SAN DIEGO (AP) - Herbert York, founding chancellor of the University of California, San Diego, and a world-renowned physicist who worked on the development of the atomic bomb, has died of leukemia. He was 87.
He died Tuesday at Thornton Hospital in San Diego, said university spokesman Paul Mueller on Thursday.
The San Diego campus was founded in 1961, and York resigned as chancellor in 1964 to join the physics faculty. He later became chairman of the physics department and dean of graduate studies, and served as interim chancellor from 1970 to 1972.
"Herb was not only a leader of UC San Diego, he also was a world leader and had a global impact," current Chancellor Marye Anne Fox said in a statement. "Herb York made this campus and this world a better place. We will forever be grateful for his leadership and vision."
York was working for the University of California Radiation Laboratory in Berkeley during World War II when he was recruited to help develop the Manhattan Project, which designed the atomic bomb.
In the 1950s, as director of the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory, he oversaw research that led to the development of the hydrogen bomb.
York praised the Manhattan Project's work, saying, "Not only did we complete the project, we ended the war," but he later came to be a leading proponent of nuclear arms control.
"There is no such thing as a good nuclear weapons system," he told the Los Angeles Times in 1983. "There is no way to achieve, in the sound sense, national security through nuclear weapons."
In that year, he founded the Institute On Global Conflict and Cooperation on the San Diego campus, studying conflict resolution and promoting efforts to avoid war. He became its director emeritus in 1989.
An arms adviser to several presidents, he was the chief U.S. negotiator during talks with the Soviet Union in the 1970s and early '80s to ban nuclear weapons testing.
York earned bachelor's and master's degrees in physics from the University of Rochester before receiving his doctorate from the University of California, Berkeley.
He is survived by his wife, Sybil, two daughters and a son.
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.