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Walter Massey to Receive Vannevar Bush Award

Press Release From: National Science Foundation
Posted: Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Today, the National Science Board (NSB) announced that Walter E. Massey will receive its prestigious Vannevar Bush Award.  The award honors science and technology leaders who have made substantial contributions to the welfare of the nation through public service in science, technology, and public policy.

Massey, chairman of Giant Magellan Telescope Organization and president emeritus of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and of Morehouse College, is being recognized for his truly exceptional lifelong leadership in science and technology. The range of institutions he has led with distinction is astonishing -- from physics, to public policy, to public and private boards, to college president.

Walter Massey’s breadth of contributions and remarkable leadership in science, technology, and education are unparalleled,” said Kent Fuchs, chair of the NSB’s Committee on Honorary Awards. “Walter has dedicated his life to serving our citizens. Through his training in mathematics and physics, and his determined and extraordinary leadership, he has narrowed the gap between science and society with an immeasurable and lasting impact on our nation.”

Two overarching principles have inspired Massey’s notable career -- that science and technology are necessary to sustain the nation’s quality of life and the standard of living of its citizens; and that the general public’s understanding of science and technology is a critical component of a democratic society. Guided by these principles for more than half a century, Massey has worked to strengthen applied research capacity and science education in the United States and to increase the representation of minorities and women in science and technology.

Massey’s wealth of experience includes executive leadership roles at Brown University, the University of Chicago, Argonne National Laboratory, the University of California, Morehouse College, the National Science Foundation as director, and a host of influential boards and commissions. Perhaps most importantly, he has served as an exemplar to young people, illustrating what can be accomplished through intense dedication and hard work.

In addition to Massey’s significant role in science and technology, he has worked to improve student access to the arts and to highlight the important role they play in fostering student creativity and achievement. He is particularly interested in the intersections between the arts and sciences and how exposure to both prepares students for future success and contributes to a more creative and dynamic society.

Further illustrating his dedication to both the arts and sciences, Massey is the only individual to serve as both President and Chairman of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and as Chair of the Association of Independent Colleges of Art and Design (AICAD). He is also the only individual to have received both the Enrico Fermi Award for Science and Technology from the Chicago Historical Society and the Public Humanities Award from Illinois Humanities.

“Knowing so many of the previous Vannevar Bush awardees, and all that they have accomplished, I feel so honored to be included in their company, said Massey.”  “Having served on the NSB and as NSF director I fully recognize the significance of this award and I will accept with a great deal of pride and humility.”

The Board will present Massey with the Vannevar Bush Award on May 14 at the National Science Foundation Annual Awards Ceremony held in Washington, D.C.

The Board established the award in 1980 in memory of Vannevar Bush, who served as a science advisor to President Franklin Roosevelt during World War II, helped to establish federal funding for science and engineering as a national priority during peacetime, and was behind the creation of the National Science Foundation. Past award recipients include: Norman Augustine (Lockheed Martin), James Duderstadt (University of Michigan), Leon Lederman (Fermilab), Shirley Ann Jackson (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute), David Packard (Hewlett-Packard Company), Robert Birgeneau (University of California, Berkeley), Rita Rossi Colwell (University of Maryland College Park), and last year, Jane Lubchenco (University of Oregon).

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