've pushed. Back in those days MIT wasn't very environmentally aware.
INTERVIEWER: When you pushed it, what crossed your mind in terms of what maybe they could or should be doing?
WADE: I used to tease them about their biology department because for all that I know a lot about botany and biology at this point. I've never taken a course in it, I always had just chemistry and physics. I keep teasing them about their biology, I say, you know, I really wouldn't take a course in biology at MIT because you just don't teach any biology that I'm interested in. I'm interested in the natural history or the natural biology.
INTERVIEWER: Sort of what they call ecology and evolutionary biology now.
INTERVIEWER: They were more genetics -- .
WADE: And they genetics and test tube biology and molecular.
INTERVIEWER: Did they ever have an answer?
WADE: No, I just was teasing them.
INTERVIEWER: Did you ever try to cross register, take it somewhere else?
WADE: No, no. This was many years later. This was when I was on the Corporation.
INTERVIEWER: And in terms of environmental things -- .
WADE: Now they do a lot and it's wonderful to see. I was on the Ocean Engineering Visiting Committee for awhile and that was very interesting. Of course, that's very environmental. Then I was on the Sea Grant Committee for many years, and they do a lot of environmental stuff.
INTERVIEWER: I don't know anything about the Sea Grant Committee. What does it do and what was it like?
WADE: Sea Grant is a government project that they started -- I just don't remember what year. But you know that we have the land- grant colleges--- MIT is a land- grant college, which is why we are coed and why we have our own TC, and there's some other thing we have because of it, but I can't remember what it is.
INTERVIEWER: The governor sits on the board ex officio.
WADE: Yeah. So they decided that we needed a Sea Grant program in the United States to study this seas because they were so important. So MIT and Woods Hole became the Sea Grant colleges for Massachusetts. They split it. So we have the Sea Grant Committee. Kris Kristofferson is the head of it -- that isn't his last name. It's -- .
WADE: Christopoulos, is it. Something like that. Chris is great, and he's been a wonderful head of it. I've enjoyed very much all the meetings I've gone to. It gathers programs or it gathers research proposals from anyone at MIT that can work, about the sea, about marine fisheries. One of the things they studied was the effect of the water and waves on the offshore drilling platforms and the stresses. They are doing a lot now with exploratory unmanned submarine type, making them, they're doing studies in the ocean. Woods Hole, of course, has the Alvin, which is a submersible and they do research around the world on the ocean. So sea grant is very interesting and important.
INTERVIEWER: Did all states have a -- I guess the inland states wouldn't.
WADE: I don't think the inlands do, but I think the states around the Great Lakes and on the coast do. I don't know whether the inland -- I don't think the inland ones do but I'm not sure.
INTERVIEWER: And the land grant programs were funded largely state by state?
WADE: They're federal.
INTERVIEWER: Were they federal?
INTERVIEWER: And the Sea Grants were federal also?
WADE: The land grant colleges were given a piece of land. That's where all the -- out west especially. I don't know how it worked in the east, I don't know how it worked for MIT whether we were given land or given a sum of money. But the Sea Grants, the proposals are funded and passed by the Sea Grant Committee in Washington.
INTERVIEWER: And still ongoing?
WADE: Oh yeah. Very active.
INTERVIEWER: Another responsibility that you've taken very seriously over the years is your support for MIT's engagement with the community, the local community. One thing I recall is that every year you wrote letters to Corporation members asking for them to --
WADE: Still do.
INTERVIEWER: -- Give donations, contribute to the community service fund. Did you get much response?
WADE: Oh yes. I think the corporate -- I honestly don't know because I don't get follow-up on it.
INTERVIEWER:You don't get the checks.
WADE: No. But I know that the Corporation has been very generous to the fund. The fund does a lot of good in Cambridge. It's very interesting being on that committee because these Cambridge nonprofits present a proposal to you, and then you have to decide whether you have the money to fund it. Some of the proposals are presented by students who, in some cases, they're nonprofits that the students themselves have thought up and dreamt up and are running completely. Almost all of them. There are a couple that don't have much student input, but almost all of them have either staff or student input, and quite a lot.
INTERVIEWER: And the budget is thousands, or tens of thousands, or hundreds thousands?
WADE: Overall budget, gee -- .
INTERVIEWER: It probably grew over the year.
WADE: Somewhere over 50,000 I would say.
INTERVIEWER: What do you think is the university's obligation or responsibility to the community. It's probably something you've thought about more than many people.
WADE: I think they bring a great asset to a community, but they also they bring problems. So the university has a delicate balancing act to try and minimize the problems of exuberant students. Also, MIT makes a very generous contribution to Cambridge in lieu of taxes, we are not taxed, and that is hard and it's very hard on some of these cities, especially. We used to have a wonderful man -- I'm sure we do now and I just don't know him -- who was the front for MIT with Cambridge. He just did such a wonderful job and he was always at Cambridge and going to Cambridge and going to all the different mayor's things and all of that.
