Wayne Clough Chosen 10th President of Georgia Tech


Dr. Wayne Clough

"Wayne Clough is someone who can really come in and move Georgia Tech forward."


By John Dunn

Dr. Gerald Wayne Clough, the first alumnus of Georgia Tech to also become its president, will assume office in September. He will be Georgia Tech's 10th chief executive.

Clough (pronounced cluff), provost and vice president of academic affairs at the University of Washington, was unanimously selected by the University System of Georgia Board of Regents on July 13 to fill the post vacated by Dr. John P. Crecine, who resigned effective June 30.

"I am absolutely convinced that he's the best person in the country for the job," said Chancellor Stephen R. Portch. "This is a person with impeccable academic credentials. Dr. Wayne Clough brings to this position a reputation as one of the top engineers in the country, who I think will be a terrific role model."

A native of Douglas, a south Georgia town with a population of 5,000, Clough earned both his bachelor's (1964) and master's degrees (1965) in civil engineering from Georgia Tech. He received his PhD from the University of California- Berkeley.

Clough and his wife, Anne, have two children: Matthew, a 1994 graduate of Virginia Tech, and Eliza, who is attending a community college in Virginia.

"Any president in higher education today faces a changing environment," Clough said in an interview. "It is challenging because resources tend to be tight these days and federal funding for research is getting very quirky."

Speaking in the soft cadence of his native Georgia, Clough said the office of president requires balancing undergraduate and graduate educational needs while coping with diminished state and federal funds.

"We have to look very carefully at the balance between teaching and research," he added. "That is an issue that exists on many campuses. We want to make sure we're giving a fair deal to both the undergraduate student and the graduate student in terms of the services they are getting and the education they are getting.

"I have valued teaching all of my career," Clough added. "I would say to all of our faculty: We are in an educational institution, and one of our major responsibilities is teaching--even though we are a research institution. We want to make sure that we provide our students with the best educational environment we can, and that starts with good teaching.

"In addition, we have to understand that this is a national research institution--and to be a nationally competitive research institution, you have to do research. You have to have research funding--that sustains your graduate program. Georgia Tech has to do this as part of its future. The challenge is finding a balance in those activities. We ask our faculty to do a lot. In addition, we ask them to be involved in public service."

Clough and his wife, Anne, returned to campus for the first time since his selection as president on July 21 and 22 for meetings with administrators, deans, faculty, alumni, students and the news media.

"Georgia Tech has made considerable strides in the past 15 years--certainly since the time I was there," Clough said. "When I was a student, it was known around the country as an excellent undergraduate institution. Since that time, it has become a true international giant in terms of research and graduate studies as well. Its character has changed."

The 52-year-old Clough said he will continue to place emphasis on programs attracting and supporting female students and minority students. "In terms of developing diversity on this campus, we want Georgia Tech to continue to lead; we want to continue that momentum."

While Georgia Tech will receive enormous exposure during the 1996 Summer Olympic Games--the Olympic Village will be located on campus--Clough said the key is to enjoy the benefits without being overwhelmed.

"Ten years from now, Georgia Tech will be gauged primarily on its academics," Clough said. "The Olympics will be a nice, interesting and useful interlude that will add some wonderful facilities. But you have to keep your eye on the big picture, and the big picture is the academic and educational mission of the institution."

A member of the National Academy of Engineering, Clough was dean of the college of engineering at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University during 1990-93. He also taught civil engineering at both Stanford and Duke universities.

His research interests include geotechnical engineering, including earthquake problems, numerical simulation and soil- structure interaction. He has won numerous awards, including the 1991 State-of-the-Art Award from the American Society of Civil Engineers, and the 1986 George Westinghouse Award from the American Society of Engineering Education.

Clough chairs the board of consultants for San Francisco's Muni-Metro Project, a $150-million project to extend a transit facility along the San Francisco waterfront.

