F&M Stories

2023 Honorary Degree Recipients

Jacob E. Bleacher, Ph.D., ’00

Jacob Bleacher ’00, who will be the featured speaker at Franklin & Marshall’s 236th Commencement May 13, is the chief exploration scientist in NASA’s Exploration Systems Development Mission Directorate (ESDMD) at the space agency’s headquarters. In this role, he is the science advocate for NASA technology and architecture development that is intended to enable human exploration of the moon and Mars. 

Bleacher also is the primary contact with NASA’s Science Mission Directorate and the science community outside NASA. His research focuses on understanding the volcanic history of the Earth, moon and Mars by remote sensing mapping. He earned his bachelor’s degree in geosciences at Franklin & Marshall before earning his doctorate in geological sciences at Arizona State University in 2006.

When he began working for NASA in 2006, Bleacher was a research scientist at its Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland, where he supported the Constellation Program Office to conduct studies examining potential landing sites and developing plans to help define requirements for hardware that would enable travel on the lunar surface. He served as a test subject and crew member for NASA’s Desert Research and Technology Studies, which focused on field tests of operations for prototype human rovers for the moon. He then led its instrument field team, organizing its planetary science field research deployments, and later was Goddard’s lead exploration scientist, creating awareness of ongoing human exploration projects.

Bleacher, who will receive an honorary doctorate of science at F&M’s Commencement, is a  co-author of several peer-reviewed science publications, including a cover article for the journal Nature about explosive volcanism on Mars, as well as the chapter on Mars Volcanism in the 2nd edition of the “Encyclopedia of Volcanoes.” He has returned to his alma mater many times to speak on campus.

Jacob E. Bleacher, Ph.D., '00

Kathleen E. Harring, Ph.D., ’80, P'11

Kathleen E. Harring ’80, who will receive an honorary doctorate of humane letters at Franklin & Marshall’s Commencement, is the president of Muhlenberg College in Allentown, Pa. She began her tenure in 2020 after serving as interim president for a year. She is Muhlenberg’s 13th president and the first woman to lead the 175-year-old college.
President Harring has been part of the Muhlenberg community for nearly 40 years. Since joining the Department of Psychology faculty in 1984, she has held several leadership positions, including provost, vice president and dean of institutional effectiveness and planning, and dean of institutional assessment and academic planning.

A strong advocate for diversity, equity and inclusion, President Harring is one of six college presidents who sit on the steering committee of the American Talent Initiative. That consortium, which also includes Franklin & Marshall, is committed to higher-education access for low- and moderate-income students.

President Harring majored in psychology at Franklin & Marshall and later earned both her master’s and doctoral degrees in social psychology — with minors in quantitative psychology — from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Harring’s daughter, Carolyn Wittenbraker, graduated from F&M in 2011.

Kathleen E. Harring ’80 will receive an honorary doctorate of humane letters at Franklin & Marshall’s Commencement. Harring is the president of Muhlenberg College in Allentown, Pa. She is Muhlenberg’s 13th president and the first woman to lead the 175-year-old college.

 

Carlos Graupera

Carlos Graupera is the founder and chief executive officer of the Spanish American Civic Association (SACA) in downtown Lancaster. Since 1973, that organization has been uplifting and restoring the residents of marginal communities through human relations, economic assistance and social services, while also supporting their cultural identities.

Graupera, who will receive an honorary doctorate of humane letters at Franklin & Marshall’s Commencement, has announced he is stepping down later this year after 50 years with SACA. Under his leadership, the organization has grown to serve nearly 1,400 people each year in Lancaster, focusing on behavioral health and wellness, educational services, job placement, and home ownership.

Graupera has long had a passion for supporting the Latinx community, which comes from his family. He came to the United States with his family from Cuba in 1961 when he was just 11 years old. They moved to Lancaster four years later. Graupera’s father, Charles, eventually became a Spanish professor at Elizabethtown College; his mother, Aida, was the first bilingual case worker for Catholic Social Services.

Graupera has no plans to slow down in retirement. He wants to focus on establishing a regional network for Tec Centro, SACA’s bilingual workforce development center, expanding it with the help of city leaders in York, Lebanon and Reading.

Carlos Graupera

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