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Stever, Horton Guyford
American physicist, President of Carnegie-Mellon University, led numerous US government committees, advisory positions, and panels on science policy from 1947-1986.

Born: 1916-10-24. Died: 2010-04-09.

Horton Guyford Stever earned a Ph.D. in physics at Caltech in 1941 and became a member of the staff at the Radiation Lab of MIT until 1942, when he went to London as a scientific liaison officer through the end of World War II. He then returned to MIT as a member of the faculty, rising to become associate dean of engineering from 1956-1959. He remained a professor of aeronautical engineering until 1965 and then served as president of Carnegie-Mellon University until 1972. Meanwhile, he had begun an extensive and distinguished additional career of service to government. For example, he was chief scientist of the Air Force from 1955-1956 and served on its scientific advisory board from 1947-1969 (as chairman, 1962-1969). He was director of the National Science Foundation, 1972-1976, and in 1973 he became scientific and technical advisor to President Gerald R. Ford, Jr., a post he held until 1977. Along the way, he served on advisory committees to the NACA, including its special committee on space technology, and to NASA, including a stint as chairman of an independent panel of experts established by the National Research Council to advise NASA and monitor its compliance with the recommendations of the Rogers Commission that investigated the Challenger explosion in 1986.

Obituary: Horton Guyford Stever / President who merged Carnegie, Mellon institutes April 11, 2010 1:31 am

By Eleanor Chute / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Former Carnegie Mellon University President Horton Guyford Stever had a distinguished career: physicist who helped solve radar problems during World War II; college president who merged Carnegie Institute of Technology and Mellon Institute of Research; and science adviser to two presidents.

What his resume doesn't show is that he was easy to talk with and treated everyone fairly and with respect.

"There's always the feeling we have as children when we read these things, his biography and his accomplishments kind of overshadow the fact that he was such a remarkably comfortable person to be with," said his son, Roy, of Easton, N.H.

Perhaps that's one of the reasons he was so successful at tasks ranging from navigating the merger that resulted in CMU to winning appointments by Presidents Richard M. Nixon and Gerald R. Ford.

Dr. Stever, 93, died Friday in a retirement community in Gaithersburg, Md., surrounded by his four children. His wife, Louise Risley Stever, whom their son described as playing an important role in Dr. Stever's career, died five years ago.

Raised in Corning, N.Y., Dr. Stever was orphaned as a young child and raised by grandparents.

People in the Corning community bought him a suit when he went off to Colgate University on scholarship. There, his son said, he was treated like a second-class citizen.

"The only tool he had to fight that was his incredible dedication to academics," said his son.

He went on to earn a doctorate in physics from California Institute of Technology in 1941.

Dr. Stever was never one who believed that science should sit on a shelf, so he found ways to put science into service to solve problems. His son said he was passionate about teaching science, both in the classroom and outside of it.

"He was a problem-solver at heart, in his day-to-day life and academic life. He was all about service to his country," said his son.

Dr. Stever became a member of the staff of the radiation lab at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and then scientific liaison officer for the National Defense Research Council in London, working to solve radar problems during World War II.

He had repeated stints at MIT -- including serving as a professor and associate dean of engineering -- and at one point was chief scientist for the Air Force.

Country: USA. Bibliography: 535, 6068.

1916 October 24 - .
2010 April 9 - .

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