William J. Perry

Title
U.S. Secretary of Defense
William J. Perry
Biography

William Perry was sworn in as secretary of defense on February 3, 1994, following a unanimous vote by the Senate. He previously served as deputy secretary of defense from March 5, 1993, until his confirmation as secretary. Prior to his nomination to these positions, he was chairman of Technology Strategies Alliances, a professor in the school of engineering at Stanford University, and co-director of Stanford's Center for International Security and Arms Control.

Perry was born Oct. 11, 1927, in Vandergrift, PA. He attended Butler High School, in Butler, PA, graduating in 1945. He received his bachelor's and master's degrees from Stanford University and his doctorate from Penn State, all in mathematics.

From 1946 until 1947, Perry was an enlisted man in the Army Corps of Engineers, serving in Japan and Okinawa. He joined the Reserve Officer Training Corps in 1948 and was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Army Reserves in 1950. he remained in t he reserves until 1955.

Perry has had extensive experience as an entrepreneur, including being one of the founders of ESL Inc., in 1964, and serving as its president until 1977. Prior to that, he was with Sylvania/General Telephone and was the director of its Electronic Defense Laboratories. He also served as executive vice president of Hambrecht and Quist Inc., an investment banking firm in San Francisco specializing in high technology companies.

From 1977 to 1981, Perry was under secretary of defense for research and engineering. As under secretary, he was responsible for all weapon systems procurement and all research and development. He was the secretary of defense's principal advisor on technology, communications, intelligence, and atomic energy.

He received the Army's Outstanding Service Medal in 1977, the Department of Defense's Distinguished Public Service Medal in 1980 and again in 1981, and NASA's Distinguished Service Medal in 1981. He was awarded the 1980 Medical of Achievement by the American Electronics Association. The Federal Republic of Germany awarded the Knight Commander's Cross to him in 1981, and the French government conferred the Grand Officer de l'Ordre National du Merite in 1982. He received the James Forrestal Memorial Award for 1983 and again in 1993, and was presented the Stimson Foundation Award in 1994.

Perry has served as directory of FMC Corporation, United Technologies Corporation, and a number of private companies. He also has been a trustee of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and served on a number of U.S. Government advisory boards, including the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board and the Technical Review Panel of the U.S. Senate's Select Committee on Intelligence. He was a member of the Carnegie Commission on Science, Technology, and Government, and the committee on International Security and Arms Control of the National Research Council.

NAE Awards Winner
  • Bueche
  • 1996
  • His contributions to and his visionary leadership in the application of advanced technology to national security needs.