Monday, March 17, 2008

Imagine That

It comes as little surprise that the 12th Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution will be an academician. Lawrence Small, the previous Secretary, held a background in banking, fitting nicely with the trend over the past decade or so of museums moving closer to running according to business principles. This is not in and of itself a bad thing, in fact, it is a move that I personally applaud. However, Small tainted the name of business in the eyes of the museum world through his extravagant spending and compensation. Thanks, Larry, for setting the museum world back a step or two.

But looking at the credentials of G. Wayne Clough, newly appointed Secretary and current President of Georgia Tech University (go Yellow Jackets!), I feel heartened and optimistic for the future of America's Attic. Dr. Clough has both a solid academic background (multiple degrees in civil engineering--a subject near and dear to my own heart since my grandfather was a civil engineer and my father works in that industry as well--and a long professional history of serving as a professor and administrator at top universities around the nation) and administrative and management skills. He has experience serving on national councils such as the President's Council of Science and Technology and the National Science Board. And, given the current state of the Smithsonian and Congress' recent decree that the Smithsonian needed to start raising some of its own money through fundraising, Dr. Clough managed to raise more than $1.6 billion in private gifts during his 14-year tenure at Georgia Tech. Welcome to the museum world, Dr. Clough!

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