A Wild Conversation: Self-Will, Ancestors, Norwich & Nature (Video)

Screen Grab: John Hausdoerffer talks with Sean Prentiss
Norwich University Office of Communications

November 29, 2017

Go deep with NU associate professor of English and award-winning author Sean Prentiss as he interviews John Hausdoerffer. A writer and professor of environmental sustainability and philosophy at Western State Colorado University, Hausdoerffer visited the Norwich campus earlier this month as part of the Norwich University Writers Series, an appearance co-sponsored by NU’s Center for Global Resilience and Security. Watch:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QDL0CnhsGTE?rel=0&w=560&h=315]

Video: NU Writers Series Hosts Former Al Qaeda Hostage Theo Padnos

Photo: Author Theo Padnos speaks to class at Norwich University
Norwich University Office of Communications

September 27, 2017

In 2012, American journalist and author Theo Padnos was captured by Al Qaeda forces in Syria, where he was tortured and imprisoned for two years. Following his unlikely release, he recounted his experience for the New York Times Sunday Magazine and later in the 2016 documentary film, Theo Who Lived.

A fluent Arabic speaker, Padnos had previously reported on Jihadi and Islamist radicalization in Yemen in the book, Undercover Muslim. An insightful thinker and writer, Padnos was invited to kick-off the 2017-18 Norwich University Writers Series lecture series. He visited campus on September 26 to speak with students and give a public talk about his work.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zvocQJKwJzw&w=560&h=315]

Prof. Travis Morris’s 2017 Norwich University Convocation Address

Photo: Prof. Travis Morris addresses NU's Class of 2021 at Convocation.
Norwich University Office of Communications

August 30, 2017

Associate Professor of Criminal Justice Travis Morris is a terrorism and policing scholar, who directs the Peace & War Center at Norwich University. He is the author of the recent book Dark Ideas, an exploration of how violent jihadists and neo-Nazis ideologues have shaped modern terrorism. On Tuesday, Morris addressed the Norwich community at Convocation. A copy of his prepared remarks follows.

President Schneider, Provost Afentio, deans, faculty, staff, guests, and most importantly the class of 2021: It is indeed an honor for me to be here today.

Incoming students, let me again welcome you to Norwich University. It’s a well-known fact that the audiences rarely remember what a speaker says. So with that in mind, I’ll be direct.

Each one of you is taking a risk by sitting there. Let me explain.

You face numerous challenges over the course of four years. And as you know, every challenge has two sides, success or failure.

As you think about your upcoming four years at Norwich, expect to be tested, intellectually, ethically, and some of you, physically. Expect to ask numerous questions. Expect to learn who you really are and make lifelong friends. Expect to emerge from Norwich more informed, service oriented, and a better person. I know that you have already thought about this and this is why you chose to come to Norwich. Norwich has been in the business of producing some of finest leaders, who have impacted countless lives around the globe and by sitting in those chairs, you aspire to join their ranks. You, however, are at the beginning of this journey, but you are not on this journey and risk taking alone.

The administration, faculty, and staff want you to succeed. We want you to excel and make us proud. But at the same time, we want you to be challenged, so that you leave here with the ability to make the world a better place. We know that some of you sitting here will reach the top positions in the military, government, corporations, academia, the arts, technology, engineering, medicine, law enforcement, and non-profits. We also know that some of you will face tremendous academic, personal, relational, and professional challenges during your four years. However, thousands have gone before you. But as General Sullivan states, “Hope is not a method.” You won’t make it back to these seats for graduation four years from now based on hope.

Taking risks is really a Norwich tradition. “I Will Try,” our motto, is really about taking a risk. That’s it. Norwich’s motto means that you take risks. You either make the shot or not. You either graduate or don’t. You pass the test or not. You either save the life or don’t. I also believe that “I will try” was never meant to be said in a comfortable chair or in a lackadaisical tone. Often the Norwich motto is uttered in stressful, uncertain situations with high stakes.

The first Norwich risk taker was our founder, Capt. Alden Partridge. You’ll pass his statue who knows how many times during your four years at Norwich. His ability to face challenges and take risks have impacted thousands. And you and everyone else sitting here today is part of his legacy. However, his actions took place a long time ago and have normalized over time. The courage required or the consequences of failure is often forgotten or taken for granted. It’s hard to picture Capt. Partridge sitting at his desk in 1866 after … the impact of the Civil War. He began the fall semester with only 19 students. Imagine the risks involved! Or Dr. Homer L. Dodge, former Norwich professor and president, was also a risk taker. Like Capt. Partridge, he challenged teaching conventions of the day.  He also visited a young man in Omaha, Nebraska, named Warren Buffet, before Buffet became one of the richest men in the world. Dr. Homer L. Dodge liked what he heard and invested thousands of dollars based on this young man’s advice, and guess what? That risk paid off. His thousands became millions. Taking risks can end in success sometimes.

If you allow me to offer you some points from my perspective that may be of benefit to you as you take risks and face the upcoming challenges during your time at Norwich. In some small way, I hope to share some lessons learned. These points are meant to assist you and come from serving as a Ranger-qualified infantry officer with the 10th Mountain Division, my years as a police officer, and as a criminologist at Norwich.

