Jul 31st, 2017

Neil Armstrong: First Astronaut on the College Campus

Posted in Aviation News

Almost everyone knows that Neil Armstrong was the first astronaut to walk on the moon.  Many do not know that he was the first astronaut to walk on a university campus.  What do I mean by that?  Yes, all the astronauts had college degrees, but only one, which I know of, became a college professor after their astronaut career.  That one was Neil Armstrong.

I must admit, that makes me a little biased towards Professor Armstrong, as I make my livelihood as a college professor.

Neil Armstrong left NASA two years after the moon walk, in 1971.  His roots ran deep in Ohio as is chronicled in Session 7 of Doctor Aviation.  He called Wapakoneta, Ohio home.  After retirement he wanted to move back to Ohio.  He spurned offers from his alma mater, Purdue, to take a position at the University of Cincinnati (UC).

Neil purchased a farm nearby in Lebanon Ohio and made the daily commute to Clifton where UC is located.  He taught there from 1971 to 1979.

Timeline of Armstrong’s career at CVG

What was he like as a university professor?  Before we left the Boy Scouts, our family got to know John and his son Daniel.  John had been a student at UC during the 70s and was fortunate to have had Armstrong as an instructor.  I asked him what Armstrong was like as a teacher.  John (not surprisingly) remembers it vividly.  He told me that Neil Armstrong was not a dynamic or charismatic professor.  However, in keeping with his reputation at NASA he was calm, collected and thorough.  Most importantly, John remembers Armstrong as a professor who deeply cared whether his students learned the material.

John remembers going to Armstrong’s office for extra help one day.  The office memorabilia could be very distracting, as Armstrong had a few mementos from his NASA days on display.  However, what was also clear was Armstrong’s strong desire that John understand what he was struggling with.  John has not forgotten that to this day.

Replica of Armstrong’s astronaut suit at CVG

What sparked these thoughts are what I saw on my return from vacation last week.  The Cincinnati / Northern Kentucky Airport (CVG) has recently added a very nice display commemorating Neil Armstrong’s career and his time at the University of Cincinnati.  It is located in the underground level near the trams.  I included a few photos throughout this blog and will post others on the Doctor Aviation Facebook site.  I encourage you to visit the display the next time you are flying through CVG.