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Revitalizing America's brainpower through education was topic of Domenici speech

Citing the National Academies of Sciences' Augustine Report, Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., today (Aug. 30) brought forth the worries of the national academy of scientists to a packed New Mexico State University classroom.

Sen. Pete Domenici, the inaugural speaker of the Garrey E. and Katherine T. Carruthers Speaker Series in Economic Development, addressed NMSU faculty, staff and students, and community members about economic development. (NMSU photo by Darren Phillips)

"Their biggest concern is that we are failing to educate sufficient brainpower to keep America competitive," said Domenici, the inaugural speaker of the Garrey E. and Katherine T. Carruthers Speaker Series in Economic Development. "It worries me immensely and it should worry you, too."

Domenici, who once taught eighth grade arithmetic, said the study concluded the only way the United States can remain competitive is to dramatically increase the country's investment in the teaching of and education in the physical sciences.

"(The authors of the study wrote that) we have done little or nothing for the physical sciences," he said.

Several recommendations from the report included doubling the National Science Foundation and the Department of Energy's science department over the next 10 years, and re-educating 175,000 teachers a year in math and science.

There are 20 recommendations in the Augustine Report, the foundation of Domenici's Protecting America's Competitive Edge (PACE) Act.

Congress is slow in the process of getting appropriation bills done, "but we will get it done and will fund about 85 to 90 percent of the Augustine report recommendations," said Domenici. "And I believe that this achievement can be construed as not a modest success but a very important and sizeable success for the young people of our country. The world needs America as a player, as a participant. We are not able to do that if we are bankrupt in terms of our economic power. Let's make sure that we understand that education is the cornerstone of all of this. Innovation comes from education. Without education and innovative breakthroughs in science and technology we don't have a chance of being a lead competitor in the world."

According to Domenici, New Mexico with its national labs and innovative universities, in particular NMSU, is well on its way to becoming a leader in maintaining a well-educated and highly-skilled workforce.

"NMSU had developed programs to improve the quality of science and math education through its College of Education and College of Engineering," Domenici said in a news release. "Drawing on the talents of both the colleges is crucial, and NMSU is showing real leadership in this area."

As the opening speaker of the seminar series, Domenici will be joined by six other nationally recognized business professionals. During the fall and spring semesters, speakers will address issues in relation to the "The Changing Face of Economic Development." The next presenter, John Cordova, director of sports transaction management for Coca-Cola, is scheduled to speak from 3:30 to 5 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 14, in NMSU's Corbett Center Auditorium.

The seminar series is being conducted through the Garrey E. and Katherine T. Carruthers Chair in Economic Development. The chair was created by a $500,000 gift from College of Business Dean Garrey E. Carruthers and his wife, Katherine. The chair received a $1 million match from the state.

"We wanted to make this commitment to the university and in particular to economic development," Garrey Carruthers said. "New Mexico really needs economic development because we want you all to stay here and we want you to have good jobs."

"The Carruthers and Domenicis have given to the state in their private and professional lives. Among their numerous contributions to the university and the state, none are greater than to education," said Kevin Boberg, the first holder of the Garrey E. and Katherine T. Carruthers Chair in Economic Development. "Their tireless efforts to enhance education and, thus, provide opportunities to current and future generations of New Mexicans are an example we all can follow. It is this message we are and will continue to spread through seminar series over the years."