The University of South Australia will award Major General Charles Frank Bolden Jr an Honorary Doctorate at its March 21 graduation ceremony, acknowledging his inspirational military and space career, and his worldwide advocacy for access to education.
Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), Maj Gen Bolden forged a highly successful career in an era where barriers for African Americans were almost insurmountable.
UniSA Vice Chancellor Professor David Lloyd says Maj Gen Bolden’s life is an example of the power of talent, self-belief, determination and an enterprising spirit.
“A highly intelligent and dedicated student with a strong commitment to service to his community, Charlie had to find a way to beat prejudice and the road blocks put in his path,” Prof Lloyd says.
“Born in South Carolina in 1947, race and the struggle for equality were hugely important during his formative years – but wherever there was someone saying no you can’t, Charlie found a path that proved you can. He continues to encourage and inspire young people globally not to compromise their dreams and to reach for the stars.”
In 2013 UniSA was honoured to have Maj Gen Bolden commit his time to join in unijam, a world first online 38-hour consultation and conversation staged at the University to harness great ideas and experience in support of future planning for the University.
“It was an enormous privilege to have his contribution and his wisdom at unijam,” Prof Lloyd says.
“His philosophy for enterprising organisations which he explained during the jam - ‘...at NASA we like to make the impossible, possible and I challenge our team to turn science fiction into science fact…this is essential if we are going to conquer technological challenges, make life better for people across the globe, and partner with other nations in projects that require a global scope’ - is similarly an inspirational challenge for our University and our students and researchers.”
Maj Gen Bolden graduated from C. A. Johnson High School in 1964.
He accepted a commission as a second lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps following graduation from the United States Naval Academy in 1968 and underwent flight training across the country before being designated a Naval Aviator in May 1970.
He served in Vietnam from 1972 to June 1973 before graduating from the United States Naval Test Pilot School in 1979 and logged more than 6,000 hours flying time.
In 1980 Maj Gen Bolden was selected as an astronaut candidate by NASA and was a member of the NASA Astronaut Corps until 1994 when he returned to assignments in the Marine Corps. In 1998 he served as Commanding General, I MEF (Forward) in support of Operation Desert Thunder in Kuwait.
Maj Gen Bolden became an astronaut in August 1981. A veteran of four space flights – piloting the space shuttles Columbia and Discovery - he has logged over 680 hours in space and he was at the helm when the Hubble Space Telescope was deployed.
At NASA, Maj Gen Bolden has overseen the safe transition from 30 years of space shuttle missions to a new era of exploration focused on full utilisation of the International Space Station and space and aeronautics technology development.
He has led the agency in developing a Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft that will carry astronauts to deep space destinations, such as Mars. He also established a new Space Technology Mission Directorate to develop cutting-edge technologies for the missions of tomorrow.
During his tenure, the agency's support of commercial space transportation systems for reaching low-Earth orbit have enabled successful commercial cargo resupply of the space station and significant progress toward returning the capability for American companies to launch astronauts from American soil by 2017.
Maj Gen Bolden has also supported NASA's contributions toward the development of cleaner, faster, and quieter airplanes.
NASA’s dynamic science activities under Maj Gen Bolden include an unprecedented landing on Mars with the Curiosity rover, launch of a spacecraft to Jupiter, enhancing the nation's fleet of Earth-observing satellites, and continued progress toward the 2018 launch of the James Webb Space Telescope, the successor to the Hubble Space Telescope.
On August 28, 2012, Maj Gen Bolden was the first human being to have his voice broadcast on the surface of Mars.
Maj Gen Bolden devotes a considerable amount of his time to speak to young people and encourage them to achieve their goals. In his White House Blog to celebrate Black History Month in 2011, he said he always tells young people to take the gains of previous generations and make their own progress.
“Students ask me how to become an astronaut - I tell them to pursue any of the paths in science, technology, engineering and mathematics and their chances of a strong, secure career that makes contributions to our economy and improves life for people worldwide will be possible,” he said
“I tell them, don't waste your time trying to explain yourself or your identity to anyone or justify why you are where you are -- in the workplace or anywhere else.
“Do your job and do it very well. Always remind yourself of 'why' you are pursuing the things you do. Stay in touch with that answer, and don't let others define it for you.”
Maj Gen Charles Bolden will deliver a presentation at a special UniSA event for more than 800 local school students at the Adelaide Convention Centre from 9.30am to 11am on the morning of March 21.
Media contact: Michèle Nardelli office: 08 8302 0966 mobile: 0418 823 673 email: Michele.firstname.lastname@example.org.