Miller Center

American President

A Reference Resource

Harold Brown (1977–1981): Secretary of Defense

Harold Brown was born on September 19, 1927, in New York City. He received three degrees, among them a Ph.D. (1949) in physics from Columbia University.

Brown was a research scientist at the University of California Radiation Laboratory at Berkeley, then at the Lawrence Radiation Laboratory at Livermore, CA; he became director of the Lawrence lab in 1960. Brown was senior adviser at the Conference on the Discontinuance of Nuclear Tests (1958-1959). He later served as director of defense research and engineering (1961-1965), secretary of the air force (1965-1969), and president of the California Institute of Technology (1969-1977).

Brown was secretary of defense for the entirety of the Carter administration from 1977-1981. Following his work in the cabinet, he taught at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies, becoming chairman of John Hopkins' Foreign Policy Institute.