Thomas Hager: We were talking about the expansion of the university under your presidency and the
post-war boom must have helped that.
Lee DuBridge: Well, you see, it was just a great piece of good luck that Vannevar Bush, who had
been the head of the OSRD - all the war research - said to the President, "There must
be a way of continuing the government support of research around the country." And
he started propaganda to get the government to set up mechanisms for supporting research.
Well, the Office of Naval Research beat him to it. Well, not beat him to it, because
he had encouraged that too, but they were supporting research during the war, of course,
and they supported many things at MIT.
Thomas Hager: Oh yeah, it was a huge funding organization at the time. The Office of Naval Research
Lee DuBridge: Yeah. So it turned itself to peacetime as well as to military - mostly peacetime
research support. And Caltech and other universities were receiving substantial funds
undreamed of before the war. For example, when I went back to Rochester after the
war for a little while before I came out here and already the naval research - the
Office of Naval Research - had promised us money for a new cyclotron at Rochester,
which was built after I left. And so the research started first with the Office of
Naval Research, then came the National Science Foundation, then came the support of
research by the military services. The Air Force, for example, soon became interested
in our aeronautics department. And so things boomed, as you say, after the war.
Thomas Hager: Yeah. And Caltech managed that transition from private foundation funding, primarily,
to primarily federal funding fairly smoothly? Was it - it was not a difficult transition?
Lee DuBridge: No. It worked out alright. The private funding didn't by any means cease; it also
expanded. When I came here, the private endowment was $15,000,000. It's now $500,000,000.
Our annual budget from private funds was negligible and is now many millions of dollars,