The White House announced on Wednesday that President George Bush intends to nominate Arden Bement Jr. to be the director of the National Science Foundation. Bement became Acting Director of the NSF on February 22 following the unexpected resignation of Rita Colwell. Bement is also the Director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology.
Bement first came to Washington in November 2001, after being nominated by President Bush to be NIST Director. His Senate confirmation by unanimous consent came about five weeks after the nomination was sent to the Senate, which came nine weeks after it was first announced.
Before coming to NIST, Bement was the David A. Ross Distinguished Professor of Nuclear Engineering and the head of Purdue University's School of Nuclear Engineering. Bement has a Ph.D in metallurgical engineering from the University of Michigan, and is a member of the National Academy of Engineering. He also served on National Science Board for six years.
First reaction to the announcement was quite positive. House Science Committee Chairman Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY) stated, "I'm delighted that the President has nominated Arden Bement to be the Director of the National Science Foundation. Arden knows the agency well and brings a wealth of experience in industry, government and academia to the job. His calm, soft-spoken, steady, open-minded and firm leadership has already left its mark on NSF. With a permanent appointment, he will be able to be an even more forceful, effective and inventive director. It would be hard to think of a better person for the job." The Ranking Democratic Member of the Science Committee, Bart Gordon (D-TN) remarked, "Dr. Bement has had a long and distinguished career in industry and academia, and as Director of NIST. The National Science Foundation, by culture and constituency, is very different from NIST, but I am confident that he will excel in his leadership of this important research agency." Rep. Vernon Ehlers (R-MI) also released this statement: "Arden Bement is an excellent choice for the Director of the National Science Foundation. Arden is a respected scientist with a wealth of management experiences in academia, industry and government - an unusual combination that will enable him to lead NSF with strength and vision. Arden's departure from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is a great loss for the Institute. His departure leaves us with some very big shoes to fill at NIST. However, I am confident that he will bring the same level of dedication and dynamism to this new position, and NSF will flourish under his leadership."
Bement sent a message to NSF staff following the White House announcement; selections follow:
"The Foundation has a rich history of strong and independent Directors, and I look forward to continuing with that tradition. Most important to our success, however, are you -- the staff of NSF. I have come to appreciate your strong qualities and dedication that provide the underpinnings for NSF's organizational excellence. As many of you already know, the Foundation's mission and our accomplishments are critical to the Nation's well being. Without your help and dedication, none of NSF's goals or objectives can be met. I appreciate your support.
"Although NSF faces significant challenges in the near future due to Federal budget issues, I am committed to the policies and operations that have stood the test of time and have helped make NSF an extraordinary agency. I look forward to working with [Deputy Director] Dr. [Joseph] Bordogna and all of you in continuing the outstanding manner in which NSF leads the nation. Our pursuit of research and education at the frontiers of science and engineering, our commitment to broadening participation both within and without the Foundation, and our desire to ensure that we have the resources to carry out this vision will be among my top priorities."
Bement's nomination will come before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. This committee is chaired by Judd Gregg (R-NH); Edward Kennedy (D-MA) is the Ranking Democratic Member. There is an outside chance that the committee might consider the nomination before this Congress adjourns. If this does not occur, the committee will consider it early next year.