You cannot do it alone. You cannot do it alone. The United States Army Ranger School is one of the toughest training courses the Army has to offer. To me, a 22-year-old at the time, Army Ranger School was a lifetime of challenges, with the very real risk of failure crammed into a few months. Ranger students train to exhaustion, pushing the limits of their minds and bodies. Ranger School students learn whether they can lead or follow when tired, hungry, physically on the edge of exhaustion, and pushed to their often previously untested limits. Ranger School was more like getting into a car wreck. It was a collision, not a jostle. I learned that it is possible to actually sleep and walk at the same time.  At one point in the school I thought the sunset was a mountain rock ledge that I continually tried to step under but later realized that it really was a hallucination caused by carrying over a hundred pounds of gear, starvation, sleep deprivation, pushed physical limits, and the stress of being evaluated. To be sure, any soldier who attends Ranger School will be a better leader for it.

You see, no matter how prepared you are mentally or physically, you will break down at some point. You’ll have moments where you think you just can’t go any farther, and you need someone to tell you that there is only one mile left, someone to take 25 pounds of equipment off your back so you can make it up the mountain or through the swamp. You have a Ranger buddy, someone who you are paired with throughout the entire school if you both make it through. Your Ranger buddy not only helps, but becomes someone you don’t want to let down. You actually can do more than you imagine because someone is there to push and support you. Being a lone ranger is not the goal, and my Ranger buddy is a lifelong friend. There is a reason that some of you call each other Rook buddies—you need them.

You may not know this now but you soon will: You are surrounded by some of the finest faculty and staff in the United States. I’m honored to know them and call them colleagues. They are here to push you, challenge you. But also assist you to carry your academic load when you feel like you can’t go any further. Notice I said, “assist.” You still have to shoulder the weight. But they will both encourage you and hold you to a standard. They will see potential in you that some of you don’t currently. Some of them will spark an idea, offer a word of encouragement, challenge you in such a way that it will alter your life path. Some of you will stay in contact with them for the rest of your lives (or theirs), because they played a pivotal role in impacting you during your time here. So remember: You cannot do it alone. Depend on others. Find a mentor.

Own your mistakes. Some of you have been pulled over by a police officer. In another life, before academia, I used to be that guy who met you by the side of your vehicle. I have heard every excuse imaginable and those even unimaginable. These include, after finding drugs in a suspect’s pants pocket, being told with a straight face that these were not his pants. He just put them on at a party he just left. I never asked why he wasn’t wearing pants at the party in the first place. What I learned from those thousands of interactions with the public was that some people were honest, despite what they had done, and told the truth. They owned that they had broken the law. They had moral courage and recognized they had made a mistake when they, in fact, had.

You will make mistakes at Norwich. Some of you more than others. However, be honest and tell your professors, cadre, RA, parents, friends that you made a mistake. Corruption begins at the smallest levels at first, and then it will grow. Own your mistakes. Learn from them. Deal with the consequences and move on. Show yourself to be someone that others can trust.

Small tasks turn into large ones. Some of you in the distant future will write a dissertation for a PhD. While some of you this year will feel like you are working on a dissertation, you can be certain that the faculty will tell you that you are not. I look to my colleagues, who know how arduous, psychologically challenging, and difficult the dissertation process can be. Fifty percent of PhD students don’t finish and most of it has to do with not being able to finish the dissertation. During the dissertation process, you have a committee that reviews your work. When I was almost at the end of my dissertation, a committee member told me that I had to make certain changes. However, these changes would take over a year to complete. A year or more. The next day, as I sat looking at an empty computer screen trying to move the project forward and wondering how I was going to support my family, progress started with one small task. Putting words on a page. Words were soon typed on the screen, which then become sentences, which became pages, which become chapters and moved the project ahead one day at a time or really one word at a time.  The dissertation was successfully defended and that chapter closed.

Translation to you… . Don’t get overwhelmed by the challenge of your papers, projects, or labs. Pick one thing you can do, be consistent, and do it. These small things will eventually lead to completing a larger, much more complex project.

Put yourself in unfamiliar territory. In 2017, news about the nation of Yemen, which is located at the southern tip of the Arabian Peninsula, involves war, al Qaeda, ISIS fighters, or the biggest cholera outbreak in decades. However, I was able to do some research there several years ago. Yes, those news headlines are unfortunately true. But they’re not the only Yemen. Just like there is never one side to a cube. One cannot simply paint a nation, region, or a people group with broad brush strokes. To me, Yemen reminds me of some of the most hospitable people I’ve ever met, amazing mountaineers, unsurpassed scenery, kindness, and a remarkable history. Being in unfamiliar territory can often challenge your own biases or assumptions. You leave seeing yourself and that territory with enlightenment.

You are in unfamiliar territory right now. NU is unfamiliar to you, the Corps is unfamiliar, university academics is unfamiliar, and Vermont may be unfamiliar. But, believe it or not, this will soon become your new normal. You and your environment will equalize. Don’t become stagnate when it does.

There are [many] nations represented at Norwich. Make it a goal of yours to welcome them, learn from them, and ask them questions. Going overseas does not have to involve physical travel. It can begin with the international student in your residence hall, classroom, or platoon. Study overseas if you can. And if you can’t, spend a semester overseas, participate with NU Visions Abroad or another overseas NU experience. Continue to find unfamiliar territory for you to explore.

