Fletcher, James Chipman, 1919-1991

Alternative names
Dates:
Birth 1919-06-05
Death 1991-12-22

Biographical notes:

James Chipman Fletcher, born 5 June 1919, in Millburn, New Jersey, attended high school in New York City and received a B.A. in physics from Columbia University in 1940. He served as a research physicist with the U.S. Navy Bureau of Ordnance, and in 1941 became a special research associate at the Cruf Laboratory of Harvard University. He went to Princeton University in 1942 as a teaching fellow and later was an instructor and research physicist.

Under an Eastman Kodak fellowship, Dr. Fletcher received his Ph.D. degree in physics in 1948 from the California Institute of Technology. He joined Hughes Aircraft Company as director of the Theory and Analysis Laboratory in the Electronics Division.

In 1954, Dr. Fletcher joined the Ramo-Wooldridge Corporation as an Associate Director and soon became Director of Electronics in the Guided Missile Research Division, later to become Space Technology Laboratories, with responsibility for all United States ICBM's. In July 1958 Dr. Fletcher organized the Space Electronics Corporation with his associate Frank W. Lehan. Space Electronics Corporation merged with the spacecraft division of Aerojet in 1961 to form the Space General Corporation of which Dr. Fletcher was the first president. He later became Chairman of the Boardof Space General and Systems Vice President of the Aerojet General Corporation, where he served until becoming the eighth president of the University of Utah in 1964. Leaving the University after seven years, Dr. Fletcher returned to work with the aerospace industry through the government when he was appointed administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration in 1971. He served in this capacity until 1977. Following the Challenger disaster in 1986, Fletcher assumed once again took up the reigns at NASA and served as administrator from 1986-1989.

Dr. Fletcher served on more than fifty national committees, and as chairman of ten. In March 1967, he was appointed by President Johnson to the President's Science Advisory Committee for a four year term. He was a member of the National Academy of Engineering, was a Fellow of the IEE and an Associate Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. He is a member of the Executive Committee of the National Association of State Universities and Land Grant Colleges, Chairman of the Naval Warfare Panel, a Regent of the National Library of Medicine, and on the Visiting Committee of the National Bureau of Standards. He was a member of Sigmi Xi and the recipient of the Alumni Distinguished Service Award of the California Institute of Technology in 1966.

Dr. Fletcher died 22 December 1991.

From the guide to the James Chipman Fletcher papers, 1933-1992, (J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah)

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