In Memoriam: Melvin A. Conant


In Memorium, December 11, 2003, of Honorary Trustee Melvin A. Conant of Lusby, Maryland after a long illness at age 79.

A WHOI Associate since 1965, Mel Conant had a long association with the Institution. He was elected a Member of the Corporation in 1966 and a Trustee in 1968, and served on numerous committees through the years including the Executive Committee, Finance and Budget, Audit, Development, and Nominating Committees. At the time of his death he was a member of the Ships Committee. He also served as chair of the Geology and Geophysics Department Visiting Committee in 1968, and was a member of the Marine Policy and Ocean Management Senior Advisors Committee from 1982 to 1986, serving as chair of that committee from 1982 to 1985.

Melvin A. Conant was born March 20, 1924. He graduated from Harvard with a bachelor’s degree in international law and diplomacy in 1949 and a master’s degree in far eastern studies in 1951. From 1961 to 1973 he worked for Exxon Corporation as a regional political advisor for the firm’s interests in East Africa, Asia, the Far East and Australia, and later as senior government relations counselor for Europe, the Middle East and Asia. He was a US oil advisor at Law of the Sea Conferences in 1972, 1973 and 1977, and subsequently helped found the Council on Ocean Law.

In 1973, Mel Conant was invited to help create the International Energy Affairs branch of the Federal Energy Administration. He was nominated by President Ford to be Assistant Administrator, was approved, and held the position for several years. In 1976 he founded the Washington, DC consulting firm Conant and Associates, Ltd., which he led as President and Director. In that role he served as an advisor to government and industry on the political aspects of international energy issues, and was editor and publisher of the monthly international report Geopolitics of Energy.

Mel Conant wrote widely on energy-related issues and foreign policy. He is the author of Oil and Security, Access to Energy, and The Oil Factor in US Foreign Policy 1980-1990. He also served as editor of Oil Strategy and Politics, 1941-1981, a collection of the papers of Walter J. Levy.

During his career Mel Conant also served as executive staff member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and was Professor of International Security Affairs at the National War College. He was a member of the Institute for Strategic Studies, the Royal United Services Institution for Defense Studies in London, the Council on Foreign Relations, and the Harvard University Visiting Committee for Astronomy and Astrophysics. He was Chairman of the Advisory Committee of the School of Advanced International Studies International Energy Program at The Johns Hopkins University.

A memorial service will be held January 1, 2004, at 2:30 p.m. at Calvert Marine Museum, 14200 Solomons Island Road, Solomons, MD 20688.


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