INTERVIEWER: The liaison.
WADE: And he was a wonderful liaison. That's very important. We've always had much better relations, I think, than Harvard had with Cambridge. MIT has worked at it and really made an effort. The students do a remarkable job. There are a lot of students now that do tutoring, one-on-one tutoring with kids. I know about it because my daughter teaches the students how to do the teaching. She's a teaching expert and then she supervisors what they do. How they do it with the heavy load of work they have is always amazing, but they're religious about coming every week and tutoring their special child.
INTERVIEWER: Do you think there's more of that than there used to be -- ?
WADE: Oh yeah.
INTERVIEWER: -- Or is it just ebb and flow?
WADE: I think there's more of it now. There certainly was none of it when we were here, when I was here. It was very different. But, of course, you see we didn't have a student center, we didn't have -- where the Stratton center is there was a row of stores, and there was a record shop, the big Bill Schwan and he's the one that wrote the book that published every record.
INTERVIEWER: The Catalog, right?
WADE: The Catalog. Then there was a drugstore, and there was a bowling alley upstairs.
INTERVIEWER: And this is on Vassar Street?
WADE: No, this is not Mass Avenue. It was right just behind where the lights are now.
INTERVIEWER: Where the student center -- .
WADE: But not that far back. It was just a sidewalk from Mass Avenue.
INTERVIEWER: Between Bexley Hall and Vassar Street I guess.
WADE: Yeah, where the student center is now. The pharmacy there was where I used to eat lunch quite often at a counter.
INTERVIEWER: One of your ongoing activities still, and passions has been the group you created, the Museum Institute for Teaching Science, which actually grew out of one of your -- .
WADE: It grew out of being on the Executive Committee. Because on the Executive Committee, we usually have a dinner the night before the meeting in the morning, and I used to sit next to Paul a lot -- and this was in '82 and '83 -- and he was speaking about how the decreasing percentage of students going into science and engineering was very worrisome of high school students and something really ought to be done about it. There was talk about high schools and about writing curriculum, but Jep had been counsel for the Educational Development Corporation after Sputnik went up when Jerrold Zacharias, Professor Zacharias from MIT sort of founded EDC and developed the whole new way of teaching with the physics program, and that spun-out into both biology and chemistry with new textbooks. so there was a lot of -- .
INTERVIEWER: Physics was the beginning.
WADE: Physics was the beginning. There was a lot of good curriculum developed in those days, some of which is still used. I felt very strongly. I'd been intimately involved with Jep on that, or I knew all about it. I felt very strongly that that's not the way to go because it takes forever. It takes forever to write good curriculum, and then it takes forever to get it accepted, and then you've got to teach the teachers how to use it. So that's a very long, drawn out, 10 years probably. I felt very strongly that we needed to do something immediately. And the way to do it was to train the present day teachers and re-train them, sort of re-tread. I had worked a lot with various museums, been involved with a whole bunch of -- Jep had been president of the Children's Museum and I had been on the board of a couple of them.
INTERVIEWER: All science museums?
WADE: I'd worked with the science museum, helped setting up their volunteer program. I'd been on the zoo board for 25 years. I'd been on Mass Audobon board for 25 years. I knew -- I don't know if I knew -- I guess I knew someone at the Museum of Comparative Zoology. Yes, because I'd been on that visiting committee. So we had contacts between us with most of the science oriented museums. So we finally had a dinner in February of '83 -- it's 25 years old this year -- at my house and I had Paul come, and we had the heads of Mass Audobon, the Museum of Science, the aquarium, the Children's Museum, Museum of Comparative Zoology, The Arnold Arboretum -- I've left out someone. Who'd I leave out? Oh, the zoo. They didn't all know each other. So they did after that. And Roger Nichols who was then president of the Museum of Science, head of it, chaired. I had Paul talk about the problem, and I said, look, you all know how to teach science so people like it, do something. If Boston can't do something about this problem no one can. So Roger said, okay he liked new ideas -- So he said, I'll chair this. I don't know how often he got their meeting, but he really banged their heads together and got the meeting a lot.
INTERVIEWER: And he was from which one?
WADE: The Museum of Science. Roger Nichols. They decided that they could work together and they could come up with a program, and that it would be a two week -- they first said three weeks, but after the first year it was two weeks -- three weeks is too long -- program to teach teachers, and the museums could do it. So they gave it to their directors of education and they sort of roughed out this plan. Then they got a small grant from the Cox Foundation in Boston and hired Frank Gardner who was down at the Franklin Institute but had grown up in Quincy and knew everybody. I mean he'd worked for the Museum of Science, he'd worked for Mass Audobon. He finished up a National Science Foundation proposal and they got three years of funding with one year follow-on.
