Will the Real Henry Yang Please Stand Up?
Chancellor Yang’s Scientific and Administrative Career
Chancellor Yang is a gifted and kind human being. During his time as Chancellor at UCSB he has helped lead the campus community in numerous positive directions. For his entire scholarly career (almost 40 years now!), Yang has been a champion of polices to increase diversity in higher education. Yang has always supported programs that have broken down barriers of racial and gender discrimination. In recent years he has become an outspoken supporter of initiatives to make the UC a more environmentally sustainable institution. Furthermore, Chancellor Yang has remained astoundingly responsive to student, staff and faculty concerns. He has shown a tireless will to work through problems and attempted often to create just and sound solutions.
All of this serves as a testimony to the scale of the problem facing universities as regards the militarization and corporatization of education and research. In spite of his best intentions, Yang’s career has also been marked by extremely close cooperation with the military, military-industrial corporations, and with industrial companies whose products and management practices are often anathema to social justice and ecological sustainability. Yang is representative of current university leadership. More and more universities are being run by corporate and military leaders. This systematic reality has serious consequences for the kinds of knowledge produces by universities, as well as the university's role in issues of war, racial and economic justice, and ecological destruction.
The following is not intended as a recrimination of Chancellor Yang. Rather, it is to state publicly many unacknowledged facts about his career, and to do so as a means toward questioning the system of American higher education, its organization, funding, who controls it, and for what ends.
Early Research Career: going with the flow of aero/astronautical engineering
Yang’s education began in Taiwan at the National University where he earned a BS degree in civil engineering in 1962. To further pursue his studies he moved to the United States to attend West Virginia University. In 1968 Yang earned his PhD from Cornell in the field of aeronautic engineering. Yang’s PhD advisor was Richard Gallagher, an aeronautical engineer who spent 17 years in industry, principally with Bell Aerospace Co. of New York. At the time Bell was deeply involved in researching and producing military aircraft. Today Bell produces mostly military helicopters and is owned by Textron Corp., a major weapons manufacturing firm. Gallagher taught Yang and other graduate students the principles behind the finite element method, and engineering tool used in structural analysis. Roshdy Barsoum, another student of Gallagher’s who now works at the Office of Naval Research Ship Structures and Systems Division recalls their mentor’s influnce:
“Richard H. Gallagher came to Cornell in 1967, and I, a first year graduate student was trying to find an advisor. My colleague, Henry T. Yang (now Chancellor of UCSB), who was Dick's first student told me I should try to work with Dick because there is this new subject called Finite Elements and he is giving a fascinating course on it….
“As dean of engineering at Arizona, provost to Worcester Polytechnic, president at Clarkson and even after his retirement, he continued his research activity. During the period from 1984 to 1988, prior to my joining ONR, Dick [Gallagher] served on the board of visitors for the Solid Mechanics Program at the Office of Naval Research (ONR). Dick was instrumental in the initiation of many of the new research thrusts which emanated from the ONR Solid Mechanics Program during this period. His deep and broad mastery of both the mathematical aspects of computational mechanics and the engineering mechanics of structural behaviour [sic] was invaluable in the development of forefront research programmes. Dick's inputs were instrumental in the initiation of ONR's thrusts in computational acoustics, rigorous and efficient shell element technology, thin film mechanics, and damage/ failure mechanics.”
In 1969 Yang took on a tenure track faculty position at Purdue University in the school of engineering. Yang quickly excelled in his research and teaching, eventually earning an endowed chair, the Neil A. Armstrong Distinguished Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics. Rising through the ranks of Purdue, Yang was appointed Dean of engineering in 1984, and the following year became a fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. This first half of Yang’s scholarly and administrative career was marked by a prolific amount of research, much of it funded by Department of Defense agencies including the Navy and Air Force. Following his mentor Gallagher, Yang advanced the field of aeronautic and astronautic engineering through the finite elements method. Yang’s current biography on UCSB’s Dept. of Mechanical Engineering website lists his research interests as:
“Dynamic Systems, Control, and Robotics and Solid Mechanics, Materials, and Structures: aircraft structures, structural dynamics and control, transonic aeroelasticity, finite elements, composite materials, seismic- and wind-structural control, intelligent manufacturing systems.”
