President Barack Obama has announced his intent to nominate USC Trustee Charles F. Bolden Jr. MS ’77, a former combat pilot, Marine Corps major general and veteran space shuttle commander, to serve as the space agency’s next administrator.
In addition to the selection of Bolden as NASA chief, Lori Garver was named to the key NASA role of deputy administrator.
“These talented individuals will help put NASA on course to boldly push the boundaries of science, aeronautics and exploration in the 21st century and ensure the long-term vibrancy of America’s space program,” Obama said.
USC Viterbi School dean Yannis C. Yortsos, who has joined Bolden for a number of alumni and USC events, hailed the news.
“Charlie is an outstanding and inspirational leader,” he said. “The whole school joins me in congratulating him on his great new challenge to restore space as a key part of human endeavor.”
In 2003, Bolden received the Asa V. Call Award, the highest distinction bestowed upon a USC alum, and has served on the USC Board of Trustees since that year. He also received the USC Alumni Award of Merit in 1989.
As part of the “intent to nominate” statement, the White House released a biography of Bolden.
Bolden, who began his service in the Marine Corps in 1968, retired in 2003 as the commanding general of the Third Marine Aircraft Wing after serving more than 34 years. He is currently chief executive officer of Jackandpanther LLC, a privately held military and aerospace consulting firm.
He flew more than 100 sorties in Vietnam from 1972-73. In 1980, he was selected as an astronaut by NASA, flying two space shuttle missions as pilot and two missions as commander. Following the Challenger accident in 1986, Bolden was named chief of the safety division at the Johnson Space Center. He was appointed assistant deputy administrator of NASA headquarters in 1992. He was senior vice president at TechTrans International Inc. from 2003 until 2005.
Bolden holds a bachelor of science in electrical engineering from the U.S. Naval Academy and a master of science in systems management from USC.
Bolden, the third Black person to fly in space, met with Obama at the White House on May 26, the day the space telescope was relaunched from the shuttle Atlantis.