Cordova to be Nominated as Next NSF Director

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Publication date: 
22 August 2013

The White House announced that President Obama will nominate France Anne Cordova to become the next director of the National Science Foundation.  The term for this position is six years.

Cordova has served in a broad range of scientific and academic positions.  She is currently the chair of the Smithsonian Institution’s 17-member Board of Regents.  Cordova completed a five year term as the president of Purdue University in July 2012.  She has held positions at Los Alamos National Laboratory, Pennsylvania State University, NASA (serving as Chief Scientist), and two campuses of the University of California. 

Cordova has been a member of National Science Board since 2008 and chairs its Committee on Strategy and Budget.  The Board’s website explains:

“The National Science Foundation Act of 1950, which created the NSF, states that: ‘The Foundation shall consist of a National Science Board ... and a Director.’ Jointly the Board and the Director pursue the goals and function of the NSF, including the duty to ‘recommend and encourage the pursuit of national policies for the promotion of research and education in science and engineering.’”

In addition, the web site states the Board:

“establishes the policies of NSF within the framework of applicable national policies set forth by the President and the Congress. In this capacity, the Board identifies issues that are critical to NSF's future, approves NSF's strategic budget directions and the annual budget submission to the Office of Management and Budget, and approves new major programs and awards.”

Cordova has a bachelor’s degree in English from Stanford University and a PhD in Physics from the California Institute of Technology.

The former director of NSF was Subra Suresh who resigned in early 2013 to become the president of Carnegie Mellon University. 

Cordova’s nomination, announced on July 31, will be the subject of a hearing this fall by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. The committee is chaired by Tom Harkin (D-IA); Lamar Alexander (R-TN) is the Ranking Member.  Suresh was nominated on June 8, 2010, and became NSF director after the committee approved his nomination and the full Senate confirmed it on October 18, 2010.    

The committee has not announced a date for this fall’s hearing.

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