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Former NASA Director Dr. Julian Earls Awarded Kappa Alpha Psi’s Laurel Wreath

This week at the Kappa Alpha Psi, Fraternity Inc.’s national conclave in Orlando, the fraternity awarded NASA’s Dr. Julian Manly Earls the highest award in the fraternity, the Laurel Wreath.

Dr. Earls is a retired director of NASA’s John Glenn Research Center and is NASA’s first Black section head, first black office chief, first black division chief, and first black deputy director.

Dr. Earls began his work with NASA in 1965 at the Lewis Research Center, later named renamed to the Glenn Research Center in 1999. There he wrote over 28 publications for technical and educational journals and wrote the first health physics guides used at NASA.

He has been awarded multiple NASA medals for exceptional achievement and outstanding leadership and has received the Presidential Rank Award of Meritorious Executive.

In 1963, Dr. Earls was initiated into Kappa Alpha Psi at Norfolk State University.

According to NASA’s website:

“Dr. Earls earned his bachelor’s degree in physics from Norfolk State University, his master’s degree in radiation biology from the University of Rochester, School of Medicine and Dentistry, and his doctorate degree in radiation physics from the University of Michigan. In addition, he was awarded the Honorary Doctor of Science Degree by the College of Aeronautics in New York, the Honorary Doctor of Pedagogy Degree from Nova Southeastern University in Florida, and the Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from North Carolina A&T State University. Also, Dr. Earls is a graduate of the Harvard Business School Program for Management Development.”

Outside of science, Dr. Earls has kept up his fraternity’s motto of “achievement in every field of human endeavor” by excelling in the field of running. According to NASA, he has completed over 25 marathons, including the Boston Marathon and he was honored to be Torchbearer for the Salt Lake 2002 Winter Olympic Games where he carried the Olympic Flame for a segment of the Olympic Torch Run through Cleveland, Ohio, in 2002.

The Laurel Wreath Award is the highest award presented to a member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity. The Laurel Wreath is  award was established in 1924 to honor members of the fraternity who lived up to, above, and beyond the motto of achievement in every field of human endeavor. The first two recipients were founder Elder Watson Diggs, who served as Grand Polemarch for the fraternity’s initial six years, and Robert S. Abbott, the publisher of the Chicago Defender, one of the most influential newspapers of its day.


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