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NASA astronaut Eileen Collins to deliver Syracuse University/ESF 2001 Commencement address
NASA astronaut Eileen Collins to deliver Syracuse University/ESF 2001 Commencement addressJanuary 12, 2001Kelly Homan Rodoskikahoman@syr.edu
Astronaut, U.S. Air Force colonel and Syracuse University alumna Eileen Collins ’78 will address the 2001 graduates of Syracuse University and the SUNY College of Environmental Science Forestry during joint Commencement exercises in the Carrier Dome May 13.
“We are very pleased to welcome Eileen back to campus,” says Chancellor Kenneth A. Shaw. “Her distinguished career is a stellar example for all students, particularly women students, of the heights you can reach when you are really determined.”
Collins made history in February 1995 as the first female space shuttle pilot. On that mission, the first of the joint Russian-American Space Program, Collins guided the shuttle Discovery within 37 feet of the Russian space lab Mir. On that flight, Collins took an SU pennant that she had requested from the University specifically for the mission. She later gave the pennant back to the University, along with NASA patches and photos from the mission.
On her second shuttle mission, in May 1997, she piloted the shuttle Atlantis. Collins made history again in July 1999 as the first woman to command a shuttle mission. That mission, aboard the shuttle Columbia, included the deployment of the Chandra X-Ray Observatory.
A native of Elmira, N.Y., Collins received a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and economics from SU’s College of Arts and Sciences in 1978. She was awarded the George Arents Pioneer Medal, the highest alumni honor the University bestows, in 1996.
Collins has received the Defense Superior Service Medal, the Air Force Meritorious Service Medal with one oak leaf cluster, the Air Force Commendation Medal with one oak leaf cluster, the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal for service in Grenada, and the NASA Space Flight Medal.
Collins was chosen as Commencement speaker by a selection committee composed of two students from each of the undergraduate schools and colleges and two graduate students–all members of the Class of 2001.
“Syracuse University is a breeding ground for encouragement of creativity, goal setting and making the impossible possible,” says Colleen Locke, a senior in the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and a member of the selection committee. “Therefore, I could not think of a better candidate to speak at this year’s Commencement.”
Collins graduated from Air Force Undergraduate Pilot Training at Vance Air Force Base in Oklahoma in 1979 and continued there as a T-38 instructor pilot until 1982. From 1983 to 1985, she was a C-141 aircraft commander and instructor pilot at Travis Air Force Base in California. She spent the following year as a student with the Air Force Institute of Technology.
From 1986 to 1989, she was assigned to the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado, where she was an assistant professor of mathematics and a T-41 instructor pilot. She was selected for the astronaut program while attending the Air Force Test Pilot School at Edwards Air Force Base in California, from which she graduated in 1990.
Collins became an astronaut in July 1991. She was initially assigned to orbiter engineering support, and also served on the astronaut support team responsible for pre-launch checkout, final launch configuration, crew ingress/egress and landing/recovery.
Collins has logged more than 5,000 hours in 30 different types of aircraft, as well as 537 hours in space.
In addition to her bachelor’s degree from SU, Collins holds an associate’s degree in mathematics and science from Corning Community College (1976), a master’s degree in operations research from Stanford University (1986), and a master’s degree in space systems management from Webster University (1989).