Believe that you are talented. Every one of us is talented. Some talents are more visible and valued than others, but we all have them. I can remember a student in class a couple years ago who may represent, in some way, the way some of you may think right now. When I asked a question during class, he would almost always raise his hand and give a well-thought, articulate answer. One day after class, we had a conversation, and I was shocked to hear him describe himself as being “not that smart.” I disagreed and questioned why he thought this way and was told that he was not a good test-taker. He was told by a teacher in high school that he was not intelligent and should focus on athletics. Maybe he needed to learn how to take tests more effectively. Maybe others only saw his kinesthetic intelligence. Maybe he did not know the most effective way to process information. But somehow along the way, they missed that he was intelligent. Although this may not be the case for you, it’s important for you to find your true talents and be proud of them.

It is critically important for you to know that you are talented and to be confident in whatever it is you can do well, even to the point when others tell you the opposite. For some of you, you’ll discover your talents here at Norwich. You’ll find that you can write, translate, solve, interpret, mediate, create, make, and the list goes on. Believe in your talents.

Make the most of every situation. Like it or not you now live in Vermont. Make the most of your time here, enjoy it. This will become easier after your rook year. There are always positive rays of light no matter where you are. I agree, sometimes, depending on the circumstances, the rays can be very dim, but they are there. The challenge is to find them, but you can. But for you, you’re in one of the most beautiful parts of the country. Don’t become numb to the beauty around you, no matter what the season, and chose to make the most of this special place you now reside. Making the most of every situation is more about a philosophy than Vermont. Some of you, though you don’t know it now, will find yourself in very tough and unwelcoming places. Make the most of it, and try to see the best in others.

Class of 2021, you are beginning a journey that involves risk, but it will change you. Four years from now you will not be the same person. One of the rewards staff and faculty share is to see how you change from first year students to seniors. You will face challenges. You will fail and you will succeed. But in the end, when you are sitting here once again for graduation, you will be prepared to lead others through some of the most difficult circumstances this world can throw at you. Becoming that type of person does not happen by hoping it does or without thoughtful planning. For almost 200 years, Norwich University faculty and staff have helped students like you give the world hope and set an example of what it means to be a leader, work hard, make the right choice, and get the most out of life. When you walk past Capt. Alden Partridge’s statue remember that he was a risk taker. He worked with others. He was honest, talented. He made mistakes and made the best of situations. Your Norwich journey started a few days ago when you arrived on campus. Remember that you are not alone in this process. Use all of Norwich’s resources to prepare you to lead, serve, and impact the world. Four years will go by fast. So make the most of your time at Norwich. Make us proud now and in the future. We’ll see you in the classroom tomorrow.

Norwich Forever!

Norwich Writers Series Continues With Environmental Author Jonathan Mingle

Photo of Jonathan Mingle taken outside against a forested backdrop

Oct. 10, 2016

Norwich University’s 2016-17 Writers Series continues with environmental author Jonathan Mingle on Wednesday, Oct. 26, at 4 p.m. in the Kreitzberg Library Multipurpose Room.

Free and open to the public, Mingle will read from his book and answer questions about environmental writing, climate issues, and black carbon.

Mingle graduated from the Energy and Resources Group at University of California, Berkeley; is a former Middlebury Fellow in Environmental Journalism and a recipient of the American Alpine Club’s Zack Martin Breaking Barriers Award.

He is the author of Fire and Ice: Soot, Solidarity, and Survival on the Roof of the World, a nonfiction narrative about black carbon pollution, its health and climate impacts around the world, and solutions for cleaning it up. His writing on the environment, climate, and development has appeared in The New York Times, Slate, The Boston Globe, and many other places.

Free and open to the public, this event is hosted by The David Crawford School of Engineering, the department of Environmental Science, the Peace and War Center and the Writers Series. Norwich Writers Series is produced by the College of Liberal Arts Department of English and Communications.

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).www.norwich.edu 

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: bicentennial.norwich.edu.    

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

Video: Why First-Year Science Majors Read “The Martian”

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JYDSqc04yWg&w=560&h=315]

Norwich University Office of Communications

September 21, 2016

Incoming freshman in Norwich University’s College of Science and Mathematics discuss Andy Weir’s blockbuster about survival, science, engineering, and leadership on the Red Planet. Prof. David Westerman discusses why he recommended the book and NU Board of Fellows member and UVM polymer chemist Chris Allen leads the discussion.

Podcast: Norwich University 2016 Convocation Ceremony

Photo: NU International Center director Thy Yang at podium addresses unseen student body
Norwich University Office of Communications

September 5, 2016

Norwich University’s new assistant vice president for international education, Thy Yang, gave the keynote address during convocation ceremonies on August 30. Addressing students and faculty, Yang said her aim is “to have at least one, if not ten conversations with you about why you should have an international experience.” She also challenged Norwich students, particularly the Class of 2020, to meet as many people as possible. “The more different from you they are, the better.”

[button shape=”square” size=”large” info_trigger=”hover” a href=”http://norwich.podbean.com/e/norwich-university-2016-convocation-ceremony/”]Listen to the podcast >>[/button]

Norwich Commencement |The Speeches: Gen. Raymond Odierno’s 2016 Graduation Address

Photo: Gen. Raymond Odierno addresses the Norwich University Class of 2016 during commencement ceremonies at Shapiro Field House

Former U.S. Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond Odierno received an honorary doctorate in military science from Norwich University on May 14, 2016, after which he delivered the 2016 Norwich University Commencement Address. A copy of his prepared remarks follow.

