"Bridging the Cultures: Celebrating Science and the
Dr. Rita R. Colwell
National Science Foundation
Dedication of the Hodson Science and Technology Center
October 19, 2002
Thank you, Craig, for that generous introduction. Thank
you, President Volpe. It is an honor to follow Alan
Waterman who, forty-five years ago, spoke at the dedication
of the Lillian Brown Hodson Science Hall!
And welcome to you all:
To the speakers we have heard today - inspirational,
To Maryland delegates Sue Hecht and Joseph Bartlett,
and to Karen Johnson, Maryland Higher Education Commission
To Dr. Beth Garraway, President of the Maryland Independent
Colleges and Universities Association, and to Chairman
Deborah Jones of the Hood College Board of Trustees.
Of course, special thanks go to Dr. Ruth Whitaker Holmes
and Dr. Burtt Holmes, Trustees of the Whitaker Foundation,
and to Mrs. Eileen Dickey, Grant Administrator of
the Hodson Trust, for their generous contributions
to Hood College.
I'm delighted to be here in Frederick to help you launch
the new Hodson Science and Technology Center. This
is a day to celebrate, so let me extend to all of
you a hearty congratulations from the National Science
Hood College has been home to a curriculum rich in
diversity for more than a century. Today, I want to
emphasize the value of your approach. I have titled
my remarks "Bridging the Cultures: Celebrating Science
and the Liberal Arts." I'll speak first about the
science part of this context.
Groundbreaking is familiar to scientists and engineers.
That's what we aim for when we look at the frontiers
of knowledge, and travel in unexplored territory seeking
new understanding of our world.
Science is changing incredibly fast. As a result, the
need for infrastructure, and the tools of science,
is changing as well. Advances in science and engineering
occur today with a pace and complexity we couldn't
have imagined just a few years ago. At the NSF, we
are now building a cyberinfrastructure, expanding
the Internet, and connecting the country's universities
to very high-end computing capabilities, from San
Diego to Illinois to Pittsburgh to Boston.
Finding uncommon solutions to common problems demands
increasingly sophisticated tools for world-class research
and education. It requires collaborations of the very
best minds from many different disciplines.
The Hodson Center will generate productive collaborations
and open new avenues of exploration for students at
Hood College. Students who must be flexible, entrepreneurial,
and creative. Students who will be ready to meet the
challenge of changing careers, not just jobs, seven
or eight times, from graduation to retirement.
What is most exciting is that we are here to witness
the bridging of cultures - of scientists and students
from a wide range of disciplines, including the humanities,
working side-by-side, engaged in discovery, innovation,
Education and research are inextricably bound together.
We advance knowledge most effectively when we link
research and the education and training of the next
generation of young scientists. At NSF, we are proud
of our REU program - Research Experiences for Undergraduates
- and IGERT, Integrative Graduate Education and Research
We live at the beginning of a new age of scientific
exploration. The breathtaking pace of change has altered
our society in many ways and created new challenges
for our citizens. It has increased our responsibilities
and our opportunities as members of the science community.
We have many challenges, as well, post 9/11. in national
security, economic vitality, and social stability
in a time of international terrorism.
I am confident that the Hodson Center will contribute
significantly to this region's economic and social
prosperity. As a scientist, I am delighted by what
I see happening here.
When researchers and educators increase connections
among disciplines they create new opportunities for
discovery. These links are a kind of alchemy for the
future: They give scientists powerful, transforming
means for creation. Interdisciplinary science is rich,
productive, where the future is. in the nano, info,
bio, cogno sciences.
But the power of collaboration is not restricted to
science. It is in the full community of learning,
and it is especially strong at Hood College.
Hood is known for breaking new ground, across many
disciplines, and in innovative ways. Its founding
mission was to advance the education of women and
"the cultivation and diffusion of Literature, Science,
Hood College has a proud tradition of training women
leaders by encouraging women to pursue science careers.
The talented science faculty here - with a high proportion
of women researchers and professors - provides powerful
This tradition of excellence will never change. Your
decision to become a coed institution opens up all
of Hood College's opportunities to a wider community
Throughout its history, Hood College has bridged the
liberal arts curriculum with linkage in the study
of science, mathematics, and notably computer science.
This rich crossdisciplinary education serves all students,
those in science and the liberal arts.
I cannot predict the future, but I can readily see
the trends. We will need citizens literate in both
science and the humanities in this, the twenty-first
century. and beyond.
In an era of global competition, a tech-savvy workforce
is a sine qua non for industry and research
in the Frederick area in Maryland, and in the Nation.
We need 21st century scientists who can speak and write
about their work, sharing their knowledge and excitement
in their discoveries in nanotechnology, genome sciences,
terascale computing, and cognitive sciences -- not
just to colleagues, but most importantly to the public.
Public understanding of science is more important
than ever, in a technology- and knowledge- driven
At the same time, Americans must know and understand
the history of civilization and the nuances of our
democracy, the gift of democracy we have in this great
nation of ours. We Americans must be willing and responsible
participants in society.
Articulate and ethical leaders with good judgment must
help navigate our nation in this increasingly complex
An education bridging science and the liberal arts
is the best preparation for the world of today and
to meet the complexities of the future.
The Nation must have a new generation of physicists,
computer scientists, mathematicians, biologists, chemists,
and engineers who are articulate and literate. The
expanded research and laboratory facilities of the
Hodson Science and Technology Center will contribute
to that kind of education.
Nobody is better at maintaining a broad commitment
to both science and the liberal arts than Hood College.
Nowhere is there a faculty, staff, and student team
more committed to the bridging of science and the
liberal arts than at Hood College.
It fosters in students the essential qualities of perspective,
sound judgment, and healthy skepticism. It prepares
students to understand themselves and the world they
will live in and, thereby, to become good citizens.
It teaches flexibility, all the better to meet the
Let us not forget that the Hood College tradition is
immensely practical. Employers and graduate educators
look for people with knowledge of science and history,
literature, philosophy, because they are stronger,
resilient candidates who will build successful careers.
The fact is we all must make a life as well as a living.
Hood College nurtures companionable minds, and the
Hodson Science and Technology Center extends this
tradition. This is truly a catalytic moment for Hood
College. I congratulate you for your foresight and