Dr. Frank Rhodes
Chairman, National Science Board
May 1994 - May 1996

When the Congress established the National Science Foundation (NSF) in 1950, it assigned the National Science Board (NSB) a dual role, as both the governing body of NSF and as a national policy body for science and engineering research and education. In keeping with the latter role, the Board has from time to time conducted studies and issued reports on significant national issues.

In March 1996 the NSB organized a special meeting at the University of California at Davis, focused on the theme of "Science and Engineering Research and Education in the 21st Century." This topic was chosen in light of the profound changes now taking place in the national research and education enterprise, especially the current stresses on colleges and universities. The Board heard and discussed thirteen presentations in two days, seven of which were subsequently prepared for publication in this volume. The six not included here had been chosen to illustrate the theme of the meeting with reports about how various policies and programs were operating at the Davis campus.

These seven papers were selected for their differing perspectives on the nation's research and education enterprise and the contemporary policy issues that affect that enterprise. They present the views of a former NSF Director now with the Council on Competitiveness; a former official of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy; the Director of a major Federal laboratory; the President Emeritus of a major privately-governed university; and the President of a large state university; and they conclude with presentations by the Director, NSF, and the then-Chairman, NSB.

The papers provide insight into the far-reaching changes taking place in the post-Cold War era in the laboratory, in the classroom, and in the national political environment. Several important themes emerged from the papers and from the Board's discussions of them:

Perhaps the single most important theme to emerge from the presentations and discussions is the need for the research and education communities to exert leadership and act in partnership with other sectors to address the complex issues raised by the changing environment. The Board has a vital role to play in this regard, in framing national policies, in fostering partnerships, and in encouraging the scientific community to communicate better with the general public. It is a role it has yet to play effectively.

Advances in science and technology provide the best hope for material progress and societal well being. They are the essential basis for economic, societal and personal security, as well as triumphs of the human spirit. As we approach the myriad of changes and challenges in entering the 21st century, we need to foster effective partnerships to build upon the successes and strengths of the dynamic national research and development enterprise that was created in the last half of the 20th century.

On behalf of the National Science Board and of all who participated in this symposium I express my sincere thanks to all the speakers, who provided such stimulating and constructive contributions to the proceedings. I would especially like to thank the Board Task Force that planned the meeting, which was chaired by Charley Hess and included Marye Anne Fox, Sandy Greenberg, Jaime Oaxaca, Ian Ross and Dick Zare. Finally, I would like to express the Board's thanks to the Chancellor, faculty and staff of the University of California at Davis for making the Buehler Center available for our meeting.