Three years after its promising beginnings and depletion of the funds awarded through NRC Grant D-10, the SMD autonomy started to be eroded; the promised continuing financial support by UW administration, implied by the negotiated grant, did not materialize; CE and ME departments favoured the parochial management of their traditional territories; SMD involvement in the planning and delivery of undergraduate programs was grossly misunderstood.
A 1972 UW Senate decision put an end to the formal existence of SMD. Its ongoing activities were to be carried out through departmental channels, with a small stipend granted from the CE department budget. SMD chairmanship was reassigned to H. E. Leipholz, who served from 1972 to 1979, when he assumed a senior position in the university administration. With the era of major initiatives and innovations being over, Leipholz must be credited for having maintained some of the activities and original SMD ways.
As a sign of the emerging hard times, SMD members volunteered to make individual financial contributions in order to sustain on a limited scale the planned projects and events. With SMD turning from a living organism to a surviving name and a bright memory, it became the task of G.
M. L. Gladwell in 1979 to serve as the chair of the once proud and independent research group.