Remembering Walter Cronkite
The following is a statement by Arden L. Bement, Jr., Director, National Science Foundation.
As the funeral for Walter Cronkite is held today in New York, we at the National Science Foundation want to add our voices to the many others who have saluted the veteran journalist and broadcaster. As the anchor of the CBS Evening News from 1961 and managing editor from 1963 until he retired in 1981, Cronkite brought the news of the world into our homes, often during turbulent times in America's history. He was the one who told many of us of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Much has been said and written about the impact of Cronkite's extensive reporting on Civil Rights, the country's involvement in Vietnam, the Watergate scandal that led to the resignation of President Richard M. Nixon, and, of course, America's daring journey into space and landing on the moon.
Cronkite's enthusiasm for science extended beyond aeronautics and space. In 1982, he accompanied marine biologists aboard the Alvin on a deep-sea dive off the coast of Mexico. In 2000, he remembered the adventure in the foreword for America's Investment in the Future, a book NSF published to mark the agency's 50th anniversary. He began: "It may seem ironic that I--a man who failed first-year physics at the University of Texas--am writing the foreword to a book about the National Science Foundation." The admitted non-scientist went on to commend NSF for funding the "kind of exploratory research that quietly plants seeds today that make headlines tomorrow." And, he expressed appreciation for the years of trial and error, experimentation and analysis put forth by men and women dedicated to bringing about a better understanding of the world around us.
Cronkite took news seriously, and for him, news included science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The person many people called "the most trusted man in America" provided a remarkable example of how to communicate science broadly.
Our thoughts are with his family and friends.
The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering. In fiscal year (FY) 2016, its budget is $7.5 billion. NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and other institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 48,000 competitive proposals for funding and makes about 12,000 new funding awards. NSF also awards about $626 million in professional and service contracts yearly.
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