Inaugural Kaspar Lecture Featuring Former Astronaut Linda Godwin

Illustration of an astronaut’s helmet in space with the text Life In Low Earth Orbit Lecturer

Learn how one woman's high-flying aspirations in science took her out of this world, literally, during the first annual Dr. Elizabeth A. Kaspar Women's Lecture for Western Illinois University Libraries next month. Linda Godwin, a retired NASA astronaut, will deliver, "Life in Low Earth Orbit" at 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 7, as the featured lecturer for the inaugural Dr. Elizabeth A. Kaspar Women's Lecture during Western's celebration of Women's History Month in March. The event will take place in the University Union Grand Ballroom, and the Women's Center at WIU will host a reception following Godwin's lecture in the Multicultural Center.

During her lecture, Godwin will talk about, and show visuals from, her four Space Shuttle missions. In addition, Godwin will discuss current missions aboard the International Space Station, what the U.S. commercial space industry is planning for the future and NASA's plans for exploration beyond Low Earth Orbit.

"I am excited to have the opportunity to discuss the science and objectives behind these missions and my visits to the Russian space station, MIR, and the International Space Station," said Godwin. "Key to the opportunity afforded me with NASA and for NASA's needs for the future is the importance of education and emphasis on STEM [science, technology, engineering and mathematics] subjects."

A native of Jackson, MO, Godwin retired from NASA in 2010, and she currently serves as a professor with the University of Missouri (Mizzou) Department of Physics and Astronomy. According to the Mizzou website (see, Godwin joined NASA in 1980 and became an astronaut in 1986. A biography of her duties and achievements as a NASA astronaut are available at

Dean of University Libraries Phyllis Self encourages students, faculty, staff, as well as community members to attend the inaugural Dr. Elizabeth A. Kaspar Women's Lecture, which is open free to the public. Godwin's lecture also ties in with the 2011-2012 University Theme, "Science and Technology: Discover, Innovate, Create," Self noted.

"Dr. Kaspar's dedication to women in science has made it possible for us to bring Dr. Godwin to campus," Self said. "University Libraries is honored to be the recipient of such a generous gift. Dr. Kaspar has been a tireless supporter of University Libraries, and we are ecstatic to provide a lecture series that will impact the campus community and beyond, while honoring a library advocate."

The establishment of the Dr. Elizabeth A. Kaspar Women's Lecture for University Libraries was announced in April 2011, when Dr. Kaspar, a member of the former educational foundations department (now educational and interdisciplinary studies), endowed a permanent lecture series for University Libraries during Women's History Month at Western.

Dr. Kaspar is a native of Louisville, KY. She taught and served as dean of women at the Westhampton College of the University of Richmond and Albion College before coming to Western in 1965.

"I have worked with women my entire career, always assisting women in some way long before the term 'feminist' was even coined," said Dr. Kaspar. "When I came to Western, I was asked to study and oversee concerns relating to women on our campus. This lecture series is a continuation of what I have always done."

Godwin will also speak to Macomb Junior and Senior High School students during her visit to Macomb.

In addition to being sponsored by University Libraries, the inaugural Dr. Elizabeth A. Kaspar Women's Lecture is sponsored by the Women's Center, the departments of women's studies and chemistry, the University Theme Committee and the Provost's Office.

For more information, contact Marketing and Outreach Librarian Tammy Sayles at (309) 298-3298 or via email at