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John Slaughter Receives the New York Hall of Science (NYSCI) Distinguished Leadership Award

November 10, 2011 —

John Slaughter of our Ming Hsieh Department of Electrical Engineering faculty received the Distinguished Leadership Award from the New York Hall of Science (NYSCI). NYSCI is New York City's hands-on science and technology center. It was initially built as a pavilion for the 1964 World's Fair, and since 1986 has served over seven million children, parents and teachers. NYSCI's mission is to convey the excitement and understanding of science and technology to children, families, teachers and others by galvanizing their curiosity and offering them creative, participatory ways to learn. The Distinguished Leadership Award honors Slaughter’s career as an engineer and his leadership in a number of institutional positions. Slaughter was honored with this distinction at the NYSCI’s annual gala Evening of Science Inspiration and Invention, held on October 25, 2011 in New York City.

Slaughter holds a Ph.D. in engineering science from the University of California, San Diego (1971). In 1956, he 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. He 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 became 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 in 2000 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 2010, he joined USC as professor of Education and Electrical Engineering.

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; and the NSF Distinguished Service Award in 1979, among many others.

Alexander (Sandy) Sawchuk, Chair of the Ming Hsieh EE-Systems Department, said: "Our faculty from the Ming Hsieh Department of Electrical Engineering and the Viterbi School of Engineering join me in congratulating John on receiving the Distinguished Leadership Award from the New York Hall of Science (NYSCI). This award is a very noteworthy recognition of his outstanding career as technical and academic leader, and his service in advancing diversity in higher education."