The names of two MIT giants will be linked tonight in Washington when President Emeritus Jerome B. Wiesner receives the National Science Board's 1992 Vannevar Bush Award.
Dr. Wiesner, who served as MIT president from 1971 to 1980, will receive a medal and citation at the NSB's annual dinner at the Department of State. The 24-member NSB is the policy-making body of the National Science Foundation.
The Bush award is given by the NSB to a "senior statesman in science and technology who, through his or her activities, has made an outstanding contribution toward the welfare of mankind and the nation."
Dr. Bush, for whom it is named, was a professor, vice president and dean of engineering at MIT, as well as chairman of the corporation and honorary chairman. One of the outstanding scientists and engineers of the 20th century, he organized and led American science and technology during World War II. He died in 1974.
The first Bush award, in 1980, went to another MIT great, the late Dr. James R. Killian Jr., an MIT president and chairman who was the nation's first full-time science advisor in the administration of Dwight D. Eisenhower.
The NSB noted that Dr. Wiesner, a former science advisor to Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson, has been called the "conscience of the scientific community" for his long-term contributions to public understanding of the risks of the nuclear age and his efforts to reduce those risks.
James J. Duderstadt, chairman of the NSB and president of the University of Michigan, Dr. Wiesner's alma mater, will present the award to Dr. Wiesner.
The official citation accompanying Dr. Wiesner's award honors him "for pioneering with vision, boldness and drive, the exploration, mapping, and settlement of new frontiers in research, education and public service."
It continues: "As a humanist-engineer, he helped transform the information and communication sciences by grasping the essential fusion of their technical and social dimensions. As a leader of an already great university, he demonstrated that even greater vistas were attainable through the union of superb research and inspired teaching. As presidential science advisor, he made enduring contributions to both science and government, while redefining and expanding the concept of the advisory function itself. A man of wit, prescience and the courage of his convictions, he is a prophet recognized throughout the world, and in his own country, for his dedication to the ideals of research in the service of humanity on a world-wide basis."
A version of this article appeared in the April 29, 1992 issue of MIT Tech Talk (Volume 36, Number 28).