2 December 2018

Presidential Citation Update

Posted by Joan Buhrman

Eric Davidson, President, AGU and Chris McEntee, Executive Director/CEO, AGU

Over the last few days, many in our community have clearly stated on social media that AGU’s choice of Senator Cory Gardner for the AGU Presidential Citation is troublesome given some of his statements and actions in reference to climate change.

First, we acknowledge that we failed to communicate with the community about the citations and the reasons Senators Cory Gardner and Gary Peters were chosen. Second, we did not act to proactively address the concerns some of you have over Senator Gardner’s selection. While these were failures in process and not intentional, the result was the same: confusion and serious concern about this choice. For that we are deeply sorry.

We would like to clarify a few points:

  • AGU established the Presidential Citations in 2012 to recognize leaders whose work has helped advance Earth and space science and increase the understanding and appreciation of its value to society. Honorees are chosen from a variety of sectors, but often include policymakers who have been champions for one or more aspects of our science. Not only is the citation given to recognize the actions of the honoree, it is given to encourage similar behavior from others. You can see the full list of honorees here.
  • Senators Gary Peters (MI) and Cory Gardner (CO) were selected for their bipartisan efforts to pass the American Innovation and Competitiveness Act of 2017. Through their collaboration, they were able to pass legislation that strengthens our nation’s STEM education pipeline, increases the number of women and underrepresented minorities within STEM fields, and sets robust authorization levels for the National Science Foundation, while avoiding Congressional interference in the allocation to NSF’s directorates, including Geosciences. During such politically contentious times as these, when progress is dead-locked by deep divisions, the bipartisan approach taken to pass this important legislation is notable.

Balancing the need to encourage broad bipartisan support for science in general and to address specific, critical scientific issues like climate change is an issue of concern for all of us, and one that we take very seriously. This is a complex and important strategic consideration for our organization, and we are discussing what AGU’s path forward should be. We will come back to you with more information about this in the coming days. In the meantime, we thank you for your continued passion for AGU and the role we play in society.