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John Slaughter Receives an Honorary Degree from Howard University


March 22, 2011 —

John Slaughter, professor in the Viterbi School of Engineering and the Rossier School of Education, will receive an Honorary Doctor of Science degree from Howard University This honor will be conferred during their 2011 Commencement Convocation in May in Washington, DC.

Slaughter holds a Ph.D. in engineering science from the University of California, San Diego (1971). In 1956, Slaughter began his career as an engineer at General Dynamics Convair, which he left in 1960 to work as a civilian at the United States Naval Electronics Laboratory Center in San Diego. He worked for the Navy for 15 years, becoming director of the Information Systems Technology Department. Slaughter went on to become director of the Applied Physics Laboratory, a research and development facility at the University of Washington in Seattle, until his appointment as assistant director of the Astronomical, Atmospheric, Earth and Ocean Sciences directorate of the NSF in Washington, D.C. in 1977.

In 1979, Slaughter became academic vice president and provost of Washington State University, but left for his historic appointment in 1980 as the first African American to direct the National Science Foundation (NSF). He returned to higher education in 1982 as chancellor of the University of Maryland, where he made major advancements in the recruitment and retention of African American students and faculty.

Slaughter took the job of president of Occidental College in 1988, and transformed the school during his 11-year tenure into the most diverse liberal arts college in America. He taught courses in diversity and leadership for one year as Irving R. Melbo Professor of Leadership Education at USC before accepting the position of president and CEO of the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering (NACME), whose mission is to increase the number of engineers of color, in 2000.

He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) and the Hall of Fame of the American Society for Engineering Education. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers, and the Tau Beta Pi Honorary Engineering Society. He is the founding editor of the international journal Computers and Electrical Engineering.

Slaughter holds honorary degrees from more than 25 institutions, and has received numerous awards, including the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Award in 1997; UCLA Medal of Excellence in 1989; the first U.S. Black Engineer of the Year award in 1987; the NAE Arthur M. Bueche Award in 2004; UCLA Distinguished Alumnus of the Year in 1978; NSF Distinguished Service Award in 1979, among many others.

Alexander (Sandy) Sawchuk, Chair of the Ming Hsieh EE-Systems Department, said: "faculty from the Ming Hsieh Department of Electrical Engineering and the Viterbi School of Engineering join me in congratulating John on this award of an Honorary Doctorate from Howard University. It is a significant recognition of his many achievements in engineering, his academic leadership, and his many accomplishments in encouraging under-served minority students to pursue higher education."