President Schneider, thank you for that very kind introduction and your incredible leadership and stewardship of this great university. I’m excited and inspired for our nations future as a look out upon the men and women of the class of 2016.

And it’s such a pleasure to be back at this beautiful campus. Every time I come here I’m struck by what a perfect setting this is to develop and educate young men and women to be future leaders. An Incredible setting with incredible people creates the right atmosphere for learning

Today is the day to celebrate the hard work and awesome achievements of the class of 2016. First, I want to thank the Faculty and Staff who invested so heavily in every student’s development. Your steadfast commitment and dedication has contributed greatly to every student who will receive their coveted diploma today. To all the family members and friends here today. You have supported your students for the last 4 years and for some maybe a bit longer. I will not mention any names. Your love and support allowed each of these men and women to grow and mature and realize their goal. You should be very proud of your son, daughter, grandson, granddaughter, brother, sister, niece or nephew. They have demonstrated endurance, resilience, dedication and selflessness. We all can agree they are very different from the young men and women who entered Norwich in 2012. Students lets give the Faculty and staff and all your friends and family members a round of applause.

Before I go any further, I’ll just say that I’ve learned over the years that being a good Keynote speaker is the art of saying a lot without talking a lot. I remember the message from a young school boy who had to give a report on Julius Caesar. “Julius Caesar was born a long time ago,” The boy began. “He was a great General. He won some important battles. He made a long speech. They killed him.” So today today with many anxious graduates and families I’ll try not to earn Caesars fate.

Norwich is a special place that has had an outsized influence on our military and our society. Of course, as the birthplace of ROTC, you’ve produced thousands of military leaders for our nation, including well over a hundred general officers and flag officers who played key roles in our forces. One of those, General Gordon Sullivan, graduated from this school in 1959 and went on to be one of the most consequential chiefs of staff our Army has ever had.

But beyond those accomplishments, for two centuries you’ve also been a model for the entire American higher education system. And for more than four decades you’ve been a place where the military and the civilian worlds come together in the classroom and on the campus in a way that is as unusual as it is valuable. There are many military colleges and academies around the world, but to find one that has military and civilian students fully integrated, side by side, as they are here, is exceedingly rare, and each of you has gotten a rare grounding in both worlds as a result of that.

And that cross-grounding is so important. Everyone here has the opportunity to choose your own destiny. It is my belief that No one’s destiny is predetermined. You will define yourself by your choices and actions. There is no greater gift then the one of selfless service to the betterment of human kind.

We, all of us, had the good fortune to be born in or to immigrate to a country that lives on the principle of serving others and the greater good. As you leave here, I’d charge you to dedicate yourselves to doing your part in the life of your nation through service of your own, whether it’s by taking up military commissions; or by seeking careers in teaching or healing or civil service; or maybe by doing local volunteer work as you pursue careers in the private sector. Whatever your walk of life, the future of the nation is going to depend on people like you making the choice of selfless service. Of course, that’s a choice that Norwich graduates have always made, just as your distinguished fellow alumnus General Gordon Sullivan did. He not only served 36 years in the Army, but for the past 18 years he has served as the President of the Association of the US Army, an organization dedicated solely to the welfare of our soldiers. More than half a century of service to his country and its Army…believe me when I say that Gordon Sullivan could have had any job and commanded any salary he wished, but he chose a lifetime of service to his country and his fellow service members. In my book, that’s the epitome of selfless service, and just like you, he started that journey right here at Norwich.

As Americans, we choose to selflessly serve our country not simply because it’s the place we’re from. America is not just a place; it’s an idea, one that is unique in human history. When we are in service to our country, we are in service to the uniquely American idea that individuals have the right and the ability to choose. Never forget that your own actions, hard work, and everyday experiences are the things that will determine what you become in life, and not what someone else has predetermined you will become.

You’ve heard it said many times that our country is the land of opportunity, and it’s true. I say that as the son of first-generation Italian-American parents (who are unfortunately no longer with us) and who, if they had been here to see it, would no doubt have been surprised to see their son as the Chief of Staff of the Army, considering my family’s somewhat humble beginnings in the lower East Side of New York. But as people who left the old world to come to a new one, I think they would’ve instinctively understood that this is a country where anything is possible for anyone. Where the place in which you begin your life doesn’t dictate how you live it or where you end up.

The right to make your own path in life is a precious gift that you and I have received, one that most of the world doesn’t share. Think of how many people are born, live, and die on this earth without experiencing that kind of freedom, or how many people have been willing to die just to give their children a small chance at it. I urge you to cherish this gift and not to let a day go by without making the most of it.

I’m sure for many of you the thought that the rest of the road ahead of you isn’t already defined is a bit daunting. But don’t let this deter you. Embrace it and have confidence that no one knows what you want to accomplish in your own life better than you do.

The world today is a dynamic, complex and exciting, but unfortunately it is also a dangerous place. The military graduates among you are entering the profession of arms at a time of uncertainty and unpredictability, in which our country and its allies face a challenging economic, security, and political environment around the world.

