By Kevin Hogencamp
David Scott, a 20th century American hero and one of only 12 astronauts to walk on the moon, will receive an honorary degree along with former Jacksonville University President Kerry Romesburg at JU’s commencement Saturday, May 4.
Romesburg will be the featured speaker at the ceremony, where more than 800 degrees will be awarded, including a master’s degree to the first graduate of the JU marine science graduate program. Also, the University will present two prominent student honors: the President’s Award for Outstanding Leadership and the University Award for Outstanding Service and Co-curricular Involvement.
Commencement begins at 9:30 a.m. in the main auditorium of First Baptist Church at 119 W. Beaver St. in downtown Jacksonville. The ceremony was scheduled to be held on the JU campus, but was moved to First Baptist due to the strong likelihood of inclement weather; directions and more information is available at www.ju.edu
A live video stream of the commencement ceremony will be shown at www.ju.edu
Scott, commander of the Apollo 15 mission to the moon in the summer of 1971, will receive the University’s first honorary doctorate of science and technology.
“David Scott’s record of achievement is extraordinary,” said JU President Tim Cost. “He has had an impact on the nation and the world for decades, and having him with the students of our Jacksonville University Class of 2013 is an extreme honor for the entire JU community.”
An engineer, retired U.S. Air Force colonel and former test pilot, Scott was selected as a NASA astronaut in October 1963 and made his first flight into space in March 1966 as pilot of the Gemini 8 mission, the first docking in space, along with Neil Armstrong. He made two additional space flights, as command pilot for Apollo 9 in 1969, and commander of Apollo 15, becoming just the seventh person to walk on the moon and the first person to drive a lunar roving vehicle on the moon’s surface.
For the Apollo 15 mission, Scott received NASA’s highest award “for leading the most complex and carefully planned scientific expedition in the history of exploration.”
Scott retired from the Air Force in 1975, becoming director of the NASA Flight Research Center in Edwards, Calif. He entered the private sector in 1978 and is involved in pursuing opportunities in the commercial space sector. He was a key technical advisor on Tom Hanks’ 1995 feature film, “Apollo 13,” which won two Academy Awards and was nominated for seven others, including “Best Picture.”
Scott and his wife, Jacksonville University Trustee and alumna Margaret Black-Scott, have a home in Ponte Vedra Beach. Black-Scott recently expanded her Beverly Hills Wealth Management firm to Jacksonville.
Romesburg, who served as JU’s president from July 1, 2004, through Feb. 1, 2013, will receive an honorary doctorate of education. During his remarkable tenure, Romesburg guided JU from inherited financial challenges and helped restore the alumni’s faith in their alma mater.
“Kerry Romesburg has created a lasting legacy as a strategic, visionary leader that every Jacksonville University student and graduate fully recognizes,” Cost said. “His career in education has been characterized by success and integrity.”
In recognition of Romesburg’s outstanding service and the realization of his vision to better utilize the picturesque St. Johns River as Jacksonville University’s backdrop, the JU Board of Trustees recently honored him with a resolution naming the westernmost area of campus “Romesburg Riverfront.” The Marine Science Research Institute, Negaard Rowing Center, Larry Strom Amphitheatre, Dolphin Green, Swisher Golf Facility, Kurzius Beach and Cost Trail were developed on Romesburg’s watch.
Before becoming JU’s president, Romesburg worked in higher education with the Arizona Board of Regents and Arizona State University, as executive director of the Alaska Commission on Postsecondary Education and as president of Utah Valley State College and Nevada State College.