In Memoriam: John Brooks Slaughter, 1934-2023

John B. Slaughter, former chancellor of the University of Maryland and former president of Occidental College in Los Angeles, died on December 6 at a hospital in California. He was 89 years old.

A native of Topeka, Kansas, Dr. Slaughter was a graduate of Kansas State University, where he majored in electrical engineering. He held a master’s degree in engineering from the University of California, Los Angeles and a Ph.D. in engineering science from the University of California, San Diego.

After a 15-year career as a civilian employee of the U.S. Navy, Dr. Slaughter was appointed director of the Applied Physics Laboratory at the University of Washington. He served briefly as provost and vice president for academic affairs at Washington State University before being named the first African American director of the National Science Foundation in 1980. Two years later, Dr. Slaughter was named chancellor of the University of Maryland.

In 1988, Dr. Slaugher was appointed president of Occidental College in Los Angeles. At his inauguration, Dr. Slaugher stated: “Quality and equality are inseparable and diversity is synonymous with what is best in America.”

He later served as CEO of the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering and as professor of education and professor of engineering at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. He retired in 2022. On September 20, 2023, the Viterbi School of Engineering at the University of Southern California dedicated the new John Brooks Slaughter Center for Engineering Diversity.


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