NDNU Awards Honorary Doctorate to Former Astronaut Barbara Morgan

Belmont, CA, May 9, 2009 — Notre Dame de Namur University has awarded an honorary Doctor of Public Service degree to former astronaut and NDNU alumna, Barbara Morgan, who also addressed the 362 students who participated  at the 157th NDNU commencement May 9.

Morgan was honored for her contributions both as an astronaut and as an educator. She was the first teacher to fly in space when she flew as a mission specialist aboard the Endeavor in August 2007. Her citation read in part, “Today, we honor this role model not only for her accomplishments on behalf of education but for her advocacy of it.”

In her remarks, Morgan urged the students to “keep the future open” even when important or significant events challenge us and force us to change our perspective. She said the Challenger and Columbia disasters were two such significant moments. She said of the Challenger disaster: “It made me realize that we need to show children what adults do when terrible things happen. First we make sure what we were doing is worth it, and if it is, we find out what went wrong … then we fix it. We make it better. We build. We keep the future open.”

Morgan, who received her teaching credential from NDNU (then CND) in 1974 and who is best known for her contributions to the NASA Endeavor flight in 2007, will speak about “The Power of Perspective” in her keynote address.
A 1973 Stanford University graduate, Morgan became the first teacher to fly in space in 2007, 21 years after her original selection as backup for Christa McAuliffe who lost her life in the explosion of the Challenger in 1986. Following the Challenger incident, Morgan returned to her teaching career while performing her duties as Teacher in Space Designee, which included public speaking, educational consulting, and curriculum design. She also served National Science Foundation’s Federal Task Force for Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering. She was chosen by NASA to train as a mission specialist in 1998, and was assigned in 2002 to a supply mission to the International Space Station, which she completed in 2007 on the shuttle Endeavor.

Barbara Morgan’s honors include Phi Beta Kappa, NASA Headquarters Special Service Award, NASA Public Service Group Achievement Award, Center for Space Science Education Challenger 7 Award, National Space Society Space Pioneer Award for Education, Women in Aerospace Education Award, National PTA Honorary Lifetime Member, and USA Today Citizens of the Year. She is currently at Boise State University in Idaho as Distinguished Educator in Residence.