John Brooks Slaughter

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John Brooks Slaughter (born 16 March 1934) is an American electrical engineer and former college president who served as the first African-American director of the National Science Foundation (NSF). His work focuses on development of computer algorithms for system optimization and discrete signal processing.

Early life and education[edit]

Slaughter was born in and grew up in Topeka, Kansas, and attended Topeka High School. After two years at Washburn University, Slaughter transferred and earned a B.S. in electrical engineering from Kansas State University in 1956, an M.S. in engineering from the University of California, Los Angeles in 1961, and a Ph.D. in engineering sciences from the University of California, San Diego in 1971.[1]

Academic career[edit]

He took a civilian position at the United States Navy Electronics Laboratory in San Diego in 1960. He was appointed Director of the Applied Physics Laboratory of the University of Washington in 1975. He joined the NSF in 1977 as Assistant Director for Astronomics, Atmospherics, Earth and Ocean Sciences. From 1980 to 1982 he was Director of the NSF.[2]

He was elected to membership in the National Academy of Engineering in 1982. From 1982 to 1988 Slaughter served as Chancellor of the University of Maryland, College Park, then served as President of Occidental College in Los Angeles from 1988 to 1999. In 1999 he was appointed Melbo Professor of Leadership in Education at the University of Southern California.


  1. ^ "John Slaughter". The History Makers. Nov 28, 2012. 
  2. ^ Staff report (June 12, 1982). National Science Chief To Leave Federal Post. New York Times

Further reading[edit]

  • Kessler, J., Kidd, J. Kidd R. & Morin, K. (1996). Distinguished African American Scientists of the 20th Century. Phoenix, AZ: Oryx Press. pp. 292-296.

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Richard C. Atkinson
Director of the National Science Foundation
December 1980 - October 1982
Succeeded by
Edward A. Knapp
Preceded by
William English Kirwan (acting)
Chancellor of the University of Maryland, College Park
Succeeded by
William English Kirwan (as President)
Preceded by
Richard C. Gilman
President of Occidental College
Succeeded by
Ted Mitchell