Interview: John B. Slaughter (2003)
Interviewee: John B. Slaughter
Interviewer: Clarence G. Williams
Date: August 11, 2003
About the Interviewee
John Brooks Slaughter is an electrical engineer whose work focused on development of computer algorithms for system optimization and discrete signal processing. At the time of this interview, he had served as president and chief executive officer of the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering (NACME) since 2000. Slaughter began his career as an electronics engineer in private industry and government. He later served as provost of Washington State University (1979-80). Slaughter then served as the first African-American director of the National Science Foundation (1980 to 1982), then as chancellor of the University of Maryland, College Park (1982-1988) and President of Occidental College (1988-1999). He holds a BS in electrical engineering from Kansas State University (1956), an MS in engineering from the University of California, Los Angeles (1961), and a PhD in engineering sciences from the University of California, San Diego (1971).
The Bridge Leadership Program
The Bridge Leadership Program was developed by Clarence G. Williams at MIT.
This program provides perspectives and developments of new insights based on the concept “Bridge Leadership” that emerged in Technology and the Dream: Reflections on the Black Experience at MIT, 1941-1999 (MIT Press, 2001). The concept developed from the investigator’s view as an important element in the educational experiences of black students and faculty members at MIT. It defined a small core of mostly non-black faculty and administrators who worked diligently, along with the limited number of underrepresented faculty and students, to bridge divisions at the university based on race. While this book focused on the black experience, a new phase of the “bridge leadership” concept was broadened over the past nine years to include not only race but culture and ethnicity as well. The project has developed through interaction beyond MIT with over sixty former and current presidents, senior faculty and administrators at 17 major universities and educational institutions. What has surfaced from interviews and fact findings from these institutions (see lists of “bridge leaders” and “bridge leader targets”) is a core of identifiable characteristics associated with “bridge leader” professionals, both faculty and administrators who work to transform their campuses into a more welcoming, nurturing environment for minorities and other individuals from different cultural and ethnic backgrounds.