Courtesy of Cornell University

October 22, 2019

Cornell Alum and CEO of SC Johnson to Serve Under Trump Administration on Science and Technology Council

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On October 22nd, President Donald Trump appointed seven individuals to the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology. One of the appointees, Herbert Fisk Johnson III ‘79, M.Eng ‘80, M.S. ‘82, MBA ‘84, Ph.D ‘86, is a graduate of Cornell and comes from a family deeply intertwined with the university.

The PCAST is a council that is dedicated to advising the President on current developments in science and technology, initially established by President George W. Bush in 2001 and later reestablished by President Barack Obama in 2010. Following Trump’s election the council remained empty, and the council’s charter expired in September 2017.

At the time President Trump relied on two councils of business executives instead, the Manufacturing Council and the Strategy and Policy Forum, to inform his technology and manufacturing policy. President Trump eventually decided to disband both groups. This executive order marks the establishment of a formal scientific advising body to the executive branch.

President Trump appointed seven individuals who will offer expertise in various fields in science and technology. Among them is Herbert Fisk Johnson III, who is currently the chairman and chief executive officer of SC Johnson.

Fisk graduated from Cornell in 1979 with a B.A. in chemistry and physics, and went on to earn an M.S. in physics, an MBA, and a Ph.D in Physics at Cornell. Following his graduation, Fisk maintained ties to Cornell by serving on the Board of Trustees from 1993 to 2001 and remains a Trustee Emeritus.

Fisk comes from a family with strong ties to Cornell. Cornell’s management school, The Samuel Curtis Johnson School of Management, bears the name of the Johnson family as a result of the contributions of Fisk’s father, Samuel Curtis Johnson Jr.

Curtis Johnson Jr. made a twenty million dollar endowment gift to the Graduate School of Business and Public Administration in the name of his great grandfather and founder of S.C. Johnson & Son, Inc., Samuel Curtis Johnson. At the time, this was the largest endowment gift given to a business school. This gift was made on the premise that businesses should give back to the communities they are part of.

The Johnson family ties to the Cornell campus extend beyond the business school. Cornell’s on campus fine arts museum also bears the name of the Johnson family, as a result of the donations of Herbert F. Johnson, Fisk Johnson III’s grandfather. Herbert F. Johnson ‘22, was also a graduate of Cornell and served on the Board of Trustees. Fisk Johnson hoped that the museum would serve the Cornell community as a gateway into the fine arts.

H. Fisk Johnson extended his family’s legacy by contributing to the university in 2017, when he and SC Johnson donated $150 million to name the Cornell SC Johnson College of Business. The donation was the largest ever made to the Ithaca campus and the second largest donation to a U.S. business school.

This article has been updated to clarify the names of the Samuel Curtis Johnson School of Management and the donors to the Cornell SC Johnson College of Business.