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University of Alberta Archives
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Personal Correspondence

Harris’ Personal Correspondence is comprised of seven files. The files are arranged by subject and chronologically ordered. Document types include correspondence, notes and photographs ranging from 1983 to 2011. The content includes correspondence with professional colleagues, Charlie and Betty Carr, Bill, Margaret and Gretchen Harris as well as family members and various other friends. Most of the personal correspondence occurs after 1992, when Harris’ wife Phyllis died.

Professional Correspondence

The Professional Correspondence subseries is composed of twenty-eight files relating to correspondence of a professional nature inside and outside the University of Alberta. The files are arranged by subject and ordered chronologically. Document types include correspondence, letters, notes, reports, memos, and programs. It also incorporates University of Alberta records from the time of his appointment on faculty in 1946, until his retirement from the Chemistry Department in 1980. It also includes correspondence related to his activities as Emeritus Professor up to the time of his death in 2011. Files with external professional colleagues run from 1960 to 2011 with a few items generated from 1943. Specific topics covered include travel and attendance at a number of symposiums or conferences related to Chemistry and a consulting job for analytical methods in oil drilling. Topics also relate to IM Kolthoff his colleague, the Chemistry Program at the University of Alberta, and various other professional correspondence.

Correspondence

The Correspondence series consists of correspondence of Walter E Harris. This series is divided into two subseries; professional and personal correspondence. The materials were created between 1943 and 2011. They are arranged by subject matter or grouped by significant correspondent. Document types include letters, notes, newspaper clippings, reference letters, photographs, and reports.

History of the Department of Chemistry

This series contains fourteen files on the history of the Department of Chemistry at the University of Alberta and of Analytical Chemistry in Canada. The materials range in date from 1931 to 2009, and predominantly after 1996. It covers information about key individuals at the University of Alberta such as Osmand James Walker, SG Davis, Harry Gunning and HB (Brian) Dunford. A significant portion of the material is related to Harris’ book entitled “Department of Chemistry History and a Memoir”. Other materials include graduands and staff listings, as well as information on the new Chemistry building and teaching loads. It also includes University of Alberta “Evergreen & Gold” yearbooks that predate WE Harris’ time at the University. Document types include photographs, slides, notes, lists, books, correspondence, memos, memoirs, booklets and articles. Also see Archives Accession 2012-27-236 for a few slides featuring the Chemistry building under construction and newly built.

President’s Advisory Committee on Campus Review

The President’s Advisory Committee on Campus Review (PACCR) subseries contains fifteen files connected to the committee. Materials are arranged by subjects and date predominantly from 1980 to 1990. It includes outlying data from 1973 and retrospective letters from 2008 and 2009. Subject matter highlighted include correspondence within PACCR, talks on Campus Reviews, an article titled “Systematic Reviews of University Programs and Units”, workload information and PACCR Reports. This subseries contains document types such as correspondence, index cards, reports, minutes of meetings, notes, articles, compiled data, and a binder of research data. Also see Archives accession 2012-27-6 “Submissions to the Millennium Project” and 2012-27-7 “Three Minicareers” for Harris’ personal reflections on his activities with PACCR.
The President’s Advisory Committee on Campus Review (PACCR), briefly named President’s Advisory Committee on Academic Review (PACAR), was a steering committee intended to organize reviews of academic and service units. President Horowitz appointed WE Harris as Chairman of the Committee in 1980, subsequent to his retirement from the Department of Chemistry. The steering committee members were: Dr F Enns, Dr H Kreisel, WH Jopling and Dr W Harris. The committee’s initial responsibility was to plan how to conduct reviews and determine the review process. PACCR’s goal was to find areas of improvement and create a plan that would implement bettering changes through the university. It was a committee with little authority but managed to review units through a process of volunteering, negotiations or arrangement. Each unit under review formed a Unit Review Committee (URC) to keep dialogue with PACCR and to perform the self study. Each URC was made up of four members; two external to the university from the discipline being reviewed, one internal member from a related discipline and one internal member from the university. The final review was composed of a self study report, nominations of reviewers and an on-site review by a review team, a confidential reviewers report, URC’s response to this report and follow up documentation. PACCR summarized the findings and proposed changes and subsequently met with the head of the unit and Dean of the department for discussion. After the follow up, the committee would meet and provide the President with its confidential report. Overall, the PACCR performed reviews on 127 units, ending in 1990 with the tenth annual review.

