Senator Edward M. Kennedy
Address at Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony
Richard and Janet Testa Science Center
October 9, 2003
Thank you very much. To Tim Barnicle, who has been a long time friend and someone I've had the good opportunity to work with for a long time. I thank you for your kind and gracious words. I want to say a special word to President Plough. It's nice to be with a president that I can agree with. I want to thank a good friend, Jim McGovern. He is a beloved figure in this community. He, of course, worked very closely with one of our great and national figures; someone who made a difference for our country, Joe Moakley. But I can tell you, as so many in this room know, that Jim McGovern has all of our phone numbers, day and night, and Worcester is well served in the congress. He's a good friend of mine. Jim, I thank you so much for your kind words and also for the opportunity that you give all of us the chance of making Worcester bigger, better, busier and to also make a difference in the important academic community here.
I want to also recognize Bishop Reuger. We thank you so much for joining with us here today, Jennifer (Mongeau), we thank you for your kind and good works. Reverend Franck, Joseph Gower, his Honor the Mayor. The mayor has been a good, good friend as well. I thank the mayor for joining with us today. I think that Jim McGovern mentioned something about my relationship with the new governor of California. People ask me how I get along with Arnold and I said I get along very well with him when I'm hanging by my ankles upside down. Seereiously, we've called and wished him well and wish him the best of luck out there in California.
It's good to look around this room. You can see the Red Sox fans by the circles under the students' eyes. It's only fitting we have this dedication on the eve of what we know is going to be the second victory of the Boston Red Sox over the Yankees. There's just something about it. We're full of hope and optimism for the future but we've got a little spite in our hearts when it comes to the Yankees, just a little ginger, a little flavor. But I have got to say something. It's been really remarkable how all of us have gathered together with that great admiration for an extraordinary team as we love, and also to admire Chicago. These are the two come-from-behind teams that are really sparking such wonderful enthusiasm across the nation and particularly here in Massachusetts. So today is special for many, many reasons.
It is an honor to be here today and I thank Tim Barnicle for bringing back all of those wonderful memories. I remember as well the extraordinary tornado that went through. I remember my brother coming out and visiting, the times my mother came here, the great pride that she had in Assumption College, not only the education but also because of its preservation of French Culture, French History, and French Literature at that time. She, at the age of 92 or 93 years old, when I used to go by her room at night, I would hear her listening to her French records as she continued the study of French. President Kennedy referred to Assumption College when he was in Paris as the center of location in the state that he loved, in preserving and enhancing the understanding of all of the citizens of this state, and the region, of the French culture and tradition. I remember, as Tim has mentioned, this is perhaps the only college that was good enough to honor both President Kennedy, my brother Bob and myself. So it's been a long and continuing association.
All that we hear from Jim McGovern in my office is about Assumption College and the doors go open and we go to work and we hope to be able to continue to do it for a long, long period time. We're honored to work with this community and to work at this center. I also appreciate working with your president and the members of this community on the issues of higher education. I think all of us understand the importance in Massachusetts of education. We don't have great natural resources; we don't have the oil and gas of the southwest or the great natural power that exists in the western states or the great bounty of agriculture that exists in the midwest. We're in the northeast; we're our own part of our country. It costs more to do business. We don't have the great natural resources and what historically we have always relied on is the development of the minds and the energy and the ideas and the kind of willingness to work together.
As Jim has pointed out, the public and the private sector and understanding the importance of investing in education, investing in children. Making available to all young people the opportunities to be able to develop their educational skills to the extent that they desire and have the ability to do so.
I remember, going back to the 1960 campaign, that this was a principle issue. President Kennedy believed that any young person in any part of our country, if they are able to gain entrance into any college or university, ought to be able to put together a package of either loans or grants. At that time, it was 3/4 grants (students you hear that) instead of 1/4 grants now and 3/4 effectively loans, and be able to put together the work-study program, their work in the summer time, and whatever their families were able to contribute. But an education ought to be able to take you wherever you want to go. I am a strong believer of that, and I think we need the investment to make sure our public schools are the best that they can be. We've made important progress and that we also have the schools, like this, the opportunity for young people to be able to come here. It ought to be available and accessible for young people and affordable for young people and that is something we always must keep our mind on. We are committed to that as we are dealing with the higher education bill in the senate next year and education programs generally.
Jim McGovern mentioned something that I believe very deeply and that is that this is the period of the life sciences. We are situated in the center of the opportunity for breakthroughs in life sciences and I think that what physics and engineering were to the last century, life sciences are to this. If you look at what has been happening in the mapping of the DNA, the human genome project, all of the opportunities that are out there now, it is just an opportunity that exists which is extraordinary and unique. We've seen that in the congress where we have doubled actually the NIH budget in the research and the possibilities are unlimited. I am absolutely convinced in my life we are going to see the real kind of breakthroughs in Cancer, in Parkinson's disease, in the areas of stroke and Juvenile Diabetes, in Alzheimer's, in these areas and what it will mean for families in our community and around the world. We are proud of the fact that in this whole eastern and central part of our state of Massachusetts, we get more than 15% of all the NIH research. That's unique. No other part of the country gets that. And that is the basis for breakthroughs and we have seen what has been done here in the areas of biotech here in Worcester and what has been with Jim as well in terms of bringing the new companies, the breakthrough companies, here in this community. Why I say this is because this science center can be a linchpin in terms of that kind of energy and in terms of that kind of break through in those life sciences. Not just here in Worcester but also in terms of the real possibilities for our country. And that is something that hopefully all of the young people that come into this wonderful building will be inspired to sort of see because it is out there now uniquely in terms of all of our life time. And now the challenge will be as we make these breakthroughs, is to make sure we get them out to people and it's going to be affordable in terms of these kinds of breakthroughs as well, which is the public policy challenges that we continue to face.
So I congratulate all of those who have been a part of this magnificent dedication. Jim and I have welcomed the opportunity to work closely and work with all of you here. We have enjoyed the opportunity to work with the mayor, Mr. Murray here, also in a range of different areas. We are going to have this magnificent center of learning and education; the kind of opportunity for hope and for breakthroughs that can make such a difference to the members of this community to our state and to our country. Congratulations Assumption. I'm proud to be a part of the team.
Ted Kennedy delivers speech at the Robert and Janet Testa Science Center