NASA’s Chief Scientist, William & Mary Alumna to Headline 2016 Charter Day Ceremony

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Ellen Stofan will speak at the 2016 William & Mary Charter Day ceremony. (Photo courtesy of NASA)
Ellen Stofan will speak at the 2016 William & Mary Charter Day ceremony. (Photo courtesy of NASA)

William & Mary’s 2016 Charter Day Ceremony will be headlined by an alumna who has climbed the ranks at NASA.

Ellen Stofan, NASA’s chief scientist, has researched the geology of Earth, Venus, Mars and Titan, Saturn’s largest moon.

Stofan, who was appointed as NASA’s chief scientist in 2013, will return to speak at her alma mater at 4 p.m. Feb. 5 during the annual ceremony that celebrates the university’s royal charter, which was granted on Feb. 8, 1693 by King William III and Queen Mary II.

“Our own Ellen Stofan is now helping lead NASA as it explores the farthest reaches of the universe,” William & Mary President Taylor Reveley said. “Her success as a scientist has been striking, and her service to William & Mary has been compelling. Ellen is among William & Mary’s most distinguished alumnae, and we look forward to honoring her at Charter Day.”

A 1983 graduate of William & Mary, Stofan has received numerous awards throughout her career, including the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers. She is also a published author and has chaired multiple scientific committees.

Stofan, who will receive an honorary degree at the ceremony, has remained engaged and involved with the college, chairing the board of the William & Mary Foundation and has helped to lead her class reunions.

Emeritus Professor Jack Edwards is a Charter Day honorary degree recipient. (Photo courtesy of William & Mary)
Emeritus Professor Jack Edwards is a Charter Day honorary degree recipient. (Photo courtesy of William & Mary)

Also taking place at the Charter Day ceremony will be the presentation of an honorary degree to Professor of Government Emeritus Jack Edwards.

Edwards spent nearly 34 years serving William & Mary before retiring in 1996. After joining William & Mary in 1962, Edwards left the university once for a one-year appointment at Grinnell College in the mid-1960s.

In addition to teaching, Edwards also served as the dean of Arts & Sciences from 1974 to 1981 and chairman of the government department. In 1977, Edwards was awarded the Thomas Jefferson Award for significant service to the university.

NASA’s Chief Scientist, William & Mary Alumna to Headline 2016 Charter Day Ceremony