Alumni Hall of Fame Honoree
Published date: September 23, 2019
Virginia State University (VSU) alumna and Dinwiddie County native, Dr. Gladys West, ’52, will be inducted into the 2019 National Black College Alumni Hall of Fame. The induction will take place on Friday, September 27, 2019, in Atlanta, Ga.
Dr. West joins fellow Trojans Dr. William Taylor, ‘42 and Dr. Mary Futrell, ‘62 who have previously been inducted.
Dr. West began her career in aerospace in 1956, at the Naval Proving Ground, now called Naval Support Facility Dahlgren. She was the second black woman hired at the base and one of only four black employees. During her 42 years of service, she played an integral role in the development of the Global Positioning System (GPS). She rose through the ranks at NSWCDD, worked on satellite geodesy and other satellite measurements that contributed to the accuracy of GPS. Almost everyone is impacted from her work on the GPS, as it is now on the phone and in most cars.
On December 6, 2018, Dr. West was inducted into the Air Force Space and Missile Pioneer Hall of Fame at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. The Air Force Space and Missile Pioneers Hall of Fame is one of the Air Force’s Space Commands Highest Honors. The award was presented to her for her contributions to the Air Force’s space program. She also received a Senate Resolution honoring her accomplishments in March of 2018.
Dr. West graduated from VSU with a B.S. in mathematics and a master’s degree in mathematics. She also holds a master’s of public administration from the University of Oklahoma and a Ph.D. in public administration from Virginia Tech.
The National Black College Alumni Hall of Fame Foundation, Inc. is a 501(C)3 organization founded in 1986 by members of the National Council of Alumni Associations. The Foundation is dedicated to sustaining and growing Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU’s) through alumni recognition, scholarships, training and technical assistance and programs to promote humanitarian involvement.