Robert Coldwell Wood

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Robert Wood
Robert C. Wood, the second Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.jpg
2nd United States Secretary of Housing and Urban Development
In office
January 7, 1969 – January 20, 1969
PresidentLyndon B. Johnson
Preceded byRobert C. Weaver
Succeeded byGeorge W. Romney
Personal details
Born(1923-09-16)September 16, 1923
St. Louis, Missouri, U.S.
DiedApril 1, 2005(2005-04-01) (aged 81)
Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Margaret Byers
(m. 1952)
Children3, including Frank and Maggie
EducationPrinceton University (BA)
Harvard University (MA, MPA, PhD)
Military service
Allegiance United States
Branch/service United States Army
Battles/warsWorld War II
AwardsBronze Star

Robert Coldwell Wood (September 16, 1923 – April 1, 2005) was an American political scientist, academic and government administrator, and professor of political science at MIT. From 1965 to 1969, Wood served as the Under Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development under President Lyndon B. Johnson, and for two weeks as the Secretary at the end of the Johnson Administration.

After his return to MIT, he directed the Joint Center for Urban Studies at MIT and Harvard. He also had a joint appointment as chairman of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. He served as president of the University of Massachusetts (1970-1977), overseeing expansion of programs, including construction of a campus in south Boston.

Early life and career[edit]

Wood was born on September 16, 1923 in St Louis, Missouri, the son of Mary (née Bradshaw) Wood and Thomas Frank Wood. He won a scholarship to Princeton University, interrupting his studies during World War II to serve in the U.S. Army. Wood saw action during Battle of the Bulge, won a Bronze Star, and rose to the rank of sergeant.

After graduating from Princeton University, Wood earned three degrees from Harvard University: a master's in public administration, and a master's and a doctorate in government.[1]

Wood taught political science at Massachusetts Institute of Technology from 1959 to 1965. From 1965 to 1969, Wood served as the Under Secretary of the newly created Department of Housing and Urban Development under President Lyndon B. Johnson.

In 1968, Wood was awarded the Wiener Medal for Cybernetics from the American Society for Cybernetics. Following the resignation of Robert C. Weaver as Secretary of HUD, Wood served briefly in the position for two weeks before George Romney took office.

Wood returned to MIT, where he directed the Joint Center for Urban Studies at MIT and Harvard. At the same time, he was appointed as head of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA).

From 1970 to 1977 he served as president of the University of Massachusetts. During these years, Wood led the expansion of the university, to include UMass Medical Center in Worcester and its Boston campus. He also played a key role in bringing the John F. Kennedy Library and Museum to its site at Columbia Point, next to UMass-Boston.[1] He also taught at Wesleyan University.[2]

In 1978, Wood was chosen to serve as superintendent of Boston Public Schools. It was the first time since Franklin B. Dyer's hiring in 1912 that someone outside of Boston Public Schools was given the job of superintendent.[3] He took over the district while it was in the midst of the busing crisis - a period in which the district was under a federal court order to desegregate.[4] In 1980, the school committee voted to remove Wood from office, with anti-busing members John J. McDonough, Elvira "Pixie" Palladino, and Gerald O'Leary voting for his ouster and John D. O'Bryant and Jean Sullivan McKeigue opposing.[5]

Personal life[edit]

Wood married the former Margaret Byers, on March 22, 1952. They had three children, including the actor Frank Wood and the Governor of New Hampshire and U.S. Senator Maggie Hassan.[1][6] Wood died from stomach cancer at his home in Boston, Massachusetts, on April 1, 2005.


Wood's best-known books are:

  • 1958. Suburbia: Its People and Their Politics
  • 1959. Metropolis against Itself.
  • 1961. 1400 Governments; The Political Economy of the New York Metropolitan Region. With Vladimir V. Almendinger.
  • 1972. The Necessary Majority: Middle America and the Urban Crisis
  • 1993. Whatever Possessed the President? Academic Experts and Presidential Policy, 1960-88.
  • 1995. Turnabout Time: Public Higher Education in the Commonwealth. With Richard A. Hogarty and Aundrea E. Kelley.


  1. ^ a b c Sarah H. Wright, "Professor, HUD chief Robert Wood dies", MIT News Office, 6 April 2005, Retrieved 9 June 2008.
  2. ^ "PAW July 6, 2005: Memorials".
  3. ^ Roberts, Fletcher (July 19, 1978). "'Outsider' gets unanimous vote of committee". The Boston Globe.
  4. ^ "New Chief Chosen for Boston Schools". The New York Times. July 19, 1978.
  5. ^ Kindleberger, R. S. (August 22, 1980). "School Supt. Wood Fired on Committee's 3-1 Vote". The Boston Globe.
  6. ^ Martin, Douglas (5 April 2005). "Robert Wood, Education Expert, Dies at 81". New York Times. Retrieved 21 June 2016.

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by United States Secretary of Housing and Urban Development
Succeeded by
Academic offices
Preceded by President of the University of Massachusetts System
Succeeded by
Preceded by Superintendent of Boston Public Schools
Succeeded by