Retired NASA flight director, Harvard professor to address graduates May 8

May 4, 2010 | Events, UToday
By Vicki L. Kroll

An engineer and an educator will return to their hometown to speak at The University of Toledo’s commencement ceremonies Saturday, May 8, in Savage Arena.



Eugene “Gene” Kranz, retired NASA flight director best known for leading the Mission Control team to save the Apollo 13 crew, will address graduates of the colleges of Business Administration, Engineering, and Health Science and Human Service at 9:30 a.m.

Dr. Catherine E. Snow, a professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and an expert on language and literacy development in children, will deliver the commencement address for the colleges of Arts and Sciences, Education, Nursing and University College at 2 p.m.

Both will receive honorary doctorates during the ceremonies, which will be webcast live at G. Rangaswamy, an advocate for education who has established collaborative programs between schools in India and UT, also will receive an honorary doctorate during the morning commencement.

There are 2,840 candidates for degrees from the colleges of Arts and Sciences, Business Administration, Education, Engineering, Health Science and Human Service, Nursing, and University College Degree Programs. There are 878 candidates for doctoral, education specialist and master’s degrees, and 1,962 for bachelor’s and associate degrees.

Kranz graduated from Central Catholic High School in 1951 and earned a bachelor of science degree in aeronautical engineering from Parks College of Saint Louis University in 1954. Commissioned in the U.S. Air Force later that year, Kranz became a pilot of aircraft and was a flight test engineer at Holloman Air Force Base.



During his 37 years with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Kranz was responsible for more than 6,000 employees and an annual budget of approximately $750 million. His steady, stoic demeanor and leadership during the successful retrieval of the Apollo 13 crew has been documented in the movie, “Apollo 13,” and a cable miniseries, “From the Earth to the Moon.” He wrote about the experience in the 2002 New York Times Best-Seller, Failure Is Not an Option. Kranz and the Apollo 13 Mission Operations Team received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1970.

Snow received a bachelor of arts degree from Oberlin College in Oberlin, Ohio, and master’s and doctoral degrees from McGill University in Montreal. Her research has focused on linguistics, second languages, communication styles, parent-child language interactions, and language skills in at-risk children. She is working with Boston area researchers to improve middle-school literacy outcomes.

She has chaired two national panels — the National Academy of Sciences Committee that prepared a report on “Preventing Reading Difficulties in Young Children” and the Rand Reading Study Group that wrote “Reading for Understanding: Toward an R&D Program in Reading Comprehension.” Her book, Preparing Our Teachers: Opportunities for Better Reading Instruction, is one of her efforts to develop consensus among educators about what pre- and in-service elementary teachers need to know about language and literacy.



Rangaswamy is administrator of GRC Trust and PSG & Sons’ Charities Trust in Coimbatore, India. He oversees nearly 40 organizations that facilitate education, training and employment. His initiatives have led to two charities that provide free school to the underprivileged in Coimbatore and five educational facilities exclusively for girls and young women in the city. His efforts have helped more than 30,000 students, from kindergarteners to doctoral candidates.

The philanthropist has established the first joint degree program between students from India’s PSG College and UT that brings 25 to 30 students from Coimbatore to Toledo to earn master of business administration degrees. He also started a program between Krishnammal College for women in Coimbatore and the UT College of Business Administration and is working on creating a second master’s program in manufacturing management at the University.

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