Skip navigation
Image of workers at an oil rig NSB Chair Carter - NSF Director Stever
The National Science Board - A History in Highlights, 1950-2000
Table of Contents | Preface | Acknowledgements | Former Members | Exec Secretaries/Officers | Timeline

A "Political" Director?

NSF Director Leland Haworth's term was due to end in May 1969. Seeking a successor, Nixon's Science 'Having so much opportunity to interact with twenty-four people of such varied experience is a boon to any Director.' H. Guyford Stever, NSF Director (1972-1976) Advisor (and former Board member) Lee A. DuBridge, asked chemist Franklin A. Long of Cornell University if he would come to Washington to meet the President about becoming NSF Director. But another Nixon aide told Long before the meeting that the President would nominate Long only if he publicly supported the ABM system. Long took offense and stormed back to Cornell.

In an unprecedented open letter, the Board protested this political litmus test. According to historian Milton Lomask, Nixon met with DuBridge and Handler and "confessed he had been wrong in his handling of the Long appointment." He agreed the Director's job should be nonpolitical. The Board's Executive Committee went to work sounding out other candidates.

Handler's feelings were evident in what he told biophysicist William D. McElroy of Johns Hopkins University, when he telephoned McElroy to ask if he would consider the job. Handler said, "the Science Foundation was going to hell, support of science was going to hell, and they had to have somebody at NSF who could do the job." However, as time would tell, the Board's involvement in the selection of a new Director was not a guarantee of good relations.

Previous Page | Next Page


Bottom Timeline