Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy

To ignite and nurture creative, ethical, scientific minds that advance the human condition.

IMSA Names Science Wing in Honor of "Founding Father" Dr. Leon Lederman

It was a bittersweet day for IMSA "Founding Father" Dr. Leon Lederman, who recently attended the dedication of the Lederman Science Wing for Creative Inquiry during his last day on campus before retirement.

Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy President Dr. Glenn W. “Max” McGee said it best when describing Nobel Laureate Dr. Leon Lederman’s relationship with the Academy.

 
IMSA student and 2012 U.S. Physics Team member Peter Lu is thrilled to get an autograph from Nobel Laureate in Physics Dr. Leon Lederman following
the dedication ceremony of the Lederman Science Wing for Creative Inquiry.
 
(l-to-r) IMSA Founding President and President Emerita Dr. Stephanie Pace Marshall, IMSA Board of Trustees Member Sheila MB Griffin, IMSA President Dr. Glenn W. "Max" McGee, IMSA Board of Trustees Member Jack McEachern, Jr. and IMSA Board of Trustees Chairman Dr. Steven T. Isoye applaud Dr. Lederman following the ribbon-cutting of the Lederman Science Wing for Creative Inquiry at IMSA.

“As internationally renowned as he is, his heart has always been at IMSA,” Dr. McGee said Wednesday during the dedication ceremony of the Lederman Science Wing for Creative Inquiry. “When he is here, the Academy feels different.”

Lederman is known as the “Founding Father” of the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy (IMSA).  As a teaching and learning laboratory created by the State of Illinois, IMSA enrolls academically talented Illinois students (grades 10-12) in its advanced, residential college preparatory program, and also serves thousands of educators and students in Illinois and beyond. An integral part of the IMSA community, Lederman served as its Resident Scholar and was instrumental in bringing the greatest minds in the word to campus as part of the IMSA Great Minds Program®.

More than 100 IMSA staff, former staff, students, alumni, Board of Trustees members and friends of IMSA gathered to honor a man who spent the better part of 90 years dedicating his life to science and science education.

“I have heard Leon use many words to describe science—wonder, joy, fun and play among them—but I think his favorite words is awesome,” said IMSA Founding President and President Emerita Dr. Stephanie Pace Marshall.  “Leon, our pledge to you as we dedicate this space in your name is that it will always be a center for awesome science.”

Earlier this month, Lederman was honored in Washington, D.C. at the U.S. Department of State with the prestigious 2012 Vannevar Bush Award for his leadership and lifelong commitment to science education and the development of science talent.  In addition to being the Founding Father of IMSA, he is also the director emeritus of Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory and has received numerous prestigious awards including the 1988 Nobel Prize in Physics, the National Medal of Science, the Wolfe Prize in Physics and the Enrico Fermi Prize among many others.  

On Wednesday, the IMSA Board of Trustees also presented Dr. Lederman with a resolution, honoring him for his many contributions to the Academy over the years, including  his “extraordinary vision, purposeful leadership, indelible mark and inspiring legacy.”

Although it was a special day of celebration for Lederman, it also was his last day on the IMSA campus before he retires.  When asked what he thought of the celebration and
ceremony, Lederman said, “When I walk out of this place, I’m going to cry.”

Although no longer physically present on the IMSA campus Dr. McGee said the Academy will continue to honor his legacy.

“We are so grateful for your spirit, presence and dream and you have our pledge that we will continue to fulfill your dream for the next 25 years and beyond.”