The University, Dunedin, January 11, 1886.
The Rev. the Chancellor, Otago University.
Sir, In view of the approaching meeting of the Presbyterian Synod, it is necessary that I should make a communication to you respecting the proposed division of the subjects that now belong to my chair in the University. It is understood to be the purpose of the Synod to endow a chair of Natural Philosophy and it has been recommended by the Professorial Board and agreed to by the Council that to this chair should be assigned the subjects of experimental physics and elementary mechanics and hydrostatics. The classes assigned to the two chairs will, therefore, stand as follows:
CHAIR OF MATHEMATICS.
1. Pure mathematics, as prescribed for the B.A. degree.
2. Mathematics, pure and applied, as prescribed for senior scholarships and honours.
CHAIR OF NATURAL PHILOSOPHY.
1. Mechanics and hydrostatics, as prescribed for the B.A. degree, with laboratory work.
2. Physical science, as prescribed for the B.A. degree, with laboratory work.
3. Physical science, as prescribed for senior scholarships and honours, with laboratory work.
Of these two divisions of my present chair, I elect to retain the latter - namely, the chair of natural philosophy. I have therefore to intimate to you that I shall be willing to resign the charge of the classes named above under the head of chair of mathematics as soon as a new professor shall have been appointed. It is understood that this partial resignation will not prejudice my present engagement with the council as regards tenure of office, retiring allowance, emoluments, or any other condition, except that I renounce all claim to the class fees in the subjects assigned to the mathematical chair.
The department of physics is still, as you are aware, very inadequately provided with the apparatus required for experimental illustration, and for laboratory work. This is not due to any want of interest on the part of the Council, who have on the contrary, liberally provided funds to the utmost extent of their means. As a result of the proposed action of the Synod, it will be necessary not only to equip new branches of natural philosophy, but also to raise the whole subject from a subsidiary position to one in the front rank, If it be true, as I have been informed it is, that the expenditure requisite for this purpose is quite beyond the means of this Council, I would respectfully suggest that a representation of this fact should be made to the Board of Church Property and the Synod. Both of these bodies have uniformly acted towards the University in a large-minded way, and I do not doubt, if the position of matters be made known to them, that they will make an effort to place on a proper footing the chair which they propose to endow. I estimate that the sum of £800, expended with rigorous economy, would be sufficient to furnish the department of Natural Philosophy in a modest but reasonably efficient manner.
I have, &c, John Shand.