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WHOI Office of the Director records, (Craig Emery Dorman)

Identifier: AC-09.7

Scope and Content Note

The records of the WHOI Office of the Director, 1989-1993 (Craig E. Dorman) consist of 35 cartons (43 linear feet) of records that span the years 1972-1994, with the bulk of the material falling within his years as Director. Craig Dorman’s materials arrived in the archives after his directorship, and contain several files from the directorship of his successor, Robert Gagosian. While processing the collection folder titles were often abbreviated, however in the box listing they were spelled out for clarification.


  • Majority of material found within 1989-1993

Language of Materials

The records are in



Closed/Restricted: materials are only available to the Office of Origin for thirty years, after which they may only be viewed by the Office of Origin or with permission of the Archivist.


Copyright: Permission to publish material from the collection must be authorized by the Institution Archivist.

Administrative History

Craig E. Dorman served as the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution’s sixth Director from February 1, 1989 to July 31, 1993. The search for a new director to replace John Steele began in April 1988 when Steele announced he would step down after over 10 years as Director. The Trustees voted January 5, 1989 to appoint Dorman upon the recommendation of an Institution Advisory Committee and a Trustee Search Committee. His affiliation with the Institution began twenty years earlier as one of the first students in the MIT/WHOI Joint Graduate Education Program, where he earned a degree in physical oceanography. His thesis research focused on coastal processes and air-sea interaction. After 1972 he worked with Institution staff on several naval projects. Dorman acquired 26 years of administrative and field experience in the US Navy before retiring as a Rear Admiral to become director of WHOI. He also served as program director for Antisubmarine Warfare (ASW) in the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR).

Dorman’s first year as director included the 25th anniversary celebrations of Alvin and the Alvin Group, whose awards included the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Distinguished Public Service Award; National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) citation for 25 years of outstanding operations and safe service to the marine science community; and the ASM International (formerly the American Society of Metallurgy) designation of Alvin as an historic landmark. A Silver Jubilee Symposium drew 125 scientific users of Alvin. Dorman was the principal banquet speaker at the annual meeting of the Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers, where the 1989 Elmer Sperry Award for the “invention, development and deployment of the deep-diving submarine Alvin” was presented to Alvin designers and visionaries Harold Froehlich, Charles Momsen Jr., and Allyn Vine.

During Dorman’s first years as director the Institution underwent several changes in internal operations. In 1989 the newly-created Directorate for External Affairs, headed by Charles Hollister, brought together Communications, Development, and Industrial and International Affairs to help focus and coordinate all of the Institution’s outreach efforts in order to strengthen its base of support. Other changes included the addition of several new committees to improve information flow and broaden effective participation in institutional governance. In 1990 several publication changes were made to target WHOI’s many audiences more effectively. In addition to the annual report, which remained the official report, new publications included the biannual Reports on Research, which shared the results of WHOI’s science, engineering, and policy research. A separate Report to Donors highlighted individuals, corporations, foundations and others who contributed to the Institution.

In 1990 WHOI celebrated its 60th anniversary, which included four symposia on the health of the oceans, global climate change, and WHOI in the Arctic and WHOI in the Antarctic. WHOI also hosted its first annual Employee Recognition Celebration to honor employees for many years of service, and Dorman established two awards for individuals and groups who made exceptional contributions to the Institution. Former Oceanographer of the Navy Richard Pittenger became WHOI’s first Arctic Research Coordinator, and the Marine Policy Center led a two-year long US-Soviet program of professional exchanges and collaborative research. In a review of WHOI’s heritage and strategies, a group of scientific and management staff decided on two major initiatives – air sea interaction and instrumentation – that would enable the Institution to continue to play a leading role in the field. Also in 1990, John Farrington stepped into the expanded position of Associate Director of Education and Dean of Graduate Studies. The Institution participated, along with other science, engineering, and education organizations and the Falmouth schools, in formally establishing the Woods Hole Science and Technology Education Partnership (WHSTEP). This joint venture had as its objective “to promote, support and expand scientific literacy and opportunities in science and technology education for all students in area schools by developing an effective partnership that draws upon the unique community resources available in Woods Hole and Falmouth.” In addition, WHOI continued its involvement as a member of the JASON Foundation for Education Primary Interactive Site Network. In 1992 the JASON Project received one of twenty-two National Education Association Awards for the Advancement of Learning through Broadcasting. The WHOI Sea Grant Program also expanded its capabilities in 1990 with the restructuring of the Marine Advisory, or Extension, component, and the introduction of a stand-alone Communications, Public Outreach, and Education Program.

