Dr. G. Wayne Clough

Smithsonian Institution
Dr. G. Wayne Clough

G. Wayne Clough was named the 12th Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution on July 1, 2008. From 1994 to 2008, he was president of the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) where he transformed the Atlanta-based university into one of the top public universities in the country. During his tenure, Georgia Tech’s academic reach was greatly expanded and now includes research and education programs and projects in France, Ireland, Singapore, and Shanghai. Annual research expenditures increased from $212 million to $473 million, and enrollment increased from 13,000 to more than 18,000.

In addition to raising Georgia Tech’s stature in science and engineering, Dr. Clough also put great emphasis on the humanities. He established two endowed chairs in poetry, expanded the music department, encouraged the development of interdisciplinary degrees that combine technology and the liberal arts, and strengthened the university’s commitment to public policy and public service. After leading two capital campaigns and raising more than $1.6 billion in private gifts, he leaves a fundraising legacy that is unmatched in the history of the university.

Dr. Clough has had a long-standing commitment to diversity. Under his leadership, the university established sophisticated programs for faculty and students designed to increase the number of women and underrepresented minorities in engineering and science. He developed relationships with institutions that do not offer engineering degrees and established joint degree programs with them. During his tenure, Georgia Tech became a national leader in attracting, and graduating, minority and female engineers.

With his extensive experience in public policy at the local, state, and national levels, Dr. Clough is the only person appointed by the president to both the National Science Board (the governing body of the National Science Foundation) and the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology. He is also vice chair of the U.S. Council on Competitiveness, a nonprofit organization working to develop and implement an action agenda to improve the competitive position of the United States in the global economy, and co-chair of the council’s National Innovation Initiative. In addition, he is chair of the National Academies Committee on New Orleans Regional Hurricane Protection Projects, which advises the U.S. Department of Defense, and a member of the Board of Directors of the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering.

Dr. Clough has spoken and written extensively about innovation, higher education policy, diversity, economic development, and technology. In addition, he has published more than 130 papers and reports and has written six book chapters on geotechnical engineering. Thomas L. Friedman featured him in a chapter (“The Right Stuff”) of his influential book, The World is Flat, A Brief History of the 21st Century; Friedman calls him a visionary leader who revamped a university’s strategy, beginning with the admissions policy, which he reworked to ensure that Georgia Tech’s graduates would receive a well-rounded education.

Dr. Clough is widely recognized for his teaching and research. He has received nine national awards from the American Society of Civil Engineers, most recently the 2004 OPAL Lifetime Achievement Award, for contributions to education. He is also one of a handful of engineers who have twice been awarded the Norman Medal (in 1992 and 1996), the oldest, and one of the most prestigious awards for civil engineering.

Prior to assuming the presidency of Georgia Tech, Dr. Clough—a graduate of the university’s civil engineering program—was provost and vice president of academic affairs at the University of Washington (1993–1994). He was also dean of the College of Engineering at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (1990–1993), where he had been promoted from professor of civil engineering to head of the Civil Engineering Department (1983–1990). He also was an associate, then full professor at Stanford University (1974–1982) and an assistant, then associate professor at Duke University (1969–1974).

Dr. Clough earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in civil engineering from Georgia Tech in 1964 and 1965 and his doctorate in civil engineering in 1969 from the University of California at Berkeley.

NAE Awards Winner
  • Bueche
  • 2008
  • Outstanding accomplishments advancing civil engineering and higher education, and for leadership promoting U.S. international competitiveness.