IN this issue of Science & Technology Review, we pay tribute to the distinguished career of Roger Batzel, Lawrence Livermore's sixth director and one of its most respected scientists and leaders. Roger embodied the best attributes of a national laboratory director-rigorous scientific training and broad technical know-how combined with a talent for administering and a superb people sense.|
During Roger's directorship, from 1971 to 1988, the Laboratory thrived and expanded. Dozens of new office buildings, laboratories, and research facilities were erected. Biomedical, energy, and environmental programs blossomed. And laser science grew dramatically with the dedication of the Shiva and Nova lasers.
Despite the Laboratory's substantial diversification, Roger kept our main focus on strengthening the nation's forces for nuclear deterrence. Weapons research ranged from the more traditional design and testing of nuclear devices to the pursuit of strategic defense technologies.
Through it all, Roger was a steadying influence. His level-headedness, integrity, and sound judgment earned him the respect and affection of employees. He had a particular genius for choosing the right leaders for the Laboratory's major research efforts and supporting them in attaining the resources they needed to succeed.
I consider myself fortunate to have worked at the Laboratory under Roger's leadership for more than two decades. One of the most important things I observed was that Roger was always looking ahead to assure a vigorous Laboratory far into the future. For example, he appointed Associate Director-at-Large Carl Haussmann and former Laboratory Director Mike May to head long-range planning at the Laboratory. Together, Roger, Mike, and Carl set the course for Laboratory research programs into the 1990s and the new century.
Roger's reputation shone brightly in Washington, DC, where people trusted his plain-speaking advice and counsel. Over the years, he advised presidents, senators, Pentagon generals, and leaders of the Atomic Energy Commission and its successors, the Energy Research and Development Agency and the Department of Energy.|
Roger's contributions did not start with his directorship nor did they end with it. He joined the Laboratory in 1953, a year after it began operation, and quickly made a name for himself in the Chemistry Department as an able scientist. His managerial talents soon became evident, and he assumed increasingly responsible positions in nuclear testing, space reactors, and biomedicine as well as chemistry.
When he stepped down as director, he was named associate director-at-large, a post that gave him significant responsibility in the Laboratory's national security and intelligence programs. When I became director in 1994, I found Roger a ready resource of knowledge, experience, and well-reasoned judgment.
As was plainly evident from the eloquent words spoken at a memorial service at the Laboratory last September, some two months after his death, Roger will be sorely missed. His style was much different from that of E. O. Lawrence, but he, too, will be remembered as an outstanding leader.