RONALD E. MCNAIR BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH
Dr. Ronald E. McNair, the second African-American to fly in space, was
born on October 21, 1950, in Lake City, South Carolina. He graduated as
valedictorian from Carver High School in 1967 and received the
bachelor’s degree magna cum laude in physics from North Carolina
A&T State University in 1971. He received the Ph.D. degree in
physics from Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1976.
McNair was selected for the astronaut program in 1978 and was the
recipient of many honorary degrees, fellowships and commendations. He
was also nationally recognized for his work in the field of laser
physics. Dr. McNair was a husband, father of two children and
accomplished saxophonist and sixth degree belt in karate. Ronald E.
McNair and six other astronauts perished in a fiery explosion aboard
the space shuttle Challenger on January 28, 1986.
In 1986, the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Trio Programs,
established the Ronald E. McNair Postbaccalaureate Achievement Program
to target financially challenged, first-generation college students, or
individuals from groups that are under-represented in graduate
education. The goal of the Program is to increase the number of
students successfully completing requirements for the Ph.D.
Fisk University officially began its McNair Program in October 2003.
Support is given for four years and will average over $200,000 per
year. Fisk joins 155 other institutions across the country preparing
scholars to enter and complete graduate programs offering the doctorate