So for five years they were funded by the NSF. And this started with a two week summer institute for K-8 teachers, and they went to a museum -- in those days they went to one museum for the two weeks, except for the first and last day, all the groups came together. And they could take 12 teachers in each of the seven museums. So we had 80 the first year, first three years we had 84 teachers each year, and then they added Manomet Bird Observatory in those days. On the fourth year and the fifth year they added Cape Cod museum, the Worcester museum, which is now the EcoTarium and the Springfield museum. So the last year they had 138 teachers.
Then there was another year when they had a little money left over and they ran a one- week tropical forest, rainforest, program for teachers and they had six of the museums all had sort of contacts with tropical forests at that point and they put it together and their educators worked on it and gave the workshop. That was the first on the educators had all worked together, too.
INTERVIEWER: Most of them had education departments.
WADE: Yes. These were all big museums after all, and they all had education departments.
INTERVIEWER: But they weren't really working directly with training science teachers in schools? WADE: They may have had programs, they may have had -- Mass Audobon did a lot of in schoolwork, mostly with the kids themselves with various classes. I think each of the museums had some take on some sort of teaching mostly with students. And if they did work with teachers it would be a one shot workshop, two day, one day type thing.
INTERVIEWER: And this was mostly for teachers of students between kindergarten and eighth grade?
WADE: Kindergarten and eighth grade.
INTERVIEWER: Is it still focused on the -- ?
WADE: It's still that.
INTERVIEWER: Why the lower grades rather than high school?
WADE: Everybody wants to fund high school. By high school you've lost them. In fact, by third grade you lost most of the girls.
WADE: Yes. If you don't keep them interested -- in fact, there's a professor here who studied, who's interested in math. He's in the space/science department, or whatever it is, called Professor Natapoff and he has developed a math program. He feels very strongly that boys aren't ready for interesting math until the third grade. Girls are ready in the first grade. And the textbooks are written for the boys and the girls are bored stiff by the time they get to third grade. He feels very strongly that boys and girls should be taught math separately in those early grades especially, and pushed as fast as whatever they can. He's developed a curriculum I gather and he did some work in, I think he was in Chelsea.
INTERVIEWER: So were you getting many--- I mean do schools even think about teaching science between kindergarten and third grade?
WADE: Oh yeah. All schools -- no, I won't say all schools now, but there has always been science in those grades. One of the problems is that most of these teachers are women, most of them are scared of science and they've not had any science training in their teacher training or very little -- I mean they may have taken a general science course but they're not usually very good. So one of the things we do is the first day of the institute -- let me just bring us up-to-date on the institute. Because when I took over in '92, the institute changed from the teachers all going to one institute. We got involved with a state program that they had received money from the Statewide Initiative to Change the Teaching of Math and Science. They called theirs, Partnerships Advancing the Learning of Math and Science, PALMS, and we were the museum contact for Partners. So we branched out to five regions of Massachusetts and used four museums in each region so that the teachers -- so that you could use a small museum. Because all they had to do was do a two-day workshop and then they'd repeat it if they had enough teachers. It meant we could take 60 teachers in each of these districts, because then they'd have 15 and that's a good number.
INTERVIEWER: And the focus was still science.
WADE: The focus was still science. So that's the way it has evolved. We're now in nine regions and the focus is science, but it's science, technology, engineering and math, because that's what is now being pushed. It's called STEM.
One of the problems now is that we have this federal -- well, we have the MCAS test which Massachusetts put in for judging how the students are doing each year and they take them at certain grade levels. They do take them in science but they don't really count. The only ones that count are math and literacy. And then the no child left behind came along and that augmented and made that even more stringent. So we have had trouble since those have gone in, gathering enough teachers, because science doesn't count. And let's face it, if I said it was literacy or it was math, it would be easier to fill them. But how can you teach science without literacy and math? I mean no way. So I'm hoping things are going better now. We've got the State Department, there's a great guy who's running the math and science part of it and he's come to MITS and he's very interested in -- and the head of the literacy there has come to MITS and asked us to work with them on getting literacy and science together. So we've been presenting at their conferences.
INTERVIEWER: Did MIT have any involvement in any of this after Paul's initial challenge to you in a sense, and then his coming to your dinner?
WADE: Not really, except we have had the MIT Museum when they had an educator. They don't at the moment, but for several years they were one of our partners for the Boston area. In the Boston area we did have, we have now, we have the zoo, we have the aquarium, and we have the Children's Museum, and then we had the MIT Museum, and now we have the Museum of Comparative Zoology again.
INTERVIEWER: Have you been able to branch into other states or have other states come to look at you because they want to replicate this?
