Remarks By
JOHN H. GIBBONS
Assistant to the President for Science and Technology

The Presidential Award for Excellence in
Science, Math, and Engineering
Mentoring Awards Ceremony

Room 450, Old Executive Office Building
Washington, DC

September 25, 1996


The Significance of the Presidential Mentoring Program

I am very pleased to be here today to present the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Mentoring.

You are the first group of awardees in this program. The President intends the program to recognize outstanding mentoring efforts and programs that have served to encourage minorities, women, and persons with disabilities to study and to succeed in science, mathematics, and engineering. By the turn of the century, and the millennium, one™third of the American nation will be composed of minorities. In the highly competitive, knowledge-rich, information©intensive, global economy, every individual, no matter what gender, color of skin, or disability, must be provided the opportunity and indeed encouraged to pursue their interests and to develop their talents in science and technology whether it be as a career choice, or to be able to exercise full citizenship in the technology and information age we have entered. Our nation can no longer afford to underinvest in their potential or to have science and technology-illiterate citizens in its democracy.

The President has made education a major foundation of his bridge into the twenty™first century. He recognizes that role modeling and mentoring are critical ingredients in the nourishing of talent. Every one of us here today have benefitted throughout the years starting as young children, through our grade school and into undergraduate and graduate years from demanding, thoughtful, and caring mentors who have made such an enormous difference in our accomplishments. The mentoring program recognizes this basic fact in the professional development of scientists and engineers and seeks to ensure that individuals who have not had these same opportunities will have better access to them in the future.

The President established this award based on a recommendation made by the National Science and Technology Council. The award is jointly administered by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and the National Science Foundation. The award tangibly demonstrates the President's commitment to ensuring that all of our nation's citizens have the opportunity to spread their wings and for some to pursue careers in science and technology.

I congratulate each of you for the contributions you have made to the lifting of people's sights; to the kindling of excitement about learning; and to the nourishing of spreading wings. You are strengthening the scientific and technological foundations of our universities and industries and therefore of our Nation. You are paying back your debt to those mentors, like our parents, scout masters, teachers, coaches, professors, and colleagues, who nurtured you and me in the past. And you stand as excellent examples of the very kind of service to others that the President seeks to recognize. Our nation deeply appreciates your service.