A pair of former NASA astronauts and University of Kansas alumni will serve as grand marshals of next month’s KU homecoming parade, the university announced Friday.
Retired space explorers Joe Engle and Steven Hawley, both Kansas natives, will lead the parade commencing at 6 p.m. Oct. 6 through downtown’s Massachusetts Street. Fittingly, the theme for this year’s 105th KU homecoming is “Jayhawks of the Galaxy.”
Engle, who grew up in Chapman and graduated from the KU School of Engineering in 1955, was a member of NASA’s class of 1966. He trained for the Apollo 14 and Apollo 17 moon missions before commanding Space Shuttle Columbia in 1981 and the Space Shuttle Discovery four years later. His many honors include a Distinguished Service Citation from KU in 1982 and recognition as a Distinguished Engineering Alumnus.
Hawley, a Salina native who graduated from KU in 1973 with a degree in astronomy, was a member of NASA’s class of 1978. While at NASA, Hawley served as a mission specialist on five space shuttle flights from 1984 to 1999, logging more than 770 hours in space. He is a recipient of KU’s Distinguished Service Citation and College of Liberal Arts & Sciences Distinguished Alumni Award, and since 2008 has served as a professor with his alma mater’s department of physics and astronomy.
The KU homecoming parade is part of a weeklong celebration beginning Oct. 1., with several student and alumni activities leading up to the KU-Texas Tech football game on Oct. 7 at Memorial Stadium. A meet-and-greet with Kansas Athletics will precede the parade from 4 to 5 p.m. Oct. 6 at South Park.
A complete schedule of KU homecoming events can be found at www.kualumni.org/homecoming.