CORVALLIS, Oregon – Richard “Rick” Spinrad, professor at Oregon State University and former OSU vice president for research, has been confirmed by the United States Senate as deputy secretary of the Department American Commerce and Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
President Joe Biden nominated Spinrad for the post in April and the Senate confirmed his nomination by voice vote on June 17. Spinrad previously served as NOAA’s chief scientist from 2014-2016 during the Obama administration.
Spinrad is the third person from Oregon State University to lead NOAA, the federal science agency whose mission is to understand and predict climate, weather, ocean and coastal changes and to conserve and manage coastal and marine resources.
Former OSU President John Byrne served as a director of NOAA under the Reagan administration from 1981 to 1984. Distinguished OSU professor Jane Lubchenco led NOAA under the Obama administration from 1981 to 1984. 2009 to 2013. Lubchenco recently accepted an appointment within the Biden administration as the new deputy director. of Climate and Environment at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.
“I am honored to follow in the footsteps of such revered Oregon Staters like John Byrne and Jane Lubchenco,” Spinrad said. “My experiences as an OSU graduate student and senior administrator have provided me with important tools that will guide me in my leadership of our country’s environmental agency.”
Spinrad is an internationally renowned scientist and executive with over 35 years of experience who served four years as OSU’s Vice President for Research before stepping down in 2014 to serve as Chief Scientist of NOAA .
During his tenure at OSU’s research office, Spinrad led the launch of the Oregon State University Advantage, designed to strengthen the university’s impact on job creation and economic advancement in the Oregon and beyond.
Spinrad, a resident near Sisters in central Oregon, returned to OSU in 2016 as Professor of Oceanography at the College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences and Senior Advisor to the Vice President for Research , where his responsibilities included a focus on funding the PacWave wave energy test site project off the coast of Oregon. He resigned from that role to take on the NOAA post.
Prior to coming to OSU, Spinrad was Assistant Administrator for Research at NOAA. He was also a research director for the US Navy; taught oceanography at two universities; ran a large national non-profit organization; was president of a private company; and worked as a scientific researcher.
He is the recipient of the Presidential Rank Awards of Presidents George W. Bush and Barack H. Obama. Spinrad is the past president of the Oceanography Society and the Marine Technology Society. He is a fellow of the American Meteorological Society, MTS, and the Institute of Marine Engineering, Science and Technology.
Spinrad obtained his Masters and Doctorate in Oceanography from OSU.