As a professor Yang would mentor many PhD students in his field of expertise, preparing a significant number of them for work with military agencies or their contractors. For example, one of Yang’s PhD students Raymond Kolonay went on to become a senior aerospace research engineer at the Air Force Research Lab. According to one Air Force publication Kolonay “is an expert in structures, structural dynamics, linear/nonlinear aeroelasticity, engineering sensitivity analysis, optimization, and network computing,” many of the fields in which Yang has built his career.
A survey of Dr. Yang’s research reveals a career spanning focus on problems of practical concern to the design of US military aircraft. Much of Dr. Yang's early research was published in the Journal of Aircraft. Aircraft is a leading publication for aerodynamics research. Much of the literature published in Aircraft results from military funded research. Articles representative of Yang's research at this time include “Flutter Analysis of Supercritical Airfoil in Small Disturbance Transonic Flows.” In this article Yang and his co-researchers state the impetus for their research;
“In recent years there has been an increasing trend that aircraft be operated at high speeds in the high subsonic or transonic regime. At these speeds schoks form on the airfoil which result in an increase in the drag forces and form a loss in lift force due to boundary layer separation.”
Subsonic and even transonic flight have implications for civilian air transport, but the real beneficiary of the research has been the Air Force, who Yang acknowledges for their funding support, even thanking an employee of the Air Force Wright Aeronautics Laboratory for his “administration” of their research.
From 1983 to 1989 Yang sat on the editorial board of the Journal of Aircraft. His co-editors included men like Lars Ericsson, an engineer with Lockheed Martin Missile and Space Corporation, and Robert Duffy, a helicopter designer working with Grumman Aerospace and the Army Research Office. Aircraft has been run for decades by Thomas Weeks, a high-level research engineer at the Air Force Lab.
Non of this is particularly odd. In fact, it is the basic trajectory of any successful aerospace engineer's career. What is important to note here is that aerospace engineering, like many fields, is controlled by the military establishment. Research problems are dictated by the commanding amount of funds and the vast infrastructure possessed by the military for basic and applied research. Yang's early career is mostly a story of a willing researcher who plugged easily into the existing Cold War science establishment.
Early Administrative Career: channeling the flow of military-industrial dollars
In 1980 Dr. Yang was promoted to Head of the Purdue School of Aeronautics and Astronautics. If as a researcher Yang was uncritical and accepting of military and industrial funding of basic research, and the institutional connections between universities and the military industrial complex, as an administrator Yang would do much to actively encourage these links and relationships. According to two historians of Purdue’s engineering school:
“Under [Yang’s] leadership the School grew in student numbers and in research expenditures, so that by 1985, the sponsored research budget had reached $1,500,000 per year….
During this time period, aerospace design received increased emphasis by means of a program supported by Lockheed Missiles and Space Company at the senior level, and another design course at the sophomore level. Design projects were developed with Lockheed engineers, who visited the campus twice a semester to evaluate the student’s work. Those engineers assisted with the final design evaluation at the end of the semester, and awarded prize money to cover expenses of preparing reports. Airplane design was also helped by means of funding from the University Space Research Association (USRA) and later from the Thiokol Corporation.”
Today Lockheed Martin is the largest arms manufacturing corporation in the world. During the 1980s Lockheed spearheaded development and production of weapons systems such as the F117-A stealth fighter jet, and the Trident nuclear missile among many other projects in need of aeronautical expertise. Thus, the ability of Lockheed employees to assist students with their project designs resulted in multiple gains for the company including access to basic research, contacts with professors in Purdue’s engineering school, and a recruitment pipeline for graduates of Purdue into Lockheed. During the 1980s the Thiokol Corporation was a major supplier of missile motors and rocket fuel to the US military and space programs, and manufactured the propellants used in nuclear equipped missile’s such as Lockheed’s Trident system. Thiokol was purchased by Alliant Techsystems (ATK) in 2001. ATK is the largest manufacturer of munitions and missile propellants for the US military. Both ATK and Lockheed have research and manufacturing operations in Santa Barbara, and both fund research here at UCSB.
