Public Release: 

Science champion William T. Golden makes historic $5.25 million gift to AAAS

William T. Golden endowment fund for program innovation established

American Association for the Advancement of Science

William T. Golden, a pivotal figure in the history of American science policy, has donated an unprecedented $5.25 million to the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)--the most generous gift ever bestowed upon the world's largest general scientific society since its inception in 1848.

"We are honored and delighted by Mr. Golden's extraordinary and historic gift," said Alan I. Leshner, chief executive officer of AAAS and executive publisher of its journal, Science. "Mr. Golden has dedicated much of his life's work to furthering science, science policy and science education. This latest demonstration of his selfless and ongoing support for the scientific enterprise will give life to an array of new initiatives intended to improve human welfare through scientific advances."

The gift will establish the William T. Golden Endowment Fund for Program Innovation. It will be used to fund new programs which would not be fundable in the general budget.

A desire to stimulate creative thinking and innovation prompted the gift, Mr. Golden said.

"I have great respect for the AAAS, as well as great affection and admiration for it, and I believe that the organization can become even more useful to society," Mr. Golden explained. "This gift will support programs that would not otherwise be funded as part of the Association's normal budgetary plan. With this gift, I am encouraging AAAS to seek creativity on the part of its staff people and others. They will be called upon to propose ideas and to seek approval from the Chief Executive Officer for new initiatives. This seems to me to be a very good idea."

A lifelong resident of New York City since his birth there in 1909, Mr. Golden helped to shape post-World War II science policy through his service as an advisor to late U.S. President Harry Truman.

"I've had an interesting time of it so far," Mr. Golden commented, when asked to reflect upon his support for science and its role in society. "Science has become more and more important in everyday life, and public awareness of it has increased somewhat. I've always been interested in tinkering with what we call science--all things mechanical, electrical, and chemical. I passed the exam and got my ham radio transmitting license when I was 13 years old, with call letters 2AEN. I thought I'd be a scientist, up until the second half of my senior year in college. I changed my mind at that point, but I've never lost my affection for the scientific enterprise."

Working as a special consultant to the director of the U.S. Bureau of the Budget from 1950 until 1951, Mr. Golden offered advice to President Truman on how the country could most effectively mobilize its scientific resources during the U.S.-Korean War. He invented an advisory system to guide Presidential decisions on key scientific issues: His recommendation for the creation of the position of Presidential science advisor was promptly approved by President Truman, and then fully implemented by President Eisenhower in 1957--a time when U.S. researchers were striving to match Soviet achievements in space.

In 1996, Mr. Golden received the National Academy of Sciences Public Welfare Medal--the Academy's highest honor. NAS President Bruce Albert attributed Mr. Golden's contributions to science and public welfare to "his insatiable curiosity about scientific and technological developments and his devotion to serving the public."

Indeed, as an active duty officer in the U.S. Navy throughout World War II, Mr. Golden's curiosity and skill as an inventor resulted in a new firing device for anti-aircraft machine guns. His lengthy and distinguished career also included service to the Atomic Energy Commission from its very beginning, the Department of State, and the second Hoover Commission.

Following his role as a Presidential advisor, Mr. Golden served as Treasurer of AAAS for 30 years, from 1969 until 1999. His accomplishments were honored in 2001, when he received the prestigious AAAS Lifetime Achievement Award, recognizing his role in creating the post of Science Advisor to the President and the President's Science Advisory Committee, and his key role in establishing the programs of the National Science Foundation.

Today, Mr. Golden is an officer and trustee of AAAS. He is also chairman emeritus of the American Museum of Natural History, and serves numerous other organizations, including the New York Academy of Sciences; the Carnegie Institution of Washington; and the Mount Sinai Medical Center, Hospital, and Medical School. Further, he has been a director of numerous corporate boards, such as General American Investors Co.

Mr. Golden's contributions have included ecological interests, too: In 1989, he purchased Black Rock Forest, a 3,600-acre preserve adjacent to West Point, in New York, from Harvard University. When environmentalists expressed concern that the land might be split into tracts for development, Mr. Golden purchased the property, formed a consortium of environmentalists and university contacts, and leased it to them for $1 per year. Harvard University and Mr. Golden established an endowment for Black Rock Forest. Subsequently, the Nature Conservancy donated 107 acres of adjoining forestland to further enhance the forest.

Mr. Golden and his wife, Dr. Jean Taylor, live in New York City. Dr. Taylor is professor emerita of mathematics at Rutgers University. She is former president of the Association for Women in Mathematics, and has served as an elected Board member of AAAS.

Mr. Golden received his bachelor's degree in 1930 from the University of Pennsylvania and attended the Harvard Graduate School of Business Administration for a year. Forty-nine years after receiving his bachelor's, he earned an MA degree in the biological sciences from Columbia University in 1979. Mr. Golden also has received a half-dozen honorary degrees, including from the University of Pennyslvania and Columbia University.

Mr. Golden is co-author and editor of many publications, including Science Advice to the President (1980); Science and Technology Advice to the President, Congress, and Judiciary (1988); and Worldwide Science and Technology Advice to the Highest Levels of Governments (1991). His numerous other accomplishments include the Distinguished Public Service Award by the National Science Foundation (1982); a special Tribute of Appreciation by the National Science Board (1991); and the Benjamin Franklin Award for Distinguished Public Service by the American Philosophical Society (1995), of which he is a member and past vice-president. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the National Academy of Public Administration, and the Royal Society of Arts, London.


The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) is the world's largest general scientific society, and publisher of the journal, Science ( AAAS was founded in 1848, and serves some 265 affiliated societies and academies of science, serving 10 million individuals. Science has the largest paid circulation of any peer-reviewed general science journal in the world, with an estimated total readership of one million. The non-profit AAAS ( is open to all and fulfills its mission to "advance science and serve society" through initiatives in science policy; international programs; science education; and more. For the latest research news, log onto EurekAlert!,, the premier science-news Web site, a service of AAAS.

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