OSU brings alumni fellows back to campus


CORVALLIS - Three former Oregon State University students who went on to gain fame in three distinctly separate fields will return to campus on OSU's Homecoming Weekend to be honored as 2003 Alumni Fellows.

Donald Pettit, an astronaut who was on the International Space Station when the Columbia shuttle crash occurred; Mike Rich, who wrote the films "Finding Forrester" and "The Rookie"; and David Wong, co-discoverer of Prozac, will give public lectures, faculty seminars and meet with students.

They will be honored at a reception on Friday, Oct. 31, at 3:30 p.m. in the Construction and Engineering Auditorium of LaSells Stewart Center. The event is free and open to the public.

The Alumni Fellows program is sponsored by the OSU Alumni Association.

Pettit is a 1978 graduate of OSU's College of Engineering, who received widespread publicity this year when he and two fellow astronauts spent six months living and working aboard the space station. A last-minute replacement on the trip, Pettit served as science officer and flight engineer for the planned four-month stay, which was extended for two months after the crash of the shuttle Columbia.

A native of Silverton, Ore., Pettit received a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering from OSU and later became staff scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory from 1984 to 1996. He was selected as an astronaut by NASA that year and has logged more than 161 days in space, and gone on two space walks totaling some 13 hours.

Rich, who attended the College of Business until 1982, took a stab at screenwriting and his debut effort, "Finding Forrester," won a competition sponsored by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Columbia Pictures purchased the screenplay, and Sean Connery hired on as executive producer and lead actor.

His success continued with a new script, "The Rookie," which was made into another major motion picture starring Dennis Quaid. Rich's latest work, "Radio," was made into a film that will be released this month. It is the story of a high school football coach and his relationship with a man who is mentally disabled.

Wong earned a master's degree in biochemistry in the OSU College of Science in 1964 en route to following his father's advice, which was to find a career that would benefit people. After earning a doctorate, he became a research neuroscientist with Eli Lilly and Co., where he was part of a three-person team that invented Prozac, now used by more than 30 million people worldwide.

Best known as one of the Prozac developers, Wong also was part of many other important

projects at Eli Lilly, including the development of drugs to treat attention deficit disorder and Parkinson's disease. He is the inventor or co-inventor for 35 U.S. patents.

Wong retired from Eli Lilly in 1999, but continues to work as a consultant for pharmaceutical companies.