By 1984 Dr. Yang was appointed Dean of Engineering at Purdue. The next year he would attain the title of Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. This era signaled Dr. Yang’s ascendancy into the elite of the United State’s science and technology administrators. Around this time Dr. Yang began serving stints on government and corporate science advisory boards including the USAF Scientific Advisory Committee (USAF-SAC), the Naval Research Advisory Committee (NRAC), the Defense Science Board, and the Defense Manufacturing Board.
The Defense Manufacturing Board was established to “help improve communication and interaction with industry. Acting as an advisory board similar to the Defense Science Board, experts from labor, academia and industry focus on how the DoD can improve quality and manufacturing effectiveness.” It was folded into the Defense Science Board in 1990. Dr. Yang's advise to the military through this board is unknown and possibly classified.
The Defense Science Board (DSB) exists to address “pressing and complex technology problems facing the Department of Defense in such areas as research, engineering, and manufacturing, and will ensure the identification of new technologies and new applications of technology in those areas to strengthen national security.” The DSB was an outgrowth of recommendations made by the 2nd Hoover Commission’s research task force chairman Mervin J. Kelly. Kelly called for an organization composed of scientists from industry and academia who would, “canvass periodically the needs and opportunities presented by new scientific knowledge for radically new weapons systems.” Interestingly, Kelly was President of Bell Labs, the facility where Yang’s mentor Gallagher spent much of his industrial research career. According to one of Kelly’s biographers, he was a “driving force that made Bell Laboratories so active and productive in radar during the war and later in antisubmarine warfare and antiaircraft and antimissile missiles.”
Yang’s contributions to Air Force and Naval weaponry through his advisory role’s on the USAF-SAC and NRAC are unknown, and again much of it may be classified. However, the general nature of these committee’s work is ascertainable from summaries of their unclassified reports. The USAF-SAC’s mission is to “provide a link between the Air Force and the nation's scientific community” in order to facilitate, “the exchange of the latest scientific and technical information that may enhance the accomplishment of the Air Force mission.” NRAC’s mission statement is similar. Past studies by USAF-SAC include, “Automatic Target Recognition” and “Human-System Integration in Air Force Weapon Systems Development and Acquisition.” Among NRAC advisory papers written by colleagues of Dr. Yang are, “Electromagnetic Gun Technology Assessment,” a study on “Laser Weapons,” and a report entitled, “Lightening the Load.”
NRAC’s “Lightening the Load Report” is interesting for many reasons. The study’s abstract outlines troop equipment weight as problematic to a “warfighter’s” ability to engage in battle: “Considerable anecdotal information based on current combat operations indicates heavier loads severely reduce Marine or soldier effectiveness, especially on long-duration patrols, close-in urban combat and other adverse situations.” Of special interest to UC Santa Barbara is that the armed forces are relying significantly on UCSB’s Institute for Collaborative Biotechnology to innovate solutions for reducing the overall weight carried by combat units. According the study’s authors:
“The US Army is investing about $120M in efforts relevant to load lightening, of
which $75M can be identified as specifically related to initiatives to reducing infantry
loads. The Army investments address at least five key areas: Future Force Warrior;
survivability; rations; power; and sensors. The Future Force Warrior has been an
investment of more than $200M for the past four years and will transition to PEO Soldier
in 2008. Survivability research is focused on ballistic & primary blast protection through
the use of novel fiber technologies, system designs and analytical tools; the MIT Institute
of Soldier Technology and the University of California, Santa Barbara, Institute of
Collaborative Biotechnology are receiving longer-term investments in this area.”
In 1989 Yang was awarded the U.S. Air Force Meritorious Civilian Service Award to mark his extensive research and advisory contributions to this branch of the military. Although many of Yang's published biographies list his work on these several military boards and committees, there is very little information available regarding Yang's role or advise.
UC Santa Barbara: Building a More Militarized/Corporatized Campus
Dean Yang was selected in 1994 by the UC Regents as the 5th Chancellor of UC Santa Barbara. In addition to his scholarly achievements, teaching awards, and proven record as a capable administrator, the Regents likely chose Yang for his strong record in creating profitable linkages between universities and the military, and between academic programs and industrial corporations.
