DAVID SKORTON: I'm delighted to welcome Senator Charles Schumer to campus today. I know he makes a point of visiting every county and state every year. And I'm glad that he included us in his stop in Thompkins County. Before I turn the podium over to him, I want to take the occasion to stress that this man has been a very, very good, consistent friend to higher education. Whether it's support for our students and their families or the recent introduction of his legislation to extend the American Opportunity Tax Credit or his support of the DREAM Act or support for his efforts to establish permanent residency for international graduates of STEM disciplines or support for our faculty and staff by his strong and consistent advocacy for research at agencies like the National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, and the Departments of Energy and Agriculture, among others, or support of our institutions and communities through his understanding of the links between education, research, and economic development, Chuck Schumer has always been there for us.
Most recently, we've seen him leading the charge on the Senate floor to keep interest rates on student loans from doubling. We've heard him on Sunday news shows talking sense on budget deficits and sequestration, which, by the way, would be devastating for research universities like Cornell. For all those reasons and more, it's my great pleasure to introduce New York's senior Senator, Charles Schumer.
CHARLES SCHUMER: Thank you, President Skorton. It's great to be here at Cornell. First, we are so proud of Cornell from one end of this state to the other. It is one of the great research institutions in the world, and yet it also has a New York focus, and you combine the two and it's just the perfect place for a Senator to go to bat for in so many different ways. And I'm so proud of not only President Skorton, but everybody, from the Nobel Laureates and the great world-renowned professors, all the way through the teaching assistants to the staff, the administrative staff, all the way down to the people who keep the place clean late at night. It's a great institution that has so many-- I mean, when you think of the breadth of Cornell and the many things it does and great scientific research and agriculture and in hotels, in educating New Yorkers in the arts and sciences, its just amazing medical research, it's an amazing, amazing place.
So I'm grateful that Cornell is in New York, and it's one of those institutions that just spans the upstate-downstate-- I was going to say divide. I think we have much less of that these days than we used to. But it spans every part of our state. I want to thanks Provost Fuchs for being here and Mr. Buhrman, the vice provost for research, Ritchie Patterson-- it's double delight to introduce Ritchie, because I saw her name, and then when I saw that she was female and a leader in science, it made me doubly happy. So thank you. And one day I'll ask you how you became Ritchie-- Saul [? Gruder, ?] our director of [INAUDIBLE], and somebody who really does an amazing job from Cornell day in, day out and has been a friend of mine even from the days when I was a Congressman and didn't represent this area, and that is Steve Johnson, who is hiding in the corner over there. So thank you all.
So I am really glad to be here for his big announcement regarding Cornell, because New York, we try to stay at the top in terms of science, in terms of innovation and lifesaving research, And it happens at Cornell in many ways. Well, in this building, as you know, is a high-energy synchrotron light source, which is a very fancy name very, very, very advanced X-ray machine. Since 1978, the National Science Foundation has funded this machine, and its acronym is CHESS. The S is for Synchrotron. I don't remember what any of the other letters are.
SPEAKER 1: [INAUDIBLE]
CHARLES SCHUMER: Right. OK. Electron Synchrotron Source. When it was originally designed as a physics experiment, that was one thing. But it's evolved into a unique part of scientific research in America and in the world, because it's become a multidisciplinary facility that not only supports critical research in physics, but in material sciences, chemistry, biology, engineering. It's not only used by researchers here at Cornell, but by our defense department, by private industries from across our state, our country, and our world.
It's only one of five national X-ray facilities in the country. But what makes it unique is it's the only one located at a research facility, a research university. All the others are part of the Department of Energy. And that's what this facility in unfounded jeopardy.
Its uniqueness relates to fact that CHESS serves as a training ground for scientific work force needed to keep the US competitive. Most people have never heard of it, but it's part of the lifeblood of New York and our scientific community. About 1,000 scientists depend on it for his work. About 200 people work here. And then there are thousands of other jobs created right here in Thompkins County, because it's used by visitors from all over who say at the hotels and the restaurants and everything else. And so even people who are working maybe at a minimum-wage job cleaning up a hotel room have CHESS to thank for it, even though they may not know it. So it really is a great place.
