The Battalion. (College Station, Tex.) 1893-current, February 05, 1976, Image 1

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    O'Connor: mad scientist
Or. Rod O’Connor
The harsh lights dim and a long
haired, stoop-Shouldered man be-
frocked in a stained white lab coat
bustles down the aisle of the chemis
try lecture room, scattering papers
and side-stepping students as he
When he reaches the lecture
podium he shakily adjusts his
sunglasses, clears his throat and be
gins mumbling in a heavy German
accent. He tells the expectant
freshman chemistry students that his
name is Dr. Irgolic and launches into
a complex definition of an sp-3 hyb
rid orbital. Grabbing a beaker and
flask off the table, the professor an
nounces that he will demonstrate a
change of state experiment.
Seconds after he begins pouring
from the flask the lights go out, the
front of the room fills with smoke and
out of the mess emerges a smiling,
energetic man who strides up to the
blackboard and writes, “My name is
Dr. O’Connor!”
Dr. Rod O’Connor, director of the
University’s Freshman Chemistry
Program, is known among his col
leagues and students for his own
peculiar brand of humor. In addition
to the mad scientist routine, O’Con
nor has started the first day of class
dressed as a janitor sweeping the
front floor of the lecture hall. Each
time the “janitor” drops something
into a trash can the can explodes and
when he drops his cigar the floor
seems to ignite.
O’Connor says that on the first day
of classes students have a tendency
to be slightly nervous and worried.
He likes to make them laugh to relax
them and convince them that their
fears are groundless.
“Chemistry has a reputation of
being a hard subject to take. This just
isn’t true. Students willing to work
have nothing to worry about — we
give an average of 50 per cent A’s and
B’s here in Freshman Chemistry,”
said O’Connor.
Each year more than 4,000 differ
ent students enroll in Freshman
Chemistry at Texas A&M. O’Connor
said that the challenge of developing
a program for so many students was
one of the main factors that promp
ted him to come to A&M in 1973.
“That, and money,” he admitted,
O’Connor was born in Lilbourn,
Mo., the son of a school superinten
dent. He said that one of his earliest
childhood memories was of the time
when, in 1939, his father attempted
to integrate the public schools in his
“I remember staying up one night
watching my father and grandfather
sitting out on the porch with their
shotguns across their knees, waiting
for the Ku Klux Klan to appear,”
O’Connor said.
“I was very disappointed when
they never showed up. This was be
fore we had TV and I was looking for
a little violence,” he explained.
O’Connor’s formal education in
cludes a stint at the University of
California at Berkeley where he
practiced “being radical.” Earlier,
he had enrolled at Southeastern Mis
souri State College with aspirations
of becoming an engineer. However,
he switched his major to chemistry to
avoid transferring to another school.
“I had my eyes on a little brunette
at Southeastern. She made chemis
try look a lot more appealing. I ve
been married to her for twenty years
now . . . she sure paid offl”
Although he jokes about his per
sonal life, O’Connor is very serious
about helping students with prob
lems in chemistry. He believes that
one of his program’s strongest points
See O’Connor, page 4
Vol 68, No 70
College Station, Texas
Thursday, Feb. 5, 1976
'illiams addresses SG
Housing limited 75 admissions
Iroximately 3,000 prospective stu-
[were turned down for the lack of
fete housing for the fall 1975 semes-
, University President Jack K. Williams
[ie student senate last night.
Ing a 45-minute segment of the 4'/2
lession, Williams also talked about
pcent marijuana arrests of three
A&M athletes and answered
Irs’ questions, including one which
_|ted the statement about enrollment,
lejlidn’t elaborate on the admission re-
(V nil
iams said the enrollment for next fall
27,500 if the same number of new
students enroll as last year. Williams told
the Senate enrollment should peak near
30,000 students.
The arrests of three former athletes had
not affected A&M in any adverse way that
he knew of, Williams said. He added that
as far as he knew there were no undercover
narcotic agents working on campus.
