In Conversation: Former NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly

Photo: Two Norwich cadets interview former NYPD commissioner Raymond Kelly
Norwich University Office of Communications

November 27, 2017

Raymond Kelly led the New York City Police Department for 14 years under mayors David Dinkins and Michael Bloomberg, becoming the city’s longest-serving police commissioner while capping a 47-year NYPD career. Between appointments, Kelly oversaw policing in Haiti for the United Nations, worked for Interpol in Europe, and led the U.S. Customs Bureau. At the NYPD, he implemented many innovations, including the push to recruit police officers who speak 106 languages to serve one of the most diverse cities in the world. The counter-terrorism bureau he established at the NYPD in 2002 was the first of its kind for a metropolitan police force.

The author of the 2015 book, Vigilance: My Life Serving America and Protecting Its Empire City, Kelly visited the Norwich campus earlier this month to present the Fall 2017 Todd Lecture. During his visit, the former Marine and Vietnam War veteran sat down to talk about his life and career with Jess R. Hindman ’19 and John L. Smith ’18. Hailing from Mansfield, Mass., and Houston, Tex., respectively, the two Norwich cadets and criminal justice majors kicked off the conversation.

We’d like to ask you primarily about leadership, because that’s why we’re in the Corps and why we chose Norwich. Throughout your career, what’s been consistent in your leadership and management style?

Kelly: It’s a good question. I had three older brothers in the Marine Corps. They used to bring home their “72” gear, or field equipment, including a guide book for Marines. I probably saw this when I was 13. It’s been around since 1910. But they keep issuing new editions of it. It talks about leadership traits. The general principle is, “Hey, if you act like a leader, if you sound like a leader, if you do the things that good leaders do, you’re a leader.” Leaders are made. They’re not born. I sort of took that to heart.

Photo: Portrait of Raymond KellyThere are 14 leadership principles in that book. I have a Franklin Planner that I use. In one of the dividers, I have these 14 leadership traits. Obviously, you could write paragraphs, books, about each one of those things. But some of them are justice and judgment. How do you treat people who are working for you? What you ultimately want is respect from the people you work with. How do you get that respect? One of the ways you get it is by using these traits. There’s dependability, obviously integrity, decisiveness. There’s tact. There’s initiative, enthusiasm, bearing, unselfishness, courage, job knowledge, loyalty, and endurance. Now, if you look at all of those, and you try and emulate them as best you can, people are going to see you as a leader. Someone who they respect. That’s what I try to do. There’s certainly lots of challenges, in life, challenges as a leader. But it’s sort of worked for me. I know there’s a lot of different definitions of leadership. But I wanted to keep it simple in my head.

That is a little bit of my leadership secret. Also, I’m a hands-on leader. I’m not a micro-manager. But I am hands on. I want to do things that enable me to see what personnel are doing, let them know that I appreciate what they do. Also, you never want to become one of the boys or girls. A lot of people don’t realize that. There’s a price to pay for leadership. The expression, “It’s lonely at the top.” Yeah. It is—at every level. Again, you want that respect. If you are just one of the crowd and become sort of one of your subordinates, they’re not going to respect you. These are some of the things that I think work for me.

Taking counter-terrorism work as an example, you were able to effect great amounts of change in the NYPD. What would you say has been your most effective method for enacting that change and getting people to do what you want?

Photo: Norwich cadets interview Raymond KellyWell, let’s face it: The position of authority gives you the ability to affect change. Now the question is, is it lasting? Will people resist it? Will it somehow be undermined? Just having a position of authority enables you to initiate things. I think the respect element I talked about is what enables it to sort of take hold. You know, “This person is leading this effort. Because it’s this person, I think it has merit. I am buying into it.”

What are some ways that you’ve changed your leadership style over the years?

I think leadership to a certain degree is situational. It depends on what the work force looks like and what the immediate situation is. I think you need to be flexible in terms of how you approach it. If I have to use one word as to how I lead, I would probably say “authoritative.” I have that model because in an organization like the police department, you’ve got people working 24 hours a day. The department needs the structure, the people need that structure. I think in many things you have to have that authoritative style. But then there’s the coach, and then there’s the element of counseling people. So, depending on the situation you’ve got to be able to adjust to what you believe is the right leadership style. In an emergency situation, you have to use the authority that you have. People expect that. People want somebody in charge. You have to take that position. But you don’t have to go around flexing that all the time.

