During NASA's history, seven remarkable individuals preceded
me in the position of Administrator. Their leadership at the
Agency's critical stage of development established the
traditions of excellence that has become the hallmark of our missions
I would like to give special recognition today to two of these
Dr. T. Keith Glennan, was the President of Case Western University
in Cleveland, Ohio, when President Eisenhower asked him to come
to Washington to be the first Administrator of the new space agency.
Under Dr. Glennan's leadership that lasted two and a half
years, NASA grew from 9,000 civil servants to 17,000 with a budget
that increased from $300 Million to $1 Billion. Thirty-five launches
for human and planetary missions were launched during his tenure.
And NASAís domain, initially built on the facilities of
the NACA, grew to include installations transferred from the Department
With the election of 1960, Dr. Glennan prepared the Agency for
a transition to the Administration of John F. Kennedy. Dr. Glennan
left his successor with a new Agency ready to take on the challenges
of a new President.
Dr. Glennan died in 1995 at the age of 90. To commemorate his
service to the Agency, the Headquarters Library will now be known
as the T. Keith Glennan Memorial Library.
Dr. Glennan's successor was James E. Webb. When he was first approached
to take on the position as Administrator, Mr. Webb was reluctant.
Trained as a lawyer, he felt that someone with a technical background
ought to lead the Agency. But he was exactly the kind of person
President Kennedy wanted. Mr. Webb had served previous administrations
as Director of the Budget and as Undersecretary at the Department
of State. He also brought the perspective of the private sector
from his years of service with technology companies.
His 7 year and 8 month tenure saw remarkable growth throughout NASA
as it accepted the challenge of Apollo. He served until October
1968 and allowed his successor Thomas Paine to carry the ball
and achieve Kennedyís mandate.
Mr. Webb has been described as a leader with immense energy and
overwhelming intensity. Beyond his commanding personality lay
a set of management techniques he understood and practiced. It
was his dedication to management that later inspired him to advocate
the creation of the National Academy of Public Administration.
As noted in his biography by Dr. Henry Lambright, Mr. Webb's
career is a case study in what it takes to achieve administrative
success in the U.S. -- "to be a master of the fourth branch of
It is my pleasure to recognize Mr. Webb's service to NASA by naming this auditorium the James E. Webb Memorial Auditorium.
Updated February 8, 2005
Steven J. Dick, NASA Chief Historian
Steve Garber, NASA History Web Curator
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