John Calhoun

Location of Interview
Collection Name

UCAR/NCAR Oral History Collection


The NCAR/UCAR Oral History Project documents the history of NCAR/UCAR through interviews, recorded discussions, and lectures by staff and others.  The project initially had a strong focus on the creation and   development of NCAR, including the design and construction of the Mesa Laboratory headquarters by I.M. Pei. Over the years, the project has expanded to include a wider range of topics and experiences within NCAR/UCAR history.

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Date of Interview
Biographical Sketch

Dr. John C. Calhoun was one of the early pioneers and contributors to UCAR/NCAR development. Calhoun became acquainted with UCAR and a plan for developing a national program (the “Blue Book”) while at Texas A&M University in an administrative role. Although Calhoun did not have a background in the atmospheric sciences, he brought valuable institutional perspective, experience in program development and organizational management to the table. Calhoun talks extensively about those early days when selecting a director, a building site for the national center and an architect was of the utmost importance. Calhoun provides insight into the UCAR/NCAR relationship, how it developed in the early years and evolved over time. Calhoun talks about how the establishment of UCAR/NCAR advanced university activities and fostered education in the atmospheric sciences. There is a collegiality in the atmospheric sciences community that is much stronger today, which Calhoun partially credits to UCAR/NCAR. Calhoun also believes that UCAR/NCAR made the presence of special facilities, like the National Balloon Facility, more feasible. The interview ends with some personal anecdotes about Calhoun’s family origin, early life, education, background in petroleum engineering, professional positions and his family.

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