Science & Tech

Leadership Initiative Fellow Bolden nominated to lead NASA

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Retired Marine general, astronaut gets Obama NASA nod

Retired Marine Maj. Gen. and former astronaut Charles Bolden was nominated to be the head of NASA on Saturday (May 23), interrupting his stay at Harvard as anAdvanced Leadership Fellow.

Bolden was halfway through the calendar-year fellowship with the Harvard Advanced Leadership Initiative, a new interfaculty program. The fellowships are aimed at experienced leaders with 20- to 25-year track records of accomplishment who are interested in devoting future efforts to significant public service or international problems.

While at Harvard, the fellows audit classes, mentor students, attend a weekly seminar and intensive workshops with experts, and travel to Brazil and Louisiana before undertaking independent research. Bolden, who arrived in January, is interested in research on using education to help disadvantaged children and on improving the lives of those stricken with sickle cell anemia.

Advanced Leadership Initiative Chair and Director Rosabeth Moss Kanter, the Arbuckle Professor of Business Administration, said initiative faculty and fellows are proud that Bolden was selected to continue his already considerable service to his country. Kanter, who has spent time with Bolden during his fellowship, described him as “thoughtful, warm, and strong.”

“He’s clearly very accomplished, but also humble,” Kanter said. “He’s motivated to help people who are disadvantaged.”

Bolden, who retired from the U.S. Marine Corps as a major general in 2004, was born in 1946. He graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1968 and flew combat missions in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia in 1972 and 1973. He became a test pilot in 1979 and has logged more than 6,000 hours of flying time.

Bolden became an astronaut in 1981. He flew aboard the space shuttle four times, including the 1990 mission that launched the Hubble space telescope and the 1994 mission that was the first U.S./Russian joint shuttle mission, which had a cosmonaut as a member of the crew. Bolden commanded that mission as well as his last, also in 1994.

President Barack Obama announced his intent to nominate Bolden as NASA administrator and Lori Garver, president of Capital Space LLC and former NASA official, as NASA deputy administrator on Saturday (May 23).

“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 in a statement.

NASA is dealing with several challenges as Bolden prepares to take the reins. The agency faces questions about the future of the International Space Station and is in the midst of a transition from the space shuttle to the Orion program, which aims to replace the shuttle as the major vehicle to take astronauts into space.