How have you dealt with people that didn’t like you or the decisions you’ve made and been able to move on?

You do just that—move on. I would say this, I did learn a lesson. I made a decision, and quite frankly I don’t remember what it was, but it had to do with constituencies. You have to think about the [ones] you have when making a decision. I made this decision that did not incorporate the union or the union position. You work with the public, the media, elected officials, the boss, the mayor, that sort of thing. I just didn’t think about the union. It came back to cause a problem.

Photo: Raymond Kelly stands with two Norwich cadets, holding challenge coin giftSo, I actually drew a decision wheel, and I put all these constituencies in it. “Did I think of this? Did I think of that?” So, I learned a lesson. If you have the time to do that, you want to use the capacity that you have to check in with people and see what their thoughts are. Sometimes you have to force your hand. But if you have the time and the opportunity, you check with your constituents.

Interview condensed and edited for length and clarity.

Produced, edited and photographed by Sean Markey

Norwich appoints new dean of the College of National Services


September 12, 2016

Norwich has named U.S. Marine Colonel Robert C. Kuckuk as dean of the College of National Services, which oversees Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) programs at Norwich through the departments of Army Military Science, Aerospace Studies and Naval Science.

nrotc_robert_kuckukKuckuk, who was assigned as commanding officer of Norwich’s NROTC detachment in 2014, graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Platteville with a BS in Industrial Education in 1986. He was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in 1987 and designated a Naval Aviator in 1990. In 2006, he attended the Naval War College, graduating with distinction while earning a Master’s Degree in National Security and Strategic Studies.

Kuckuk’s career has included multiple tours in Japan, two deployments to the western Pacific and once to Iraq in 2005. He commanded Marine Corps Air Station Yuma from May 2011 until June 2014.

His personal decorations include the Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit, Meritorious Service Medal with 2 gold stars, Air Medal with numeral 3, Defense Commendation Medal, Navy Marine Corps Commendation Medal and the Navy Marine Corps Achievement Medal with 1 gold star. He is married to the former Jennifer Fischer of Madison, WI. They have three children, Emily, Betsy and Sam.

ROTC at Norwich

Norwich University is the birthplace of ROTC. In April 206, Norwich University celebrated 100 years of ROTC with a symposium, which included 12 generals and admirals, 40 classroom presentations, two keynote lectures and a moderated panel to discuss the future of the leader development program.

Participation in ROTC, including military labs and physical training, is an integral part of the Corps of Cadets leadership experience at Norwich. Cadets must enroll in Army, Air Force, Navy or Marine Corps ROTC to maintain membership in the Corps of Cadets.

Depending upon the military branch and career interests, participation may include physical training, field training and practical military instruction (including Mountain and Cold Weather Company, Ranger Company, and Artillery Battery).

The ROTC programs exist to commission well-educated officers into the Army, Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps in sufficient numbers to meet the requirements of these services. The general objectives of the programs are to provide understanding of the principles of military, aerospace and naval science; to develop comprehension of associated professional knowledge; to build attitudes of integrity, honor, and individual responsibility; and to encourage appreciation of national security requirements. These objectives support the mission of Norwich University and the Corps of Cadets and augment the training plan necessary to prepare cadets for service to the nations as soldiers and citizens.

The ROTC requirement is both an obligation and an extraordinary opportunity. Cadets will study leadership, ethics, troop-leading skills and a broad array of military service-related courses.

About Norwich University˜

Norwich University is a diversified academic institution that educates traditional-age students and adults in a Corps of Cadets and as civilians. Norwich offers a broad selection of traditional and distance-learning programs culminating in Baccalaureate and Graduate Degrees. Norwich University was founded in 1819 by Captain Alden Partridge of the U.S. Army and is the oldest private military college in the United States of America. Norwich is one of our nation’s six senior military colleges and the birthplace of the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) 

In fulfillment of Norwich’s mission to train and educate today’s students to be tomorrow’s global leaders and captains of industry, the Forging the Future campaign is committed to creating the best possible learning environment through state-of-the-art academics and world-class facilities. Norwich University will celebrate its bicentennial in 2019. Learn more about the campaign and how to participate in the “Year of Transformation” here:    

Media Contact:
Daphne Larkin
Assistant Director of Communications
Office Tel: (802) 485-2886
Mobile: (802) 595-3613

Norwich Commencement | The Graduates: Phung Pham ’16

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Phung Pham ’16

Hometown: Hanover, Mass.
Major: Computer Security & Information Assurance (CSIA)
Student Path: Corps of Cadets

