President Eisenhower last night announced to the nation the appointment of M.I.T. President James R. Killian as his first Special Assistant for Science and Technology.
Julius A. Stratton, Chancellor of M.I.T., will take over as acting President. The new advisor to President Eisenhower expects to be in Washington by next week, and will be on an indefinite leave of absence from M.I.T.
"He is a man who rates my full confidence," Eisenhower said last night. He stated that Killian would have "full authority" in his field, and will be directly responsible to the Secretary of Defense.
The Special Assistant's first task will be to recruit a "very strong" scientific advisory group which has been described as an "essential part" of Eisenhower's revamping of the nation's scientific defense setup.
Conant Possible Advisor
President emeritus James B. Conant was among those widely suggested for one of the advisory posts. However, Killian stated last night that any such suggestion is "premature," and indicated that he had not yet made any selection for the group.
Because of the uniqueness of his post, Killian refused to comment on any future policies or actions. He said that "my first responsibility is to make myself available as promptly as possible to carry out the instructions and desires of the President." He would not make any statement on a possible "crash program" for the development of atomic missiles.
Among the other tasks facing Killian are recruitment of top-level scientists for government work, and the problem of intra-service rivalries. He is expected to be given a key role in the formulation of national technological defense policies.
Killian's effectiveness in his new post will be largely determined by the amount of governmental access he is granted, and by the budgetary limits which are set on his work.
However, according to Edward L. Katzenbach, Jr., Director of the Harvard Defense Studies Program, "a man of Mr. Killian's stature would not have accepted the post if he were not assured of strong support."