Challenger Center Appoints New CEO/President

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Dr. William Gutsch, Jr., Former Chairman of and Associate Astronomer at The American Museum-Hayden Planetarium, to Lead Organization Devoted to Building Learning Communities

The Board of Directors for Challenger Center for Space Science Education today named William Gutsch, Jr., Ph.D. as the education organization’s new CEO and President.

June Scobee Rodgers, Ph.D., widow of Challenger commander Dick Scobee, and the Founding Chairman of Challenger Center, said, “As Challenger Center approaches its 20th anniversary, our mission to inspire the next generation of educators, scientists, and engineers remains essential. We are over the moon that Bill Gutsch has agreed to join our mission. With his dynamic vision for what Challenger Center will accomplish with the technologies available today, as well as the resources yet to be discovered, we are confident that Challenger Center will be a vital source for quality science education long into this new century.”

Gutsch comes to Challenger Center with over 30 years of experience as an educator, scientist, writer, and administrator. Among his numerous career achievements, Gutsch has worked with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory to write and produce a multimedia planetarium program on the Cassini-Huygens mission to Saturn; co-written

the 13 part television series, The Wonders of the Universe for The Learning Channel; and served as a writer and producer on a variety of educational programs in conjunction with NASA, PBS Television, Lucasfilm, and The Children’s Television Workshop. He has also authored The Search for Extraterrestrial Life and 1001 Things Everyone Should Know About the Universe.

As Chairman of The American Museum-Hayden Planetarium in New York City, Gutsch was responsible for the operation of the largest astronomy education facility of its kind in the world. In addition to increasing attendance and reestablishing The American Museum-Hayden Planetarium as a preeminent education facility, he assisted with fundraising, and provided planning and vision for the museum’s new Hayden Planetarium and Rose Center for Earth and Space Studies. His most recent position was President of Great Ideas, which provides consulting, writing, and production services to NASA, local and national governments, planetariums, museums, and science centers around the world.

As CEO and President of Challenger Center, Gutsch assumes responsibility of a not-for-profit organization dedicated to student and teacher excellence in science and mathematics education. The international network of Challenger Learning Centers, and a variety of community and classroom-based programs bring the wonders of the universe to hundreds of thousands of students and educators annually.

On Dr. Gutsch’s recent appointment, Dr. Joseph P. Allen, Challenger Center Board Chairman commented, “With a renewed passion for space exploration and the mandate for educational reform through the No Child Left Behind Act, Challenger Center is committed to developing innovative curriculum for our nation’s youth and educators. Bill has the right education background and scientific experience to address this most important challenge.”

About Challenger Center for Space Science Education

Challenger Center is an education organization created in 1986 by the families of the astronauts tragically lost during the last flight of the Challenger Space Shuttle. Dedicated to the educational spirit of that mission, Challenger Center develops Learning Centers and other educational programs that continue the mission to engage students in science and mathematics education. These programs use the excitement of space exploration to create learning experiences that foster lifelong learning in mathematics, science, and technology, and develop critical communication, decision-making, team-building, and collaborative skills. For more information, visit

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Glenn Ono