Hamilton Dedicates New Science Center
Congressman Sherwood Boehlert Gives Keynote
By Laura Trubiano '07
October 3, 2005
The long awaited dedication ceremony for Hamilton's new Science Center was held on Friday, Sept. 30, in the building's atrium. President Joan Hinde Stewart gave the opening remarks and introduced the keynote speaker, Congressman Sherwood L. Boehlert, the chairman of the House Committee on Science.
Boehlert discussed some of his experiences as chairman of the House science committee, highlighting a debate over endangered species and the distorted view some have of science and its capabilities. He called some of the suggestions and comments made "an obsessive and blind use of science" and said it is an example of "how important it is for Americans to understand the basis of science." The new building, said Boehlert, illustrates that Hamilton College understands that science must be a central part of education so that students may become informed and involved citizens and have the basic tools necessary to analyze public issues.
Boehlert cited statistics that showed it is small liberal arts colleges, not research universities, which have the best record of graduating students that will go on to receive Ph.D.s in science, mathematics or engineering. "Hamilton is a classic example," said Boehlert, "This building is a 'breeding ground' for future scientists and engineers."
Boehlert then recognized three faculty members who made significant contributions to science: Professor of Chemistry George Shields, who "made Hamilton a leader in computational chemistry"; Professor of Geosciences Eugene Domack, who made important discoveries in Antarctica this summer, on a trip that includes undergraduate students; and Professor of Biology David Gapp, who does research at the Utica Marsh, which Boehlert is trying to preserve and make accessible to the public.
"If you bring creative professors together with dedicated students in a state-of-the-art facility, the possibilities are infinite," said Boehlert. In his final remarks, Boehlert encouraged attendees to dedicate themselves to participate in programs that further the sciences by writing federal officials to encourage support of the National Science Foundation.
Finally, two honorary degrees were awarded. Jacqueline K. Barton, the Arthur and Marian Hanisch Memorial Professor of Chemistry at the California Institute of Technology, was presented for an honorary degree by William T. Golden, LL.D (H)'87, and Ivan King '47, Research Professor of Astronomy at the University of Washington, was presented for an honorary degree by James W. Ring '51.
-- by Laura Trubiano '07