We once again find ourselves in a national dialogue regarding our national security priorities and what the future U.S. role should be around the world. It is an important discussion that will shape our future. The American way in the past has been to dangerously draw down our military forces after a prolonged conflict like the world wars, Vietnam, or the post-9/11 wars. It’s understandable; we are a peace-loving people who for most of our history have been protected by the two oceans that physically separate us from much of the rest of the world. But we have to face the fact that in the modern era, whenever we have decided to withdraw from the world, we have only made ourselves and our way of life less safe. We can’t afford to make that same mistake again now.

Almost everyday on the news we are reminded of the growing instability around the world. Failed and failing states are causing shockwaves through the post-World War II order that the United States and its allies created, an order that was designed to prevent the recurrence of world wars. The velocity of instability around the world is greater than at any other time in my life, driven partly by the proliferation of technology and digitization of information, which have created new capabilities that both friendly and enemy entities can use.

The US will be involved in resolving conflicts arising from the diffusion of state power and contests among a rising number of regional powers and social movements. Hostile nation states are likely to use non-state actors as their surrogates, and our adversaries will fight in networks across regions to create instability and insurgencies that will affect our country’s interests, and to which we will have to respond. We can already see across Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and the Pacific a level of instability that is unprecedented, and with it a clear threat to the homeland.

Steering our nation safely through this kind of environment in the coming decades is going to require strong, capable leadership at all levels, and in all forms. It will require Competent Committed leaders of Character both civilian and Military whether it be in business, education, engineering and the sciences, or throughout our government. In other words, we need great leaders in every facet of society. We need all of you graduating today to take up the mantle of leadership no matter what field you choose to work. Follow the example of great Norwich leaders of the past such as General Sullivan, Robert McDermott former CEO of USAA and Emily Caruso national champion in Air rifle and a member of 2 Olympic teams.

They each earned the trust of their superiors, subordinates and peers by performing their duties with competence, displaying commitment to the mission, and demonstrating character in their decisions and actions. Effective leaders also have a physical and mental toughness to get themselves and their team through difficult conditions, as well as moral courage to handle the difficult choices that will inevitably present themselves. And they set and enforce high standards of performance for themselves and their subordinates.

Once they’ve established this kind of foundation, the best leaders in the future will be the ones who can constantly learn and adapt, because as you are quickly going to find out, there are no predetermined solutions to the problems you’re going to face. And the pace of change is only going to increase as time passes. Being successful will require an adaptive and innovative mind, a willingness to accept prudent risk in unfamiliar or rapidly changing situations, and a flexibility to adjust based on continuous assessment.

The reason these traits are so important is that the weight of leadership is going to fall upon your shoulders right away. For the soon-to-be military officers among you, you are going to have to make decisions that have real consequences for other people, and you’re going to have to do it right out of the starting blocks. For all of you, within just months you’re going to find yourselves with expectant faces gathered around you, probably many of them older than you, awaiting your guidance, asking you, “What should we do? That’s the responsibility of leadership. It’s daunting, but embrace it.

As you cross the stage today and receive your well deserved diploma celebrate your accomplishments. But, I also want each of you to commit yourselves to a lifetime of service to others. Choosing the harder right over the easier wrong. Each generation has the responsibility to build on the success of previous generations. That is what has made this country Great!

I have mentioned the importance of character a few times already. I emphatically suggest that each and everyone of us is defined by our character. Your character will be tested and it will be the most important test you ever take. Stand up for what is right, don’t be afraid to make tough decisions and treat everyone with dignity and respect, this will earn you the respect of your fellow employers.

Great leaders inspire ordinary men and women to be extraordinary and to achieve what was believed to be unachievable. That is what this country has been built on.

I’ve had the chance to live and work all around the world, and the one thing that is very clear is that there is no nation like the United States of America. There is no other nation that allows each individual to rise and perform to the best of their abilities and provides them the opportunities to do whatever they want. However, it is your choice. I challenge you to make the best use of that choice.

Norwich is a special place I have watched them put their arms around their own during the most difficult times. Be proud of this great university and all it stands for. You will carry its legacy wherever you go or whatever you do.
Congratulations for your accomplishment on this special day. It is time for all you to change the world each in your own way. I wish you nothing but the best of luck and great success in the future. Thank you very much, and God Bless America.

Norwich University Celebrates Graduating Class of 2016

Photos: Norwich President Richard M. Schneider
Norwich University Office of Communications

May 14, 2016

Norwich University celebrated Commencement today, sharing its affection, pride, and faith in the Class of 2016.

Affection for the 469 young men and women it was privileged to serve and know these past four years. Pride in their individual character, hard work, and many accomplishments.

Faith that they will apply what they learned at Norwich—about themselves, about leadership, about their chosen field, about each other—to solve some of the many challenges facing the world today.

“We can’t wait for you to get out there and do amazing things,” Norwich University President Richard W. Schneider told the 296 Cadets and 173 civilian students about to receive diplomas in 1 master’s and 32 bachelor programs.

Former U.S. Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond Odierno delivered the Commencement address before an audience of 4,000 at Shapiro Field House this afternoon.

He urged members of the Class of 2016 to blaze their own path and to serve the nation and others. “Give back. Give to others. Make a difference in other people’s lives,” he said. “That will be your legacy as a graduate.”

After the last diploma was handed out, a sea of Norwich cadets and black-robed civilian students hurled their white caps or pumped their fists skyward.

