(January 30, 2008) – California State University, Fresno President John D. Welty will attend the Astronauts Memorial Foundation’s remembrance service honoring space shuttle Columbia’s STS-107 crew in Cape Canaveral, Fla., on Friday (Feb. 1), the fifth anniversary of the Columbia accident.

The crew’s commander, Air Force Col. Rick Husband, was an alumnus of Fresno State and carried a Bulldogs sweatshirt with him on the ill-fated space mission. His widow, Evelyn Husband-Thompson, invited Welty to Friday’s anniversary observance. It will be held at the Space Mirror Memorial on the NASA Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex at 7 a.m. Pacific time.

Accompanying President Welty will be former deputy chair of Rockwell International Corporation Sam Iacobellis, who is a Fresno State alumnus and father of the B1 bomber; and Dr. Peter Smits, Fresno State vice president of advancement.

Iacobellis was instrumental in the development of the Husband-Boeing Honors Scholars Program at Fresno State that honors Col. Husband by providing four-year full tuition scholarships to 20 talented, qualified and motivated students from Central California to pursue and complete their education in engineering or technology. The program was announced a year ago with a $2 million gift from The Boeing Company.

Smits attended the launch of the Columbia on Jan. 16, 2003, after Col. Husband invited university representation at the event. Smits later coordinated a visit Evelyn Husband made to Fresno in October, 2003, to receive the university’s Top Dog Outstanding Alumni Award for Engineering bestowed on her husband the year before.

Husband earned his master’s degree through Engineering’s Edward Air Force Base extension program in 1990 and he was member of the Air Force ROTC during his undergraduate years at Texas Tech.

At Friday’s memorial, which will be covered live by NASA Television, Evelyn Husband-Thompson will be one of the featured speakers.

“Rick had a special place in his heart for Fresno State,” she said when she visited Fresno in 2003. “He credited his Fresno State education for the fulfillment of his dream to become an astronaut. He even packed a red Bulldog sweatshirt onboard Columbia to wear on his trip into space.”

Other speakers at Cape Canaveral will include: NASA Administrator Michael Griffin; Kennedy Space Center Director Bill Parsons; NASA Associate Administrator for Space Operations William Gerstenmaier; Shuttle Commander for the Return to Flight mission, STS-114, Eileen Collins; Shuttle Commander and former NASA Associate Administrator for Space Operations William Readdy and G. Madhavan Nair, chairman of the Indian Space Research Organization.

The foundation is a private, not-for-profit organization that built and maintains the Space Mirror Memorial. It was dedicated in 1991 to honor all astronauts who lost their lives on missions or during training and since has been designated a National Memorial by Congress.

Columbia’s seven astronauts were lost during re-entry on Feb. 1, 2003, following a 16-day science mission. Husband’s crew members were Pilot William McCool, Payload Commander Michael Anderson, Mission Specialists David Brown, Kalpana Chawla, and Laurel Clark, and Payload Specialist Ilan Ramon.

Four days later, the Fresno State campus community mourned the tragedy and paid tribute to its fallen alumni and his crew with a memorial service in the Peace Garden on campus.

Since then, the university has honored Col. Husband’s memory in several ways.

In February 2007, a $2 million endowment from The Boeing Company created the Husband-Boeing Honors Scholars Program in Engineering at Fresno. In addition to the Boeing gift, pledges have been made by Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne with negotiations currently under way on three other large gifts, including two in aerospace.
The engineering alumni chapter established a scholarship fund in honor of Col. Husband that will benefit students from the College of Engineering.
The College of Engineering named its NASA-related Hovercraft project “The Spirit of Columbia” in honor of the seven astronauts who died.
The Fresno State Alumni Association Board of Directors dedicated the first tile of its “Bulldog Walkway” at the Save Mart Center to Col. Husband and the Columbia Shuttle Crew.
On April 2, 2005, a plaque memorializing the colonel was unveiled in the Engineering East Building on campus by Col. Steve Lindsey, a NASA astronaut and close friend of Col. Husband.
Fresno State’s Air Force ROTC Detachment 035 has a special place of honor in its Cadet Center in the North Gym that also memorializes Col. Husband and the Columbia Space Crew.

Related links:

Friday’s memorial at Cape Canaveral: http://www.kennedyspacecenter.com

NASA TV downlink information, schedules and links to streaming video:

Fresno State 2003 tribute to Col. Husband:

Husband-Boeing Honors Scholars Program:

College of Engineering and Computer Science