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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 (NIST).
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.
Bement came to Washington in November 2001, after being nominated by President Bush to be NIST Director. Before then, Bement was the David A. Ross Distinguished Professor of Nuclear Engineering and the head of Purdue University's School of Nuclear Engineering. He holds a PhD in metallurgical engineering from the University of Michigan, and is a member of the National Academy of Engineering. He also served on the National Science Board for six years.
First reactions to the announcement were 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."
"Dr. Bement has had a long and distinguished career in industry and academia, and as Director of NIST," said Bart Gordon (D-TN), the Ranking Democratic Member of the Science Committee. "The NSF, 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 commented on the expected nomination, pronouncing Bement "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."
Bement sent a message to NSF staff following the White House announcement, praising the foundation's "rich history of strong and independent Directors," and emphasizing the staff's importance to realizing NSF's goals and objectives. "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," he said.
"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."
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