Other smaller ceremonies took place throughout the day too, starting with the Nurses Pinning ceremony at 10 a.m. in White Chapel. Speaking to a group of senior nursing graduates, NU School of Nursing Director Paulette Thabault told them, “We’re so proud of you.”

“We hear over and over how well prepared our [nursing] students are,” College of Professional Schools Dean Aron Temkin told them. “You guys are ready.”

Graduating nurse Samantha Nelson gave the school’s class address, evoking knowing laughter as she recalled the thrill of wearing scrubs for the first time, the anxiety-inducing wait for exam results, and countless other milestones. “We supported each other,” she said. “We made it together.”

Across campus, faculty at NU’s School of Architecture + Art held a senior show and awards ceremony for its graduating seniors and master’s students. School director Cara Armstrong kicked off the celebration, telling graduates, “I know I’m going to get choked up, so I’m going to keep it brief.”

Associate professor of Architecture Danny Sagan told the assembly, “The world needs … architects.” He said the world has experienced a historic shift in the past five years. For the first time in human history, the majority of the global population now lives in cities.

Architects are uniquely positioned to solve problems connected to our built environment, he said. “If there are people who are trained to make the quality of life better, it’s architects.”

Outside Chaplin Hall, unfamiliar sights bid farewell to the unseasonably cool spring. Bright sunshine, lush lawns, leafing trees, and cars parked along the Upper Parade ground. License plates spoke of celebratory road trips from Massachusetts, Maine, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey, Iowa, Illinois, South Carolina, and beyond.

Elsewhere, at a reception for the NU College of Science and Mathematics, former U.S. Army Chief of Staff and Norwich Board of Trustees Chair Gen. Gordon R. Sullivan ’59 chatted with newly appointed chair Alan Deforest ’75. They stood in Weintz Courtyard at the granite foot of Norwich founder Alden Partridge, surrounded by faculty, students, and their families.

In Dole Auditorium, engineering majors were inducted into the Order of the Engineers and received stainless steel pinky rings, a symbolic reminder that lives rest on the integrity and safety of their work.

Beyond rings and diplomas and hopes and dreams and future plans, Norwich’s graduates carried something else today. They carried the things they learned here about themselves and their lives going forward.

“Norwich taught me to be a confident, independent woman,” says Shaili Patel, a civilian student who double majored in architecture and history. “It showed me that I have the capabilities to be a leader, as well as the capacity to grow and learn as a person.” Patel will begin a master’s program in architecture at Norwich this fall and will later commission as an officer into the U.S. Navy.

Samantha Thornton majored in criminal justice major and served as first lieutenant in the Corps of Cadets. The former homecoming queen from Tampa, Fla., says Norwich helped her discover a remarkable inner toughness and her professional passion for helping victims of sexual assault. “I think I learned here that you can accomplish anything—really, honestly—anything put before you,” she says. “It’s a mindset. Whatever anyone throws at you, you can most certainly do.”

Olivia DeSpirito, a biology major from East Brunswick, R.I, joined the Corps of Cadet at Norwich, served on the university’s Honor Committee and traveled to Macedonia. “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.” She starts graduate school this fall, studying forensic science to fulfill a childhood dream of becoming a forensic pathologist.

Kenneth Sikora, a commuter student from Calais, Vt., majored in biochemistry, led the Norwich Fencing Club, and translated medieval Chinese poetry while completing the university’s rigorous academic Honors Program. As an undergraduate, he investigated the differential expression of genes that influence cancers among countless other research projects.

Sikora, who plans to apply to med school, says one thing he learned at Norwich was to take a deep breath. It’s natural to be nervous in front of a crowd. The feeling will pass, often in just a minute. Then you can tell the world what you know.

Norwich Commencement | The Graduates: Kenneth Sikora ’16

Photo: Kenneth Sikora poses in white lab coat before chalkboard

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Kenneth Sikora ’16

Hometown: Calais, Vt.
Major: Biochemistry
Minor: Biology
Student Path: Commuter

  • Academic Honors Program
  • Norwich University Fencing Club
  • Chameleon Literary Journal
  • Summer Research Internship
  • Undergraduate Research Program Ambassador
  • Published research in The Oswald Review + the International Journal of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics


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What Norwich Taught Me

“[Norwich] taught me all the basics of performing research—formulating a research question [and/or] hypothesis, writing a proposal, troubleshooting, failing, and communicating results with an audience comprised of individuals who are not familiar with my field’s lingo.”

“I am deeply grateful to all the professors who taught me,” says graduating senior Kenneth Sikora. “Without venturing into hyperbole, the least I can say is essentially every one of them was a generous, kind, patient, and knowledgeable teacher.”

Sikora plans to attend medical school in the future, where he hopes to train as a general practitioner. During three intense years at Norwich, he solidified his love for language and chemistry, he says, and led the fencing club while completing NU’s academically rigorous honors track.

Inspired during a world literature course with writing professor Sean Prentiss, Sikora became interested in the translation of medieval Chinese poetry. He began work on Lady Su Hui’s Star Gauge, written in A.D. 360, and plans to continue the project after graduation. He also published a refereed journal paper on Beowulf and edited the campus literary journal, the Chameleon.

