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Contact: Christine Payton April 15, 2011
(337) 482-6397, payton@louisiana.edu
Col. Eileen Collins, the first woman to pilot and command an American spacecraft will deliver the keynote address during the University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s General Assembly commencement ceremony at 9 a.m. May 14. All graduates will be in procession during this ceremony at the Cajundome.

Collins will share her experiences as a test pilot, astronaut and space flight commander with graduates. She flew her first shuttle mission, STS-63 Discover, in February 1995, as the first woman ever to pilot a space shuttle. She also served as pilot on her second shuttle mission, STS-84 Atlantis, in May 1997.

In July 1999, Collins achieved another milestone by becoming the first woman to command a shuttle mission, STS-93 Columbia. In July 2005, she commanded the space shuttle Discovery’s historic “Return to Flight” mission. This was NASA’s first manned flight following the February 2003 loss of the Shuttle Columbia.

Over the course of her four shuttle flights, Collins has logged more than 872 hours in space.

She earned an associate’s degree in mathematics and science from Corning Community College, a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and economics from Syracuse University, a master’s degree in operations research from Stanford University and a master’s degree in space systems management from Webster University.

Collins many medals, awards and honors incllude a Defense Superior Service Medal, Distinguished Flying Cross, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, French Legion of Honor, NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal, the 2005 Al Neuhath Free Spirit of the Year Award and the National Space Trophy.

She retired from the U.S. Air Force as a colonel in January 2005 and from NASA in August 2006.

In addition to Collins’ address, Ph.D.s will be conferred during the general assembly. The university’s top undergraduates will also be recognized.

Following the assembly, each of the university’s academic colleges will hold separate ceremonies. Master’s degrees will be awarded during these ceremonies.

The schedule for these ceremonies is as follows:

Noon – College of Liberal Arts
3 p.m. – B.I. Moody III College of Business Administration
Cajundome Convention Center - Festival Ballroom (2nd Floor)
Noon – Ray P. Authement College of Sciences
Cajundome Convention Center - Exhibit Hall A (1st Floor)
Noon – College of Engineering

Cajundome Convention Center - Exhibit Hall B (1st Floor)

Noon – College of Education
3 p.m. – College of General Studies

Earl K. Long Gym (Main Campus)

  12:30 p.m. – College of Nursing

Angelle Hall (Main campus)
12:30 p.m. – College of the Arts

Document last revised Monday, April 25, 2011 3:05 PM

Copyright 2003 by the University of Louisiana at Lafayette
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