Slice of History - Dr. Pickering becomes Lab Director
Dr. William H. Pickering began his tenure as Director of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory on this day in 1954! Following the surprise resignation of Director Dr. Louis G. Dunn, Caltech President, Dr. Lee A. DuBridge, named Dr. Pickering, current Division Chief of Guided Missile Electronics, as Dunn’s successor (even though he was on a leave of absence as a professor of electrical engineering at the time of his naming).
Dr. Pickering came to Caltech in 1936 and joined JPL staff just eight years later as Section Chief. In July 1951, he was appointed Chief of Division 3, Guided Missile Electronics. Upon the commencement of his leadership, Dr. Pickering wrote a greeting to JPL employees, which was published in the September 1954 issue of Lab-Oratory:
“In taking over the leadership of the Laboratory, I first want to acknowledge my very sincere appreciation for the personal abilities of Dr. Louis G. Dunn [Dr. Pickering’s predecessor], and for the magnificent job which he has done in building up the Laboratory over the past eight years…I am deeply conscious of the extent to which Dr. Dunn’s personal leadership has contributed to this growth, and of the task which I will have in maintaining the high standard he has established.
Within the past few years the Laboratory has attained a maturity of organization and of purpose which promises a brilliant future. I do not foresee any reason to initiate changes to the present organization or to the present program. I can assure all of you that the change of administration will not affect your job security.
The Laboratory is undertaking problems in research and development which can only be solved by a real team activity. We are such a team, and we will continue to advance together as long as we all work together. I am counting on the cooperation of each of you to keep the Laboratory the best in the country.” CL#22-4282
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