Dr. Joseph Bordogna
Chief Operating Officer
NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION
Symposium on Broadening the Scientific and
Technological Workforce for the New
Millennium through Mentoring
September 7, 2000
Good morning and congratulations to the awardees.
Although a public servant should not express preferences
for specific events I'm going to break that rule.
The mentoring awards ceremony is my favorite event.
In life, all of us want to do something that truly
matters. Your work as mentors in science, mathematics,
and engineering puts you right in the center of what
matters. It matters to the individuals you guide and
the society that will benefit. That's as good as it
gets. The excellence with which you perform that task
is our reason to celebrate and honor you.
I am refreshed and inspired to be in your presence.
Mentors have impelled my life and career. Wonderful
people have helped me set sound direction and then
supported me to reach well beyond what I thought I
could grasp... or even knew was there to be grasped.
I am energized just by the opportunity to talk about
mentoring. I am passionate about the value and importance
of helping others, especially students, reach their
full potential to enrich society. In enriching all
of us, they best enrich themselves.
The strength of our democracy has rested from the start
on the principle that we are a land of opportunity
enabled by an extraordinarily diverse workforce. But
in our technologically sophisticated society, fast-paced
change often causes the most expansive opportunities
to be out-of-reach to many. It is easy to get left
behind, especially for those presently disadvantaged.
Thus, we must embrace the concept of preparing people
to take advantage of the opportunities. If we allow
anyone to be left behind, we create a formula for
our nation to be left behind. And so, we are
talking about opportunities not only for individuals.
We are also talking about ways to create expanded
opportunities for the United States to compete and
Just last week, the New York Times featured
a headline story on the nation's continuing demographic
shifts. Foreign workers now represent 12 percent of
the nation's workforce. This is the highest percentage
in 70 years. And while this inclusion in the workforce
adds to our skills and culture base, many of our native-born
citizens remain unskilled, unemployed, and thus lost
to our nation's capacity to perform up to its potential.
This failure to capitalize on our great diversity limits
our prosperity as well as our constitutional equity.
We know that diversity can give strength to the fabric
of our society. It can be our strongest suit for enabling
By embracing underrepresented minorities, more women,
and persons with disabilities, and so many others,
we weave a versatile and resilient fabric for the
nation's future. Our scientific and technological
strength can only increase through this diversity
This national need is an imperative if we are to succeed
in handling the increasing complexity of today's world.
Realizing this end is best accomplished through mentors,
those whom we are honoring here today.
For this and so many other reasons, your work is society's
work. It is work for the future - and for the soul
of the country. Most importantly, it is work that
nurtures the human spirit.
Once again, congratulations to all of you.