So given how important and unique it is, believe it or not, there was a serious concern in recent months that CHESS could disappear in the blink of an eye. And luckily, we've awoken from that nightmare. We didn't want to talk about it until we solved the problem, but we have. So here we are.
Now, every few years-- I'm going to give you the details here. Every few years, the National Science Foundation and Cornell University reassess the terms of the arrangement that allows Cornell to operate CHESS. As I said, it's one of the most productive scientific X-ray machines in the country. The agreement is the roadmap, and Cornell receives about $28 million a year in operating assistance to do federally sponsored and private industry research on this incredibly important machine.
Unfortunately, Dr. Skorton actually came down to Washington to visit me. When he does that, it's either very good, like building that great facility on Roosevelt Island, or very bad. In this case, it was very bad. They told me that some of the bureaucrats inside the NSA were beginning to think that funding light sources wasn't their job anymore, that only the Department of Energy should continue to serve the scientific community through light sources through the other four, which are at DOE facilities.
That would have closed this down. It wasn't because it should have been closed down. It was sort of caught. It sort of was between two poles. Well, if you're going to do it at Energy, you don't do it at a multifaceted university, even though doing this kind of research in a multifaceted university has advantages that would not be had at a strictly DOE facility.
But it was sort of this way. Well, we're short of funding. Therefore, let the Department of Energy take care of all of this. And if the Department of Energy did it, the funding to CHESS would close, would stop. So in other words, what I'm saying is there was one simple and unfathomable fact, that CHESS could have shut down.
Everyone here at Cornell made it clear to me that without the federal funding, it would be very hard to keep CHESS running. It's a lot of money, even in a big university like Cornell, $28 million a year. However, we knew that NSF was missing some very, very important facts.
And we gave them to them. We showed them the things that they didn't quite understand. See we showed them who used it. They didn't really know that. They were just saying, oh, it should all be in the Department of Energy.
We showed them the high-level science that's being produced, among the highest in the world. This facility is several decades old, but it's still doing groundbreaking research. We showed them that it would mean squandering over $1 billion of taxpayers' money, federal investment in building and maintaining CHESS.
And most important, it would leave the scientific community without a very important hub for innovation without a critical resource. And that's because high tech companies, the GEs, our defense department, the Air Force, and scientists all around the world come here to use the facility. That's great for the southern-tier economy, but it's also great for science.
And so a loss of CHESS would mean less investment in our local community. So needless to say, I could not in good conscious let this funding be pulled. It wasn't just a letter or a phone call. It was too important for that. And Dr. Skorton and everybody here gave me all the ammo I needed to make the argument. It obviously took someone who helps fund these agencies to break through.
I first got on the phone with the director of the NSF, Dr. Suresh, and then he seemed open to the argument. We had a great ally in the head of the Office of Science and Technology at the White House. And then I had to go all the well up to the head of OMD.
And last Friday, I got the good news and called Dr. Skorton and said they have seen the error of their ways, and they were continuing the funding, and CHESS is safe and sound.
So that is so important. CHESS' machine is far too important to the country and to New York to shut it down. I told all the people I spoke to that they had to come up with a solution, and they heard us loud and clear. So we now have a commitment from OMD that the NSF will not shut down CHESS. Funding will continue from NSF, as it should, and that all of the parties will work together to map out a long-term plan for this facility and make it even bigger and better. And I don't mean that they're going to add another machine, but adapting it to all the new uses that are needed in this nano-technology-driven world.
It means that CHESS can continue its work with the Air Force Research Laboratory to develop new tools to ensure that military and commercial planes stand up to stress and fatigue. It means that CHESS can continue to work with the Department of Energy to ensure than lithium ion batteries and hydrogen fuel cells, which GM's major research facility is not far away in Honeoye Falls-- and that's really our future. Electric cars are going to be good, but hydrogen-based fuel cells are going to be the real future, and CHESS helps instrumentally in moving that research forward.
