Thoughts from the President During a Pandemic

August 8, 2020 - The Future of the Danforth Center

Dear Danforth Center Community,

Presidential scholars consistently rank Abraham Lincoln as the best President in U.S. history. He took office from a failed predecessor who affirmed slavery in the South, leading to an irreconcilable fracture of the nation. Through moral conviction, very human leadership, and strategic savvy, Lincoln led the Union through the Civil War, ended slavery with the Emancipation Proclamation and ultimately the Thirteenth Amendment, and preserved the United States. Simultaneously, and despite the overwhelming burden to hold a nation together, Lincoln looked ahead of the ongoing distress and prepared for a better future.

During Lincoln’s administration - at the height of the Civil War - the Department of Agriculture and the Land Grant University system were created. Lincoln understood the importance science, technology and education to feed and support a growing country. Lincoln established the national banking system, and set the principles for reconstruction that would be needed after the war. He signed the Pacific Railway Act of 1862, enabling efficient transportation across the continent, and set up a system by which any adult citizen - including recent immigrants, Black Americans, and the poor - were granted land on which to live and farm. And, just a few months before the Battle of Gettysburg and with the outcome of the war in doubt, Lincoln established the National Academy of Sciences with a vision that future governance of the nation should be aided by science.

What Lincoln did at that time to benefit future generations is a most amazing example of far-sighted vision displayed under the most stressful of circumstances. This inspires me today.

As we experience a disastrous pandemic, a tumultuous economic downturn, and disruptions to our schools, jobs, and personal lives, the Danforth Center is undergoing a strategic planning process that will set our course from 2021 through 2025. While we navigate the current disordered and disrupted period, I ask that you also think about the future of the Danforth Center. Over the next five years, what do we want to achieve? What do we need to build? How should the Danforth Center change? How can the Center become a more diverse, equitable and inclusive place, and how can we better help elevate our region and its people? How can we have more impact? Over the next several months, Center teams will be giving input about opportunities in which we should invest and that will better enable the outcomes we’re here to bring about.

Wouldn’t this be easier if we just waited for things to return to normal? Perhaps, but our people, our place and our purpose can’t wait. We need to shape our future now despite the uncertainties of the present. As Lincoln taught us, we rarely ever have the luxury of waiting until all of the unknowns are known and risks eliminated. I look forward to where we go from here.

Jim Carrington, President

Previous Weekly Messages from Jim Carrington

Danforth Center Response Plan

The Danforth Plant Science Center recognizes the potential of exposure to Coronavirus (COVID-19) in our building and the impact it could have on our people and the Center. Accordingly, we have a plan in place in the event of a positive test for COVID-19 of an individual who was present in our Building(s).

Danforth Center Updates

During this unique moment in history, the first priority of the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center is the health and safety of our Center community, our families, and those who work with us.