"He's the kind of person who can make people work as a team; I think Georgia Tech needs that," said Dr. JeanLou Chameau, former director of Tech's School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, who was a PhD student under Clough at Stanford. Chameau is now president of Golder Associates, an engineering consulting firm in Atlanta.

"He has outstanding qualifications," Chameau added. "He started his career by being a leader in his field, and everywhere he went, in an administrative or management position, he did extremely well."

Chameau said Clough is an exceptional teacher. "I went into the geotechnical field because I took courses from him. It was an area which was not of interest to me before. I found him to be such a good teacher, I decided to go into that area."

As a student, Clough was a member of the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity at Tech. He was among the final occupants of the fraternity house formerly located on North Avenue. He lived there for about six months before the fraternity moved to its new home on fraternity row.

He was also a co-op student.

"Co-oping was a fabulous experience for me," Clough said. "A lot of people say you become a co-op student to find out what you want to do--the odd twist for me was that I found out what I didn't want to do. But; it was very valuable experience.

"I was a surveyor for the railroad company. I surveyed when it snowed and when it was burning up. I decided that if I wanted to do something else, I had better start studying."

During his junior year, Clough said he considered pursuing a career in business, and he took all of his Electives in industrial management.

"It wasn't until my senior year that I took a course in geotechnical engineering, which I liked very much." Clough went on to earn his master's degree in the field of geotechnical engineering.

Regents' professor emeritus George F. Sowers, who retired from the Georgia Tech faculty several years ago but continues to teach a course every other quarter, taught Clough when he was a graduate student and helped him get a fellowship to pursue his doctorate at Berkeley.

"I thought when he finished his bachelor's and master's at Georgia Tech, he needed to broaden his understanding," Sowers said. "At the time, Berkeley did the best geotechnical work of any school in the world."

Although Clough admits to getting off to a rough academic start at Tech, Sowers remembers him as an "excellent student." Sowers has also followed Clough's career through the years and admires him.

"Wayne is the kind of man we need," Sowers said, noting Clough's varied background in teaching and administration. "He's been through a lot of things, and he understands and respects the faculty."

In 1963, during his first year of teaching at Georgia Tech, Dr. Paul H. Wright taught Clough in a course in transportation engineering. How did Tech's future president do?

"I was pleased when I went back and looked at my record to discover he was the top student in my class," Wright said. "But knowing what I know now--that he has progressed through administrative ranks and done very well in his technical field, I would be surprised not to find that."

Civil engineering professor C. Sam Martin recalls that during the summer of 1963, Clough did a special undergraduate research project for him to substitute for another course. "I'll always remember him; he was my first undergraduate assistant."

Clough remembers it well.

"He took me on as a research student doing independent study," Clough said. "That was the first time I had ever done research, and it was just a fascinating experience for me. He was just a super professor and taught me a lot about research."

Martin was new to the field himself. "I was a graduate research assistant finishing up my PhD. He did an experimental study in the hydraulics laboratory. It was quite a nice study, well prepared and written up. He did an excellent job, and he had a great attitude."

Clough turned in his paper on Aug. 30, 1963, and Martin was named assistant professor on Sept. 1.

"Georgia Tech taught one how to study and how to work and how to be organized," Clough said. "It was just a terrific experience for me."

Did it prepare him for Berkeley?

"Well, it didn't prepare me for everything I saw," Clough said with a laugh. "But it prepared me for the academic part of Berkeley very well."

"I think we have the best person in the United States--the best person in the world, if you will--becoming president of Georgia Tech." said Dwight Evans, CE '70, MS EE '73, who headed the Board of Regents' Presidential Search Committee.

"We have someone who was born in Georgia, someone who is a Georgia Tech alumnus, who meets all of the academic criteria, who belongs to the Academy of Engineering, and a former dean of engineering who has administrative experience and skills," said Evans, who is also a member of the Georgia Tech Alumni Association board.

"Wayne Clough is someone who can really come in and move Georgia Tech forward."