Astronaut Peggy Whitson to receive key to the city

Record breaking astronaut Dr. Peggy Whitson will receive a key to the city when she returns to her alma mater next month to deliver the keynote address during Iowa Wesleyan University?s Founders Day Celebration.

Whitson, a 1981 graduate of IW and NASA astronaut, has completed a career total of 665 days in space, more than any U.S. astronaut in history. When she returns to Mt. Pleasant on Feb. 14, to deliver her keynote address in the University Chapel, she will share experiences from her most recent 288-days aboard the International Space Station. During that voyage she and her crew also set records in the volume and variety of scientific research carried out on the orbital laboratory.

Whitson, a native of Beaconsfield, graduated from Iowa Wesleyan University in 1981 and earned her Ph.D. at Rice University. She is the first woman to command the International Space Station (ISS), and in 2017 commanded the ISS a second time. She holds the record for cumulative days in space by any NASA astronaut and holds the record for total spacewalks by a woman. She also was the first woman to serve as Chief of the Astronaut Corps, a position she held before her most recent station command assignment.

?It is our distinct honor to welcome Dr. Whitson back to her alma mater. She is a vital part of not only American history but of Iowa Wesleyan University history and an example for future generations of students who dare to live out their dreams,? said President Steve Titus. ?Dr. Whitson?s extraordinary contributions to society and science exhibit a degree of servant leadership that is profound. We are so proud to call her one of our own.?

The Founders Day Celebration will take place at 11 a.m. in University Chapel. The public is welcomed to attend.

During this ceremony, she will be presented the Key to the City of Mt. Pleasant.

A news conference will be held in the Espy-McCurdy Conference Room of the Howe Student Activity Center at 12:15 p.m. with set up beginning at noon. An invitation only school assembly will be held at 1:30 p.m. in Ruble Arena in the Howe Student Activity Center. To register for the news conference and/or the school assembly, please contact