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AFIT Honors 2008 Distinguished Alumni
Posted: 10/02/2008 by AFIT Public Affairs

The Air Force Institute of Technology honored the three 2008 Distinguished Alumni September 26 at the Wright-Patterson Club & Banquet Center. Gen. Charles R. Holland, USAF retired; Lt. Gen. James W. Stansberry, USAF retired; and Brig. Gen. Horace L. Russell, USAF retired, were selected for their pioneering roles in science, engineering, and education.

2008 Distinguished Alumni“The title of ‘distinguished alumnus’ is the highest honor that AFIT can bestow upon a graduate, and we award very few” said CAPT Rick Scudder, AFIT’s vice commandant and emcee for the evening. “These men are pioneers in science, research, development, acquisition, and special operations [and are] staunch supporters of the critical role education plays in enhancing the capabilities of our military. Their careers are the epitome of achievement, excellence, and leadership.

Gen. Holland, who graduated in 1978 with a master’s degree in astronautical engineering, used the critical thinking skills he honed at AFIT allowed him to evaluate operational requirements and the potential application of new technologies to meet operational needs and guide future acquisition programs. In the Special Operations realm, he ultimately served as Commander, United States Special Operations Command. Gen. Holland’s vision and leadership proved vital during this pivotal period in setting a course that underpinned the nation’s success in the Global War on Terrorism. Since retiring from the Air Force, Gen. Holland has served on many corporate boards and as an advisor to corporations dedicated to meeting our nation’s security needs. He serves on the Board of Directors for Aerovironment, Incorporated and Protonex Technology Corporation and also serves as an Advisor for the Aerospace Integration Corporation. Gen. Holland also contributes to the national well-being through his service on the Board of Advisors for FreeCause, a company dedicated to providing cutting-edge solutions to unlock the value of constituent relationships for the benefit of non-profit and other affinity-based organizations. The general continues to advocate national security requirements and opportunities for the science and technology community to support the United States and our Allies.

Lt. Gen. Stansberry graduated with distinction in 1956 with a master’s degree in business administration. After several assignments, he served as deputy assistant to the Secretary of Defense (Atomic Energy). Gen. Stansberry was then assigned to Headquarters Air Force Systems Command as a division chief and later as executive secretary for Project Acquisition Cost Evaluation. He then returned to the Pentagon and served on the Air Staff as deputy director of procurement policy. As Deputy to the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Procurement, he conducted a major Department of Defense study of defense contract profitability which resulted in major changes to Department of Defense policy. Later, as commander of the Electronics Systems Division, Air Force Systems Command, Gen. Stansberry refocused the division from its product orientation to a customer-oriented command with enhanced and closer coordination with the ultimate users of the division's products. In addition, he changed the motivational emphasis of defense contractors to encourage cost reduction and shared savings of investment dollars with the Air Force, leading to lower overall program costs and higher net profits. As a result of his efforts, the program received national recognition in the Harvard Business Review. Since retirement, Gen. Stansberry has served on several corporate boards. He also has consulted with most all of the major aerospace companies and participated on several Department of Defense study groups.

Brig. Gen. Russell, a 1965 graduate, was a participant of AFIT’s first degree program offered at a distant site, the Minuteman Education Program at Malmstrom AFB, Montana. While completing his master’s degree in aerospace engineering, he was a Minuteman Combat Crew Member. Gen. Russell first applied his AFIT expertise as a mechanical engineer at the Air Force Aero Propulsion Laboratory. His inspired management of the Direct Lift Engine Program obtained an unprecedented thrust-to-weight ratio of 20 to 1. His AFIT expertise later contributed to the development of the B-1 Lancer and A-10 Warthog. He was subsequently assigned to Headquarters Air Force Systems Command, as program manager for energy conversion and mechanics, where only one year later he became Chief of the Physical and Engineering Sciences Division. Gen. Russell has also been actively involved in introducing minority students to the benefits of a scientific and engineering career. While on active duty, he established a program jointly at the University of Maryland and Howard University for minority students for which he achieved Air Force funding for the first five years and other government funding for the next 20 years. In 1987 General Russell received the NAACP Roy Wilkins Meritorious Service Award for his personal involvement and efforts that resulted in significant increases in the number of minorities and women in graduate engineering study programs.

“Tonight we honor the three latest distinguished alumni who will join the ranks with some of the finest Americans our institution has ever educated,” said CAPT Scudder. “As we celebrate the accomplishments of these graduates, we are also celebrating the rich history of AFIT and the road these graduates, and thousands of others like them, have paved.”

AFIT selected its first distinguished alumni in 1979. At that time Col. Frank Borman, Gen. Jimmy Doolittle, Col. George Holloman, and Gen. Bernard Schriever were given the prestigious honor. Since that date, 28 others have been selected.

AFIT is proud and honored to have played a part in these most distinguished individuals’ lives.

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