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McNair the Man

Ronald E. McNair, Ph.D.

Dr. Ronald E. McNair was America’s second black astronaut in space and one of seven crew members killed in the space shuttle Challenger explosion on January 28, 1986.

Ronald McNair graduated as valedictorian from Carver High School in Lake City, South Carolina, in 1967; graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in physics from North Carolina A & T State University in 1971; and received a Ph.D. in physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1976, at the age of 26.

His academic and professional achievements are many.  He was a Presidential Scholar, Ford Foundation Fellow, National Fellowship Fund Fellow, and Omega Psi Phi Scholar of the year.  He was also the recipient of many honorary degrees and numerous commendations.

As the first in his family to graduate from college, his academic and career successes serve as a shining example to the current generation of college students who, for many reasons, may feel that graduate school and a doctoral degree are inaccessible.

To honor his lifetime of accomplishments, the U.S. Department of Education, with funding from Congress, established the Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program. This program is dedicated to instilling in college students the high standard of achievement represented by the life of Ronald E. McNair.

McNair Program