Alphonso V. Diaz
Vice Chancellor for Administration
University of California, Riverside
Other Featured Alumni
Mr. Alphonso V. Diaz has been a contributor and leader in the United States Space program for four decades. He retired from NASA in October 2005 and has accepted appointment to the position of Vice Chancellor for Administration at the University of California at Riverside.
Mr. Diaz served until August 12 as NASA's Associate Administrator for Science, a position to which he was appointed on August 8, 2004.In this position, he was responsible for the management, direction, and oversight of NASA's science flight programs, mission studies, and technology development. This program includes all of NASA's activities in science including the exploration of the Universe and Solar System as well as NASA's Earth Science Program. The total budget for these activities is $5.5 Billion, about on-third of NASA's total budget. In addition, in this capacity, he was the designated Program Executive Officer for the Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC), the Ames Research Center, and contract management of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. This institutional responsibility gave him responsibility for approximately one-third of NASA's workforce.
From 1996 to 2004, Mr. Diaz was at Goddard Space Flight Center where he served as Deputy Director from 1996 to 1998 and as Center Director from 1998 to 2004.While at GSFC he was responsible for planning, organizing, and directing NASA's Earth science, space science, and technology programs assigned to the Center. GSFC is engaged in developing and operating scientific spacecraft including the Hubble Space Telescope and the Earth Observing System.The Center continues to seek excellence in science and technology as demonstrated by many discoveries and advances in its history, from the first mapping of the Antarctic ozone hole to determining the very early structure of the universe.
From 1989 to March 1996, Mr. Diaz served as Deputy Associate Administrator and Chief Engineer of the Office of Space Science (Code S) at NASA Headquarters. In that capacity, he was responsible for management direction and oversight of space science flight program policy, launch vehicle requirements, technology infusion requirements, and mission study reviews and assessments. During this period, Mr. Diaz led the Agency committee chartered by the Administrator to study proposals related to science institutes and to provide recommendations for implementation.Prior key positions with NASA include Deputy Associate Administrator for the former Office of Space Science and Applications (OSSA), Assistant Associate Administrator for Programs within OSSA, and Director for Strategic Plans and Programs for Space Station.
Mr. Diaz spent a short time in industry where he was the Division Vice President for Space and Aeronautics at GE Government Services from 1988 to 1989. While with GE he was responsible for the general management of the GE business that performed service contracts in support of US government civilian space and aeronautics activities principally in support of NASA.
Mr. Diaz began his career at NASA's Langley Research Center as a NASA Coop Student in 1964.At Langley, he worked in a variety of technical management positions, including on the Viking Project, Gas Chromatograph Mass Spectrometer (GCMS).This scientific instrument was the first to analyze the surface material of Mars in 1976.In 1979, Mr. Diaz began his work at NASA Headquarters, where he served in a variety of positions.Aside from the positions mentioned above, Mr. Diaz also has served as the International Solar-Polar Mission (now Ulysses Mission) Program Manager, the Galileo Program Manager, Manager of Planetary Advanced Programs, and as Deputy Director of the Solar System Exploration Division.He later served as Assistant Associate Administrator for Space Station within OSSA, managing all activities on the use of the planned Space Station for scientific research, and providing strategic planning guidance for OSSA's overall program of scientific exploration.
Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Mr. Diaz attended Regis High School in Manhattan. He received a Bachelor of Science degree in Physics from St. Joseph's University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and a Master of Science degree in Physics from Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia.In addition, he received a Master of Science in management from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Sloan School of Management in 1986 where he attended as a Sloan Fellow.He has received an Honorary Doctorate in Science from Capital College (Maryland) in 2004 and an Honorary Doctorate in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Rome (Italy) in 2005.
Mr. Diaz received four Presidential Rank Awards: three as Meritorious Executive in 1990, 1995, and 2002 and one Distinguished Award in 1996. He also has received six NASA Medals, including an Exceptional Scientific Achievement Medal for his work on the Viking Project in 1976, a NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal in 1994 for his work on the Hubble Space Telescope First Servicing Mission, and the Distinguished Service Medal in 2005 for his leadership of agency wide activities in the wake of the Columbia Accident. Most recently Mr. Diaz has been named the recipient of the 2005 "Wernher Von Braun Space Flight Trophy" awarded to him by the National Space Club (Huntsville Alabama). In addition he was recognized by the Hispanic Engineer National Achievement Corporation (HENAAC) as the 2005 Hispanic Engineer of the Year at the Anaheim Convention Center in October. He also received the 2005 Lifetime Achievement Award from Hispanic Business, Inc.
He is a Fellow and Trustee of the International Academy of Astronautics (IAA) and an Associate Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA). He is a member of the Board of Governors for the Fellows Society of the MIT Sloan School of Management.
He is married to Angela Phillips Diaz who is a leader in Public Policy at NASA.They have resided in Takoma Park, MD for the past 8 years where they renovated and remodeled their Victorian period home.Mr. Diaz enjoys cooking and sampling his wine collection with friends and family. He has one son, Alex, who lives in Providence, Rhode Island where he is a chef.