As reported in The Falmouth Enterprise on September 10 the National Academy of Sciences has recently listed for sale its Quissett campus, the J. Erik Jonsson Conference Center, for $27.5 million.
Throughout Cape Cod and the Vineyard, developers able to pay soaring real estate costs have been converting properties on Cape Cod and the Vineyard into hotels, Airbnbs and estates that are rarely occupied. This trend is in opposition to Falmouth’s goals of achieving diversity, and creating affordable and workforce housing.
We have learned of an exciting program (PAIR-UP) initiated by a scientist from our own community, George Langford. PAIR-UP brings together African American scientists at historically Black colleges and universities and African American scientists located at primarily white universities where they are often isolated and without social and academic support. The PAIR-UP program offers year-round courses and workshops to develop and teach new imaging technologies essential to many branches of science. It also provides the opportunity for collaboration, exchange of ideas, and long-term career support.
The Quissett campus as a home for Professor Langford’s program would maintain its scientific use, while advancing our community’s need for greater diversity.
The sale of the National Academy of Sciences estate should be viewed in the context of real estate developments that have contributed to the housing crisis in Falmouth and across the country. Enabling the purchase of the Jonsson Center, with the input of Woods Hole’s scientific institutions, and at a reasonable price, to accommodate a program like PAIR-UP would affirm our community’s values by recognizing the unique role of science here, our sincere commitment to diversity and inclusion, and our responsibility to create a level playing field for scientists of color.
As co-founders of the Jewel Cobb Action Coalition, we strongly support bringing PAIR-UP to Quissett Avenue. The name change of Agassiz Road to Jewel Cobb Road was symbolic of the need to build an inclusive community. Dedicating the Quissett campus for use by Black scientists would be an important step in fulfilling that need. This is an opportunity for National Academy of Sciences to contribute to a community they have long been part of, and properly accord Dr. Cobb’s scholarly work recognition that was not received in her lifetime.
We appeal to our community to join us in urging the National Academy of Sciences to consider a much more reasonable price for the Jonsson Center in recognition of the importance of having a program of national significance, one dedicated to science and racial justice, centered in our community.
Ruth S. Gainer
Jewel Cobb Road