WADE: I tried to get it going in California when I was president of the MIT alumni association, because we went out to San Diego, Bill and I, and they wrote a proposal to the NSF -- because San Diego has a whole bunch of museums right around a quadratie or something. And I knew the head of one of them because he came from Cleveland. But he wrote a proposal and he was going to take 25 teachers and it was going to be over two years and he asked for a million dollars, and needless to say he got turned down. So he didn't get it. But we were in New York state in Syracuse for two years I think or maybe it was three, and then a lot of personnel changed and there wasn't that much interest in it.
INTERVIEWER: It takes a lot of tending.
WADE: Yes, it does.
INTERVIEWER: And that's what you still do to a large extent?
WADE: To a certain extent, but we've got a wonderful executive director now, and a whole new team and really it's going very well and it's quite exciting because we're getting turned to more. But we laid the groundwork. I mean I've been running it since '92 and '93 was the first new program that we started, '92 we were learning because the PALMS program had a learning part of it. So we've run it since '93 every year. We've had over 3,000 teachers take it.
INTERVIEWER: Do any of them come back and do a second or third?
WADE: Steadily. We have people that have been back almost every year.
INTERVIEWER: Really? They love it.
WADE: They love it. And they have to keep a journal so we can see what their results are, how they feel about it.
INTERVIEWER: And can you tell whether there are more students getting interested in science or staying interested in science?
WADE: That I can't tell. It's very hard to measure. I'd love to be able to do an evaluation, but we had Lesley University do an evaluation in 2000 of the results on '97, teachers who'd taken the course in '97 and whether they were still doing it and what have you. That cost $30,000 and they told us what we knew, which was if they came once they learned something, if they came more then once they learned more, if they came with a group they learned even more. We now make a differentiation on the course. We now charge. This year it's going to be $250 for the two weeks, if you come alone. If you come with one other person it's $225 each. If you come with three or more it's $200, because we really want groups.
INTERVIEWER: It plants a critical mass within a school.
WADE: Yes, exactly. And so they can interact with each other during the school year.
INTERVIEWER: Could you tell whether you were getting good representation, say, from inner city schools versus affluent suburban schools versus whatever?
WADE: The very affluent suburban schools don't come. They know it all. MetroWest, last year we couldn't run MetroWest because we had no registrations.
INTERVIEWER: MetroWest is?
WADE: Concord, Lincoln Weston, Wayland, all of that area.
INTERVIEWER: This is the teachers aren't interested or that the schools won't let them and pay for it?
WADE: I honestly don't know. In the years we've been running it, I don't think we've had more than maybe three teachers from Concord.
INTERVIEWER: I wonder if they have other opportunities that other teachers don't have?
WADE: Or they may have to take the take- in -- for instance, Worcester and Springfield are two urban systems that are very difficult to get teachers from, but they do a lot of their own in-house teacher training.
INTERVIEWER: Even in science.
WADE: I don't know about that. They have requirements as a teacher to take these, and one of the reasons I think -- I mean don't tell them I said this -- is that it means they keep the money in-house. I can't blame them in a way, but the teachers get so much from working with teachers from other school districts. I mean that comes through in their journals. They learn as much from the other teachers as they learn from the educators. Then we run professional development seminars for our educators, three in the winter. This year the first one was on wind power mostly, on energy. Then the one we had last week when I couldn't come, we had Hector Galbraith from Manomet who is an expert on climate change, and he evidently did a bang-up job. The next one next week or I guess it's in April later is going to be on water.
INTERVIEWER: Have you ever gotten involved with MIT's efforts to train teachers or to help students who think they might want to go into teaching?
WADE: I've talked with Eric.
INTERVIEWER: Eric? Who's involved with -- .
WADE: Who runs the K-12 thing.
INTERVIEWER: Kim -- ?
WADE: I know Kim very well and I've talked to Kim -- .
INTERVIEWER: Because he's done some -- .
WADE: Yes, he's done a lot with the Edgerton Center.
INTERVIEWER: It's someone else and Eric. Anyways, we'll come back -- .
WADE: I can't remember his name right now. But I was on the committee that they had for a while that worked and, of the people at MIT and I think it's fallen by the wayside, they're all so busy, the committee had. But they do a lot. I would love to get involved, but it's a problem of my trying to contact them and working it out, but I've been busy too.
INTERVIEWER: Do you think MIT could or should be doing more on the sort of educating K-12 teachers or training its own student body to go into teaching or is there only so much you can do?
WADE: They do have a teaching training course now, and they get a few -- I don't know how many, it's not very big, but those are students that are committed to going into teaching. They get some pedagogy, as well as their courses.
