Samuel Bodman, MIT Corporation member and former U.S. Secretary of Energy, dies at 79

George W. Bush: ‘I am proud that he was my friend’

Samuel Bodman ScD ’65, a member of the MIT Corporation and former U.S. Secretary of Energy, died Sept. 7 in El Paso, Texas after a long battle with primary progressive aphasia. He was 79.

After receiving a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from Cornell University, Bodman joined the MIT community, completing a ScD degree in the same field in 1965, according to biographical information compiled by the White House archives. Shortly afterwards, he served as an associate professor of chemical engineering at MIT.

He followed his work in education with a career in finance. In 1983, he because the president and chief operating officer of Fidelity Investments. Five years later, he joined Cabot Corporation, a specialized chemicals company, and served as chief executive officer and director.

Bodman was confirmed unanimously by the U.S. Senate to the position of Secretary of Energy under the George W. Bush administration in 2004. As leader of the Department of Energy, he oversaw security issues at the Los Alamos National Laboratory and managed a budget of over $23 billion.

“Sam Bodman has shown himself to be a problem solver who knows how to set goals, and he knows how to reach them,” George W. Bush said in his 2004 remarks on Bodman’s nomination.

Bush also wrote in a statement released Sept. 7, “Sam had a brilliant mind, and [Laura] and I are fortunate that he put his intellect to work for our country as Secretary of Energy. I am proud that he was a member of my Cabinet, and I am proud that he was my friend."

Along with his nomination to the office of U.S. Secretary of Energy, Bodman also served as the Deputy Secretary of the Treasury and the Deputy Secretary of Commerce.

He later became a member of the MIT Corporation, serving on the Executive and Investment Committees, before being granted the title of life member emeritus.

“Sam led an extraordinary life of leadership and service in business, academia, and government. MIT was the very fortunate beneficiary of his time, talent, and wisdom in so many different capacities over the years. We are saddened by his loss but grateful for his impact on the Institute and well beyond,” Robert Millard, chair of the MIT Corporation, told MIT News.

Bodman is survived by his wife, M. Diane Bodman, three children, Elizabeth Mott, Sarah Greenhill, and Andrew Bodman, and two step-children, Perry Barber and Caroline Green.

“He loved MIT. He thought it was the finest institution in the world of its kind. He felt MIT really changed his life,” Ms. Bodman told MIT News.