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I am sorry to inform the NASA family that my good friend and our Associate Administrator for Education, Leland Melvin, has decided to retire next month after more than 24 years of NASA service.
Since assuming the role of AA in 2010, Leland has streamlined NASA's education organization and portfolio to deliver science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) content more effectively to educators and students. Using NASA's unique missions, programs and other agency assets, he has helped cultivate the next generation of explorers – one that is truly inclusive and properly reflects the diverse make up and talent of this nation's youth and our agency's future.
His innate ability to bring people together has helped forge partnerships with both traditional and non-traditional organizations. Building a network that broadly shares and leverages individual strengths and capabilities to deliver more robust STEM education content and eliminate duplication of effort has been instrumental in this era of fiscal challenges.
Leland was co-chair of the Office of Science and Technology Policy's Committee on STEM education, ensuring that NASA has had a prominent place at the table for national discussions and decisions about the role of the federal sector in providing STEM content and opportunities. This will serve the NASA education program well for years to come.
Prior to coming to Headquarters, Leland was a mission specialist in the NASA astronaut corps at Johnson Space Center. He flew aboard the space shuttle Atlantis on two missions: STS-122 in 2008 and STS-129 in 2009. He also held a variety of roles within the astronaut office and led the agency on the Educator Astronaut program. He joined NASA in 1989 at the Langley Research Center as a research scientist working in the fiber optics lab. He has received numerous NASA awards and honors during his quarter-century of service.
Leland received a bachelor's degree in chemistry from the University of Richmond and a master's in materials science engineering from the University of Virginia. Before an injury sidelined his career, Leland was a wide receiver for the Detroit Lions and the Dallas Cowboys in the National Football League
I am proud of all of his achievements, and it is difficult to pick one highlight in such a rich and distinguished career. But I would have to say my personal favorite is his passion for and tireless dedication to education. It is something that he and I share - it comes naturally to each of us, since both of our parents were educators. They made sure we knew that a solid education was key to success no matter the path one choses. That is a message worth repeating.
I want to thank Leland for his friendship, his dedication and his exceptional service to this agency and to the nation. Please join me in wishing him all the best as he begins the next chapter of his incredible life.