Dr. Yang’s ascendancy to the office of Chancellor was not his only high-level position gained during this era, however. Just prior to coming to UCSB Yang became a director or adviser to several large industrial corporations. In 1995 it was reported that Chancellor Yang held a seat on the Technical Advisory Committee of Pratt and Whitney, a subsidiary of United Technologies, and also to the board of directors of the Eaton Corporation, and a company called Space Industries International, Inc.
Pratt and Whitney are one of several leading manufacturers of aircraft engines and other aerospace components. The company’s jet engines power almost half of all commercial aircraft world wide. Pratt and Whitney’s parent company United Technologies is estimated to be the 8th largest military contractor in the United States with $4.5 billion in sales to the armed forces. Pratt and Whitney produce many military products including jet engines and missile motors. According to the company:
“Our military engines power the Air Force's front line fighters today – the F-15 and F-16 – and our F119 and F135 engines will power the front line fighters of the future – the F/A-22 Raptor and F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. Our rocket engines send payloads into orbit at 20,000 miles per hour.”
Yang's financial compensation from Pratt & Whitney is unknown.
Eaton Corporation, a diversified manufacturer of various electronics systems and fluid power systems, is very much like United Technologies. A significant portion of Eaton’s own bottom line is dependent on sales to the military and other weapons manufacturing corporations. For example, Eaton supplies the Boeing-Lockheed Martin partnership with specialized hydralics components for the F-22 Raptor fighter jet, and various electrical components for Sikorsky’s military helicopters (Sikorsky, it should be noted, is owned by United Technologies, just like Pratt and Whitney). Eaton even produces specialized components such as the “digitally controlled hydraulic system” which powers Lockheed Martin’s multiple launch rocket system, a deadly Army weapons platform.
Space Industries International (SII, Inc.) was a Houston-based company that according to several sources was working on boosting the affordability of the commercial space operations for companies and non-state or military organizations. It is not known for how long Yang held an official position with SII, Inc. However, in 1993 the Calspan Corporation bought SII, Inc. and integrated the company into its aerospace and astronatics holdings. Calspan, interestingly enough was created through the privatization of the Cornell Aeronautical Laboratory in the early 1970s. Cornell Aeronautics Lab was the very same institution where Yang worked on his doctoral degree back in the late 1960s with Galllagher. The Aeronautics Lab was privatized and seperated from the University after years of student protests against the facility's contributions to the war against Vietnam. The Aeronautics Lab was among several major university centers of weapons research during this era that was severed from a campus after antiwar agitation (other included MIT's Draper Labs and Stanford's SRI). Chancellor Yang, therefore, is no stranger to student opposition of militarized science on campus.
Through a series of corporate mergers, SII, Inc. and Calspan would eventually be bought out by General Dynamic Corporation, but then in 2005 again sold to private investors. All the while Calspan acquired lucrative weapons design contracts including a 1997 order for “major transonic wind tunnel contract for Joint Strike Force (JSF) testing,” and in 1999 Calspan announced its “next-generation captive trajectory simulation (CTS) system [became] operational for transonic wind tunnel weapons integration testing.”
In 1996 Chancellor Yang was elected to the board of Allied Signal Corp. The Chairman of Allied Signal, Lawrence Bossidy, said of Yang’s appointment that his, “expertise in aerospace structures, structural dynamics and stability, composite materials and manufacturing will make him an especially valuable Board member as we strive to accelerate technological innovation in our businesses.” Allied Signal, a manufacturing company with products spanning many industries brought in Yang to boost its aerospace division which designs and builds products for both commercial and military customers. Yang was chair of Allied Signal's technology committee. Alongside him on this committee was nonother than Thomas Stafford, a former US Air Force Lieutenant General who is a major war and prisons profiteer, sitting on the boards of military-intelligence companies like Tracor, Inc., and prison operations companies like Wackenhut.
Allied Signal merged with Honeywell Corp. in 1999 and took on the latter's name. A diversified manufacturing company, major segments of Honeywell's business remains military aerospace. Chancellor Yang's seat on the board of directors expired around this time.