The Senate, in other business, approved
28 changes in the University Rules and
Regulations. These included changes in
academic and student life regulations.
During the three-hour discussion on
changing the policies, senator Brad Wake-
man moved that “fish be allowed in the
dorms. This brought cheers and clapping
from numerous Corps and civilian stu
dents. The Senate finally approved “aqua
tic animals as the only pets allowed in dor
mitory rooms.
Also at last night’s meeting the Senate
read the proposals of the Student Service
Fee Allocation Committee. The committee
recommends the amount of Student Ser
vice fees that are given to the various stu
dent organizations.
The committee is recommended to the
Senate that the Athletic Department
should receive $30,000 less than last year’s
$120,000. This allocation also included a
plan to sell student season ticket books for
football for $15.00. If 20,000 students ex
pected to buy ticket books the Athletic
Dept, should derive a revenue of $300,000
plus $90,000 from Student Service fees.
Senator Robert Harvey introduced a bill
recommending to the College Station City
Council that the permissible drinking
hours be extended to 2:15 a.m. on Friday
and Saturday nights. Presently, the hours
for consumption of alcoholic beverages
ends at 1 a.m. on Friday and Saturday
The allocation recommendations and
liquor hours proposals will be voted on at
the Tuesday, Feb. 10, meeting beginning
at 7:30 p.m.
ite for civic center may be donated
Contributing Editor
illege Station may be nearing the end
Search for a site for its proposed civic
[convention center.
1 Dity Councilman Bob Bell, chairman of
i tity s hotel-motel tax committee, said
: city is discussing the possibility of ac-
hgthe donation of a 12-acre tract from
Irea Progress Corp., a local land de-
[iment company. The land, part of the
ere Southland Valley subdivision now
ngdeveloped by Area Progress, is south
of FM 2818, directly across from A&M
Consolidated High School.
In September, the city council ap
pointed a civic center committee, headed
by Al Pedulla, that was char ged with study
ing possible sites for the center. Pedulla
said last night he was unaware that the city
had been discussing the proposed donation
and was unable to comment on the matter.
Pedulla is acting director of architecture
research at Texas A&M University.
Pedulla did say, however, that one of his
students in the College of Architecture and
Environmental Design is doing a design
study for the proposed center. The study
will determine an optimum site as well as
the kinds of facilities that might be included
in the center, Pedulla said.
The city has already allocated $25,000
from its hotel-motel tax fond for construc
tion of the center which is expected to cost
several hundred thousand dollars. The
fund, which is used strictly for tourist pro
motion, currently totals $45,365. How
ever, the city will probably have to draw
money from other sources later to pay the
remainder of the costs.
The fund represents a 3 per cent tax
levied quarterly on the earnings of each of
the city’s nine hotels or motels, including
the university’s Memorial Student Center
Hotel. The state also levies an additional 3
per cent tax for statewide tourist promo
W.D. (Bill) Fitch, president of Area Pro-
(See “Civic”, page 5)
wo US AC races planned
Speedway sold to racing firm
Battalion City Editor
for more than two years, Texas
Speedway has been sold to a
delphia-based racing syndicate.
['It s a matter of the official papers being
1, Richard C. Conole, president ofThe
rid Series of Auto Racing, told The Bat-
ip yesterday.
i final purchase price was announced
ling the sale of the $6.25 million
r eedway from its current owner, the Hol-
vay Sand and Gravel Co. of Michigan, to
I eTexas Speedway Limited Partnership.
The two men involved in the partnership
eW. Perry Gresh of Bryn Mawr, Pa. and
[B. LehrofRydal, Pa.
|e partnership will lease the 2-mile
I, located 8 miles south of College Sta
tion on State Highway 6, to Texas World
Speedway Inc. (TWSI), said Conole, TWSI
Conole said two United States Auto Club
(USAC) sponsored racing double-headers
are tentatively planned for this year. He
emphasized, however, that they “haven’t
been firmed up yet.”
