JFK Tribute at MIT Centennial (1961)

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MODERATOR: Remarks recorded for a special playing back at a luncheon to be held at the Massachusetts institute of Technology on April 8, 1961, recorded on April 6, 1961, from the President's Office in the White House.

KENNEDY: It is a source of great satisfaction to me, as a resident of Massachusetts and as President of the United States, to join in saluting the Massachusetts institute of Technology on its hundredth anniversary. MIT began as an institution designed to serve the needs of our society at an early stage of its industrialization. It is also a matter of pride that MIT, like the land grant colleges, was assisted in its early days by funds under the Morrill Act, passed during the administration of President Lincoln. As American society has developed, MIT, remaining loyal to its initial commitments, has also developed. From a school designed to train railway mining and civil engineers, it evolved with the technical needs of our society into a great scientific university. More than that, it accepted the fact that modern science must bring its results to bear in a human setting, and it has developed its study of man and societies. Finally, it recognized that the needs of the United States involve the United States not only as a nation but as part of the world community.

The men of MIT, and two of them now serve on the White House staff, Professor Wiesner, as the scientific advisor to the President, Professor Rostow, as an assistant on international security matters. These men and others have made striking contributions not only to national security, but also to the cause of economic development and to the cause of arms control and disarmament and peace.

We live in a time when the old international tradition of the university is uniquely important. The Western universities originally derived their international tradition from their connection with the church. They now derive it because of the world of ideas and the world of science are essentially international. If we are to produce the kind of world required for the safety and well being of the human beings who live in it, we must build on this international tradition. We must develop a community of you, not only among the world's scientists, but among the world planners for economic development, among its disarmament planners, and among all those who recognize the interrelationship of the human race.

Above all, we must learn as national societies what the scientists already know: That the relations among men and nations, in the end, must be as open as the relations now are between men of science. It is with great satisfaction that I greet the men of MIT. I am confident that the next 100 years will see them serving not only this country, but also all men who believe in progress and freedom.