The Fields Institute Turns Twenty-Five 170725 Final book with covers - Page 25

CHAPTER 1 Where it All Began W.F. Shadwick “I asked [Jerry Marsden] if he would be willing to be the Director. There was a long pause, and then he said, ‘Providing we can keep the science separate from the bullshit, I’d be very interested’.” The Fields Institute was my idea. When all this began, I was an NSERC University Research Fellow and an Associate Professor in the Pure Mathematics Department at the University of Waterloo. I had recently turned thirty-four. I was about to spend the next six years leading a much more senior group of people on a journey with no roadmap and no indication that we could ever reach our destination. The outcome was an excellent illustration of George Bernard Shaws dictum about progress—“the reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends upon the unreasonable man.”