Astronaut and Entrepreneur Dr. Mae Jemison Named 2019 Honorary Chancellor
LAKELAND (March 15, 2019) – NASA astronaut, engineer, entrepreneur, physician, and educator Dr. Mae C. Jemison was the featured speaker at Florida Southern College’s Founders Day Convocation today. Dr. Jemison, who served six years as a NASA astronaut and was the first woman of color to go into space, was named the college’s 85th Honorary Chancellor at the convocation. In recognition of her many contributions to society, the College conferred the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters on Dr. Jemison.
Dr. Jemison is at the forefront of integrating the physical and social sciences with art and culture to solve problems and foster innovation. She leads 100 Year Starship®, a global initiative to ensure the capabilities for human travel to another star within the next 100 years, while also transforming life on Earth. She also founded the non-profit Dorothy Jemison Foundation for Excellence, which designs and implements STEM education experiences worldwide.
“We are pleased to welcome this world-renowned advocate for scientific discovery,” said President Dr. Anne Kerr. “Through her talents and accomplishments as an astronaut, doctor, and educator, Dr. Mae Jemison has found numerous ways to demonstrate how technological advancements can benefit our society, while inspiring others to pursue their own dreams of improving the world.”
The Founders Day event, held today in Branscomb Auditorium on the FSC campus, is the beginning of the College’s Homecoming Weekend. Annually, the convocation brings to the community nationally and internationally recognized artists, scientists, and leaders whose character and careers epitomize the founding mission of Florida Southern College, which is to prepare students to make a positive and consequential impact on the world.
Other recent Honorary Chancellors of FSC have included Director of the Museum of Modern Art Glenn D. Lowry, Chair of the American Red Cross Bonnie McElveen-Hunter, Chairman and CEO of SC Johnson H. Fisk Johnson, Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution G. Wayne Clough, and Librarian of Congress James Hadley Billington.
During today’s convocation, Distinguished Alumni Achievement Awards were presented to three FSC alumni who have made outstanding contributions in their professions and communities: Barney Barnett, Vice Chairman of Publix Super Markets Inc; William A. Chope of Grosse Pointe Farms, Michigan, co-founder and president of Crest Automotive Group and president of Metro Jobbers; and Albert V. Misan of Miami and Lakeland, a longtime Citibank executive who has held positions in locations including Brazil, Ecuador, and Mexico.
Also at the convocation, graduating senior Alec Bigness of Englewood was named as recipient of the 2019 President’s Scholar Medal, in recognition of his academic record and for demonstrating great promise for future success. Alec, who is at the top of his class, is majoring in Chemistry and minoring in Biology, and will take his passion for learning to medical school in the fall.
Additionally, for only the second time in the College’s history, two graduating seniors were jointly selected for the Honor Walk, FSC’s highest student award. Natalie Barton of Rockledge, a Nursing major, and Jordan Carr of Sarasota, a Biology major, were named as 2019 Honor Walk recipients. Both students were recognized for their highest-level achievements in academics and for their service to the College community.
Faculty member Dr. Sara Fletcher Harding, professor of Religion, was presented with the Ben and Janice Wade Outstanding Teaching Award. In 2010, Dr. Harding was named as Omicron Delta Kappa Teacher of the Year and received an Exemplary Teaching Award from the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry of the United Methodist Church.
About Florida Southern College
Founded in 1883, Florida Southern College is the oldest private college in Florida. The College maintains its commitment to academic excellence through 70+ undergraduate programs and distinctive graduate programs in business administration, education, and nursing. Florida Southern has a 15:1 student-to-faculty ratio; is an award-winning national leader in engaged learning; and boasts 30 NCAA Division II national championships. It is ranked among the Top 20 Regional Universities in the South by U.S. News and World Report; named a Top Baccalaureate College by Washington Monthly; and included in The Princeton Review’s 384 Best Colleges, The Fiske Guide to Colleges 2018, and Forbes magazine’s America’s Top Colleges Guide. The College is committed to the development of the whole student through vibrant student life programs that prepare graduates to make a positive, consequential impact on society. FSC is conveniently located within an hour’s drive of both Orlando and Tampa. FSC is home to the world’s largest single-site collection of Frank Lloyd Wright architecture and was designated a National Historic Landmark in 2012. Named the “Most Beautiful Campus in the Nation” for two consecutive years by The Princeton Review and one of the nation’s “Ten College Campuses with the Best Architecture” by Architectural Digest, Florida Southern is an internationally-recognized place of beauty and academic excellence.