STARKVILLE, Miss.--The head of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration will inaugurate a new distinguished lecture series at Mississippi State University.
Michael Griffin, tapped last April by President George W. Bush as the agency's administrator, will speak March 27 in the Hunter Henry Center on campus. "Leadership and Space Exploration" will be his topic at the 2 p.m. public program.
Griffin's visit is sponsored by the university's W.L. Giles Distinguished Professors, a group of approximately a dozen veteran faculty members awarded their rank on the basis of outstanding research and scholastic achievements. The lecture is made possible with support from MSU President Charles Lee.
"This will be the first of what we hope will become an annual Giles Distinguished Lecture," said David Shaw, director of the university's GeoResources Institute and GDP chair.
"Dr. Griffin has a stellar academic background and has provided strong leadership for NASA," Shaw added. "We're honored to have an outstanding scientist inaugurate the series, and we credit Dr. Lee for his support of this public forum to share Dr. Griffin's insights."
Lee said the campus community "is fortunate to have an opportunity to hear firsthand about the challenges ahead in space exploration from a leader of this great national undertaking."
He added: "Many of our alumni have played important roles in the space program during the past 40 years, during which NASA has been on the leading edge of our country's incredible advances in science and technology.
"We are honored to have Dr. Griffin here to share with another generation of students and faculty insights about the future of an effort that helps define America's role as the world leader in technological innovation and scientific discovery," Lee said.
The 11th administrator to lead the agency, Griffin earlier served as space department head at Johns Hopkins University's Applied Physics Laboratory. He also has been president and chief operating officer of In-Q-Tel Inc., a company that provides leadingedge technologies to the CIA and other intelligence agencies.
Additionally, he held several positions with Orbital's Magellan Systems, a company that develops and manufactures small space systems for commercial, government and military customers.
As an adjunct professor at the University of Maryland and Johns Hopkins and George Washington universities, Griffin taught courses in spacecraft design, applied mathematics, guidance and navigation, and other aerospace engineering areas. He is a certified flight instructor with instrument and multi-engine ratings.
He is a member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers and the holder of academic degrees in physics, aerospace science, aerospace engineering, electrical engineering, applied physics, and civil engineering. He also completed a master's in business administration.
A registered professional engineer in Maryland and California, Griffin is a fellow of the American Astronautical Society and American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. Among many other honors is his Department of Defense Distinguished Public Service Medal, the highest award given to a non-government employee.