  • Association for Computing Machinery (Student Club)
  • Coaching for Leadership
  • Center for Civic Engagement


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What Norwich Taught Me

Time management and an unwavering focus on academics. Pham spent countless hours studying in Kreitzberg Library and talking to professors outside of class to understand course material. “This is not [an] easy habit for everyone,” he says. “The Norwich motto “I Will Try!” [was] always in my mind. It helped me overcome problems.”[/content_band]

Phung Pham entered Norwich University’s Class of 2016 just two years after arriving in the U.S. from Vietnam. Pham participated in the inaugural Coaching for Leadership program at Norwich as a first-year Rook. There, he met NU alum and former trustee Richard Hayden ’68. Hayden advised Pham to focus on his academics, improve his English, seek leadership opportunities in the Corps, and become a U.S. citizen. In November, Pham realized all of those goals as he took the U.S. Oath of Allegiance, the final step in becoming an American citizen.

“Phung is an example of the best that Norwich can produce,” Hayden writes. “He will be a great alum and, I expect, an even greater American.”

A member of the Vermont National Guard, Pham returns to Fort Benning, Ga., following graduation to complete seven weeks of U.S. Army Advanced Individual Training. Upon completion, Pham hopes to join the U.S. Coast Guard via its direct commission program. He also plans to continue his education at Norwich. He was recently awarded a full scholarship for an online master’s degree with NU’s College of Graduate and Continuing Studies.

NU Commencement | The Graduates: Olivia DeSpirito ’16

Photo: Norwich 2016 graduate Olivia Despirito by lake in Macedonia

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Olivia DeSpirito ’16

Hometown: East Greenwich, R.I.
Major: Biology
Minor: Chemistry
Student Path: Corps of Cadets

  • Norwich University Honor Committee
  • Men’s Ice Hockey team manager
  • NATO-sponsored Southeastern Europe Counterterrorism Training Course, Macedonia.


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What Norwich Taught Me

“What I really learned about myself here at Norwich is that you have in yourself the power to do great things, provided you don’t give into pressure around you. I chose as my senior quote ‘persistence overcomes resistance,’ and I really believe that was my mantra for all four years here. I’ve had a lot of rough patches throughout my college career, but I didn’t give up. Norwich has taught me all about self-motivation, and really pushing through the tough times. Because you know there is something good on the other side.”[/content_band]

Olivia DeSpirito arrived on the Norwich campus four years ago with a passion for forensic science. “I saw my first CSI: Las Vegas show when I was six, and I was hooked from that point on.”

At Norwich, DeSpirito joined the Corps of Cadets, majored in biology, and minored in chemistry. In her spare time, she read up on the early history of forensic science and the chemistry used in the first crime labs. “My parents have actually told me I’m a bit ‘different’ for being so passionate about your body after you die,” she says. “But that’s alright. It’s too interesting for me to stop now.”

This fall, DeSpirito starts a two-year master’s program in forensic science at the University of New Haven in Conn. She credits chemistry professor Seth Frisbie, chemistry department chair Natalia Blank, and her academic advisor, biology professor Scott Page for their impact on her Norwich academic career. Her chemistry professors made a minor possible and all wrote multiple letters of recommendation for graduate school. “[They] have really supported me in all of my courses and throughout my time here.”

May 16, 2016

Norwich Students Attend NATO Counterterrorism Training in Europe

Logo of Norwich University Peace and War Center
Norwich University Office of Communications

February 12, 2016

Four Norwich undergraduates flew to Macedonia today to attend a week-long NATO-sponsored advanced training course on counterterrorism in southeastern Europe.

The symposium is co-lead by Norwich University’s Peace and War Center and the Macedonia Military Academy General Mihailo Apostolski in Skopje.

The participating NU students were also named Spring 2016 Norwich University Peace and War Fellows. They are James Verderico ‘16, Olivia DeSpirito ‘16, Sam DeLong ‘16 and Kendall Manning ’17.

They will assist during the training course and document their experience on the Norwich University Facebook page.

“Their time abroad should prove to be a powerful experience,” said Travis Morris, PhD, an assistant professor of Criminal Justice and Criminology.

Morris directs Norwich University’s new Peace and War Center (PAWC). He developed the grant awarded by NATO to PAWC to help craft the counterterrorism advanced training course.

