Concise Encyclopedia of Tufts History
Carpenter, Russell LeGrand "Bud", 1901-1991
|Russell LeGrand "Bud" Carpenter (1901-1991), A1924, H1977, was professor of zoology, an active alumnus, and curator of the P.T. Barnum Collection during the more than thirty years he spent on the Hill.|
Born in Meriden, Connecticut, in 1901, Carpenter entered Tufts in 1920 intending to study English and become a journalist, after spending a year as a reporter following high school. He received twenty-five dollars in student aid from the college and one hundred dollars from the Universalist Church to help finance his education. After attending the lectures of Professors Herbert Neal and Fred Lambert in biology, Carpenter changed his major to biology. During his undergraduate years, he wrote a column for the Tufts Weekly, sang in the Glee Club, and also played the banjo in a small dance orchestra.
Following graduation from Tufts in 1924, he entered the Graduate School of Harvard University, receiving his doctorate in zoology in 1928.That same year, he married Elsie Stuart Clark, with whom he had two children, and started teaching in the new anatomy department at the College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia University.
Carpenter returned to Tufts in 1938 as professor of zoology succeeding his former professor. Addressed as "Doc" by his students, he was recognized on campus for his teaching in both the classroom and laboratory and his many years as the college's pre-medical advisor. The 1968 yearbook was dedicated in his honor on the occasion of his retirement.
His scholarly and research interests were the histology of the eye with specific focus on the biological effects of microwave radiation on the eye. This led to the establishment of the Microwave Radiobiology Research Laboratory, of which he served as director and principal investigator. He published more than a dozen papers on the subject. Tufts awarded him the honorary degree doctor of science in 1977.
He also was a lecturer in ophthalmology at Harvard Medical School for thirty-five years and acted as a consultant on ophthalmic biology for the Retina Foundation in Boston. For thirty years he served on the faculty of the summer Lancaster Course in Opthalmology for specializing physicians. Carpenter received many scientific honors, including election as a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Beyond his teaching, Carpenter's involvement with Tufts as an alumnus was substantial. He was the first editor of the Tufts Alumni Review, the president of the New York Tufts Club, and, beginning in 1943, a member of the Tufts Alumni Council. He received the Tufts Alumni Distinguished Service Award in 1942 and also served on the committee in charge of redesigning the Tufts Seal.
Carpenter undertook the responsibility of establishing the Tufts University Barnum Collection, which included letters and personal mementos of P.T. Barnum. Acting as the collection curator, Carpenter spread the story of Tufts and Jumbo through his notable, witty lectures, using whatever honoraria he receivedto acquire additional items for the collection and to maintain the Barnum Room where Jumbo was located. In March 1968, for the first time in his thirty years as a professor, Carpenterpresented a lecture on the history of Jumbo and how he "happened to matriculate" to his Biology 2 classes at Tufts. President Hallowell was extended an invitation to attend the morning course.
Carpenter retired from Tufts in 1969.The following year he was invited to establishand direct a program of microwave bio-effects research for the Bureau of Radiological Health of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Carpenter died in Williamstown, Massachusetts, on July 28, 1991.
The room in Barnum Hall where Carpenter presented his lectures carried his name from his retirement until the building burned in 1975. The top floor of Barnum's newest west wing was given and identified by a plaque in his name by the donor when it was constructed. His former students established the Russell L. Carpenter Fund for Teaching and Research in Biology following his death; it supports summer research by undergraduate interns. Carpenter House, a student residence located at 8 Winthrop Street, was named in his honor. In 2001, his former national research colleagues honored his work and memory by publishing all his research papers in a single volume.