Military Wiki
Donald B. Rice
17th Secretary of the Air Force

In office
May 22, 1989 – January 20, 1993
President George H.W. Bush
Preceded by Edward C. Aldridge Jr.
Succeeded by Sheila Widnall
Personal details
Born June 4, 1939(1939-06-04) (age 83)
Frederick, Maryland, USA
Political party Republican

Donald Blessing Rice (born Frederick, Maryland, June 4, 1939) is a California businessman and senior government official. He has been president and chief executive officer of several large companies including RAND Corporation, and has sat on numerous boards of directors, including Wells Fargo & Company. Rice also served as the seventeenth Secretary of the Air Force, 1989–93.

Early life

Rice was born in 1939 in Frederick, Maryland, the son of Donald B. Rice, Sr., and Mary C. Rice. His father operated a service station, and later started a tire business, eventually becoming mayor of Frederick, while his mother kept the books for the family business. Both parents stressed the need for a good education. Business, public service and education were all important influences on Rice as he grew up.[1]

Rice earned a BS degree in chemical engineering from the University of Notre Dame, a MS in industrial management from Purdue University, and a Ph.D in economics also from Purdue University. He was commissioned a second lieutenant in the United States Army Ordnance Corps upon graduation in June 1961. On August 25, 1962, Rice married Susan Fitzgerald. The couple are the parents of three sons, Donald B. Rice III, Joseph J. Rice, and Matthew F. Rice.

Public service

From 1965 to 1967, he served on active duty[citation needed] as a lieutenant and then captain of ordnance. During that time, he was assistant professor of management and acting deputy director for academics at the Navy Management Systems Center in the Naval Postgraduate School at Monterey, California. While on active duty, he earned a master's degree in industrial management from Purdue University in 1962, and then a doctorate in economics in 1965 also from Purdue.[2]

In 1967, Rice became director of cost analysis in the Office of the Secretary of Defense in Washington, D.C. Two years later, he was appointed as deputy assistant secretary of defense for resource analysis where he was responsible for cost analysis, manpower and logistics requirements, and budget planning for defense programs. From 1970 to 1972, he served as assistant director in the Office of Management and Budget. In this position, he managed Federal Government budget activities for agriculture, atomic energy, commerce, energy, environment, natural resources, public works, science and technology, space, and transportation.[2]

In 1972, Rice became president and chief executive officer of RAND Corporation, an independent, nonprofit, public service think tank in Santa Monica, California. RAND conducts research and strategic analysis on national security issues and offers doctoral degree programs in several fields of public policy. During this time, Rice also serve as chairman of the National Commission on Supplies and Shortages and two terms on the National Science Board. At the request of President Ronald Reagan, he directed a comprehensive study of the resources management process within the United States Department of Defense.[2]

He remained at RAND until May 1989 when President George H. W. Bush appointed him Secretary of the Air Force. As the Air Force Secretary, Rice reorganized the Air Force and reduced its budget. The first Gulf War, also known as "Desert Storm", was fought while he was Secretary. Rice served for four years, from May 22, 1989, until he left the Department of the Air Force on January 20, 1993.[3]

Rice has been president of the Institute of Management Sciences, a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Economic Association and the United States Commission on National Security in the 21st century, and a fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration.

Active in Republican politics, he has been a member of McCain 2000, George W. Bush for President, Bush-Cheney '04, John McCain 2008, the National Republican Congressional Committee, and the National Republican Senatorial Committee.


After he left the Air Force, Rice became president and chief operating officer of Teledyne in March 1993, serving until August 1996. He left Teledyne to become president and chief executive officer of Agensys Corporation, a Santa Monica based biotechnology company. In 2002, he became chairman of the Agensys board of directors.[4]

Rice has served on numerous corporate boards. These include Chevron Corporation, Johnson & Johnson, Pacific Enterprises, Scios, Teledyne, Wells Fargo & Company, Unocal, Amgen, and Vulcan Materials Company. He was chairman of the board of directors of Scios from 1998 until its sale to Johnson & Johnson in 2003. Rice is a member of RAND board of trustees, and chairman of the board of governors for RAND’s Pardee Graduate School. He is also a member of the equipment advisory committee for the PGA Tour.


Rice has received five honorary doctorates degrees. His first honorary degree was a doctorate in Engineering from Notre Dame in 1975; his second, in Management, was from Purdue in 1985; he received a third, in Laws, from Pepperdine in 1989; the fourth, was in Humane Letters, from West Coast University in 1993; and the most recent, in Public Policy, from the RAND graduate school in 1995.[4]

In 1999, Rice received the Wanner Award from the Military Operations Research Society. Other awards include the Citation Award from the University of California at Los Angeles School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, the Air Force Association’s Symington Award, and the Jaycees’ Ten Outstanding Young Men recognition. He is a Ford Foundation doctoral fellow. Rice was also awarded Distinguished Civilian Service Medal and the Meritorious Service Medal from the Secretary of the Defense.[4]


  1. Darmiento, Laurence, "Engineered for Success", Los Angeles Business Journal, Los Angeles, California, July 30, 2001.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 United States Air Force military biography, "Dr. Donald B. Rice", U.S. Air Force Public Affairs Office, Washington, DC, February 8, 2008.
  3. Nalty, Bernard C. (General Editor), Winged Shield Winged Sword A History of the United States Air Force, Volume II 1950–1997, U.S> Air Force History Office, Washington, D.C., 1997, p. 540.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 "Chairman, President, CEO Agensys, Inc.", Board of Directors, Wells Fargo & Company, San Francisco, California, 2008.

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