Born in St. Louis on September 16, 1923, Robert C. Wood graduated from Princeton in 1946, Phi Beta Kappa, after serving with the army in WWII during which he was awarded the Bronze Star. He received his master's degree in 1947 and his M.B.A. the following year, both from Harvard. In 1950, Harvard granted him his Ph.D. Wood served as Associate Director of the Florida Legislative Reference Bureau from 1949-1951, moving on to the federal government to act as a management organization expert for the Bureau of the Budget from 1951-1953. He returned to Harvard in 1953 to become an assistant professor of government until 1957. Wood then joined the faculty of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology as a professor in the political science department, serving as head of the department in 1965-66. Wood went back to Washington D.C. in 1966 to become undersecretary in the Department of Housing and Urban Development. He was appointed Secretary in 1969. When his term expired, Wood reassumed his position of head of MIT's Political Science Department along with serving as Director of the Harvard-MIT Joint Center for Urban Studies, and chairman of the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority Advisory Board, all during 1969-1970.
Dr. Wood was appointed President in 1970 by the Board of Trustees, serving until 1977, when he resigned. Late in 1977, Wood was appointed Superintendent of the Boston Public Schools. He was the author of six books, including Suburbia: Its People and Their Politics.