The Admiral James D. Watkins award was created in honor of the late Admiral to recognize outstanding contributions to ocean research and education. In the Awards inaugural year, Ocean Leadership is honoring the cofounders of the Senate Oceans Caucus with the distinction. The first awardee, Senator Whitehouse, has long been an ocean champion, fighting to understand, preserve and safeguard the oceans. He helped establish the Senate Oceans Caucus; led the Senate effort to establish a National Endowment for the Oceans; and helped pass the Estuary Restoration Act.
“As a Senator for the Ocean State, it’s a particular honor to receive this award,” said Senator Whitehouse. “Our state relies on our Bay and ocean for so much – from fishing, to tourism, to boating, and soon, we hope, wind energy. With all of that at stake, I’ve been proud to continue the Rhode Island tradition, set by Senators Claiborne Pell and John Chafee, of fighting to protect our coastal waters so they can continue to enrich our lives by supporting a thriving ecosystem and all the jobs that come with it.”
“In honor of the late Admiral James D. Watkins, Ocean Leadership created this award in his name to commemorate his deep devotion and dedication to the ocean and to carry on his life’s quest to understand and protect the sea,” said Bob Gagosian, President & CEO of the Consortium for Ocean Leadership. “Today, we are proud to present this award to Senator Sheldon Whitehouse in recognition of his tremendous leadership in advancing marine science and conserving our nation’s ocean and coastal resources. This is truly a national award for a national leader.”
There were a series of afternoon events at the URI GSO to commemorate this special occasion: a lecture by Bob Gagosian on Oceanography Amidst a Fiscal Cliff; a tour of the URI GSO Inner Space Center; and the Admiral James D. Watkins award presentation and reception.
“Senator Whitehouse has provided critical leadership in ocean-related issues that will have a significant impact on the future of the oceans for years to come,” said URI GSO Dean Bruce Corliss. “The Admiral James D. Watkins Award from the Consortium for Ocean Leadership is recognition of his commitment and contributions to the stewardship of the oceans, and we were delighted to host this event at the Graduate School of Oceanography at the University of Rhode Island.”
About the Admiral James D. Watkins Award
This distinguished and meritorious award is named after Admiral James D. Watkins (1927-2012), who dedicated his life to public service with extraordinary influence on the marine science community and ocean policy. Watkins chaired the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy (2001-2004), served as the Chief of Naval Operations (1980-1986), Secretary of Energy (1989-1993), President of the Joint Oceanographic Institutions (JOI) (1993-2000), founding President of the Consortium for Ocean Research and Education (CORE) (1994-2001), and established the National Ocean Science Bowl competition in 1998.
The James D. Watkins Award is presented only when the highest standard of merit has been proven and recognizes those who have distinguished themselves as champions of ocean science through sponsorship of legislation, development of sound ocean policy, or promoting federal investment to advance the field of oceanography.
The Watkins Award is conveyed by the Consortium for Ocean Leadership; a Washington-DC based nonprofit organization that represents more than 100 of the nation’s leading public and private ocean research and education institutions, aquaria and industry. The Consortium for Ocean Leadership was established in 2007 through the merger of JOI and CORE, with the mission to shape the future of ocean science and technology through research, education and sound ocean policy.