NASA Administrator Sean O’Keefe to Depart Soon

By Keith Cowing
December 11, 2004
Filed under
NASA Administrator Sean O’Keefe to Depart Soon

Revised 12 December 2004

Editor’s note:The White House will release O’Keefe’s formal letter of resignation as early as Monday but no later than Tuesday. As to when O’Keefe will speak publicly, given that LSU will make its decision on chosing a new Chancellor on Thursday, it is all but certain, according to NASA sources, that O’Keefe will give an all hands speech to the agency on Friday

Sean O’Keefe will soon step down as NASA Administrator. The formal announcement is expected this coming week. Where O’Keefe will be heading and exactly when he will leave remain to be determined however he does intend to stay on the job for several months while a successor is identified by the President and then confirmed by the Senate. Word has it that Lt. Gen. Ronald Kadish (USAF Ret.) [bio] is at the top of a list of choices to replace O’Keefe.

O’Keefe’s departure, contrary to the rumors that circulated around Washington, had to do with a need to attend to his family. Anyone who has had a glimpse of O’Keefe’s schedule knows that it is one of constant work – whether it is in his office, in his car, or at home – often late into the night. It is also a schedule where complete weekends at home with his wife and three children are the rare exception not the rule. With one child about to enter college, and two more to follow within a few years, O’Keefe has more important matters to attend to according to sources close to O’Keefe. [Note: an example of a rather routine 37 hour period in O’Keefe’s work week during March 2004 can be found in “A Day in the Life of NASA Administrator Sean O’Keefe“]

While it has been speculated that he was in line for top jobs at the Pentagon, or perhaps in industry, both are highly unlikely for O’Keefe, an avowed academic. Indeed, sources close to O’Keefe note that he has actually turned down such offers, choosing instead to focus on a career change that would allow him to focus on his family.

As has been reported by several newspapers, O’Keefe is currently under consideration for the post of Chancellor of Louisiana State University (LSU) [position description]. According to state law, LSU’s Search Committee must publicly disclose the name of any candidate they are considering. O’Keefe’s resume started to circulate Friday evening. O’Keefe has been invited to visit LSU this coming Wednesday to meet with the Search Committee and then later with the LSU Board of Supervisors. A vote is reportedly planned for Thursday afternoon. Should a decision be made, then an announcement would likely come shortly thereafter.

SpaceRef co-founder, Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA, Away Teams, Journalist, Space & Astrobiology, Lapsed climber.