Astronaut Jeffrey N. Williams will speak at Grove City College’s 138th Commencement and Dr. Sinclair B. Ferguson, noted theologian and author, will share a message of faith with graduates at Baccalaureate.
Commencement will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday, May 19, and Baccalaureate at 7 p.m. Friday, May 18. Both events will be held on the Quad between Harbison Chapel and Crawford Hall on campus, barring inclement weather.
Williams, a veteran of four space flights, has spent 534 days off world and holds the NASA record for the longest time in space for an American man. He has done three tours of duty on the international space station, spending months at a time in the orbiting laboratory.
“Grove City College will be greatly blessed to have a man of Col. Williams’ character and accomplishments address the graduating class. After hundreds of days in space and dozens of hours of courageous space walks, he has a unique perspective on God’s amazing creation that will expand our graduates’ imagination and determination in the service of Christ in this world,” Grove City College President Paul J. McNulty ’80 said.
Ferguson, a native of Scotland, is regarded among the world’s leading Presbyterian theologians and renowned for his insights and contributions to Reformed theology and ministry. He is the Chancellor’s Professor of Systematic Theology at Reformed Theological Seminary and a teaching fellow with Florida-based Ligonier Ministries.
“Dr. Ferguson is an accomplished and gifted teacher and preacher who has led countless souls to a greater understanding of God’s redemptive plan. It is a privilege to have him speak to our graduates on the eve of Commencement and we expect his words to the Class of 2018 will provide guidance and inspiration as they embark on a life of service to the common good,” McNulty said.
“This year’s speakers share a passion for God’s revelation of truth in both nature and the Word. They have impacted the temporal and spiritual realms in profound ways,” he added.
Jeffrey N. Williams (Colonel, U.S. Army, Ret.)
A native of Wisconsin, Williams earned a degree in applied science and engineering from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, received his commission as a second lieutenant in 1980 and was designated an Army aviator in 1981. He completed a three-year assignment in Germany where he served in the 3rd Armored Division’s aviation battalion.
Williams completed a graduate program in aeronautical engineering, and was subsequently selected for an Army assignment at the Johnson Space Center, where he served in various capacities supporting the Space Shuttle Program. In 1992, Williams attended the Naval Test Pilot School, graduated first in his class and subsequently served as an experimental test pilot and Flight Test Division Chief in the Army’s Airworthiness Qualification Test Directorate at Edwards Air Force Base, California. He retired from active duty with the U.S. Army in 2007 after more than 27 years of service and logging approximately 3,000 hours in more than 50 different aircraft.
During the course of his career, he was selected as an astronaut in 1996 and completed four space flights in his 22 years with NASA.
In May 2000 he made his first space flight on the shuttle Atlantis during the construction of the International Space Station, serving as flight engineer and lead spacewalker. Williams did three six-month tours on the space station in 2006, 2009-10 and 2016, during which he walked in space, helped build up the station and performed hundreds of experiments in biology, biotechnology, physical science and Earth. Williams was instrumental in preparing the station for the future arrival of U.S. commercial crew spacecraft. In addition to his space flights, he has performed various technical duties in both the space shuttle and space station programs.
His days-in-space record was surpassed last year by Peggy Whitson, who has spent more time off world than any other astronaut.
Williams belongs to a number of professional organizations, including the Society of Experimental Test Pilots and the Association of Space Explorers, and is a member of Officers' Christian Fellowship, which unites Christian officers for biblical fellowship and outreach.
He and his wife Anna-Marie have two adult sons, two daughters-in-law, and three grandchildren.
Dr. Sinclair B. Ferguson
Ferguson earned his Ph.D at the University of Aberdeen and has been an ordained minister in the Church of Scotland since 1971. He is the author of many Christian books, including “The Whole Christ,” “The Holy Spirit,” “In Christ Alone” and “The Christian LIfe: A Doctrinal Introduction.”
Ferguson was for many years Professor of Systematic Theology at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia and at Redeemer Seminary in Dallas. He also served as honorary evening preacher in St Peter's Free Church of Scotland, Dundee.
He was minister of two churches in Scotland and served in the United States at First Presbyterian Church, Columbia, S.C. He and his wife Dorothy have been blessed with three sons and a daughter and eleven grandchildren.