1.05 cubic feet : 3 manuscript boxes (letter boxes).
Papers, circa 1922-circa 1984, of Dr. J. Robert Van Pelt, president from 1956-1964 of the Michigan College of Mining and Technology (now Michigan Technological University) in Houghton, Michigan. Includes office files and reports, correspondence, copies of speeches, letters of congratulations on his appointment as president and newspaper clippings as well as the "Report of the Secretary's Survey Committee on the Geological Survey," a committee for the Department of the Interior in 1954, chaired by Dr. Van Pelt.
Dr. John Robert ("Bob") Van Pelt was Michigan Tech₂s sixth president, serving the campus from 1956 to 1965. During his presidency, the campus experienced significant enrollment increases and physical growth, improvements reflected by its 1965 change in status from the Michigan College of Mining and Technology to become Michigan Technological University. A native of Denver, Colorado, Van Pelt received his early college instruction at Cornell College, near Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Wanting to pursue a mining degree, Van Pelt opted against study at Columbia, following instead a friend's advice to travel to Michigan's Upper Peninsula for a mining degree at the Michigan College of Mines. Van Pelt immediately forged a lasting love for the Keweenaw Peninsula. He completed the Bachelor of Science and Engineer of Mines degrees in 1922, having served as president of the student senate in his senior year. After working in industry (part of the time with the Isle Royale Copper Company south of Houghton), Van Pelt began a career in education by returning to Cornell College as a professor in the Department of Geology. In 1928, Van Pelt moved to Chicago, accepting the position of Technical Director at the Museum of Science & Industry. He served in this capacity until 1944, overseeing the development of this institution into one of the world's largest museums devoted to natural science and engineering. From 1945 to 1951 he was employed as Director of the Research Education Division at the Battelle Memorial Institute, located in Columbus, Ohio. Van Pelt's work placed him in charge of in-service educational programs and publications / public relations for this large independent research organization. The Montana School of Mines named Van Pelt its new president in 1951. He served concurrently as Director of the Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology, as well as Chairman of the Committee on Organization and Management of the U.S . Geographical Survey. Van Pelt was also active during this period with the American Institute of Mining and Metallurgical Engineers, serving on its Board of Directors and as its Vice President for three years -- Van Pelt returned to Houghton in October 1956 to become the sixth president of the Michigan College of Mining and Technology, succeeding outgoing president Grover Dillman. During his presidency applications increased by 30%, enrollment increased by 40%. In addition, the College instituted undergraduate degree programs in biological sciences, geophysical engineering and medical technology, and graduate programs in business administration, engineering mechanics, mathematics, and nuclear engineering. To meet the growing curricular needs of the campus, Van Pelt successfully shepherded many capital building projects to completion, including Fisher Hall and a new library building. Perhaps most significantly, the expanded programs encouraged the State of Michigan to improve the College's status in 1965, renaming the institution Michigan Technological University. Van Pelt resigned his presidency January 1, 1965, but remained on campus for another year as MTU's first chancellor. He continued to maintain close ties with the University after 1966 under the honorary title of President Emeritus. He developed a great love for the Keweenaw, from his first experiences as a Tech student in the 1920s through his work as president of Michigan Technological University. In October 1988, the University recognized his significant contributions to the campus by naming the library building in his honor. Van Pelt split his retirement days between Sarasota, Florida, and Eagle Harbor, Michigan, on the shore of Lake Superior near Houghton, where he had owned property since 1935. Dr. John Robert Van Pelt died May 3, 1991 in Sarasota at the age of 95.
Partial inventory is available. Contact the staff at the Michigan Technological University Archives & Copper Country Historical Collections for assistance.