Dr. Joseph Bordogna
Acting Deputy Director and
Chief Operating Officer
NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION
NSF 50 Public Advisory Committee Meeting
October 15-16, 1998
Good morning. It's good to see everyone and wonderful
to have such an esteemed group gathered here today.
This 50th anniversary celebration can symbolize a turning
point in both NSF's history, as well as, in the history
of science and engineering. The NSF was born at the
beginning of the Cold War, a constrained period of
world history that has left complex marks on every
facet of our society.
This November marks nine years since the fall of the
Berlin Wall and the conversion of the Cold War into
a yet undefined era for all nations and all institutions.
At the same time that the world is changing politically,
socially, and economically, the world of science and
engineering is also undergoing significant change.
Today, sophisticated tools and technology and a large
research cadre have altered, accelerated, and enriched
the process of science and engineering to make it
quite different from what we became used to. We are
just glimpsing the beginning of this impact.
As the theme for NSF 50 states, "Where Discoveries
Begin" - one thing we do anticipate is that the greatest
discoveries are yet to come.
We have asked each of you to participate in the process
of retelling NSF's story in order to envision a path
for its future. Each of you brings a perspective unique
to your own experiences and a wisdom to be enlisted
on behalf of the Foundation's future contributions.
The times and the tools may distinguish that future.
But people of foresight and vision will direct it
down an enlightened path. This is a formidable task.
As George Santayana has said, "Our knowledge is a
torch of smoking pine that lights the pathway but
one step ahead."
Together with NSF and the National Science Board, the
NSF 50 Public Advisory Committee will strengthen NSF's
As members of this Committee, your charge will be to
reach out to the larger community of scientists, engineers,
researchers and educators, and encourage them to participate
in this occasion through whatever activities they
You will also be asked to help organize a special retrospective
symposium at NSF, about NSF and its achievements in
the last 50 years.
As leaders from the community of science and engineering,
your experience and historical vantage point are key
components of the work that will be done here. They
will inform the Foundation, as well as build on the
activities that will embody the celebration of NSF's
first 50 years.
Your reach beyond NSF is especially critical and will
serve to enhance the celebration. The activities you
fashion -- in your communities and at your own institutions
-- will elevate this anniversary event, and provide
a far-reaching vision of the value of scientific and
engineering research and education.
By enlisting you in the celebration of NSF's first
50 years, our hope is that the public-at-large will
gain a greater appreciation and understanding of the
basis for the country's world leadership in scientific
And NSF 50 is certainly a time to mark our nation's
support of science and engineering through the National
It is also an opportunity to broaden public understanding
of the significant role that science and engineering
play in our society and our everyday lives.
More than this though, NSF 50 is about the future.
By highlighting the Foundation's legacy of the last
50 years, we can lay the groundwork for what might
be possible in the next 50 years.
Whether it's new TERA and PETA tools for navigating
the digital fabric of our information age, or nanomachines
that increasingly undergird our daily lives, or just
plain realizing the formerly unimaginable, NSF-supported
breakthroughs tell a story, and provide a dramatic
As we all know, it is a critical time in which the
public, policy makers, and the science and engineering
community are reexamining and shaping the rationale
and framework for continued federal support for science
and engineering research and education.
The Ehlers Report, as well as the President's Information
Technology Advisory Committee, to name two recent
relevant activities, provide evidence of the discussions
held to direct attention to the important topics of
Within the context of these endeavors, NSF 50 appears
to be even more relevant as we contemplate the health
and welfare of the nation's science and engineering
enterprise in the year 2000 and beyond.
As you get down to the business before you, I will
leave you with the words of Albert Camus who said,
"Real generosity toward the future consists in giving
all to what is present."
I thank you again for providing your talents and energies
for the purpose of celebrating not only NSF's past,
but perhaps more important, helping to shape a legacy
for its future.