Carl-Gustaf Rossby (1898–1957) was chosen to head the first U.S. program in modern meteorology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1928. The steps that led to this appointment are briefly reviewed as well as the academic environment at MIT in the early 1930s. It has been argued that Rossby's development as a research scientist was closely tied to his connection with oceanographers at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. His work on geostrophic adjustment, an outgrowth of his research on the Gulf Stream, was marked by bold simplification of the governing dynamical equations. This allowed him to capture the essence of adjustments between pressure and velocity in unbalanced geophysical flow. His work on the adjustment problem is summarized and related to earlier work by Ekman and Margules.