INTERVIEWER: I occasionally hear about classmates who spend time in one career and then feel like they've done it and they want another one and sometimes they say you know it's time to go into teaching, and I wonder if there could be some kind of program where -- .
WADE: That would be a good idea.
INTERVIEWER: -- That schools them over the summer or something that says come brush up in science or math or whatever and then you can go forth and -- .
WADE: Most of the MIT students will go into the high school setting because they will go into a special -- in the high schools you get chemistry or physics or biology, and that's probably the best place for them. It's sometimes hard for people at the university level to get down to the nitty-gritty of K-8.
INTERVIEWER: Have you followed the progression of women and at MIT? There were so few when you were there, both the students and -- .
WADE: I think it's wonderful.
INTERVIEWER: -- Was there none or virtually none?
WADE: I think it's just wonderful and I've always been interested in the fact that it's now, what, 45 percent of the entering class of women.
INTERVIEWER: Of the undergraduates, yeah.
WADE: Yeah, the undergraduates.
INTERVIEWER: I don't know what the proportions look like at the graduate level compared to what they used to be, as you say there was more of them then.
WADE: Yes. That's harder to get because, as you know, each department admits their own graduate student.
INTERVIEWER: And the faculty, I guess it's been slower there in some departments.
WADE: Yeah, I think so. And I think, again, because it was so slow in having girls studying the courses in the undergraduate and the graduate level, therefore, the pipeline gets thinner and thinner and thinner when you get to the choice of people who want to teach and women who want to teach.
INTERVIEWER: We were talking about the increase in the number of women at MIT. Did you ever try to be a voice for feminism or did you lobby to push for more women?
WADE: No, that's not my speed at all. I was very happy with the 100 men for each woman. I thought that was great fun having come from an all girl school.
INTERVIEWER: What did you make of the whole Nancy Hopkins, you know the biologist at MIT who thought that women weren't being treated equally, I guess in her department or her school and started measuring offices and looking at things and ultimately Chuck --
WADE: You had that rapport.
INTERVIEWER: And others found that there was something to her --
WADE: Professor Birgenau, it was his department that --
INTERVIEWER: Who was dean of the School of Science at that point I guess.
WADE: Yes, and he was the one that really pushed it and then changed the atmosphere there very much. I'm sure that is true. I have never experienced it, but then I've never been in the same situation that women who were looking for jobs and looking for advancement. So I can't judge.
INTERVIEWER: Were you surprised though that this organization that you had been so loyal to and liked so much and thought well of, in fact, sort of hadn't been doing quite right by at least some of its women?
WADE: Not really surprised I don't think. I think because times have changed so and it's hard for a large organization to keep up with the changing times, because things always change much faster than a big organization can move. But I think that MIT acted very promptly when this was brought to light and studied and had made big strides and efforts to equalize and make it a level playing field for everybody. I trust they have, I don't know. But I'm sure it's a lot better than it was.
INTERVIEWER: Do you talk much with women who are students here? Is there any kind of informal mentoring system?
WADE: I think there is. I have not gotten involved with it because I've been so busy with -- we have four children and those kept me busy, as well as various volunteer things that I did. So I have not had that kind of a contact with MIT and with the students. I don't go to the EMITA meetings, for instance.
INTERVIEWER: It strikes me that you know so much about the nonprofit world that conceivably students who are thinking of going into that might occasionally call you just to ask for advice.
WADE: I would be glad to help anyone that is interested.
INTERVIEWER: I don't know how many students go that direction right out of college.
WADE: I don't either.
INTERVIEWER: It's often something that they come to later.
WADE: I think so, because I think right out of college so many of them have debts that they would have to pay off.
INTERVIEWER: You've seen several different presidents up close. You've kind of had a front row seat being on the Corporation, first with Paul Gray as president, and then with Chuck Vest, and now with Susan Hockfield. I wonder if you could talk a little about the style, the challenges each one faced and that MIT faced, say in the '80s when Paul was president. What were the issues and how did he try to address them, and then what were the next -- ? Big question.
WADE: I've enjoyed them all, and I find they all have brought so much wisdom and knowledge and interest in what they're doing and in the people around them. And real concern for MIT and the people that make up MIT. They may approach them differently, they may have different strengths, some may be good at administration and some may not, I don't really know. But what comes through loud and clear with all of them is their real concern and interest in MIT and in the quality of what it produces, of the quality of what it gives its students and the care and the feeding of both the faculty and the students. They're each different but that's the same in all of them. It's inspiring to see that because it isn't this business of well, I'm important and what I'm doing is what it is important. What's important is what MIT, the results for MIT.
INTERVIEWER: Right. MIT had a series of presidents who had been at MIT previously, either as students or as faculty members or both. Then Chuck came in from the outside, as did Susan Hockfield. Do you think it makes much of a difference, is it good to go back and forth just to bring in fresh blood or is it really more a matter of the person?
