Colonel Michael E. Fossum, former astronaut and a 1980 Texas A&M University graduate, has been named a vice president of Texas A&M, chief operating officer of Texas A&M University Galveston Campus, effective March 1, announced Texas A&M Provost and Executive Vice President Karan Watson.
“I am pleased that Colonel Fossum will be bringing his vast experience in collaborative leadership and consensus-building to the Texas A&M University Galveston campus,” Watson said.
In addition to leading operations at Texas A&M’s branch campus in Galveston, Watson said Colonel Fossum will serve as Executive Professor.
Colonel Fossum said he looks forward to his new role in service to his alma mater.
“I have been fortunate to serve our nation as an Air Force officer and NASA astronaut in the realm of research, development, and operations. My education at Texas A&M prepared me to work hard and live my dream of reaching for the stars,” Colonel Fossum said. “As I move into this new role serving the university I love, I look forward to inspiring and equipping our next generation of leaders and explorers.”
Watson said Colonel Fossum’s appointment was made on the recommendation of the search advisory committee for selection of the person to lead Texas A&M-Galveston going forward, with the concurrence of Texas A&M President Michael K. Young and Texas A&M System Chancellor John Sharp. Fossum will formally report to Watson.
Colonel Fossum has worked for the National Aeronautics & Space Administration (NASA) since 1993. He was selected as an astronaut in 1998 and is a veteran of three space flights, logging more than 194 days in space, including more than 48 hours in seven spacewalks. He recently retired from NASA, serving in his most recent role as Assistant Chief for International Space Station in the Astronaut Office.
He was born in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, but grew up in McAllen, Texas. He earned his Texas A&M degree in mechanical engineering. He was a member of the Corps of Cadets and was commissioned into the U.S. Air Force upon graduation in 1980.
After completing a Master of Science in Systems Engineering from the Air Force Institute of Technology, he was assigned to NASA’s Johnson Space Center, where he supported space shuttle flight operations. In 1985, he graduated from Air Force Test Pilot School at Edwards Air Force Base and went on to serve first as a Flight Test Engineer in the F-16 Test Squadron and later as a Flight Test Manager at the Air Force Flight Test Center.
Colonel Fossum resigned from active duty in 1992 to work for NASA as a systems engineer. In 1997, he earned a Master of Science in Physical Science (Space Science) from the University of Houston ‒ Clear Lake. He retired from the U.S. Air Force Reserves in 2010.
Among his many honors and awards, Fossum has received the NASA Exceptional Service Medal and three NASA Spaceflight Medals, as well as the U.S. Air Force Meritorious Service Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters. He is said to be especially proud of his Boy Scout awards, which include Distinguished Eagle Scout, Silver Beaver and Vigil Member of the Order of the Arrow.
“I wish to thank the members of the search advisory committee, the faculty, staff and students of the Texas A&M University at Galveston, and the outstanding candidates whom we were able to attract,” Watson said. “I also want to recognize Dr. Douglas J. Palmer for his service as interim Vice President and COO over the past 8 months.”