In the lab, Sikora studied bioinformatics among other topics, examining the differential expression of genes behind certain types of cancers as part of a research project. He developed a protocol to express the H.pylori enzyme NDGluRS in E.coli bacteria with Assistant Professor of Biochemistry & Chemistry Ethan Guth. He also worked with Associate Professor of Chemistry Seth Frisbie to test the fit of calibration curves, which are often used to convert electrical signals to chemical concentrations.

Asked to comment on a highlight of his time at Norwich, he says, “My experience was that the whole time was a highlight, with only one or two dim spots. Perhaps my introduction to the field of research was brighter than the rest. But my first organic chemistry class was equally thrilling at the time.”

Norwich Commencement | The Speeches: MG John W. Baker’s ’85 Commissioning Address

Photo of Maj. Gen. John Baker ' 85 speaking to Norwich ROTC commissioning officers on the Norwich campus

On Sunday, May 15, 2016, Norwich alum and U.S. Army Major General John W. Baker ’85 addressed ROTC commissioning officers from the Class of 2016 at the formal Norwich commissioning ceremony. Baker, who serves as Commanding General of the Army’s 7thth Signal Command (Theater), shared the following copy of his prepared remarks.

Alan, Thank you for your kind introduction. General Sullivan, sir, it’s always good to be with you. Thanks for your service. Lieutenant General Valcourt, good to see you sir and all the other general and flag officers, welcome.

So, good morning, Rooks! Just kidding! Thought you might like to hear that word one last time! Although you know that in the military Second Lieutenant and Ensign are just other words for “Rooks!” But seriously, good morning team mates. Let me start by thanking Admiral Schneider for inviting me to speak. It is an honor to be present with the faculty, future officers, and families from Norwich – my alma mater! Thanks also to professors of military science, COL Eric Brigham, COL Andrew Hird, and COL Robert Kuckuk and their spouses Vicki, Alicia, and Jennifer, as well as the other ROTC officers and NCOs for leading our future officers! I would also like to thank everyone that has made this occasion possible today and for the warm reception that my wife, Laurie and I have received upon returning to “The Hill”. And, the Norwich Band, give it up for the toobies! The Honor Guard and Salute Battery!

You know, my dad brought me to Norwich in the fall of 1980 during my senior year of high school. My dad served in the Army for over 31 years; enlisted at 18 and was commissioned at 19 through Officer Candidate School. He was a tough artilleryman. Over the years of his career he met many Norwich graduates in the Army.

When I told him I’d like to go to a school up north where I could ski, play lacrosse, and wanted to participate in ROTC, he immediately said “Norwich!” We came up, toured the school; I stayed the night in Alumni Hall with some lacrosse players and the rest was history! Norwich is the only college I applied to, and maybe the only one I could get into! I knew this was the place for me at first sight.

I’m assuming that many of you, by your presence here today, share that same experience.

I’m not sure what the secret sauce of future success is, but Norwich has it in abundance! In part, it’s the sports and coaches. Back in my day, I played lacrosse at Norwich. Our coach when I was here was a legend. Coach Wallace “MAJ” Baines! MAJ started the lacrosse program here in 1968 and is in the Norwich University hall of fame. He was a “technician” of the sport, knew its complexity and intricacies. But he also knew the human dimension of building a team, of teamwork, of relationships, and bringing out the best in his players.

We all loved the sport, we all loved our team and teammates, and we all loved “MAJ” and HE…WAS…TOUGH! How tough? Chuck Norris tough! He dipped; you know, he chewed tobacco. Always had a chew of tobacco in his mouth. Problem was, we never, ever, saw him spit! Think about that. He would just smirk at the players who chewed and spit! We just figured “MAJ” had a cast iron stomach! I’m sure there’s a “MAJ” in your stay here at Norwich, too! You’ll remember this person fondly.

My own commissioning ceremony at Norwich was 31 years ago this month on 17 May 1985. General John W. Vessey Jr., the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff was the commissioning officer. My experiences at Norwich shaped me into a leader as I entered the Army as an Armor Officer. The tough academics, varsity lacrosse team experiences, hundreds of hours on the national ski patrol on Paine Mountain, and four years in the Corps of Cadets all intersected to help prepare me for a lifetime of service. And for the last three decades, the leadership crucible of life at “The Wick” and ROTC training that are the key ingredients of the Norwich experience have been my foundation. You are all many steps ahead of your contemporaries from other colleges and universities as you enter your respective services. And you, too, will find your time at Norwich is the foundation from which you will grow and succeed in our profession of arms. It’s like the face-off in a lacrosse game, because I was a middy and I took all the face-offs. The face-off winner is the quickest and the one with the most agility. And just like in a face-off, you will find during your time at Norwich that the agility of thought and the speed of decision-making you have learned here for four years will give you an early edge as you come into our military. So use it and go!

Allow me to be one of the first to congratulate all 129 of you, whom we are about to commission as Second Lieutenants and Ensigns into this great military of ours! I know that you have worked hard and are prepared to take on leading America’s best young men and women; starting in about ten minutes!

Now my remarks this morning are peppered with anecdotes and insights gleaned from many years of service. Here is the first of them: “You are never too senior to be the junior.”

Let me explain. During a recent training exercise, a newly commissioned Lieutenant was driving down a muddy back road and encountered “me.” I was driving another tactical vehicle. Unfortunately, the vehicle was stuck in the mud and I mean stuck!

