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Clifford Cook Furnas (October 24, 1900 – April 27, 1969) was an American author, Olympic athlete, scientist, expert on guided missiles, university president, and public servant. He was first cousin of the author Evangeline Walton.

Clifford Furnas
1st President of the University of Buffalo
In office
Preceded byHimself as Chancellor
Succeeded byMartin Meyerson
Chairman of the Defense Science Board
In office
Preceded byHoward P. Robertson
Succeeded byRobert L. Sproull
9th Chancellor of the University of Buffalo
In office
Preceded byClaude E. Puffer (Acting)
Succeeded byHimself as President
Assistant Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering
In office
Preceded byDonald A. Quarles
Succeeded byFrank D. Newbury
Personal details
BornOctober 24, 1900
DiedApril 27, 1967
Political partyRepublican
Spouse(s)Sparkle M. Furnas

Furnas participated in the 5,000-meter event at the 1920 Olympic Games in Antwerp, Belgium.[1]

He taught chemical engineering at Yale University, and directed the airplane division of Curtiss-Wright during World War II. He became the ninth chancellor of the private University of Buffalo in 1954.[2] After guiding the University through the merger process with the State University of New York in 1962, Furnas became the first president of the State University of New York at Buffalo.[1][2] Between 1955 and 1957 he was on a leave of absence to serve as Assistant Secretary of Defense during the Eisenhower administration.[2]

He retired from the University of Buffalo in 1966 and died in 1969.[2]


Athletic careerEdit


Academic careerEdit

Government careerEdit

  • 1952–1953 Chairman, Guided Missile Commission, Research and Development Board
  • 1954–1957 Chairman, U.S. Department of Defense Advisory Panel on Aeronautics
  • 1954–1969 Member, U.S. Army Science Advisory Panel
  • 1955–1957 Member of the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics
  • 1955–1957 Assistant Secretary of Defense for Research and Development
  • 1956–1957 Chairman, Air Navigation Development Board
  • 1957–1969 Member of the Defense Science Board
  • 1958–1969 Member of the Naval Research Advisory Committee
  • 1961–1965 Chairman of the Defense Science Board
  • 1961–1969 Chairman, New York Advisory Council, Industrial Research and Development
  • 1968–1969 Vice-Chairman, National Research Council


  • 1932 America's Tomorrow: An Informal Excursion Into the Era of the Two-hour Working Day
  • 1935 The Unfinished Business of Science
  • 1936 The Next Hundred Years (full view from Hathi Trust)
  • 1937 Man, Bread and Destiny
  • 1937 Technological Trends and National Policy (section on metallurgy) (full view from
  • 1939 The Storehouse of Civilization (full view from Hathi Trust)
  • 1940 The Individual and the World
  • 1940 Excerpts from Our Intellectual World Sections 9-13, Division II of The Individual and the World'
  • 1948 Research in Industry
  • 1957 "Sputnik: Why did the US lose the race? Critics speak up", Life Magazine, October 21, 1957
  • 1966 The Engineer


  1. ^ a b Whitcher, Ann (28 September 2000). "Furnas' Olympic history revealed". UB Reporter.
  2. ^ a b c d "Office of the President: Our past presidents: Clifford C. Furnas". State University of New York at Buffalo. 2015. Retrieved 10 January 2015.
  3. ^ "Olympic Athletes: Clifford Furnas". Sports Reference/Olympic Sports. 2015. Retrieved 10 January 2015.
  4. ^ "Chancellors and Presidents of the University". University at Buffalo. 2015. Archived from the original on 10 June 2016. Retrieved 10 January 2014.

External linksEdit

Academic offices
Preceded by
T. R. McConnell
Chancellor of the University at Buffalo
Office abolished
New office President of the University at Buffalo
Succeeded by
Claude E. Puffer (acting)
Government offices
Preceded by
Donald A. Quarles
Assistant Secretary of Defense (Research and Development)
Succeeded by
Frank D. Newbury
Preceded by
Howard P. Robertson
Chairman of the Defense Science Board
Succeeded by
Robert L. Sproull