In 1991 a WHOI History Colloquy brought together nearly sixty people who were involved with the Institution through World War II and into the mid-1950s to reminisce about their experiences, which were audiotaped for the archives. In April 1991 DSV Alvin experienced another first when its passengers talked from one and a half miles beneath the Pacific Ocean to colleagues at Rutgers University in New Jersey; the occasion marked the ground-breaking of the University’s new Institute for Marine and Coastal Sciences. Also in that year Dorman developed and hosted a three-day workshop involving scientists from universities, institutions and federal agencies, the US Navy and ocean engineering companies to discuss the future direction of collaborative research with scientists from the republics of the former Soviet Union. Earlier in the year American and European scientists, including a WHOI representative, had been invited to monitor the site of the sunken Soviet nuclear submarine Komsomolets off the Norwegian coast. A year earlier WHOI had signed a collaborative agreement with the P.P. Shirshov Institute of Oceanology of the USSR Academy of Sciences that called for “collaborative scientific programs in the fields of underwater techniques and their applications.”

Also in 1991 the Coastal Research Center coordinated a five-ship, multinational survey of the Black Sea, one of the least understood bodies of water in the world, to help launch a decade-long scientific focus on the Black Sea and its environmental problems by nations surrounding the basin. A scientific symposium in Varna, Bulgaria was held after the cruise to review results. WHOI also established the W.M. Keck Foundation Technology Innovation Award Program in 1991 to support the development of sophisticated scientific instruments and to encourage collaboration among scientists and engineers. Nine proposals were funded in the program’s first year. The introduction of career ladders for engineers and information processors to parallel the traditional research track also helped to improve the environment for instrument development.

Improved access to the oceans implies a need for new data-gathering techniques and for rapid technological developments in areas as diverse as telemetry, floats, and measurements of basic physical and chemical properties. The Global Ocean Observing System, designed to help us understand environmental change, provides additional motivation for development of a new generation of unattended instruments to operate thorough the world oceans. One example…is the Autonomous Benthic Explorer (ABE), a joint project of WHOI and the Japan Marine Science and Technology Center (JAMSTEC). 1

In 1992 various government agencies such as NOAA and NSF were formulating the Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS) Program, which was expected to enable observation and prediction of the nature of ocean dynamics by the end of the century, in a manner similar to weather forecasting of the atmosphere. The Ocean Studies Board of the National Research Council’s recently published report, Oceanography in the Next Decade, recommended the formation of closer partnerships between academic research communities and the sponsoring federal agencies. WHOI’s efforts in this area included a memorandum of understanding with NOAA, the lead agency in the GOOS Program, and an agreement with the National Marine Fisheries Service to improve coordination in areas of mutual interest such as Georges Bank and the Gulf of Maine. Dorman also noted the various trends in ocean science including advanced technology, increased sophistication of scientific equipment in new applications, and a return to the interdisciplinary approach to science.

The oceans are global and by its very nature, therefore, oceanography is a global science. All of the processes are inter-related. Our initial director… Bigelow, almost insisted that the administration have no internal barriers. That there be no departments. Over time, of course, we’ve had to impose a few managerial complicities, because we’re simply so big. The fundamental principal he was making was that each individual brought his or her scientific specialty to work in collaboration with others, to understand what goes on in the ocean. The processes are all intertwined… 2

Bigelow, WHOI’s first director, called it ‘mother science,’ where we look at all aspects of science simultaneously, rather than looking at each discipline separately. It’s a way of looking at the problems facing us and putting things back together intrinsically, with a wide variety of scientists. 3

One of Dorman’s hopes was to establish collaborative efforts between WHOI scientists and international scientists.

Events for 1992 included the return of Alvin and R/V Atlantis to Woods Hole after completing the longest scientific voyage in Institution history. The new Autonomous Benthic Explorer (ABE) took its first plunge in the fall for ballast checks. The vehicle was designed to perform scientific surveys of the seafloor over an extended period of time without a support vessel, complementing existing manned submersibles and remotely operated vehicles. Administrative changes included promotion of Associate Director for Research Robert Gagosian to Senior Associate Director and Director of Research. Funding for government-sponsored research during 1992 increased 16 percent (9 percent excluding ship support) over 1991; 49 percent came from NSF and 33 percent came from Office of Naval Research.

In 1993 nearly 120 representatives from 10 nations gathered in Woods Hole to attend the first international conference on “Radioactivity and Environmental Security in the Oceans: New Research and Policy Priorities in the Arctic and North Atlantic.” Attendees included a large Russian contingency of scientists, government officials, and members of the Russian Academy of Sciences. WHOI scientists also participated in a month-long cruise aboard the Russian R/V Keldysh to continue monitoring the sunken Russian nuclear submarine Komsomolets off Norway. A new medal named in honor the late physical oceanographer Henry Stommel was to be awarded to individuals who made “fundamental and enduring contributions to observing and understanding ocean processes.” The first recipient was British oceanographer John Swallow.  The R/V Knorr returned to Woods Hole after seventeen months working mostly in the South Pacific for WOCE (World Ocean Circulation Experiment).

