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NASA Administrator Charles F. Bolden Jr. to Speak at Commencement

Release date: May 21, 2010

Charles Frank Bolden Jr. — the administrator of NASA, a retired U.S. Marine Corps major general, and former astronaut — will receive an honorary degree and will deliver the keynote address at Goucher College’s 119th Commencement on Friday, May 21, 2010. Listen to a podcast of the address here.

President Sanford J. Ungar will preside over the ceremony, which will begin at 10:30 a.m. on the lawn behind Mary Fisher Hall. In the event of rain, the event will be held in the college’s Sports and Recreation Center. For more information, visit www.goucher.edu/commencement.

Honorary degrees also will be awarded to Janice Benario ’43, a former officer in the Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service, part of the U.S. Naval Reserve, whose top-secret work was to handle decoded and translated German naval messages during WWII; and Patricia Goldman ’64, a former senior vice president for USAir; former vice chair of the National Transportation Safety Board; and founding member, first president, and president emerita of the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance.

Bolden was nominated by President Barack Obama and then confirmed as the NASA administrator by the U.S. Senate on July, 15, 2009. He is the first African-American to head the agency on a permanent basis.

Born in Columbia, South Carolina, in 1946, Bolden’s military career began with an appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy in 1964. He earned a bachelor of science in electrical science in 1968 and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Marine Corps. After completing flight training in 1970, Bolden was stationed in Thailand from 1972 to 1973 and flew more than 100 combat missions in North and South Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia.

After returning to the United States, Bolden earned a master of science in systems management from the University of California in 1977 and then was assigned to the Naval Test Pilot School at Patuxent River, Maryland, where he completed his training in 1979.

NASA’s Astronaut Office selected Bolden for astronaut training in 1980. He traveled into orbit four times between 1986 and 1994, logging more than 680 hours in space. In April 1990, he piloted the space shuttle Discovery during its mission to deploy the Hubble Space Telescope. In March 1992, he commanded the crew aboard the space shuttle Atlantis on the first Spacelab mission dedicated to NASA’s Mission to Planet Earth, a large-scale, unified study of planet Earth as a single, dynamic system. During his last trip into space in 1994 Bolden commanded the first joint American/Russian space shuttle mission, which included cosmonaut Sergei Krikalyov.

Bolden left NASA in 1994 to return to active duty with the Marine Corps as the deputy commandant of midshipmen at the Naval Academy. In 1997, he was named the deputy commanding general of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force in the Pacific. During the first half of 1998, he served as the commanding general of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force Forward in support of Operation Desert Thunder in Kuwait.

Bolden was promoted to his final rank of major general in July 1998 and was named deputy commander of U.S. Forces in Japan. He later served as the commanding general of the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in San Diego, from 2000 until 2002, before retiring from the Marine Corps in 2003.

Bolden's military decorations include the Defense Superior Service Medal and the Distinguished Flying Cross. He was inducted into the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame in May 2006.

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