Ed Team

Quote of the day

Filed By Ed Team | March 23, 2007 6:43 AM | comments

Filed in: Living, Politics, Quote of the Day, The Movement
Tags: constitutional amendment, Keith Bowman, marriage, Purdue, SJR-7

The following is the testimony by Professor Keith Bowman of Purdue University before the House committee hearing on SJR-7. Keith is a regular bilerico reader and we're all very proud of him for his excellent testimony and his strength under questioning. He did an excellent job of representing our community before the Representatives. Thanks for sharing your speech, Keith!

Good morning!

For nineteen years I have taught and lead research at Purdue University and my current title is Professor of Materials Engineering and of Engineering Education. I am here as a private citizen and the views I am expressing represent only me and do not represent the opinion of Purdue University in any official or unofficial capacity. Further, I do not think it is my place as an employee of a state university to tell you how to do your jobs, but I am happy to share my perspectives and provide information to you that will prepare you for the challenge before you.

I have been an advisor to more than twenty PhD students and have participated in the education of thousands of Purdue college students. I am the author of an engineering textbook and have published more than a hundred other publications. I have won the highest teaching awards at Purdue. I have brought several millions of dollars in research funds to Indiana.

I have been proud to talk about Purdue and our state when I give research lectures overseas. In these lectures I talk about Purdue research on materials used for ultrasound, pharmaceutical products, medical devices and cell phones. Just in the last five years, I have given lectures in Australia, Belgium, Brazil, China, France, Germany, Japan, Korea and Poland and I have had a sabbatical leave in Australia and in Germany. In both Australia and Germany their governments paid my living expenses to teach and do research at their universities. When I am overseas I show folks where Indiana is, I talk about my university and my state. I do my utmost to publicize and celebrate where I work.

I have recruited more than twenty engineering faculty to Purdue. Most of them are married folks with children growing up in this state. Many of the faculty I have recruited needed help in overcoming their preconceived notions of how conservative and narrow Indiana might be. Outcomes like the devastating loss of partner benefits we have seen in Michigan don't only affect gay people, just the threat to the well being of colleagues can negatively impact their friends, neighbors, research collaborators, and students.

The vast majority of the students I have taught, many of them sons and daughters of Hoosier families, have left Indiana for jobs in other states. Certainly a major factor is economic opportunity. But, since we don't have mountains or oceans, everything we can do to indicate that Indiana is forward thinking and progressive is going to help us keep more of them here. Great research universities like Purdue and Indiana and all of the universities, companies and institutions that we find in this state need a competitive edge in recruiting the best people. The Kauffman Foundation's 2007 State New Economy Index places Indiana 31st in terms of new economy indicators with specific rankings of 43rd in workforce education, 48th in patents and 37th in scientists and engineers. That report begins with a quote of Charles Darwin that applies to competitiveness

"It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the ones most responsive to change."

Research at top universities is increasingly conducted using teams of 3, 5, 10 or more faculty members. Like any team, the loss of just one key team member, whether they be gay, lesbian, transgender or straight, can be the difference between winning and losing that next multimillion dollar research grant or being first to that important discovery.

So, as I said at the beginning, I am here for personal reasons. Decisions you will make in the coming days may make my life and the lives of gay people like me and unmarried people more difficult and perhaps impossible if we want to confidently provide for and protect our families and their future. Despite meager reassurances we hear, I cannot bet my family's well being on complex twists of wording that are open to interpretation. I suspect most of you would be similarly protective of your families. The decisions you make will affect our universities, companies, institutions and communities for years to come. Research grants, scientific discoveries or patents that could have been Indiana successes may end up just across the border at our competitors in Illinois, which has and will likely continue to have more favorable conditions for diverse peoples.

I have given perhaps 1000 lectures. None has been as important as this five minutes. As you deliberate on decisions that will affect the future of our state, I ask each and every one of you to consider how you would answer the following test question:

Can we really afford to make Indiana a less welcoming and less tolerant place?

I do hope I have helped prepare you for the test you will be taking over the next few days. I am counting on you to avoid the distractions of people who will not be directly affected by your actions. I sincerely hope that you will pass this test.

Thank you


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David Wene | March 23, 2007 9:49 AM

Keith,

Thanks for stepping forward. I thought your words were very appropriate. I think what came across more to me (and hopefully the Representatives) was that you are the face of the new generation of professionals. You are also excited about the potential of Indiana. Yet the amendment prevents you from talking positively about Indiana and even causes you to consider leaving. If you are considering this, then others must be as well.

Wellpoint and Cummins, mentioned that this amendment and the current laws hamper their ability to recruit the best and the brightest but your presence put a face to that issue.

Thanks again for stepping forward.

Dave Wene
(Purdue Alum--BSIM '76)