1938 – 2013
John Paul McTague, a distinguished scientist who impacted the world of science in research, academia, industry and government, died on Friday, June 7, 2013 at the age of 74 at his home in Montecito, California.
John McTague graduated from Xavier High School in New York, NY. Growing up in Jersey City, he met and married Carole Frances Reilly, to whom he was married 35 years when she passed in 1997.
A physical chemist, John McTague received his undergraduate degree with honors in chemistry from Georgetown University in 1960 and his Ph.D. from Brown University in 1964. Brown also bestowed on him an honorary Sc.D. in 1997
He was a technical staff member at North American Rockwell Center from 1964 to 1974 and a professor of chemistry and a member of the Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics at UCLA from 1970 to 1982. There and at Riso and Brookhaven National Laboratories, he led experiments in the structure and dynamics of condensed phases. He then became the first chair of the National Synchrotron Light Source Department at Brookhaven National Laboratory.
Following his position as Chair of the National Synchrotron Light Source, he was appointed as Deputy Director then Acting Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy under President Reagan.
He then joined Ford Motor Company in 1986 as Vice President of Research and then Vice President of Technical Affairs until his retirement from Ford in 1999. He was a founder of cooperative automotive research efforts, including USCAR and the Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles. During the first Bush Administration, he was a member of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, and U.S. chair of the U.S.-Japan High Level Advisory Panel on Science and Technology. Dr. McTague was founding co-chair of the Department of Energy’s Laboratory Operations Board, and a member of the Secretary of Energy Advisory Board from its inception in 1990 through 2000.
In 1992, he was a founding member of the University of California President’s Council on the National Laboratories and was the first chair man of the council’s Technology Transfer Panel, serving on both until 1995. From 1994 to 1999, he was also chairman of the Fermilab Board of Overseers.
He was a member of the National Academy of Engineering and a fellow of the American Physical Society and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He has received Alfred P. Sloan, John Simon Guggenheim, and NATO Senior Fellowships, as well as the California Section Award of the American Chemical Society. In 1998 the American Physical Society honored him with the Pake Prize “For insightful experiments and contributions…for major contributions in management of science in government, national laboratories, and industry; and for championing new paradigms for collaboration, such as the Partnership for New Generation Vehicles.”
In 1999 he was the honored recipient of the Glenn T. Seaborg Medal at UCLA for his achievements in academia, government and industry and for significant contributions to chemistry and biochemistry. At that time, McTague announced the endowment of the Reiss Chair, which honors another UCLA professor and also established the John P. McTague Career Development Chair at UCLA, which supports outstanding junior faculty in UCLA’s Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. McTague said “When I was a professor at UCLA, the department was very supportive. There was a great sense of collegiality, of community. Helping to bring in and nurture younger members of the community, early in their careers, has more leverage than other ways of giving support,” says McTague. “I saw this as an opportunity to say thank you, and to help a superb public university stay competitive with private schools and preserve the excellence of faculty and students.”
In his later career years, McTague served as vice president of laboratory management for the University of California, Office of the President, and then as a Professor Emeritus of Materials at the University of California, Santa Barbara.
In retirement John McTague continued to enjoy his favorite things: his family and travel. In this leisure time he ventured to Antarctica, Dubai, Egypt, Bali and favorite places like New York City. His children and grandchildren were the most important things to him; he created a legacy of bringing the whole family together for vacations in Barbados and creating great family memories.
John McTague is survived by his four children; son, Kevin (Christine) McTague of Santa Barbara, CA; daughter, Catherine (Douglas) Bregenzer of San Anselmo, CA; daughter, Margaret (Daniel) McCreary of East Longmeadow, MA; and daughter, Maureen (Mark) Sandoval of Orinda, CA; along with nine grandchildren and his sister Mary (Andrew) Dempsey of Hilton Head, SC.
The family will hold a private memorial in late June. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to The John P. McTague Career Development Chair Endowment in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at UCLA. Checks may be made payable to the UCLA Foundation, noting Fund Number 8986 in the check memo line. Please direct donations to:
Kerri Yoder, Director of Development
Division of Physical Sciences
UCLA College of Letters & Science
1309 Murphy Hall
P.O. Box 951413
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1413