Three Californians with UC ties receive presidential medals of freedom
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory director emeritus Edward Teller, legendary UCLA basketball coach John Wooden and UCLA professor emeritus James Q. Wilson receive nation's highest civilian honor
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- President Bush presented the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor, to three Californians with ties to the University of California in a White House ceremony Wednesday (July 23).
The honorees, each of whom enjoyed distinguished careers at UC, were Edward Teller, a physicist who played a key role in establishing the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory; John Wooden, the legendary "Wizard of Westwood" whose UCLA basketball teams won 10 national titles; and James Q. Wilson, an influential leader in public policy.
Along with nine other award recipients, including master chef Julia Child, Academy Award winning actor Charlton Heston, and former president of the Czech Republic Vaclav Havel, Teller, Wooden and Wilson were recognized during the ceremony for their exceptional meritorious service to the nation.
"These three individuals have made significant contributions to the University of California and the nation," said UC President Richard C. Atkinson. "Their remarkable work, their tremendous commitment to higher education and their relentless pursuit of excellence make them most deserving of this high honor."
Edward Teller, 95, is director emeritus of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, having been instrumental in establishing the laboratory and serving as its director from 1958-1960. Teller worked as a physicist at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico during the Manhattan Project and later became the laboratory's assistant director. Teller continues to work on national defense related issues and is credited with advancing the concept of submarine-launched nuclear missiles.
John Wooden, 93, who led the UCLA men's basketball program from 1948 to 1975, coached the Bruins to 10 NCAA championships, 16 conference championships and a 620-147 record. Wooden holds the NCAA's all-time consecutive win streak record of 88 straight games compiled over four seasons (1970-74). Wooden is the only coach to compile four undefeated seasons of 30-0 and the only person to be inducted into the basketball hall of fame as both a player and coach
James Q. Wilson, 72, is professor emeritus at the Anderson School of Management at UCLA where he also held a joint faculty appointment in the political science department. Wilson, the author or coauthor of 15 books, has earned a reputation as a criminologist, economist, and political analyst. He is the author of American Government, Thinking About Crime, Varieties of Police Behavior, as well as his most recent, The Moral Sense. He has been elected a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a fellow of the American Philosophical Society.
The Presidential Medal of Freedom was first established in 1945 by President Truman to recognize notable service in the war. It was reintroduced in 1963 by President Kennedy to honor distinguished civilian service in peacetime. Past recipients include educators, diplomats, authors, scientists, and business executives.
Chartered in 1868, the University of California includes 10 campuses and three national laboratories that are managed by UC on behalf of the Department of Energy. UC enrolls more than 197,000 undergraduates and graduate students and employs more than 160,000 faculty and staff.
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