Air University presents honorary doctorate to NASA chief

Press Release From: Maxwell AFB
Posted: Tuesday, November 16, 2010

image MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. - Air University conferred an honorary doctorate on the chief of NASA during a ceremony here Nov. 15.

Charles F. Bolden Jr., NASA's current administrator and a retired Marine major general, received an Air University Honorary Doctor of Science degree for his contributions in education, government, public service and community affairs.

The administrator has "truly been an inspiration for those who seek to reach the stars," said Lt. Gen. Allen Peck, Air University commander.

Bolden follows Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and retired Air Force Col. Frank Borman, a fellow astronaut, as the third to receive the honor. His focus on space, along with a strong military career, is analogous with Air University's character and mission to educate the Air Force.

The administrator, who was honored in 2001 and 2007 for his contributions to air and space at Air University's Gathering of Eagles, said it was a pleasure to be back at Air University.

Bolden flew on four Space Shuttle missions, two of which he commanded, but began his military career flying more than 100 missions in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War. Following his fourth Space Shuttle mission in 1994, he returned to active duty as deputy commander of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force and retired in 2003 as the commanding general of the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing. In 2006, he was inducted into the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame.

The administrator has distinguished himself throughout his military career and as administrator of NASA, General Peck noted. He has also taken time to visit schools to encourage young students to achieve their academic potential.

The administrator credits his parents for his success.

"My parents were life-long educators, and I know they are pleased as they look down from their eternal resting place," he said.

After the ceremony, he visited Maxwell's Science and Technology Academies Reinforcing Basic Aviation and Space Exploration, or STARBASE, class, an educational program for fifth-graders that stresses mathematics and science.

Bolden said NASA is steadily increasing its investment in aeronautics, and he hopes young people will be "awed and inspired" by what is going on there now and what it wants to do in the future.

"I tell students if they want to be an astronaut, they should study math and science and there will be a job at NASA for them," he said. "We at NASA are embarking on a path with big ideas we hope will be good for the nation and the world."

He said space exploration "creates the programs of tomorrow," and leads to deeper friendships around the world.

Noting the number of international Air University students - officers from 79 nations - Bolden pointed out the international cooperation NASA enjoys.

"At NASA, we have 15 nations who have participated in the [International Space Station] and Space Shuttle programs, and they have created a model for global cooperation," he said. "To the international officers, I say I truly hope NASA will be working with each of your countries in the future. When you look down at the Earth from space, somehow, borders don't seem so important."

Air University is the intellectual and leadership center of the Air Force. Air University prepares students to develop, employ, command, research, and champion air, space and cyberspace power at all levels. Air University's colleges and schools provide the full spectrum of Air Force education, including degree granting and professional continuing education for officers, enlisted and civilian personnel throughout their careers. Air University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

For more information on Air University, please visit For the administrator's entire bio, please visit

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