The magnitude of change in our understanding of tree diseases during the past century is almost incomprehensible. This does not mean to imply that we know everything, but the science of forest pathology has come a long way in the past 100 years. This remarkable progress was driven by three events: (i) an investment in the early 1900s in federal and state experiment stations, which established the need for, and benefits of, research in tree diseases; (ii) veterans acquiring an education under the GI Bill, which created a pool of forest pathologists and students eager to solve the devastation caused by diseases such as chestnut blight, white pine blister rust, Dutch elm disease, and oak wilt; and (iii) the McIntire-Stennis Cooperative Forestry Program, which established a strategy for the federal government to assist the financing of forestry research in the universities. Although all three of these events are being drastically modified by a discontented tax-paying public, the threats of changing land use patterns, population pressures, and exotic pests on fragile forested ecosystems will certainly force a renaissance in our field that will dwarf progress of the past century and help assure an acceptable quality of life in the new century. The magnitude of what forest pathologists will accomplish, to a great extent, depends on what the public is willing to pay for.