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NASA head Daniel Goldin to be MIT Commencement speaker June 8

Photo / Bill Ingalls, NASA

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- NASA Administrator Daniel S. Goldin, who revitalized the space agency during the post-Cold War era, will be the principal speaker at the MIT Commencement on June 8.

Mr. Goldin, who was named to his position in 1992, is the longest-serving administrator in the history of the National Aeronautics and Space Agency, holding the position under three presidents. He is credited with streamlining the agency's bureaucracy and providing a new vision that stressed science and technology while reducing the budget for human space flights. He played a major role in the development of the International Space Station.

"Dan Goldin has been an unusually passionate and effective leader and advocate not only for the exploration of space, but for U.S. technological leadership in general," said MIT President Charles M. Vest, who was chair of the President's Advisory Committee on the Resdesign of the International Space Station. "His strength of conviction and perserverance in both advocating support for space science and bringing change to NASA's organization and operations have been remarkable. He is an extraordinary leader who will have interesting and worthwhile messages for our graduates."

During Mr. Goldin's NASA tenure, the cost and time needed to develop spacecraft has been reduced dramatically while the number of missions launched each year has quadrupled. Safety standards and mission capabilities have improved significantly, even with Space Shuttle costs reduced by 33 percent.

He started the Origins Program to understand the evolution of life on earth and determine if it exists elsewhere. He has been a strong supporter for increased exploration of Mars. Mr. Goldin was also in the forefront of the plan to install a "contact lens" on the Hubble Space Telescope, which resulted in important discoveries of the cosmos.

Last October, Mr. Goldin discussed the future of aerospace at the System Design and Management Lecture Series on Complex Systems. "MIT is at the leading edge and the students in this room will help lead that change," he told a packed Wong Auditorium.

A 1962 graduate of City College of New York with a major in mechanical engineering, Mr. Goldin began his career at NASA's Lewis Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio, working on electric propulsion systems for human interplanetary travel. He was vice president and general manager of the TRW Space and Technology Group in California for 25 years before rejoining NASA as the Administrator on March 5, 1992. He became the agency's longest serving director last month, surpassing James Fletcher, who served a total of eight years, 11 months during two terms in the 1970s and 1980s.

Mr. Goldin will be the 33d person to deliver the Commencement speech since 1951. From 1964-81, MIT Presidents Julius A. Stratton, Howard W. Johnson, Jerome B. Wiesner and Paul E. Gray were the principal speakers.

Recent Commencement speakers have included Hewlett-Packard President and CEO Carleton "Carly" S. Fiorina (2000), President William J. Clinton and AIDS researcher David Ho (1998), UN Secretary General Kofi Annan (1997) and Vice President Albert Gore in 1996. Providing a change of pace, MIT alumni Tom and Ray Magliozzi -- better known as Click and Clack on their National Public Radio program Car Talk -- spoke in 1999.

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