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First UC San Diego Chancellor
Leading Architect of U.S. National
Security Institutions

June 23, 2011

By Rex Graham

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Zachary J. Lemnios, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering.

An Assistant Secretary of Defense on June 29 will pay tribute to UC San Diego’s first chancellor, Herbert F. York, as an architect of some of the most important U.S. national security institutions for research and development during the inaugural presentation in a lecture series named in York’s honor. Zachary J. Lemnios, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering,  will deliver the first Herbert F. York Memorial Lecture at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday in UC San Diego’s Forum at Price Center East is free, open to the public and part of the university’s 50th anniversary celebration.

Lemnios will examine York’s impact on the Defense Department’s research and development successes decades ago, provide an overview of the many defense challenges facing the U.S. today, and identify ways in which faculty, staff, and students can help solve technical problems faced today by the nation’s men and women in uniform. Research at UC San Diego funded by the Department of Defense has risen from $39 million in 2001 to about $60 million in the current fiscal year, which accounts for 8 percent of the university’s annual research awards from the federal government.

Lemnios will recount some of Herbert York’s signature accomplishments, such as helping to create the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA), and the Office of the Director of Defense Research and Engineering. In addition to serving as founding chancellor of UC San Diego, York also was a world-renowned physicist who helped develop the atomic bomb as a young researcher, but later championed arms control. York died in 2009 in San Diego. He was 87.

Before joining the Department of Defense, Lemnios was chief technology officer at the MIT Lincoln Laboratory, a federally funded research and development center chartered to apply advanced technology to problems of national security. Prior to that, he oversaw the development of future research in two positions at Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). Lemnios now provides leadership for near-, mid- and far-term research and engineering efforts within the Department of Defense.

Herbert York
Herbert F. York, UC San Diego's first chancellor, helped create the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA), and the Office of the Director of Defense Research and Engineering.

York was a powerful intellectual force who helped set the nation’s science and policy agenda for more than five decades. Former Secretary of Defense Harold Brown credited his longtime friend at York’s 2009 memorial service for an unsurpassed record of achievement in science, education, and national security. “He played the leading role in creating a series of innovative and crucial institutions—a nuclear laboratory, the Defense Department’s Advanced Research Projects Agency, a UC campus and the Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation,” said Brown. “In the national government, in California, and in international meetings and negotiations, he was dedicated to peace while being realistic about security needs.”

IGCC Director Susan Shirk shares Brown’s view. “Herb’s life and work embody UC San Diego’s 50 years of contributions to global security and international cooperation,” she said. “We consider IGCC to be an important part of his legacy and are honored to carry on his work.”

York received his B.S. and M.S. degrees, both in the same year, at the University of Rochester. At the end of World War II, he enrolled at UC Berkeley as a graduate student. He was tabbed to work on the Manhattan Project even before he had finished graduate school, returning to Berkeley to finish his doctorate in physics in 1949. York oversaw the expansion of the California Radiation Laboratory into the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory, and in 1952 became the first of many eminent directors, including Brown and physicist Edward Teller.

Surprised by the Soviet launch of Sputnik in 1957, President Eisenhower created ARPA, now called DARPA. In 1958, York became the agency’s first chief scientist. DARPA’s mission is to promote cutting-edge research and to encourage researchers to imagine new technologies. Indeed, ARPA.net, an internal computer communications network used to connect remote researchers, quickly grew to become the Internet.

Herbert York
The inaugural Herbert F. York Memorial Lecture on June 29 will celebrate the accomplishments of York (1921-2009) as a powerful intellectual force who helped set the nation's science and policy agenda for more than five decades.

In 1958, Eisenhower appointed York as the first director of the Defense Research and Engineering Directorate in the Department of Defense (the position Lemnios now holds). York later became a leader in the international movement to control the spread of nuclear weapons. He served as U.S. ambassador to the Comprehensive Test Ban negotiations in Geneva, Switzerland (1979–1981), and founded IGCC in 1983.

The relationship between university-based researchers and the defense establishment has long gone back and forth between conflict and cooperation. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates touched on this in a 2008 speech to the Association of American Universities, and reiterated the Department of Defense’s commitment to “complete openness and rigid adherence to academic freedom and integrity” in its Minerva Initiative, a university-based, basic social science research program initiated by Gates. Still, such funding makes many academics uneasy; in response, the Social Science Research Council began a “Minerva Controversy” project to address the concerns of its members.

Such controversy is not new. “IGCC was founded as part of a compromise that eased faculty concerns about UC management of the nuclear labs at Los Alamos and Livermore,” said Shirk. “David Saxon, the UC president at the time, and Governor Jerry Brown wanted the university to establish a research unit to look at peace and security issues in a rigorous, research-based way.” York was appointed the first director of the new multi-campus unit. He served as director until 1989. He played an active role in IGCC’s Public Policy and Nuclear Threats program until shortly before he died.


Media Contact:
Angela Lintz, alintz@ucsd.edu, (858) 822-2324
Rex Graham, ragraham@ucsd.edu, (858) 534-5952

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