- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 16, 2008

G. Wayne Clough, 66, president of the Georgia Institute of Technology, will become the 12th secretary of the Smithsonian Institution on July 1.

The decision was announced nearly a year after Lawrence M. Small resigned as secretary under pressure after revelations about $2 million in personal and travel expenditures.

The Smithsonian’s board of regents selected Mr. Clough over acting Secretary Cristian Samper, who was also a finalist for the position. The Smithsonian’s chancellor, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., presided over the meeting Friday evening where the board unanimously elected the Georgia-born civil engineer.

“The Smithsonian is a great potential integrator of knowledge and it combines for me my love of the sciences and technology, and admiration for the arts and history,” Mr. Clough said during a press conference at the Smithsonian’s “Castle” yesterday. “We want to find ways we can cross disciplines … to make the sum of the parts greater than they would otherwise be.”

He said he learned he had been picked for the job while “in the middle of a Girl Scout troop” on a train headed for New York.

Mr. Clough is a civil engineer with strong academic credentials.

Mr. Small, who was not a scientist or scholar, was criticized by Congress for his lavish lifestyle and ballooning compensation, which reached a $915,698 annual salary plus a housing allowance. He also drew fire for his corporate methods, such as pushing to rename facilities after wealthy donors and signing a contract with Showtime Networks Inc. to create a TV unit and limit access to Smithsonian resources.

At the press conference yesterday, Roger Sant, chairman of the Smithsonian board, said Mr. Clough “took [Georgia Tech] from a very good regional engineering school to a great international university.”

He said the new secretary will receive a $490,000 annual salary and no additional housing allowance. “He gets exactly the same benefits as every other Smithsonian employee,” Mr. Sant said.

As president of Georgia Tech since 1994, Mr. Clough increased enrollment from 13,000 students to more than 18,000, and annual research expenditures from $212 million to $425 million. He led two fundraising campaigns that resulted in nearly $1.5 billion in private gifts and expanded the Atlanta-based institution with satellite campuses in France, Ireland, Singapore and Shanghai.

The difference between Georgia Tech and the world’s largest museum complex, Mr. Clough joked, is that “the Smithsonian as yet doesn’t have a football or basketball team.”

Mr. Clough graduated from Georgia Tech and received his doctorate in civil engineering from the University of California at Berkeley. He serves on the President’s Council of Advisers on Science and Technology and the National Science Board, and has written extensively on higher-education policy, innovation and technology. Before joining Georgia Tech, Mr. Clough was provost and vice president of academic affairs at the University of Washington.

Regent Alan Spoon, chairman of the 10-member search committee, said Mr. Clough met all the criteria for the position, including the ability to restore public trust in the Smithsonian.

“Wayne has more than once navigated rough waters,” Mr. Spoon said. “He has presided over an organization with a financial complexity that rivals the Smithsonian.”

He said the committee reviewed candidates’ resumes, conducted “deep personal interviews” and found Mr. Clough had “unblemished integrity.”

As acting secretary in the past year, Mr. Samper oversaw revisions to the Smithsonian’s governance policies that prohibited service on corporate boards, banned the use of trust funds to purchase employee gifts, changed leave policy for senior staff to equal that for other federal agencies, and improved monitoring of travel and entertainment expenditures.

The Smithsonian’s federal appropriation is $682 million, up from about $635 million in 2007.

Mr. Samper said of Mr. Clough, “I look forward to working with him. He is a good guy.”

The Costa Rica-born biologist will return to the Museum of Natural History as director — a position he held from 2003 to 2007.

Mr. Clough will oversee the Smithsonian’s 19 museums, National Zoological Park and research facilities, and grapple with problems ranging from deferred building maintenance to weak art collections. Above all, he will have to repair the Smithsonian’s tarnished public image.

“I know the Smithsonian has some challenges,” he said. “The problems we have today are all resolvable. Some of them will be resolved faster than others, but none of them are insurmountable.”

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