“The training course … bring[s] together leading terrorism scholars and experts to strategize the best methods for countering the terrorists threat to the southeastern region and its neighboring NATO members,” Morris notes.

Southeast Europe comprises the NATO member countries Slovenia, Croatia, Albania, and Bulgaria, as well as the Partnership for Peace countries Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, Montenegro, and Serbia.

Morris is a former U.S. Army and police officer, who has lived and traveled in the Middle East extensively. His scholarship focuses in part, on radicalization and counterterrorism.

Norwich senior James Verderico is a Computer Security and Information Assurance major and member of the NU Corps of Cadets (NUCC) from Boston, Mass.

His classmate Sam DeLong is a NUCC Lieutenant Colonel and Criminal Justice major from Barnstable, Mass., who plans to attend law school after graduation.

Norwich junior Kendall Manning is a Construction Management major and a Staff Sergeant in the NU Corps of Cadets from Jacksonville, Fla.

Senior Olivia DeSpirito is a biology major with a focus on biological forensics and a Captain in the NU Corps of Cadets from East Greenwich, R.I.

The NATO advanced training course will provide in-depth analysis on how to prevent radicalization and offer best practices for building resilient southeastern Europe societies. The program also seeks to boost understanding and cooperation among NATO and Partner countries in the region.

The training is a joint effort by Norwich University and United States and the Military Academy General Mihailo Apostolski in Skopje, Macedonia.

About Norwich University’s Peace and War Center

The Norwich University’s Peace and War Center (PAWC) advances scholarship and deliberation on warfare and its mitigation, processes, and conditions of peace. The center’s work emphasizes research and discussion on the precipitating factors and preconditions of war and peace. In order to understand the cycles of war and peace, it is critical to examine the role of culture and language, analyze the ideological roots of turmoil and stability, and the evolving role of technology. The Center is designed to be a multi and interdisciplinary mix of international scholars and practitioners.

About the Military Academy General Mihailo Apostolski–Skopje

The Military Academy General Mihailo Apostolski–Skopje is an associate member of the University Goce Delcev-Stip. It functions as a high educational and research institution in defense, military and military-technical sciences, crisis management, protection, and rescue. It also serves as a defense educational hub for the region; cadets from Bosnia and Hercegovina, Montenegro, and Kosovo study alongside Macedonian Cadets. The Military Academy has seven accredited programs for graduate studies, three programs for postgraduate studies, and a PhD program. The Military Academy curriculum is designed to enable students and cadets to acquire skills, knowledge, and capacities necessary to professionally respond to modern security challenges.

Norwich Students Break University Record in Annual Day of Service

Office of Communications

November 9. 2015

On Saturday, November 7, a record-breaking 133 Norwich students volunteered in the Sixth Annual Day of Service. That day, volunteers gave 798 hours of service at 14 different sites in 7 different towns: East Montpelier, Barre, South Barre, Berlin, Montpelier, Northfield and Plainfield.

Students raked leaves, stacked wood, built a fence, and helped move furniture for several local residents. They sorted food at the Vermont Food Bank, helped to renovate the Turtle Island Daycare Center’s playground, assisted at the Granite City 5K in Barre, assisted Community Harvest Gleaning of Central VT, tagged 500 pairs of socks for the upcoming Toasty Toes program for local seniors and veterans, assisted with winterizing Wrightsville Beach, assisted Montpelier Parks and Recreation by removing invasive species (Honeysuckle)/trail maintenance,  and assisted Cross VT Trail with trail-building.

Check out the photo album posted on the Facebook page of the NU Center for Civic Engagement:

Photo Gallery: Norwich Football Game Showcases School Spirit

Black and white image of Norwich rooks mugging it up at a football game
Norwich University Office of Communications

October 21, 2015

The Norwich University football team hosted Maritime (N.Y.) on Saturday during Parent and Family Weekend, winning its third straight Eastern Collegiate Football Conference game with a 30-22 victory. NU civilian students and rooks took the opportunity to show their school spirit.

Photographs by Mark Collier, NU Office of Communications

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Photo Gallery: Norwich Rooks Relax at Abare Family Farm Annual Picnic

Norwich University Office of Communications

September 25, 2015

For 30 years, the Abare family of Northfield, Vt., has hosted the incoming class of Norwich University Rooks for a weekend picnic at their bucolic family farm. The event offers first-year students in the Corps of Cadets a welcome chance to unwind, relax and recharge during their intense, months-long initiation and training. This year, the Sunday event featured perfect weather and many happy moments.

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