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O'Keefe May Leave NASA's Top Job

CAPE CANAVERAL-- NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe is a candidate for the top job at the Louisiana State University, he told FLORIDA TODAY on Friday night.

O'Keefe, a native of New Orleans, would not say whether he has interviewed for the job. However, the university is seeking a chancellor, and O'Keefe said he is interested.

Members of the LSU Chancellor Search Committee met publicly on Wednesday, then went into a private session to discuss "professional competence and character" of chancellor applicants, according to published committee minutes. The meeting adjourned 10 minutes after the private session concluded.

"It is my understanding that they are considering me as a candidate," O'Keefe said. Asked if he would leave NASA to take a new job right now, O'Keefe said, "I'm always interested in talking to anyone."

O'Keefe came to NASA in 2001, less than a year after President Bush took office. His assignment: reign in a $5 billion cost overrun on the International Space Station. The Bush Administration put NASA on financial probation as Congress grew increasingly skeptical of the agency's ability to complete a project on budget.

But then came the Columbia disaster. He guided the agency through that crisis and has since overseen widespread safety changes ordered by the Columbia Accident Investigation Board.

Published under license from FLORIDA TODAY. Copyright ? 2004 FLORIDA TODAY. No portion of this material may be reproduced in any way without the written consent of FLORIDA TODAY.

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John Kelly

John Kelly is the director of data journalism for ABC-owned TV stations at Walt Disney Television. An investigative reporter and data journalist, John covered space exploration, NASA and aerospace as a reporter for Florida Today for 11 years, four of those on the Space Reporter beat. John earned a journalism degree from the University of Kentucky and wrote for the Shelbyville News and Associated Press before joining Florida Today's space team. In 2013, John joined the data investigation team at USA Today and became director of data journalism there in 2018 before joining Disney in 2019. John is a two-time winner of the Edward R. Murrow award in 2020 and 2021, won a Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting in 2020 and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Investigative Reporting in 2017. You can follow John on Twitter.