Arthur Donovan Welander Becomes Curator of Fishes


          Arthur Donovan Welander (1908-1982) inherited the duties previously assigned to Schultz.  Welander was not an ichthyologist, but a fishery biologist whose primary interests related to the effects of radiation on fishes (Fig. 9).  From 1936 to 1978 he taught ichthyology and for much of that period he also supervised the Fish Collection (Fig. 10). 

          All of Welander’s higher education was at the University of Washington (B.S. 1934, M.S. 1940, Ph. D. 1946).  He joined the UW faculty in 1937 as an “associate” (instructor in ichthyology) on a part-time basis while working as a scientific assistant for the International Fisheries Commission.  Promotions in the depression years, lasting until the early 1940s, were slow for Welander.  He was promoted to instructor in 1943 and ultimately rose to Professor in 1958, retiring in 1978 (Anon., 1976b; Pietsch, 1982b).

          Welander became involved with studies of the effects of radiation on fishes during the testing of atomic weapons in the South Pacific in the mid-1940s.  This work was funded by the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission and led to the establishment of the Laboratory of Radiation Biology in the School of Fisheries.  His involvement with radiation biology continued until his retirement.  Welander took part in about 25 major expeditions in the South Pacific (Pietsch, 1982b; Stickney, 1989).

          Over a 40-year period, Welander and associates and students made major collections of fishes, particularly in the South Pacific during the many expeditions in which he participated.  The number of fishes accessioned to the Collection grew significantly during his tenure (Table 1).  Welander published about 40 papers on taxonomic aspects of fishes (Pietsch, 1982b).  Many of these papers reported distributional records of fishes in the region (e.g., Welander and Alverson, 1954; Welander et al., 1957).

Because Welander was not primarily an ichthyologist he did not attract many students interested in studying ichthyology.  He supervised the graduate work of just five students in over 30 years whose work was in systematic ichthyology (Appendix).  He also served on other graduate committees in which his knowledge of fishes would be of value.

Welander was a rather passive individual, quiet and reserved.  His personality may well have caused him problems at the UW with more aggressive or dominating people.  For example, in 1939 the Director of the School of Fisheries W. F. Thompson wrote President L. P. Sieg “His [Welander] work has been fairly satisfactory.”  Faint praise, indeed.  In this same letter, Thompson requested that Welander be appointed “acting instructor.”37  In the same year, Leonard Schultz wrote to Wilbert Chapman (a former student of Schultz) “I am disappointed in Art [Welander] for not coming through better but was not surprised, because Art needs someone to push him and organize things and then he is able to work.”38

During his short tenure as the Director of the School of Fisheries in 1947-1948, Wilbert (Web) Chapman attempted to “get rid” of Welander.  Stickney (1989) documented this attempt.  In a long letter to Welander in June 1947, Chapman (Fig. 11) wrote  I have recommended to the administration that you be replaced as instructor of the courses in systematic ichthyology.”  Later, “I believe that you will agree with the following statement:  You are not by inclination a systematic ichthyologist; you have no particular deep interest in research along these lines; you would much prefer to be in a position where you could do research in economic fisheries or an experimental nature.”39

Welander responded in a brief letter, writing “Since I have already been appointed to teach Fisheries 101, 102 and 103 for the school year 1947-1948, I intend to fulfill the terms of the contract unless the administration orders otherwise.”  And later “I shall look forward with interest to the results of your endeavors to obtain me a position elsewhere, and wish to thank you for the efforts you are making on my behalf.”40

Chapman, whose graduate work was in systematic ichthyology (M.S. and Ph.D. at the UW under Leonard Schultz), undertook a search for an ichthyologist to replace Welander.  He first made overtures to George Sprague Myers (1905-1985) of Stanford University who was then one of the leading ichthyologists in the U.S.41  Myers declined the job offer.42  Other leading ichthyologists were solicited,43 but Chapman offered the position to Albert W. C. T. Herre, formerly of Stanford University, then working for the U.S. Bureau of Fisheries in the Philippine Islands.44

Herre came to the UW in 1948 to oversee the Fish Collection and to work on the Philippine fishes he had amassed and in that same year Web Chapman left the UW to become Special Assistant to the U.S. Secretary of State for Fish and Wildlife.  Because Arthur Welander had tenure, he remained on the faculty of the School of Fisheries, continued to teach ichthyology and, for much of his remaining career, to administer the Fish Collection.45



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