William Golden Dies At 97 | Chemical & Engineering News
Issue Date: October 11, 2007

William Golden Dies At 97

Former presidential adviser bridged science and society
Department: ACS News

William T. Golden, 97, an investment banker, philanthropist, and pivotal figure in the development of post-World War II U.S. science policy, died on Oct. 7 in New York City, his birthplace.

"Warm, witty, and sharp, Bill was a major figure in American science and technology policy," according to Bassam Z. Shakhashiri, professor of chemistry at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and director of the Wisconsin Initiative for Science Literacy. "He was a patriot, championing international understanding through science literacy."

Perhaps Golden's greatest influence was as an adviser to presidents. In the early 1950s, Golden counseled President Harry S. Truman on how the U.S. could most effectively mobilize its scientific resources during the U.S.-Korean War. He developed an advisory system to guide presidential decisions on key scientific issues and played an important role in establishing the programs of the National Science Foundation. His proposal for creating the position of presidential science adviser was approved by Truman and fully implemented by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1957.

Golden always had a fascination with science. He received a bachelor's degree in English and biology at the University of Pennsylvania in 1930. After attending the Harvard Graduate School of Business Administration for one year, he headed to Wall Street in 1931. By the 1950s, his financial success allowed him to begin his work as a philanthropist.

He provided start-up money to many promising scientific programs and served on the board or as an officer of many organizations. He supported the American Association for the Advancement of Science, both as its treasurer from 1969 until 1999 and as a major benefactor. AAAS named its Washington, D.C., headquarters for him in 1995.

Golden never stopped learning. In 1979, at age 70, he earned a master's degree in biological sciences from Columbia University. He coauthored or edited many publications, including books and articles on science policy. Golden received numerous awards, including NSF's Distinguished Public Service Award in 1982, a special tribute of appreciation by the National Science Board in 1991, and the Public Welfare Medal from the National Academy of Sciences in 1996.

AAAS President David Baltimore, a Nobel Laureate and president emeritus at Caltech, remembers Golden as someone with a unique understanding of "the importance and relevance of science to the decisions of a civil society. Bill Golden was a supporter of science and a translator of science into the public arena who used his personal resources thoughtfully and imaginatively to support AAAS and science in general. He will be missed personally, and by the world."

Golden is survived by his wife, Catherine Morrison, and his two daughters with his first wife, Sibyl Levy, who died in 1983.

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