Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

The Ways of Washington: NSF Board Chairman Keeps Long-Term Policy Issues at the Forefront. (Special Report: Technology in Higher Ed)

Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

The Ways of Washington: NSF Board Chairman Keeps Long-Term Policy Issues at the Forefront. (Special Report: Technology in Higher Ed)

Article excerpt

At a time when immediate homeland security concerns are helping to bring about increases n the National Science Foundation's budget, Dr. Warren Washington can be expected to press the federal agency on long-term policy issues, such as improving K-12 science education and generating interest on the part of young Americans to pursue science careers. Serving a two-year term as chairman of the National Science Board, which is the NSF governing and policy board, Washington is seen as a leader who operates with a pragmatic and focused style on current issues while not losing sight of the long-term picture.

"One of the challenges of the position is that you have a large board and you have to be able to move the group forward in a focused way," Washington says.

Considered one of the nation's top meteorologists, Washington directs the Climate Change Research Section in the Climate and Global Dynamics Division at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR)in Colorado. A Clinton administration appointee to the National Science Board in 1994, he was reappointed in 2000 for a second six-year term. Last May, fellow members elected Washington the board's chairman, making the soft-spoken meteorologist the first African American to serve in the position.

"It's been obvious to many of us on the board that Warren's contributions were always welcomed, respected and highly desired. He became chair because he was the right person for the job," says Dr. Jane Lubchenco, a National Science Board member and a zoology professor at Oregon State University.

Dr. Daniel Hastings, a newly appointed member of the board and MIT professor in aeronautics and astronautics, is just getting to know Washington. He left a recent board meeting impressed with Washington's leadership style.

"He ran the meeting well. It moved forward because he has a sense of direction. In that sense, he did a good job," Hastings says.

Washington's reputation as a scientist springs largely from his expertise in computer modeling of the earth's climate. His primary research areas include both atmospheric science and climate research. He first joined the NCAR in 1963 as a research scientist and became a senior scientist in 1975.

Washington, who was born and raised in Portland, Ore., says his parents stressed education even though as college-educated Blacks their degrees did not always secure them professional positions given that racial discrimination and limited opportunities ran rampant. …

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