Miller Center

American President

A Reference Resource

Robert C. Wood (1969–1969): Secretary of Housing and Urban Development

Robert Coldwell Wood was born in Saint Louis, Missouri, on September 16, 1923, and served in the Army during World War II. After the war, he returned to the United States, receiving his B.A. from Princeton in 1946. He then went on to earn an M.A. (1947), M.B.A. (1948), and Ph.D. (1950) from Harvard.

While working on his Ph.D., he served as the associate director of Florida Legislative Bureau. In 1951, Wood became a management organization expert for the U.S. Bureau of the Budget, serving in this position until 1954. Later that year, he took a position as a lecturer at Harvard, eventually become an assistant professor. He left Harvard in 1957 to become an assistant professor of political science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Wood continued to rise through the ranks and in 1965 was made head of the political science department.

In 1966, he left academia to become undersecretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD); in January 1969, he became its secretary, serving until the end of the Johnson administration later that month. Following his time in the cabinet, Wood returned to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he remained until 1970, becoming president of the University of Massachusetts at Boston. In 1978, he became superintendent of Boston's public schools and continued in this position until 1980