Former NASA leader to deliver Hall Lecture Sept. 24

Michael D. Griffin, a former administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, will give the John R. and Donna S. Hall Engineering Lecture – Challenges Facing the U.S. Civil Space Program – at 4 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 24, in Featheringill Hall’s Jacobs Believed in Me Auditorium.

Griffin served as NASA administrator from 2005 to 2009. He strongly supports manned space travel and the targets of returning to the moon by 2020 and reaching Mars by 2037.

“In any era, extending humanity’s reach is always the hardest thing a society does. We stretch ourselves, and what we learn yields broad benefits. Our solar system is the new frontier; its exploration and exploitation will benefit those who take the lead in pursuing it,” Griffin says.

As Hall Lecturer, he will discuss issues including U.S. civilian space policy, strong relationships with international partners, and budgetary support to sustain existing commitments and to prepare for bold new ventures.


“Aligning the program with pressing issues – environmental, economic and strategic – is a national imperative, and will continue to grow in importance as America seeks to return humans to the frontiers of space,” Griffin says.

Griffin is a professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at the University of Alabama at Huntsville. Prior to NASA, he served as Space Department Head at Johns Hopkins University’s Applied Physics Laboratory. Earlier in his career, Griffin served as chief engineer and as associate administrator for exploration at NASA, and as deputy for technology at the Strategic Defense Initiative Organization.

He has been an adjunct professor at the University of Maryland, Johns Hopkins University, and George Washington University. He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and the International Academy of Astronautics, an Honorary Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), a Fellow of the American Astronautical Society, and a Senior Member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers.

Griffin is a recipient of the NASA Exceptional Achievement Medal, the AIAA Space Systems Medal, and the Department of Defense Distinguished Public Service Medal, the highest award given to a non-government employee.

The John R. and Donna S. Hall Engineering Lecture Series was established in 2002 to allow Vanderbilt School of Engineering students to hear renowned engineers from universities and agencies address engineering topics of particular interest.

All members of the Vanderbilt University community are invited to attend. There will be a reception following the lecture.