Julius Adams Stratton, 1901-1994

Julius A. StrattonJulius Adams Stratton, 1901-1994, S.B. 1923 and S.M. 1926 in electrical engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Sc.D. in mathematical physics, 1928, Eidgenossiche Technische Hochshule, Zurich, Switzerland, was the eleventh president of MIT, 1959-1966. He joined the faculty of MIT as an assistant professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering in 1928; in 1930 he transferred to the Department of Physics where he became associate professor in 1935 and full professor in 1941. Much of his research at that time was conducted at the MIT field station at Round Hill, South Dartmouth, Mass., on the propagation of short electromagnetic waves. During World War II at the MIT-based Radiation Laboratory he worked on the development of LORAN (Long Range Navigation), which enables airplanes and ships to determine their location. In 1942 he became an expert consultant to Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson. In this post he chaired committees to improve the effectiveness of all-weather flying systems and ground radar, fire control, and radar bombing equipment. He also helped plan the use of radar in the Normandy invasion. He was awarded the Medal of Merit for his services.

After the war he became the first director of the new interdisciplinary Research Laboratory of Electronics at MIT. He was a member of the Committee on Educational Survey, appointed in 1947 to review the state of education at the Institute; one of the recommendations of the committee led to the creation in 1950 of the School of Humanities and Social Science. In 1949 he was appointed MIT’s first provost, and in 1951 he received a concurrent appointment as vice president. He became MIT’s first chancellor in 1956, acting president in 1957, and president in 1959. At his retirement in 1966 he was elected a life member of the MIT Corporation. A trustee of the Ford Foundation, 1955-1971, he served as its chairman from 1966 to 1971. His government service included membership on the National Science Board, 1956-1962 and 1964-1967, and an appointment by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1967 as chairman of the Commission on Marine Science, Engineering and Resources. Among his many publications is the book Electromagnetic Theory, first published in 1941 and still in print (as of 1995). His research focused on communications and theoretical physics.

Prepared by the Institute Archives, MIT Libraries
November 1995

Photograph courtesy of the MIT Museum

History of the Office of the MIT President