UH-Clear Lake celebrates shuttle program with exhibit, reception
HOUSTON — University of Houston-Clear Lake welcomed NASA Johnson Space Center leaders, space contractors and community friends during “Celebrating Shuttle: An American Icon” photo exhibition opening reception Aug. 23. In addition to viewing the photos, guests were treated to a program that included Rep. Pete Olson; UH-Clear Lake Associate Vice President for University Advancement Dion McInnis; Associate Director (technical) of the Johnson Space Center and former JSC Flight Director Office Chief Milt Heflin; UH-Clear Lake President William A. Staples; Johnson Space Center Director Mike Coats; STS-1 Space Shuttle Program Manager and former Space Shuttle Program Office Manager Bob Thompson; Space Shuttle Program Office Manager and former Deputy Manager of the Space Shuttle Program and Space Shuttle Flight Director John Shannon; STS-134 Mission Specialist Col. Michael Fincke.
After brief remarks by Rep. Olson, McInnis introduced Staples and spoke about the creation of the university in response to the 1965 request of Johnson Space Center then-Director Bob Gilruth.
“With the community in mind, the partnership began,” said McInnis. “If you have attended a single presentation by UH-Clear Lake’s president, you will have heard the expression, ‘community-minded, partnership-oriented’ to describe the focus of this university.
“It has been so since the beginning and expands each year.”
“UH-Clear Lake is here because of NASA and the Johnson Space Center,” said Staples. “Our partnerships and collaborations with the Johnson Space Center have continued over the past 37 years.
“One of our very significant collaborations occurred in 2001 when Johnson Space Center and UH-Clear Lake signed an agreement for the JSC History Collection to be housed in the university’s Neumann Library and this partnership continues today.”
Offering an opportunity to experience a big part of the history of spaceflight through pictures, the exhibit includes photos from all 135 shuttle missions and is located on the second and third floor of Atrium II in the university’s Bayou Building, 2700 Bay Area Blvd., Houston.
“For the past 50 years, the Johnson Space Center workforce has propelled us into the 21st century,” said Coats, who explained that he joined Johnson Space Center just three years before the shuttle program. “We want to thank Dr. Staples for the opportunity to show off 30 years of space history.”
As the Space Shuttle program manager for the first mission, Thompson gave a brief history of different phases of the Space Shuttle program. Shannon spoke about the shuttle program, NASA’s continued goal to “fly safely” and the positive impact the shuttle had on the future of space exploration. Finally, Fincke offered his gratitude to UH-Clear Lake and his shuttle experience. He also presented the university with a special gift that included a framed photo of him wearing a UH-Clear Lake shirt in space next to the actual shirt in the frame.
McInnis concluded the evening with a poem that he wrote about the importance of space flight and thanked all in attendance. Guests were also invited to sign a shuttle tire that will be displayed permanently at the university.
Music during the event was provided by the Clear Lake High School Chamber Orchestra led by Directors Bryan Buffaloe and Kevin Black. A special thank you was offered to those who served on the exhibit committee and provided support for the exhibit and opening event. Those serving on the committee included Joyce Abbey, Dayni Alba, Jeannie Aquino, Will Close, Eva deCardenas, Warren Harold, Eliza Johnson, Shelly Kelly and Rebecca Wright.
The exhibit, “Celebrating Shuttle: An American Icon,” will be on display through Sept. 28. For more information about the exhibit, call the Office of Alumni and Community Relations, 281-283-2021.
University of Houston-Clear Lake offers 40 undergraduate and 45 graduate degree programs, including a doctoral program, from its four schools, which include the School of Business, School of Education, School of Human Sciences and Humanities, and School of Science and Computer Engineering. For more UH-Clear Lake news and information, visit UH-Clear Lake’s newsroom, http://www.uhcl.edu/news, or follow UH-Clear Lake on Facebook, http://www.facebook.com/UHClearLake, and Twitter, http://twitter.com/UHClearLake.