WADE: I think sometimes it is good to bring in people from outside because they do have a different take, they've had different experiences and they've had different ways of doing things, seeing different ways of doing things at other places. So that is an advantage I think. And yet, home grown talent is always is always nice. It may be more comfortable. It also, in some respects, it may address some of the deeper, if there were deeper problems that are harder for an outsider to understand or to latch on to. Someone that comes from the inside may have a better insight into them.
INTERVIEWER: For the research universities, the selective ones, engineering seemed to be a big component for decades, century, whatever. Then it seemed to fall out of favor a little. I think Yale did away with their School of Engineering at some point, I think Harvard wasn't big in that area, but suddenly in the last decade or so they're moving into more applied science and what we'd call engineering, I guess. Do you think MIT will become less unique as we see -- .
WADE: I think Harvard's trying very hard to catch up, but they're sort of stymied now with their hole with the ground in Brighton which they can't finish.
INTERVIEWER: Because of the financial problem.
WADE: Yeah. I think yes, I think MIT probably will be a little less unique. But it never will lose its uniqueness, because the thing that strikes me about Tech and really I think is so exciting, is this business of if you're here you can take a course in almost any department you want to. You don't have to be stuck in a groove that says all right, you're an electrical engineer, you can only take electrical engineering prescribed courses. That opens up so much for people. It sparks their curiosity, it keeps their interest and helps them to branch out and be well, a renaissance man or woman in that they have a much broader gauge. Even when I was here, I took International Politics or International Law, I guess it was called. It was taught by Norman Padelford and he'd been out in San Francisco setting up the whatever -- on of the international organizations. I sat in on Jep's History of Architecture course which was fascinating, it was all slides and I learned so much. I took a geology course. I mean these had nothing to do with chemistry, but they broadened my interest and they're things that have come back always. That's what I always tell my kids or grandchildren that college should be a time to explore. Yes, you may have a major and you may concentrate on that, but it still should be a time to explore other types of knowledge, other avenues. You know you'll never go and be an archaeologist, for instance, but take a course in archeology, it'll be fascinating and it just broadens your whole life.
INTERVIEWER: Your major was chemistry, you took a variety of other courses, but then you didn't go on in chemistry per se. Do you feel that your MIT education did shape what you were able to contribute as you did carve out your career?
WADE: Definitely. I'm a bird vendor, I've been a student of birds, and a student of ecology. I branched out and moved over into the student of the natural world. But certainly the training and the studying and what I did at MIT had a grave influence on being able to do what I've been doing.
INTERVIEWER: MIT has its first woman as president, and I guess there's certainly been women in leadership positions at MIT before that -- I mean the head of resource development under Chuck was a woman and there were some woman deans -- Ann Friedlaender for the School of -- . Do you think women think and manage differently?
WADE: Yes -- .
INTERVIEWER: In what way, how?
WADE: -- very differently. I don't know. It's pretty hard to say how, but I've learned this from running MITS and women really have a very different take on looking at problems and on working out through problems and just getting things accomplished than men do. It's very interesting. I had always thought that having been really brought up by a man -- I mean yes, I had a stepmother but not until I was five and daddy and I were always very close. There were a lot of men around the place anyway -- we were on a farm. I had always related well with men and this was, in fact, better than with women because I hadn't had the closeness with women. So, I've been surprised at how much I have enjoyed working with women because I have an all woman staff, and have had it at MITS. Somehow we seem to get things accomplished with less, I don't know, to-and-fro, or going back and forth or something. But there's very definitely a different way of approach. It's hard to say what it is.
INTERVIEWER: Do you think that may be less true of women who've trained in science and engineering? In other words, is it a question of what you focus on and how logical you are or methodical or is there something else in your view?
WADE: I think the angle of approach is different, no matter what your training.
INTERVIEWER: Any examples come to mind that would illustrate it?
WADE: Not readily.
INTERVIEWER: Okay. With the economy in the deep downturn and the financial markets a mess, one thing President Obama is emphasizing is reinvestment in science.
WADE: I know I've -- oh, please. And they're not going to black line all the EPA reports from their scientists. Did you ever see any copies of the EPA report?
WADE: I've seen pictures of them.
WADE: Their scientists write a paper about -- big black lines through all the -- .
INTERVIEWER: Oh, where they crossed out -- .
WADE: Where they crossed out the scientific background for what they didn't want.
INTERVIEWER: Do you think this'll change?
INTERVIEWER: For the better I take it.
WADE: For the better.
INTERVIEWER: Do you think we're headed for a new era of science, like the post Sputnik era?
WADE: I think we're close to it. I really do. I think there's a lot of -- there's a business group that's just spoken out quite forcefully about the importance of science and education, and there's a lot of talk in the business world about the importance of science. I wish they'd fund us.
