December 7, 2007
Former National Science Foundation
(NSF) head John Brooks Slaughter will address Ball State University graduates collecting their diplomas on Dec. 15, the first time the university has conducted Winter Commencement on a Saturday.
Approximately 1,200 students in doctoral (28), master's (199), bachelor's (845) and associate (141) programs will receive their degrees during the 10 a.m. ceremony in Worthen Arena on campus. Winter graduation exercises traditionally were held on Sunday afternoons.
A fellow of both the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Slaughter served as director of the NSF from 1980 to 1982. He also is a former chancellor of the University of Maryland, College Park (1982-88), and president of Occidental College in Los Angeles (1988-99).
His long and distinguished record as a leader in the education, engineering and scientific communities also earned Slaughter election to the American Society for Engineering Education Hall of Fame in 1993 and to Eminent Member status in Eta Kappa Nu, the national honor society of electrical engineering, in 2001. He was named Melbo Professor of Leadership in Education at the University of Southern California in 1999 and a year later, president and CEO of the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering (NACME) - a position he still holds.
"It's a pleasure to welcome to campus an educator, scientist and humanitarian of such personal commitment and professional accomplishment," said Ball State President Jo Ann M. Gora of the university's winter commencement speaker, who'll be presented with an honorary doctor of science degree during the upcoming ceremony. "Dr. Slaughter was the first African-American to direct the National Science Foundation and his ongoing efforts to increase the representation of successful African American, Native American and Latino men and women in engineering and the sciences deserves our admiration. We're delighted that he accepted our invitation to be a part of this year's winter graduation, where the Ball State community as a whole may express its appreciation and respect."
Slaughter holds bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees in electrical engineering, engineering, and engineering science from Kansas State University, the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) and the University of California, San Diego, respectively. He began his professional career as an electronic engineer with General Dynamics Corp., and later spent 15 years at the U.S. Navy Electronics Laboratory in San Diego.
His academic appointments started in 1975, when he assumed directorship of the Applied Physics Laboratory at the University of Washington. Immediately prior to his selection by President Jimmy Carter to lead the NSF, Slaughter served as academic vice president and provost at Washington State University.
Winner of the 1997 Martin Luther King Jr. National Award for his contributions toward encouraging participation in engineering and the sciences, Slaughter also has been honored by the National Academy of Engineering with its prestigious Arthur M. Beuche Medallion for "statesmanship in the field of technology." He was named to the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology in February 2006.