Director of National Science Foundation to Speak at Marymount Commencement

Astrophysicist Dr. France A. Córdova, director of the National Science Foundation, will address 650 degree candidates and receive an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree at Marymount University’s Undergraduate Commencement at 3 p.m. on Sunday, May 21 at DAR Constitution Hall, 1776 D Street NW, Washington, D.C.

Dr. Réka Szemerkényi, the Hungarian ambassador to the United States, will be the commencement speaker for graduate degree recipients. That ceremony will be held at 3 p.m. on Saturday, May 20 at DAR Constitution Hall. In addition, the university will hold Recognition Day on Saturday, May 20, which will include a Commencement Mass, awards ceremony and reception.

As director of the NSF, Córdova heads the only government agency charged with advancing all fields of scientific discovery, technological innovation, and science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education. NSF is a $7.5 billion independent federal agency; its programs and initiatives keep the United States at the forefront of science and engineering, empower future generations of scientists and engineers, and foster U.S. prosperity and global leadership.

Córdova is president emerita of Purdue University and chancellor emerita of the University of California, Riverside, where she was a distinguished professor of physics and astronomy. Córdova was the vice chancellor for research and professor of physics at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Previously, Córdova served as NASA’s chief scientist. Prior to joining NASA, she was on the faculty of Pennsylvania State University, where she headed the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics. Córdova was also deputy group leader in the Earth and Space Sciences Division at Los Alamos National Laboratory. 

More recently, Córdova served as chair of the Board of Regents of the Smithsonian Institution and on the board of trustees of Mayo Clinic. She also served as a member of the National Science Board (NSB), where she chaired the Committee on Strategy and Budget. As NSF director, she is an ex officio member of the NSB.

Córdova’s scientific contributions have been in the areas of observational and experimental astrophysics, multi-spectral research on x-ray and gamma ray sources and space-borne instrumentation. She is a recipient of NASA’s highest honor, the Distinguished Service Medal, and was recognized as a Kilby Laureate. The Kilby International Awards recognize extraordinary individuals who have made “significant contributions to society through science, technology, innovation, invention and education.”

She received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Stanford University and her doctorate in physics from the California Institute of Technology.

Marymount’s two commencement exercises will recognize 650 bachelor’s degree candidates, 347 master’s degree candidates and 43 doctoral degree candidates.

The schedule for commencement weekend is as follows:

Friday, May 19
• Doctoral Hooding Ceremony, 5 p.m., Rose Benté Lee Center, Verizon Sports Arena

Saturday, May 20

  • Commencement Mass, 9 a.m., Rose Benté Lee Center, Verizon Sports Arena
  • Awards Ceremony, 10:30 a.m., Rose Benté Lee Center, Verizon Sports Arena
  • President’s Reception, following the awards ceremony, Gerard Phelan Dining Hall
  • Graduate Commencement, 3 p.m., DAR Constitution Hall, 1776 D Street NW, Washington, D.C.

Sunday, May 21

  • Sunday Mass, 9 a.m., Sacred Heart of Mary Chapel
  • Nursing Pinning Ceremony, 10:15 a.m., Rose Benté Lee Center, Verizon Sports Arena
  • Pinning Reception, 11:30 a.m., Rose Benté Lee Center, Verizon Sports Arena
  • Undergraduate Commencement, 3 p.m., DAR Constitution Hall, 1776 D Street NW, Washington, D.C.

Photo caption
Dr. France A. Córdova