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News Release 114 of 141

January 27, 1998 03:00 PM (EST)

News Release Number: STScI-1998-09

Space Telescope Science Institute Gets New Director

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Space Telescope Science Institute Gets New DirectorView this image

An agreement has been reached in principle to appoint Dr. Steven V. W. Beckwith director of the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI), in Baltimore. The agreement is under negotiation and will be finalized in the near future. The appointment becomes effective on Sept. 1, 1998. Dr. Beckwith is currently the managing director of the Max-Planck Institute for Astronomy in Heidelberg, Germany.

The STScI carries out the scientific mission of the Hubble Space Telescope (HST). The Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, Inc. (AURA) manages STScI for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). The European Space Agency (ESA) participates in the HST Project under a long-term arrangement with NASA.

In announcing this appointment, Dr. Goetz K. Oertel, president of AURA remarked, "I am delighted that Steve will be at the helm of our Institute. He brings great strength to our role on NASA's space science team here in Maryland, as we study the origins of the universe and our place in it, with Hubble and the Next Generation Space Telescopes. Dr. Bruce Margon, Chair of the AURA Board of Directors and Member Representatives, and Dr. Edwin Turner, Chair of AURA's Space Telescope Institute Council, join me in welcoming him in this new role. We are deeply grateful to Dr. Robert Williams for his outstanding leadership as Institute Director during the past five years."

Beckwith served as director of the Max-Planck Institute from 1991 until 1994, at which time he became managing director. Beckwith is originally from Madison, Wis. He received a B.S. degree in Engineering Physics, with distinction, from Cornell University in 1973 and a Ph.D. in Physics in 1978 from the California Institute of Technology. Before joining the Max-Planck Institute, Beckwith was on the astronomy faculty at Cornell. He combines more than 20 years of scientific research with significant international management experience.

In accepting the position, Beckwith said, "STScI is one of the most exciting new institutes in astronomy. The Hubble Space Telescope is the first of what I hope will be many important space projects for STScI. I am especially eager to help STScI become an active participant in NASA's Origins Program and look forward to working with the STScI staff, AURA and the international astronomical community to support astronomical research in the 21st century."

AURA had commissioned an international search for the director of STScI that was led by Dr. Robert Kirshner of Harvard University. Kirshner noted that "Beckwith's experience, energy, and vision for the future make him the right person to lead STScI in the coming years."

AURA is a consortium of 27 U.S. and four foreign affiliate institutions. It manages the National Optical Astronomy Observatories and the international Gemini Telescope Project in Tucson, Ariz., under separate cooperative agreements with the National Science Foundation; and STScI under contract with NASA.


Ray Villard
Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore, MD
(Phone: 410-338-4514)

Tammy Jones
Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD
(Phone: 301/286-5566)

Lorraine Reams
Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, Inc.,
Washington, DC
(Phone: 202/483-2101)