INTERVIEWER: Are you getting any tremors yet in your MITS program in terms of calls beginning to come in or saying, Oh my, we need to improve our science teaching and you're the only game in town?
WADE: I think in part that's where the literacy woman comes from, and that she's come to us about incorporating science into the literacy program.
INTERVIEWER: This is the state of Massachusetts?
WADE: This is the state of Massachusetts and that's a big step. So I'm pleased about that.
INTERVIEWER: What do you think at this point that MIT does best and what do you think it does less well. If somebody could give you a wand to wave and say here are three things you could create here or change here -- do you ever -- ?
WADE: I think to me what it's been doing so well I think -- but don't forget that from the Corporation point of view, it's only a very small snapshot. So you don't have -- because I don't go around and talk to a lot of different people at Tech -- I know some of the men do and what have you, they know a lot more than I do. And I'm not on any visiting committees at the moment, because of emeritus. But to me it is this business of the cross-fertilization between the departments and the working together and the setting up of these centers that draw on professors from all parts of the Institute. It's just a wonderful thing. We need more of that. All over the country we need that in every field, not just in the science field. But we've got here -- I mean Sloan is even getting involved now and that is a big step forward, because for quite a while Sloan was sort of down the river by itself running itself, and yes, it was part of MIT but only barely. And now they're really involved from what I can see. They've got Sloan crossing over with the engineers and with the scientists working on joint problems, and that is marvelous and it's just what it should be. I think that is one of the great strengths that MIT has. Then the OpenCourseWare is just fantastic.
INTERVIEWER: You mentioned your year of being president of the alumni, alumnae association and traveling to San Diego and using that as a platform to see if you could do something in the science teaching area. What else did you during that year?
WADE: I went to Huntsville, Alabama to see -- we went to visit a corporation. I don't remember the corporation, but I remember the space museum there, it's fascinating. Where they have a capsule and they have all sorts of things and I'm sure it's much better now. This was long time ago after all.
INTERVIEWER: Were there many alumni in that area?
WADE: I gather this company was an alumnus.
INTERVIEWER: Did you do any travel around the world, to different countries at that point?
WADE: We were going to Paris and I did see Jean Yves Gresser for whom we had been host family, and he's very active in the Paris club, MIT club, and we had dinner with him -- I unfortunately got sick in the middle of it. But that was very interesting. We didn't travel any place else. We also were host family to a boy from Thailand who came as a freshman -- Jean Yves didn't need a host family. He'd just been cruising through the Yucatan in a canoe or something looking at that archaeological monuments. But we've maintained friendship with Jean Yves ever since. And then with Savi, Savi Botoweo. His father was an air marshall and his mother was the head of the Queen of Thailand's silk factory. I think that was just the name of it, I don't know that it had any connection with the queen. But Savi knew the princess who was here from Thailand was studying at Harvard.
INTERVIEWER: Who was a student here.
WADE: Yeah. Then we visited them in Thailand in Bangkok, and Savi has stopped by and seen us on occasion when he's in this country. He hasn't in a long time, but one day all of a sudden here he appeared in a taxi, came to just see just -- .
INTERVIEWER: What does a host family do?
WADE: It varies with the person that you get, and you try to make a foreign student feel comfortable and solve their problems and help them to get adjusted to being in the United States. Savi sister came with him, they came from London and they had been body searched in Logan. She was shaken up. I felt for her. And they stayed with us about a week, but normally they don't stay with you. She came to get him settled in his freshman dorm.
INTERVIEWER: Was this recently? Post 9-11?
WADE: No, this was a long time ago. Long before that.
INTERVIEWER: They did the searches even before 9-11?
WADE: This was because of drugs coming in because they were from Thailand and stopped over in London.
INTERVIEWER: Interesting. Every foreign student to MIT has a host?
WADE: They used to. I don't know whether they're still running it. Mrs. Paddelford was one of the major movers of it. It was very interesting. We had a whole series of them, but most of them you'd just have them for dinner or something. You didn't do much with them.
INTERVIEWER: Did you get a sense of how MIT's regarded in other countries and how college educations are regarded, and just sort of whether these students are different in any way other than the country they come from the American students. If you saw a number of them go by, I wondered if there were any patterns that emerged.
WADE: One of the others that we had was Saud Alsowal, and he was -- his brother was Fisal Alsowal. They were from Saudi Arabia. His brother was -- either his brother or his father was ambassador to the United States, and his passion was music. He had gone to Germany and studied music and then his family says, uh-uh you gotta be an engineer, so they sent him to MIT. The next thing I knew about him after he left was he was the spokesperson for OPEC on the radio, and then at one point he was the manager of the ships that go into load oil because they go in and it's very tricky to get them in and full and then the next one in as soon as you move the other one out. So he was that. And the other thing I heard was a composition of his was played at the Salzburg Music Festival.
