Don E. Kash, 59BA, 60MA, 63PhD, is a pivotal adviser behind the scenes in a rapidly unfolding drama of critical importance to the future of this nation and the world—the interaction of technology with government policy. Over the past 20 years, Dr. Kash's expertise has had a major impact on several emergent issues in this area, particularly with regard to U. S. energy policy.
The public servant aspect of Dr. Kash's distinguished career was perhaps most visible during the second half of the Carter Administration when he was chief of the U. S. Geological Survey's Conservation Division. At a time when OPEC and events in Iran were making clear magnitude of the challenge to U.S. energy independence, Kash led a major reorganization and expansion of his division and helped restructure US policy concerning offshore oil resources.
There were sound reasons for Dr. Kash's presence at the center of the controversy surrounding the energy crisis of the 1970s. Prior to his appointment with the Geological Survey, he had been adviser to various congressional committees forging legislation concerned with using the oil reserves of the continental shelf. As chief of the conservation division, he was effectively administering the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act that he had helped write.
Born in Macedonia, Iowa, Dr. Kash earned all three of his degrees from the University of Iowa. Since the early 1960s, he has held various faculty positions at Texas Technological University, Arizona State University, the University of Missouri at Kansas City, and the universities of Purdue, Indiana, and Oklahoma. He is currently the George Lynn Cross Research Professor of Political Science and a research fellow in the Science and Public Policy Program at the University of Oklahoma.
Dr. Kash has published extensively—seven books, more than 20 articles, and numerous reports and papers—primarily focusing on energy policy. Two of his books, Energy Under the Oceans and North Sea Oil and Gas, drew considerable official attention after the oil embargo of 1973 and triggered his public service career. The first of these works—originally prepared for the National Science Foundation—became a model for the newly created Office of Technology Assessment (OTA) when it was determining how to perform its advisory function to the U. S. Congress.
Dr. Kash has since chaired or been a key member of several committees and panels of the OTA, the National Research Council, and the National Science Foundation. His work for the NRC—a policy making body charged determining federal support for scientific research—includes chairmanship of the Cross-Disciplinary Engineering Research Committee. That committee is largely responsible for developing engineering research centers aimed at making the US more competitive internationally.
The range of Dr. Kash's contributions as assessor and adviser for policymakers is astounding. In his OTA work alone, he has assessed the feasibility of greater use of national coal reserves, oil and gas technologies for the Arctic and deepwater, alternative energy policies' effects on maritime environments, airport system development, and technologies to control illegal drug smuggling. Colleagues attribute his brilliance on such diverse topics to a fierce intellectual independence and willingness to examine issues from unconventional perspectives.
Currently at work on a study of policymaking in the technological society, entitled—The Synthetic Society, Dr. Kash continues his inimitable leadership in an increasingly crucial, interdisciplinary field of endeavor.