And it means CHESS can continue its lifesaving work with pharmaceutical companies to develop new drugs and fight today's diseases. the list could go on and on. But the bottom line is we're here to say. We're not moving. We're going to continue to be funded. And all of the rumors that you've heard might have had some degree of truth, but now a dagger has been put through their heart. CHESS is here to stay. Thank you very much.
It is my pleasure to introduce Ritchie Patterson.
RITCHIE PATTERSON: Thank you very much. I want to thank you, Senator Schumer for helping us continue our service to the country. We are very, very grateful.
We serve the country in three ways, by performing important science, by developing new technology, and by training the scientific leaders of the future. Examples of scientific work in progress include the development of new life-saving drugs, of novel materials for fuel cells, and characterization of new polymers, ceramics, and composites. We study materials at center-of-the-Earth pressures and reveal new features of famous paintings. Our users have won many prizes, including Nobel Prizes.
CHESS and the associated CESR-accelerated complex together fall under a single laboratory called CLASSE. This laboratory is a world leader in developing accelerator and X-ray technology. Because accelerators and X-rays enable cutting-edge science and technology, there is a fierce international competition for the technological supremacy in these fields. This laboratory is a leader in this development.
We are world leaders in superconducting acceleration, photo injectors, compact high-current particle beams, X-ray detectors, X-ray optics, and many more. Most of the scientific and technological development is done during the course of training students.
Graduate students are involved in all aspects of the facility, from the accelerator through to the X-ray applications research. Students who are immersed in technological training at the frontier are well equipped for future leadership roles. This broad access is consistent with the university mission and is essential to training the innovators of tomorrow. It is key to winning in the highly competitive areas that use accelerators and X-rays.
CHARLES SCHUMER: Thank you, Ritchie.
So the three of us are available for questions on this subject. I'll stay for questions on other subjects, but [INAUDIBLE] because he's [INAUDIBLE].
DAVID SKORTON: [INAUDIBLE]
CHARLES SCHUMER: OK. He has to go to New York City.
OK, questions on this subject? OK, all the media happy? Yes.
SPEAKER 2: Is this a multi-year agreement?
CHARLES SCHUMER: Yes. Yes?
SPEAKER 3: How long does the funding last until?
CHARLES SCHUMER: Well, you're funded every year, but it's the idea that NSF should continue to fund a resource like this. So it's not just DOE, which would give it to its four. That we have broken through. OK? Great. Then I'm going to let Dr. Skorton go.
DAVID SKORTON: Before I go, I want to thank you again for what you've done for us, again.
CHARLES SCHUMER: Thank you. This guy is such a blessing to New York. It's great to have him, and he's doing so many things that are going to help us. New York now, both upstate and down, is ahead of the national average in job creation. And it's in good party because of places like Cornell and in good part because of places like Dr. It makes me so proud of what he's done. So thank you.
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U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer visited campus June 18, 2012 with some welcome news: Cornell's world-renowned synchrotron X-ray facility will continue being funded.
The Cornell High Energy Synchrotron Source (CHESS), one of five national hard X-ray facilities for synchrotron X-ray research, had been under threat of closure due to possible cuts from the National Science Foundation, its primary funder.
Schumer, introduced by President David Skorton, put those fears to rest when he visited Wilson Laboratory, home of CHESS, to announce his advocacy on behalf of CHESS. Schumer said he had received commitments from the White House's Office of Management and Budget and Office of Science and Technology Policy, as well as NSF officials, to allow CHESS to plan a long-term future for the facility, in view of its unique, university-based role.
CHESS produces intense X-ray beams that serve an international community of researchers from academia, government and industry, in such fields as medicine, materials science, physics, engineering, chemistry and the humanities.