Alberta Environment Hazardous Waste Management Committee

The Alberta Environment Hazardous Waste Management Committee subseries consists of twenty-eight files on the management of hazardous waste, often in connection with the Alberta Special Waste Management Corporation (ASWMC). The files are arranged by subject matter with most media separated from textual materials. Document types include minutes, reports, notes, correspondence, presentations, news articles, slides, a 16mm film, and a VHS videocassette. Materials are created between 1979 and 1999. Specific topics focus on PCBs & Dioxins, Hazardous Waste Management, and Risk Assessment.
The Ministry of Alberta Environment appointed a Hazardous Waste Management Committee on September 14, 1979. It was composed of three civil servants and three members of the public, one of whom was Harris. The committee’s task was to classify materials of concern, including who produced them and where they were being produced. The results were compiled into a report on Hazardous Waste Management in Alberta. It recommended that an integrated waste treatment system be established in Alberta with the Alberta Government playing a leadership role in the program. Harris’ main contribution was the section entitled “Concepts of Hazards, Toxicity and Risk”, focusing on the assessment of risks. In order to study successful hazardous waste management facilities, the committee visited plants all over Europe. Public talks were held throughout the Province of Alberta, mostly by Harris, to educate the people in hopes of finding a host for the proposed treatment facility. Ryley and Swan Hills were publicly accepted by their communities to host the treatment facility. Swan Hills was chosen as the location and on December 31, 1985 Harris resigned from the committee.

Technical Advisory Committee

The Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) subseries contains thirty-two files concerning the management of high level nuclear wastes and heavily involved with the committee on the Nuclear Fuel Waste Management Program for the Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL). The files are arranged chronologically by subject. Document types include meeting minutes, meeting agendas, reports, notes, talks, and correspondence. Specific topics focused on in the materials are nuclear fuel wastes, risk assessment, and hazardous wastes management. The materials are created between 1980 and 1994 with some follow up materials from 1996-2000.
The Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) was formed in 1979 as an advisory board for the Canadian Nuclear Fuel Waste Program. The committee consisted of independent scientists nominated by their professional societies. The role of the committee was to give advice on the extent and quality of technical research being conducted. It was to also provide counsel to the Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL) on scientific research going on at Whiteshell in Pinawa Manitoba, for the Canadian Nuclear Fuel Waste Management Program. TAC was to ensure that the appropriate conclusions about high level nuclear wastes were drawn. It was a precautionary body to recommend areas for further study. The committee generated annual reports to publicly share comments and recommendations on research being performed. TAC typically met in Toronto, ON or Pinawa, MB to discuss and share reports. However they also took regular trips to research sites on the Canadian Shield.
Harris became a member of the committee in 1983 and remained on the committee until 1997. He focused on the assessment of risks, and the adverse effects of radioactivity on human health in high, intermediate and low doses. He studied the relationship between dose and the risk of being affected. Harris gave multiple presentations about risk assessments at TAC Meetings and presented low dose risk assessment lectures to the Chalk River and Whiteshell groups. He also regularly submitted progress reports to the Chemical Institute of Canada.

Committees

The Committees series covered Walter Harris’ years spent as a member of three significant committees. The series was divided into three subseries according to these committees: the Technical Advisory Committee, Alberta Environment Hazardous Waste Management Committee and President’s Advisory Committee on Campus Review. Materials date from 1973 to 2009 and were arranged by subject matter. Large topics are chronologically arranged with most media separated from textual materials. This series has a number of document types including correspondence, minutes of meetings, notes, index cards, reviews, articles, reports, research, letters, claims, expenses, photographs, brochures, thoughts and interviews by Harris. It further includes an array of slides, a 16mm film and a VHS videocassette . Harris mentioned that each committee involved “working with new people, travelling and tackling interesting problems”.

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