In 2004 Chancellor Yang was elected to the board of the American Axel & Manufacturing Inc. (AAM). AAM is one of the largest automotive corporations in the world with more than $3.2 billion in revune. Among other products, AAM builds the drive trains and chassis for General Motors Corporation’s SUVs, including the Hummer. Yang owns approximately of 5300 shares of stock in AAM. Chancelllor Yang remains on this board today.
In line with the reasons the Regents appointed Yang as Chancellor, he worked from his first day in office to bring military research funds onto campus, and to help UCSB form joint institutes and labs with military and industrial corporations. Two major accomplishments under Yang's administration would include the Army's Institute for Collaborative Biotechnologies, and the UCSB-Naval Post Graduate School cooperative National Security Institute.
The Army Industry Institute for Collaborative Biotechnologies was founded in 2003 with a $50 million grant from the military. At the ICB's 2008 conference in UCSB's Corwin Pavilion, Yang told his audience of military brass that, “we thank the army for your trust, for sharing your vision and guidance with us so that we can transform discoveries to the Army, to our men and women in uniform so they can do their jobs better.” Yang assured his military and industry guests that, “I have spent most of my life serving the armed forces and military.” Yang described for the ICB participants his enthusiasm for the transformations undertaken at UCSB by his administration over the past 14 years explaining that, “it has been a time of vigorous growth here at UCSB.... Our campus has 1000 faculty, 40% of them in the sciences and engineering.... Over the last ten years federal funding for research has doubled.”
Yang's description of UCSB's development over the past ten plus years relies much upon a boost in military research on campus, along with increases in industrial contractor funding. Vice Chancellor for Research, France A. Cordova described these increases in a 2000 memo circulated amongst UCSB's administration pointing to $20.2 million in military contracts through 1999: “Among DoD agencies, the largst contributors are the Navy ($9.5 million), the Air Force ($5.2 million), and the Army ($4.3 million)....”
ICB is just one of the most conspicuous military funded institutes or projects being funded by military agencies or military industrial corporations on UCSB's campus or in cooperation with the university.
In late 2007 Yang helped to establish another major linkage between UCSB and the military. The National Security Institute was created through a joint partnership between UCSB, the Naval Post Graduate School and the Lawrence Livermore National Labs. According to Cory Traux of the NPS:
“The three schools combined all have unique characteristics that contribute to the NSI mission of combining the scholarship and expertise of top scientific institutions in service to national security, and engaging top graduate students in vital defense and homeland-security, field experimentation, and interdisciplinary student projects. NPS focuses on defense and national-security technologies and graduate education, UCSB houses eight national centers and institutes with a top-twenty engineering school, five Noble laureates, and substantial deferral funding in critical research, and LLNL is one of the nations foremost applied science and engineering laboratories.”
Yang traveled to Monterry for the inauggeral celebration of the school's founding. NSI's mission as explained on its web site explains that it primarily exists to channel graduate students into fields of interests for the military establishment, fields such as “electronic warfare systems,” “directed energy systems,” “persistent surveillance,” and “regional studies.” Gene Lucas, a UCSB Vice Chancellor sits on the executive committee of the NSI.
Conclusion: What kind of university do we want?
Chancellor Yang's administartion has promoted military-industrial sciences and engineering at UCSB through multiple avenues. Yang has promoted principle research relationships, large institutes like the ICB, cooperative institutes such as the NSI, and Yang has tacitly supported UC's management of the Los Alamos and Lawrence Livermore nuclear weapons labs. Yang's administration has exploited the national system of science funding, and the continuing trend among universities to become more and more subservient to the needs of corporations and the state. Yang's biography demonstrates that he has uncritically supported the systematic militarization of universities since his early days as a graduate student at Cornell, through his Chancellorship of UCSB. As a corporate director at many of the companies that benefit of the militarization and corporatization of higher education, the lines betweens Yang's role as a university executive and corporate executive have become blurred.
This record begs the question: what kind of universtiy do we want? Does an adminstration that not only accepts but actively fosters greater linkages between the school and military and corporations serve in the best interests of other publics besides the state and capital?