INTERVIEWER: Do you know if he connected with the music department here when he was here?
WADE: I don't know.
INTERVIEWER: As MIT, and the rest of the academic world, seem to be trying to get more international which means a whole lot of different things. Do you have any thoughts on that?
WADE: I think that's wonderful. But MIT's been doing that for a long time. Way back they helped found the technology university of India or whatever it's called. I don't know what the name of it is, in India. And were very instrumental in getting that started and going and working with that. Of course, their Singapore project is quite fascinating, and the one in Cambridge seems to be working pretty well.
INTERVIEWER: Right. And I guess you were on the Corporation as these things were being put together.
WADE: When I was on the Corporation the big thing that I remember the most was the formation of the Whitehead Institute and all the studies and talk and conversations about that. That was very interesting.
INTERVIEWER: Had they been looking for a home in other universities -- ?
WADE: I think so. I think Jack had tried to place it somewhere else and it just hadn't worked out.
INTERVIEWER: Was there much hot debate within the -- ?
WADE: There was a lot of discussion. It was very interesting, and I think from everything I've heard it's worked out very well.
INTERVIEWER: Have you stayed involved with the Whitehead?
WADE: Yes, we go to their annual meetings and what have you, and Jep was interested in it.
INTERVIEWER: Do you think there's something about the way it was structured that made it work -- ?
WADE: I think David Baltimore had probably a lot to do with it. He was the first head of it. He's a very, very competent individual in many fields.
INTERVIEWER: You talked about, at the very beginning, being fascinated by uranium. I wonder if you still are and if you've -- nuclear power and -- ?
WADE: No, I'm not a -- . I think nuclear power has so many problems. I mean yes, it doesn't create CO2, I guess. I'll bet you they find it does somewhere. But anyway, it has so many problems, and what I think many people don't equate with it is the damage and the problems of mining it, because that is a very severe problem. Also, is the exposure of the miners in digging it out of the ground. It's not as bad as when it's all concentrated, but it's still radioactive.
INTERVIEWER: And you've remained interested in the birds.
WADE: Oh yes.
INTERVIEWER: There isn't really -- there's no birding club at MIT I don't think that I'm aware of.
WADE: The Dames have one.
INTERVIEWER: Do they really?
WADE: Yes. They have always had a bird watching club.
INTERVIEWER: How does that work?
WADE: They have a lot of committees for the women, the wives of the professors and people on the -- I assume staff's involved too, I don't know. Out of the Emma Rogers' Room, and they have a bird watching group that meets monthly.
INTERVIEWER: Is there still a Dames' Organization?
WADE: Oh yes.
INTERVIEWER: It sounds like a different, guys and dolls, dames.
INTERVIEWER: So that was, I guess it was founded at --
WADE: Way back, yes. And Priscilla Gray is very involved, and she used to always have a course in -- because she does beautiful crewel work -- in crewel. So they have different committees and they offer courses. I think they have a cooking group and things like that.
INTERVIEWER: Are the male spouses invited now?
WADE: I don't know.
INTERVIEWER: So many women now go off and have their careers instead of feeling sort of left behind and therefore needing to be -- .
WADE: I don't know what the makeup is.
INTERVIEWER: So do you lead or help the bird class?
WADE: No. A long time ago I used to lead weekly bird walks in Bedford.
INTERVIEWER: It's interesting that at the same time that students don't seem to get a lot of science training in school that interest in bird watching, among other things, has really bloomed.
WADE: It really has.
INTERVIEWER: You've spent a lot of time with MIT over the years, especially 40, 50 years. Do you think it's changed you or how would you characterize the impact it's had on your life?
WADE: Oh, I think certainly. Because I think it's opened -- for one thing, I've met lots of interesting people and it's opened my eyes to a lot of the research and different avenues that I would never have been involved with or at least involved with, even to just the extent of reading about them or watching, and it sparked and encouraged and made my interest, for instance, in the Nova shows grow, and I have the background to understand a lot more of what's going on. I think it's been a wonderful experience and very broadening and just I've enjoyed every minute of it.
INTERVIEWER: Have you worn your brass rat, your MIT ring ever since you graduated?
WADE: I did -- I wore it to my wedding and everything. There's a picture of me with my hand like this and the only thing you can see is the brass rat. Then my son dropped it down the john. So for many years I didn't have one, so then I went and got another one. I've worn it since.
INTERVIEWER: So you still feel this loyalty.
WADE: Yes, very definitely. It's a great place.
INTERVIEWER: Thank you very much for sharing your thoughts and memories.
WADE: Thank you, Karen for taking the time to do this.