Dean’s Lecture

Former NASA administrator promotes teamwork and daring

The inaugural Deanís Lecture at the School of Engineering drew a standing-room-only audience at Nelson Auditorium for a speech that was as entertaining as it was inspirational.

Dr. Julian M. Earls © ALONSO NICHOLS

Dr. Julian M. Earls, the retired director of the National Aeronautics and Space Administrationís Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio, was the first lecturer in what Linda Abriola, dean of the School of Engineering, said will be an ongoing program each semester to bring speakers to the school. Earls addressed an audience of faculty, students and staff on February 27.

In a speech that was filled with anecdotes, jokes and lots of laughter, Earls said people should cooperate to accomplish their goals. ďItís more difficult to do something alone than to work together. All of us need help.Ē

At the Glenn Research Center, which specializes in power, propulsion, communications and microgravity technology for NASA, Earls managed more than 3,000 employees and a budget in excess of $600 million. He received the Meritorious Executive Presidential Rank Award from both President Bill Clinton and President George W. Bush. He also founded an organization that provides college scholarships to black students.

Earls, who has completed 25 marathons, noted that runners say that the will to win means absolutely nothing if you donít have the will to prepare. ďThe test is not the day of the marathon. Itís the training run.Ē

He encouraged audience members to speak up and not remain silent on issues. ďThe hottest places in hell are reserved for those who are silent or neutral,Ē he said.

And he encouraged people to try things, even when they donít think they will be successful. ďPeople say if you canít do it well, donít do it at all. Thatís not true. We have to make sure everyone is involved. I want to sing my own song, even if Iím not the best singer. If you took physics and failed, youíre a lot closer to the Nobel Prize than those who never took physics. I tell students who think math and science is all hard to stay in there.Ē

Marjorie Howard is a senior writer in Tuftsí Office of Publications. She can be reached at