Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution
Wayne Clough is the Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, the world’s largest museum and research complex with activities in more than 130 countries. The Smithsonian includes 19 museums and galleries, 20 libraries, the National Zoo and numerous research centers, including the Smithsonian Astrophysics Observatory, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute and the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center.
Since becoming Secretary in July 2008, Clough (pronounced “cluff”) has taken the Smithsonian in new directions. A comprehensive strategic plan—the first of its kind for the Smithsonian—created a new framework for goals, enterprises and operations. The Smithsonian is working in new and cross-disciplinary ways—focused on four grand challenges: Unlocking the Mysteries of the Universe, Understanding and Sustaining a Biodiverse Planet, Valuing World Cultures and Understanding the American Experience.
Building on the Smithsonian’s core strengths, the strategic plan has renewed its commitment to education, understanding the causes and effects of global change and expanding access to the Smithsonian’s vast expertise and collections. In the process, the Smithsonian is becoming a leader in the use of new digital communications and imaging technology.
Clough is responsible for an annual budget of $1 billion, 6,400 employees and 6,300 volunteers. The Smithsonian receives about 60 percent of its funding from the federal government while generating additional funding from private contributions and business revenues. Since Clough’s arrival, the Smithsonian has raised more than $1 billion in philanthropic gifts.
The Smithsonian reaches Americans in all 50 states through such programs as the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service, Smithsonian Channel, Smithsonian magazine and hundreds of programs available through the Internet. Programs include more than 2,000 educational offerings geared to state standards in all 50 states. Clough supported the Smithsonian’s first-ever branding and ad campaign with a website, seriouslyamazing.com, reaching target audiences (ages 18-34) primarily through social media and allowing them opportunities to interact with Smithsonian experts.
Clough is overseeing a building and renovation program of more than $1 billion. Completed projects include the first phase of the Arts and Industries Building renovation; the National Air and Space Museum’s Udvar-Hazy Center Phase II at Dulles Airport; new campus buildings at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal, Va.—the Smithsonian-Mason School of Conservation; the National Postal Museum’s renovation; and the new Charles McC. Mathias Laboratory at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center in Edgewater, Md.
Construction projects include the Cooper-Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, scheduled to open in December; the west wing renovation of the National Museum of American History, including an American innovation section, scheduled to open July 2015; the renovated Renwick Gallery, scheduled to open in 2016; and the construction of the National Museum of African American History and Culture, scheduled to open in summer 2016.
The Secretary has emphasized the development of collaborations with universities and other organizations. Examples include the Global Tiger Initiative with the World Bank, accessioning of the Space Shuttle Discovery with NASA and the Haiti Cultural Recovery Project with the State Department. In 2012, the Smithsonian opened the Smithsonian-Mason School of Conservation in Front Royal, Va., in partnership with George Mason University. As part of a degree program, students conduct research on endangered species with Smithsonian scientists.
Since Clough became Secretary, more than 600 exhibitions have opened across the Smithsonian. He has overseen the opening of major permanent exhibitions, including the Hall of Human Origins at the National Museum of Natural History, the new panda and elephant habitats at the National Zoo and the new wing at the National Air and Space Museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center.
The Secretary has been the subject of a number of profiles and articles in national media and a guest on several TV programs. In 2011, Clough was featured in an answer in the category “People Who Matter” on the television quiz show, Jeopardy. In 2012, he was featured in the “Not My Job” segment of National Public Radio’s news quiz program Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me!
Before his appointment to the Smithsonian, Clough was president of the Georgia Institute of Technology for 14 years. He received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in civil engineering from Georgia Tech in 1964 and 1965 and a doctorate in 1969 in civil engineering from the University of California, Berkeley. He has received 10 honorary doctorates from universities in the U.S. and abroad. His civil engineering specialty is in geotechnical and earthquake engineering.
Clough was a member of the faculty at Duke University, Stanford University and Virginia Tech. He served as head of the department of civil engineering and dean of the College of Engineering at Virginia Tech and as provost at the University of Washington.
During his tenure at Georgia Tech, the school was ranked among the top 10 public universities by U.S. News and World Report. In 2012, Georgia Tech opened the G. Wayne Clough Undergraduate Learning Commons Building to honor his commitment to undergraduate students.
Clough’s recognitions include 2012 National Honor Member status in Chi Epsilon, the National Civil Engineering Honor Society, the 2011 Foreign Policy Association Medal, the American-Russian Cultural Cooperation Foundation Award in 2011, membership in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2010 (he currently serves on its Commission on the Future of Humanities and Social Sciences), induction into the Technology Hall of Fame of Georgia (2009) and the Joseph M. Pettit Alumni Distinguished Service Award (2009) that recognizes a lifetime of leadership, achievement and service to Georgia Tech.
Clough received an honorary doctorate of engineering from Drexel University in Philadelphia in 2013, and the 2013 Ralph Coats Roe Medal from the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.
This year, Clough received the Emory University President’s Medal, the Kenneth Andrew Roe Award from the American Association of Engineering Societies and the Army Engineer Association’s Silver Order of the de Fleury Medal.
Elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 1990, he was recognized with the 2008 NAE Bueche Award for his efforts in public policy. Clough has received nine national awards from the American Society of Civil Engineers, including the 2004 OPAL lifetime award for contributions to education and the 2010 Presidents’ Award. He has served as chair of the National Research Council Committee on New Orleans Regional Hurricane Protection Reconstruction, a six-year term as member of the National Science Board and seven years as a member of President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology.
In 2011, Clough wrote “Increasing Scientific Literacy: A Shared Responsibility,” a monograph on the nation’s urgent need to improve scientific literacy and the key role Smithsonian can play. Clough’s recent publication, the e-book, “Best of Both Worlds: Museums, Libraries, and Archives in a Digital Age,” guides readers through the digital world of the Smithsonian and other museums. His latest book, due out this fall, is “From the Arctic to the Antarctic and Points in Between: The Smithsonian Writ Large.”
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