This very polite and eager Lieutenant got out of his vehicle and came over to me and said:
“Your vehicle stuck, Sir?”

“Nope,” I replied as I smiled and handed him the keys, “Yours is”!

In addition to my anecdotes, if you don’t take anything else out of what I will talk about this morning, then understand my remarks are about honor, courage, and service. This is what our military and Nation needs of you. This is what your fellow Soldiers, Marines, Sailors and Airmen expect of you. Our men and women in uniform ask so little of us as leaders; only to be well led by Officers of the highest character.

And, we are going to give you the opportunity to lead. The enlisted men and women that you lead and the country that you serve deserve nothing less than your best, every minute, every hour, every day that you wear the uniforms of our country. And you will lead, in good times and in the fog, friction, and uncertainty of combat.

For all of you digital natives using your mobile devices to Instagram, Skype, Snapchat, Vine, or Tweet my speech, I’ve placed the full text of my remarks on my command’s Facebook page and you can read it later. But here in this moment, as you are about to be commissioned, hear this: You will be looked at for leadership among the people that you serve — your platoon, your flight, your ship’s division, your team! They don’t want to be your friend, but it’s ok if you were friendly. They expect a human being, not a machine. But they also expect a leader. They want somebody to stand up and show them the way. That’s what we’ve trained you to do here at Norwich; show them the way!

Next, you need to guard your integrity! No one can take your integrity from you. People can take a lot of things from you, but nobody can take away your integrity. This attribute is uniquely yours; to maintain and guard. And, it will be challenged. But, your integrity, the ability to always demand, tell and insist on the truth, to always come forward and deal with the facts, is the foundation of our military profession. We must believe what people tell us as our lives depend on the highest integrity.

Your allegiance, when you take the oath momentarily, your allegiance is to our military – and your respective service! Remember, the absolute allegiance of what you’re about is to the institution of our military. Remember that every day of your service!

Be kind to those our nation asks you to serve! Treat everyone with dignity and respect, because no one in our military is unimportant. We can’t afford to have Soldiers, Marines, Sailors, and Airmen who are unimportant. Each member of our team has a critical part. We need to treat everybody with dignity and respect and the understanding that your life — your life — depends on them, and their lives depend on you.

And, you have to learn to trust your fellow Soldiers, Sailors, Marines and Airmen! You have never had to trust in someone as much as you’re going to have to trust the men and women of our military. You will weave a tapestry of trust – an unseen but very real bond that unites us. This is a very unique part of our profession.

Learn your service history! Everything that you are wearing today, your coats, your pants, the rank insignias, the branch insignias, is all built on a heritage and a legacy and it has a reason for being a certain color, shape, or style. Learn it and you’ll understand its importance. It defines who you are as an officer of our military and who you will be as a representative of our profession.

Always remember to wear hearing protection! Everything in our military is really loud: tank main gun rounds, jets, helicopter rotors, machine guns, bugles at revile, and tough Non-commissioned Officers and Chief Petty Officers. Protect your hearing so you can hear your wife or husband telling you to take the trash out, your children’s laughter, or your daughters telling you NO when you give them a curfew decades from now.

Let me end with something bigger than ourselves – I’m referring to the core values that are common to us all whether you serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force or Marines.

Serve with Honor: Conduct yourselves in the highest ethical manner. Be honest and truthful; Be accountable through your honorable professional conduct.

Serve with Courage: Courage is the value that gives us the moral and mental strength to do what is right; and always in the service of our country.

Commit to Service: Have a sense of service before self; realize your needs are secondary to the needs of those you lead.

Ok, we’re almost done, stay with me now. This bit of advice is very, very important. I want you to call, Skype, text, or write your mother once a week. No one has more unconditional love for you than your Mom. Pay it back with frequent contact.

Last thing! We’re doing this by row; like a tactical engagement officers. I want our soon to be officers to stand up and point to the family members that got you here today. That’s an order! Families, you’re the friendlies; help your officers. Make eye contact, identify your location, yell, shout, let them know how much you appreciate them, love them and thank them! Sit back down once you see them!

Family members and friends, STAND UP, yell back. That’s a request! Make eye contact. Shout to your sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, grandsons and granddaughters, nieces and nephews, how absolutely proud you are of them. Don’t sit down until you see your officer. And remember this moment!

One last insight; this one is about the importance of timeliness, because in our military it’s all about being on time.

There was a retired Officer who landed a civilian job in a fortune 500 company. During his first week, he came in about five minutes late over a couple of days, which irritated his Boss. During his second week he came in about ten minutes late every other day to the “exasperation” of his boss. During his third week he was a half hour late; every day.

His boss couldn’t take it anymore and called him into his office and berated him for always being late. “What did they tell you when you were late in the military??” the Boss asked. The retired Officer replied, “GOOD MORNING GENERAL…”

Again, thank you very much for inviting me here this morning; it’s a true honor.

To my officers…..
Please look at me…..
You’re in the 1% now! The 1% who have volunteered to serve our nation in the military.

Now, Go out and make a difference! Lead from the front! Be the Officers that our nation needs to shape and mold our military.

And, as we say in the Army’s Signal Regiment, I’ll see you on the high ground.

God bless our Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, Airmen, Civilians, and our Families;

And may God bless the United States of America.