The Institution saw several changes in its fleet and facilities between 1989 and 1993. In 1990 the Coastal Research Center’s new 24-foot boat Mytilus was christened, and the R/V Knorr returned to WHOI in October 1991 after a 32-month refit, to be readied for its first scientific cruise in 1992. In 1991 the Office of Naval Research announced that WHOI had been selected by a competitive proposal process to operate AGOR-25, one of the US Navy’s two new research vessels for multidisciplinary worldwide research. The new ship eventually replaced the aging Atlantis II in 1997. In 1993 R/V Oceanus left for a mid-life overhaul, whose changes included an expanded pilothouse and more laboratory space. The Clark Laboratory addition, Clark South, was completed, and the new National Ocean Sciences Accelerator Mass Spectrometer Facility (AMS), the world’s newest and most sophisticated carbon-14 dating laboratory was dedicated at the McLean Laboratory in 1991. The AMS facility received funding through a competitive $5 million NSF grant to provide high precision carbon-14 dating to the national ocean sciences research community. In 1993 WHOI created its own Gopher Internet server to provide access to information throughout the world.

On May 18, 1992 Dorman announced that he would step down on August 1 after serving 4 1/2 years as the Institution’s sixth Director. Philip R. Richardson, a senior scientist in the physical oceanography at WHOI and a member of the search committee to replace Dorman, said “Dorman really liked to spend a lot of time in the Institution, looking at the boats, talking to people. The endowment push could have been part of that [his leaving].” 4

The Chairman of the Board of WHOI, Guy W. Nichols, stated that the Institution made

…great progress under Dr. Dorman’s leadership. This progress gives us an ever-growing pride in the Institution. A number of successful initiatives were accomplished under Dr. Dorman’s tenure. Funds from the federal government to support research grew 26 percent. Great progress has been made under his leadership in continuing to strengthen the quality of the research staff. His accomplishments have placed the Institution in an excellent position to continue as the nation’s premier oceanographic institution. 5

Upon the recommendation of the Trustee’s Executive Committee to the Board of Trustees, Robert Gagosian was elected to the position of Acting Director, effective August 1, 1993. Senior Scientist Fred Sayles became Acting Associate Director of Research on September 1. In January 1994, Gagosian was named the 7th Director of WHOI.

  1. 1 Craig E. Dorman, “Director’s Comments,”Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution 1991 Annual Report (1992): 3.
  2. 2 Craig Dorman, interview by Jonathan L. Barkan, Communications for Learning, 1 October 1990. Biographical File, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Archives, Woods Hole, Mass.
  3. 3 Craig Dorman, “WHOI Director Next Speaker in ‘Oceans Alive’ Lecture Series,”The Falmouth (Massachusetts) Enterprise, 24 February 1992.
  4. 4 Philip Richardson, “Gagosian Selected as New WHOI Chief,”Cape Cod Times, 8 January 1994, sec. A, p.12.
  5. 5 Media Information from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, “WHOI Director Dorman Resigns,” 18 May 1993. Biographical File, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Archives, Woods Hole.


34.4 boxes (43 linear feet)


The records of the WHOI Office of the Director, 1989-1993 consist of the administrative records of Director Craig E. Dorman.


The original order was altered before being sent to the archives. In addition, a linear foot of records originating from Pam Hart, executive assistant to the Director, was added at the end of the Subject Files series. The records are divided into three series:

Custodial History

Records were maintained in the Office of the Director prior to their transfer to the Archives.

Acquisitions Information

The archival collection of Craig E. Dorman, WHOI Director, 1989-1993, was transferred into the Archives after his tenure.

Related Material

Additional sources of information about the history of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution during Craig Dorman’s directorship include WHOI’s Annual Report for the years 1978-1989 that detail the yearly scientific activities of the Institution as well as its physical growth. Material about Dorman is available in the WHOI Biographical Files. The Director’s Annual Reports to Trustees and the Corporation further highlight activities in the Institution.

Processing Information

Processing of the collection was partly supported by a Grant-in-Aid from the Friends of the Center for History of Physics of the American Institute of Physics. Processed by Margot B. Garritt.

A Guide to the WHOI Office of the Director records, (Craig Emery Dorman), 1989-1993
Margot B. Garritt
December 1998
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written inEnglish

Repository Details

Part of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Data Library and Archives Repository