A Great Deal of Good
Since 1950, NSF has worked for stronger curricula and enhanced professional development for teachers. The agency has planted the seeds of systemic change and made it possible for researchers to work in partnership with educators to bolster the scientific basis of learning. Despite all that NSF has done over the years in these areas, some may be surprised to discover just how important education is at one of the country's primary sources of research funding. But NSF's commitment to the nation's students has been part of its mission from the very beginning.
In 1954, a doctoral chemistry student named Daniel Lednicer received a third year of financial support through NSF's fledgling Graduate Research Fellowship program. Full of gratitude for the life of learning that NSF was allowing him to pursue (he went on to make important contributions as a research chemist at the National Cancer Institute), Lednicer wrote a letter of thanks to the man who had signed NSF into existence, President Harry Truman. Truman's plain-spoken reply speaks presciently about NSF's unique role as a catalyst for scientific knowledge, in the laboratory as well as in the classroom.
October 2, 1954
Dear Mr. Lednicer:
Your good letter of September 21 was very much appreciated. I always knew that the [National] Science Foundation would do a great amount of good for the country and for the world. It took a terrific fight and three years to get it through Congress, and some smart fellows who thought they knew more than the President of the United States tried to fix it so it would not work.
It is a great pleasure to hear that it is working and I know it will grow into one of our greatest educational foundations.
Harry S. Truman