In his will, Dr. Benjamin Franklin set aside money, with the interest to go to underwriting apprenticeships. He clearly understood the value of compound interest, and wanted this program to do good for a long time after he was gone. But he decreed that the funding should end after 200 years, when he said he could no longer envision what the world would be like. 200 years was 1990, eighteen years ago. But I like to think that Dr. Franklin would appreciate many aspects of what we do here today.
We are gathered to celebrate the 302nd birthday of Dr. Franklin, and this year we recognize yet another aspect of his genius — fostering curiosity and achievement by women. Over the last few years we have celebrated other sides of his genius — Building the City, Ethical Thoughts and Actions, Creation of the Postal System, and Inventing the Political Cartoon among others.
Our theme in 2008 is "Franklin's Legacy; Women in Science". Though such terms as Limnology and Ameloid had not yet been coined, Dr. Franklin would have grasped their significance, and would have been excited by the research being done today. I believe he would have understood us better than he expected.
And so we feel we understand him — this great American. We are honored to pay our respects.