At a Glance
- Career History: Dean and professor of public policy at the University of California, Berkeley's Goldman School of Public Policy (1998-2008); Dean and professor at the University of Maryland, College Park's School of Public Affairs (1984-1998); Assistant director for strategic and Eurasian affairs at the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, Washington D.C. (1994-1997); Various positions at Harvard University, Cambridge, MA (1973-1984)
- Birthday: 1942
- Hometown: New York City, New York
- Alma Mater: Columbia University, Ph.D. in political science, 1973; New School for Social Research, M.A. in political science, 1970; New York University, M.S. in operations research, 1969; Case Western Reserve University, M.S. in statistics, 1966; New York University, B.S. in aeronautics and astronautics, 1963
Path to Power
A New York City native with grandparents hailing from Romania and Lithuania, Nacht attended public schools as a youth then studied aeronautical engineering at New York University.
He graduated in 1963 at the relatively young age of 20, then moved to Ohio to work at a NASA lab outside Cleveland as an aerospace engineer. Speaking of his time with NASA, where he worked on the stability of launch vehicles, Nacht told a Berkeley alumni newspaper: "I was one little ant in the army that put a man on the moon by the end of the 1960s."
Nacht's Pentagon office for global strategic affairs is emblematic of the U.S. shift from reactive, post-9/11 policy to more long-term strategy for countering current and future emerging threats. Enhanced cybersecurity, more mature missile-defense systems and improved readiness for chemical and biological warfare are among some of the department's goals.
Weapons of Mass Destruction
Among numerous security challenges, the issue of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) continues to be a daunting priority.
Nacht served in Bill Clinton's first administration, and has likely reunited with others from that era now back in government as Obama appointees. He also shares a Harvard Kennedy School background with others currently at the Defense Department, including Ashton Carter, now under secretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, and James N. Miller, the principal deputy under secretary for policy.
Nacht has regularly rooted for Democrats over the years, supporting Bill Clinton with $1,000 in 1996 and John Kerry in his 2004 bid for president with two donations of $1,000 each. In 2006, he gave $1,000 in support of Harris N. Miller's unsuccessful attempt to become a Virginia senator, and pledged at least $4,600 in three donations to Barack Obama's presidential run in 2007 and 2008.