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Speech for Dedication of the New Mexico Highlands University Science Building by:

Dr. Michael Pravica

November, 2002

Las Vegas, New Mexico

 

Greetings distinguished guests, members of the University community and members of the local community at large.

 

†††As one who is passionately dedicated to the cause of bettering our society via education, I am deeply honored to have been chosen to speak on behalf of my department (Math and Computer sciences) on the dedication of our new Science Building.

†††† Let me first discuss why we so desperately need such a science center for Highlands and an invigoration for our programs.Today, our nation is in crisis.Our students are not being properly prepared for careers in science, engineering, and mathematics.Yet our nationís security and economic prosperity are contingent upon maintaining our nationís excellence in science, math, and engineering and producing highly trained specialists in these fields so that they can continue to push the envelope of human understanding through research and development.Currently, many of our scientists and engineers are imported.If we canít train our own home-grown scientists and engineers, it is then only a matter of time before our society will lose its preeminence in research and development which will have catastrophic ramifications on our ability to produce the most novel and innovative technologies upon which we all thrive and for which we are the envy of the world.

†††† We are leaving the world in a worse situation for our children than it has been in the past.It is up to our generation and future generations to deal with impending natural crises which only science can solve.Let us consider some of these problems. For example, global warming has the serious potential to make the Earthís atmosphere akin to Venusí which would likely destroy all life on this planet.Acid rain, ozone layer depletion and improper disposal of chemical wastes are all symptoms of the poisoning of our bioshpere and have seriously harmed wildlife and humans.Our ever-diminishing resources of fossil fuels and our dependence on imported energy will require us to seek alternative energy sources such as solar, wind, hydrogen, hydro and nuclear power, and perhaps someday limitless fusion.Water is becoming an ever-scarce resource that we can no longer take for granted.Global weather changes have resulted in tremendous drought the world over and overwhelming flooding elsewhere.Endless terrorist threats to our country have also found us relying on scientists, mathematicians, and engineers to seek solutions to improve our national security as the lessons from 9/11 teach us that the price of democracy is eternal vigilance.Finally, as we overpopulate this tiny planet, our only home, we further stress all life existing upon it and must find ways to not only coexist with other life forms so we donít destroy them, but to more efficiently and responsibly harness Earthís abundant yet limited natural resources and perhaps God-willing, travel to other planets in our solar system and beyond.Science and the language we use to communicate science (math) teach us not only humility but also reason and realism which will most certainly be required if we are to survive in the 21st Century and beyond.

††† Now that I have discussed why we need to support science, engineering, and math, let me discuss why we need this science building more than ever.New Mexico has some of the most brilliant, talented and highly-trained people in the world with national labs that continue to stun and wow the world with their intellectual achievements.Yet, New Mexicoís educational systems from primary all the way up to University are among the poorest-funded and poorest-quality in the nation.This is inexcusable.Students from Northern New Mexico (and the rest of the state for that matter) are just as good as students anywhere else in this nation.They deserve every opportunity to be guided, encouraged to excel and eventually succeed in science, math, and engineering should they wish it and to be allowed contribute as patriotic Americans to this countryís greatness by helping their nation where it needs it most Ė in the hard sciences and engineering.New Mexico Highlands University is one of a small minority of institutions in the nation that are minority-serving.The US government has committed itself to assisting under-represented minorities as its support for this building attests.It is therefore with great optimism and hope that I believe New Mexicoís business, social and political leaders will also realize and understand the need to support science, math and engineering like never before and will continue to strive to make New Mexico Highlands University an even greater institution than it is currently.The problems that Highlands is currently suffering from are not insurmountable but we need your help.I also call upon members of our local community at large to take up the cause of science, math and engineering and to help us fill this building with eager students who will carry with them the hopes and desires of an entire nation.

 

 

Thank you for your time!

 

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