The first event, April 4, would pair a
150-mile stock-car race with a 150-mile
championship (Indianapolis-type) auto
race, said Jack Martin, director of public
affairs for USAC.
The same kind of doubleheader is tenta
tively set for Oct. 17, Martin said, except
the distance of those races will be 200 miles.
Conole said there have been no problems
in getting USAC-sanctioning for the
planned racing slates. “The racing fraternity
has been very interested in our plans,” he
said. “They want to see this track open
Besides the steep-banked main track,
the facility includes a 2.75-mile road
course. Conole said this track will be leased
to racing groups for motorcycle and other
road races.
The grandstand seats 26,000 and the
track’s infield can accommodate an
additional 30,000 spectators.
The speedway has had two owners since
it opened under the name Texas Interna
tional Speedway in November 1969. Dan
Holloway Sr., whose sand and gravel com
pany was the major contractor for the track,
bought the speedway in 1971 after the orig
inal owners went bankrupt. He renamed it
Texas World Speedway.
Problems continued to plague the
speedway which was once called the
“world s fastest track when closed-track
speed records were set there in 1972.
Rain postponed several races and in Oc
tober 1973 the management closed the
track, citing the energy crisis as the major
The last event held at tjjie speedway was
Willie Nelson’s 1975 Fourth of July country
music festival.
Major improvements are eventually
planned for the 640-acre facility, Conole
said, after the track becomes well-
“But the main thing is to get racing back
in Texas. The people here like it, and
they’ve been denied it for quite awhile.
Atmincla Pape
Barracks converted to a “temporary” office building in 1948
receive a new coat of paint. A&M is using the barracks to
fight office space shortages on-campus.
Office space scarce,
barracks being used
Two auto races are scheduled this year for Texas World Speedway. The long-vacant track was sold earlier this week
Battalion Staff Writer
Office space at A&M is in short supply
and may remain so until Fall, 1977, Dr.
Charles E. McCandless, director of
facilities and planning, said Tuesday.
A&M hired the equivalent of about 110
additional full-time faculty and staff person
nel for the 1975-76 school year, McCandless
No additional office space will be avail
able until spring, 1977 and most projected
office additions are projected for Fall, 1977,
he said.
“We hope there will be enough flexibility
within the colleges to accommodate new
faculty members,” McCandless said.
For ’77 there should be enough new of
fices to get back to reasonably satisfactory
office conditions, he said.
The Architecture Building and the Ani
mal Resources Laboratory and Research
Facility will be finished by spring, ’77, said
Mel Lasell, assistant director of planning
and institutional analysis. Those two build
ings will total 134,710 square feet of floor
space, including 12,150 sq. ft. of office
Most of the space in those buildings will
be used for teaching and special use
facilities, he said.
Three new buildings are slated for com
pletion by fall, 1977. These, the Soil & Crop
Sciences and Entomology Center, the
Animal Industries and Poultry Science
Center and Classroom-Lab Building, will
yeild 296,000 sq. ft. and 44,000 sq. ft. of
new office space.
Conversion of Milner Hall to office space
is also slated for fall ’77 completion. After
conversion Milner will provide 21,000 sq.
ft. of space, including 13,800 sq. ft. of office
Total office space on campus at present is
702,000 sq. ft. The majority of that space is
in faculty, clerical and staff offices. New
office space by Jail, 77 will be about 70,700
sq. ft.
Several A&M colleges will receive space
in the new buildings. The College of Ag
riculture will take over the soil and Crop
See Office, page 5
sidence Hall Judicial Authority pro
posed last night the use of electric
percolators and popcorn poppers in
the dormitories. Page 3.
GUATEMALA killed an estimated
2,000. Page 4.
TIFY before a Travis County grand
jury because he said he feels it is
prejudiced against him. Page 5.
Hearst is on trial for is to be recon
structed. Page 6.
day is cloudy and cooler with 30
per cent chance of showers; 20
per cent tonight. Northeasterly
winds expected at 5-15 mph.
Tonight’s temperature will be in
the low 40’s.