Ronald E. McNair, Ph.D.
The McNair Scholars Program is a federal TRIO program funded by the U.S. Department of Education. The goal of the Program is to increase graduate degree awards for students from under-represented segments of society.
The Program is named in honor of Dr. Ronald Erwin McNair, the second African American to fly in space. Born October 12, 1950, in Lake City, South Carolina, he graduated as valedictorian of Lake City’s Carver High School in 1967, and in 1971 received his bachelor’s degree in physics magna cum laude from North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro. He earned a Ph.D. in physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1976. Dr. McNair was nationally recognized for his work in the field of laser physics. Selected for the astronaut program in 1978, he was the recipient of many honorary degrees, fellowships and commendations. He also was a sixth-degree black belt in karate and an accomplished saxophonist. He was married to Cheryl Moore and had two children, Reginald Erwin and Joy Cheray.
On January 28, 1986, Dr. McNair and six other astronauts died when the space shuttle Challenger exploded shortly after liftoff.