G. Wayne Clough
Graduate ceremony Commencement speaker
Honorary degree: Doctor of Engineering and Humane Letters
Combining vision, talent, and a commitment to broadening access to knowledge, G. Wayne Clough has been a transformative leader at two exceptional institutions of learning—the Smithsonian Institution and the Georgia Institute of Technology.
As the 12th secretary of the Smithsonian, Mr. Clough led the development of a strategic plan that brought focus to the extraordinarily diverse activities of the world’s largest research and museum complex, and established a blueprint to ensure its continued leadership as an engine of education in the 21st century.
His six-year tenure was marked by a number of firsts, including a national fundraising campaign and Digital Smithsonian, an enterprise to digitize all 138 million items in the Smithsonian’s collections.
By the time Mr. Clough stepped down in 2014, the fundraising campaign had brought more than $1 billion in philanthropic gifts to the Smithsonian, providing for new endowed positions, scholarships and fellowships, and new buildings and exhibitions.
The ongoing digital project, inspired by Mr. Clough’s belief that “digitization is democratization,” is extending the Smithsonian’s global impact by putting the amazing scientific and historical resources of the institution at the disposal of millions of people who may never be able to visit Washington, D.C.
Mr. Clough also succeeded in forging, for the first time, cross-institutional collaboration among the Smithsonian’s disparate array of 19 museums and galleries and nine research centers, and he expanded the K–12 educational programming.
As the 10th president of Georgia Tech—and the first alumnus to hold that position—he led the institute to increased global stature while maintaining its close bonds to Georgia and her citizens. During his presidency from 1994 to 2008, as funding for research more than doubled and Georgia Tech rose into the top 10 of the nation’s public universities, Mr. Clough spearheaded the establishment of a scholarship fund enabling financially disadvantaged in-state students to graduate debt-free. So far, the G. Wayne Clough Georgia Tech Promise Scholarship has benefited more than 600 students.
His fundraising acumen provided the resources to increase endowed faculty positions, advance student leadership programs, add cross-disciplinary research initiatives, and undertake more than $1 billion in campus revitalization. This included the Undergraduate Learning Commons, a building now named for Mr. Clough.
A native of Douglas, Georgia, he earned his bachelor’s and master’s in civil engineering from Georgia Tech, and his doctorate from the University of California, Berkeley. He subsequently taught at Duke University, Stanford University, and Virginia Tech, where he also served as dean of the College of Engineering. Prior to returning to Georgia Tech as president, Mr. Clough was provost and academic vice president at the University of Washington.
Among his numerous professional awards and honors, Mr. Clough was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 1990 and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2010. He currently holds two emeriti titles: Secretary Emeritus of the Smithsonian and President Emeritus of the Georgia Institute of Technology.