|22 July 2008
GSA Release No. 08-34
Director of Education, Communication, & Outreach
Phil and Amy Mickelson Receive GSA President’s Medal for Advancing Science/Math Education
The Geological Society of America presented professional golfer Phil Mickelson and his wife Amy with the GSA President’s Medal during a Town Hall Forum on 21 July at the Mickelson ExxonMobil Teachers Academy in Jersey City, New Jersey.
Past GSA president, Stephen G. Wells, established and commissioned the silver President’s Medal in 2007 to recognize individuals whose impact has profoundly enhanced the geosciences profession. Former GSA president William A. Thomas nominated the Mickelsons to receive the medal in recognition of their advocacy for science education and establishment of the Mickelson ExxonMobil Teachers Academies.
“The Mickelsons’ passion for improving teaching of the sciences and math in elementary schools in order to attract more students into these fields is critical to the mission and vision of our Society,” said Wells in citing Mickelson for the honor. “The inaugural President’s Medal goes to Phil and Amy Mickelson for their extraordinary contributions to the outreach and support of science education at the most fundamental level.”
The Teachers Academy was created in 2005 by the Mickelsons and ExxonMobil to offer five-day training seminars to selected third- through fifth-grade teachers, providing them with an opportunity to enhance their mathematics and science teaching skills and discover new ways to motivate students. “[The Mickelsons’] unique philanthropic partnership with ExxonMobil, a corporation that has a rich history of providing long-term support for math and science education, will help to ensure a healthy and growing geosciences profession,” said Wells.
Both Wells and Thomas were on hand to present the award at the Liberty Science Center, where the Mickelsons met with teachers and invited guests during the Town Hall Forum. The event showcased issues in math and science education as a precursor to Mickelson’s testimony before the Committee on Education and Labor in the U.S. House of Representatives on 22 July.
During the award presentation, Wells cited a few statistics from recent reports of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and National Science Board that highlight national and worldwide trends in science education, workforce development, and support of scientific research:
- 10% decline in published papers by U.S. scientists since 1992
- 20% decrease in overall engineering degrees awarded in the U.S. since 1985
- 50% of all engineering degrees awarded by U.S. engineering colleges went to foreign nationals
- 50% decline in funding for basic research since 1970
- 50% of current science and engineering workforce is approaching retirement
“As president of the Geological Society of America, I was somewhat overwhelmed to realize that our goal of strengthening science education was being championed by a champion golfer,” said Thomas. “Of course, Phil and Amy Mickelson were presenting our message and advocating our goal to an audience far larger than we geologists could hope to reach. Their activities promote the vision and mission of the Geological Society; and the President’s Medal is to say thank you, to encourage [them] to continue, and to offer our support in whatever way we may.”
Accepting the medal, Mickelson thanked GSA “for recognizing the passion that my wife Amy and I have for developing and inspiring young children in the sciences. Our country has long been a leader in the geosciences and for us to maintain that leadership position we must continue to inspire our young students in these areas. The GSA is at the forefront of [scientific] research, and we are humbled to be recognized for such a wonderful award.”
||Amy and Phil Mickelson accept the GSA President’s Medal from GSA past presidents, Stephen Wells (left) and William Thomas (right) at the Town Hall Forum.|