Smithsonian Picks New Chief to Build Trust, Funding

The nation's "attic" has a new chief. Wayne Clough has been named secretary of the Smithsonian Institution. He is currently president of Georgia Tech, where he has a proven track record of running a large public institution. Now more than ever, the Smithsonian needs an adept leader who can restore the public trust.

His record of integrity is important. The last secretary, Lawrence Small, resigned after being investigated for his lavish spending. His annual salary and compensation reached more than $900,000, and over time he charged the Smithsonian more than $1 million for the use of his home for official events.

The Board of Regents, which oversees the Smithsonian, was sharply criticized for a lack of oversight.

But raising money will be Clough's biggest task. At Georgia Tech, he led two capital campaigns that brought in more than $1 billion in private gifts. That experience will come in handy, since the Smithsonian needs $2.5 billion just for repairs and maintenance.

About 70 percent of the Smithsonian's budget comes from the federal government. But members of congress have said repeatedly, "Don't look to us."

As for all of the problems he will face at the Smithsonian, Clough believes he is ready.

"I have tried to position myself in life from the point of view of serving the folks that I work for, and leadership, I think, is a very servant operation," Clough says. "I believe that problem solving is part of that, but you don't want to be consumed by the problems, because if you are consumed by the problems, you forget about the great vision that stands in front of you."

Clough begins as the new secretary in July. He will be the 12th secretary in the long history of the Smithsonian, which was founded in 1846.

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