Three hundred and eight U.S. and international students tossed their mortar boards at the Naval Postgraduate School’s Summer 2010 graduation ceremonies Sept. 24 following a rousing keynote address by NPS Distinguished Alumnus Army Gen. Keith B. Alexander. Alexander is Director of the National Security Agency/Chief, Central Security Service; and the first Commander of the U.S. Cyber Command.
President Dan Oliver kicked off the ceremony by introducing Alexander, who holds dual master of science degrees from NPS in Physics and Systems Technology/Electronic Warfare.
“This graduating class represents our best leaders and our brightest minds,” Alexander told the assembled graduates. “We know this when we look at the list of alumni of this institution that includes the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen, heads of state such as King Abdullah of Jordan, Secretaries of the Army and Air Force, the Commandant of the Marine Corps, and foreign defense secretaries. You are in that class of people – the visionaries we seek to be the front line leaders.
“Many of you are graduating with advanced technical degrees, and technologists have always driven the evolution of warfare and been leaders in shaping the way we fight,” Alexander said. “Today as before, technologists are on the front lines, and technically adept and trained people are the key to our success in cyberspace. In the 20th century, being a ‘superpower’ was defined by the ability to build and test nuclear weapons,” Alexander noted. “In the new 21st century, as more and more of our nation’s treasure is stored in cyberspace, real power lies in the ability to protect and defend cyberspace. You can’t be a superpower unless you can effectively defend your networks against all adversaries.”
Alexander emphasized that “technical competence will be as fundamental for our future military leaders as traditional military strategic and tactical skills” and challenged the graduates to do four things to ensure success: “Whatever you do, do it with passion. Embrace your vision and take educated, professional gambles routinely and often. And while you’re gambling intelligently, live on the edge – the cutting edge – anticipating and even developing the ‘next big thing.’ Those who have lived on the cutting edge have changed the course of warfare – and our history.”
At the ceremony, Ferrari announced the promotion of five outstanding faculty to the prestigious rank of Distinguished Professor: IEEE Fellow and Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) Prof. Jon Butler; ECE and Space Systems Prof. Hershel Loomis; Oceanography Prof. Ching-Sang Chiu; Graduate School of Business and Public Policy (GSBPP) Prof. Kenneth Euske; and Operations Research Prof. Patricia Jacobs.
Sharing the honors of cutting the ceremonial class cake at the post-ceremony reception with Oliver, Alexander and NPS Provost and Executive Vice President Leonard Ferrari was the Summer 2010 class outstanding student, Monterey Council of the Navy League Award winner, naval information warfare officer Lt. Peter M. B. Harley.
“For anyone thinking about coming to NPS, I’d say ‘Do it, absolutely – in a heartbeat,’” said Harley, who briefed Gen. Alexander in the afternoon on promoting NPS as a Center for Cyber Excellence. “The Naval Postgraduate School is a fantastic experience. In addition to world-class faculty providing a world-class education, a unique aspect of the NPS experience is the opportunity to collaborate with research sponsors to solve real-world military challenges that can have a significant impact on current operations. The knowledge I’ve gained during my time here is directly applicable to my follow-on assignment, and I look forward to making a positive impact at the Navy Information Operations Command.”
Harley also received the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command Award in Electronic Systems Engineering. His thesis topic was “Performance Evaluation of Delay-Tolerant Wireless Ad-Hoc Network Utilizing Remote Access to the MeshTest Wireless Testbed.”
NPS faculty Fred Drake and Dorothy Denning watch as the procession of Summer 2010 graduates march past the graduation platform party in Spanagel Hall, Sept. 24.
Also headlining the reception were presentations of two Distinguished Alumnus Awards by Alumni Relations Director Kari Miglaw, to Gen. Alexander and to Rear Adm. Jan Tighe, Alexander’s former executive assistant and currently Deputy Director of Operations for the U.S. Cyber Command.
“I knew General Alexander was going to be recognized as a Distinguished Alumnus, but this came as a complete surprise,” Tighe said. “I’m very honored and proud to be an NPS alum. It’s a wonderful institution whose faculty and staff are top notch.”
Select students and faculty were recognized for outstanding achievement in academics, instruction, research and community service at a pre-graduation awards ceremony, Sept. 14.
Associate Professor of the Graduate School of Business and Public Policy Renee Rendon received the prestigious Richard W. Hamming Teaching Award; School of International Graduate Studies Senior Lecturer and NPS Defense Systems Analysis alumnus retired Lt. Col. Steve Hurst of the Defense Resources Management Institute (DRMI) was awarded the Lieutenant Commander David L. Williams Outstanding Professor Award; and Mark Rhoades, Timothy Anderson and Brigitte Kwinn received the Wayne E. Meyer Award for Teaching Excellence in Systems Engineering (Distance Learning).
“I’m deeply honored to be selected for the Hamming Award for Teaching,” said Rendon, who served for over 20 years as an acquisition contracting officer for the Air Force before coming to NPS. “This is indeed a special award for me, because it reflects Dr. Richard Hamming’s teaching values, which I also share. One of those values is a passion for our students and their learning. Student mastery of the course material in the classroom is important, but what is also important and valuable is the knowledge gained outside the classroom – through thesis research and independent studies.”
In addition to Lt. Harley, some of the notable student awardees were Turkish Air Force 1st Lt. Fevzi Kaya, who received both the NPS Outstanding Academic Achievement Award for International Students and the Kiwanis Club Outstanding International Student Award. Systems Engineering Analysis student Lt. Matt Martin received the Commander Helicopter Maritime Strike Wing U.S. Pacific Fleet 2009 Pilot of the Year Award; and Electrical Engineering student and Marine Corps Capt. Brandon Newell received the Cebrowski Institute Award for Innovation as well as a copy of Institute director Prof. Peter Denning’s new book on the core principles and practices of successful innovators.
A first for NPS graduation receptions was excited Chiweenie “Kimba” – a four-legged “extended family member” belonging to the sister of Distance Learning Systems Engineering master’s graduate and Defense Manpower Data Center software engineer Anthony Nguyen. “The Naval Postgraduate School has a lot of prestigious professors who really care a lot about our education,” Nguyen said. “Whether you’re a resident student or distance learning, the faculty go out of their way to give you full access.”
Of the 308 graduates, 123 came from the Navy, 38 Marine Corps, 22 Air Force, 10 Army, one each from the Naval Reserves and Coast Guard. The class also included 90 U.S. Department of Defense students and 23 international students from allied and coalition countries. Degrees awarded were eight Ph.D.s, 209 Masters of Science, 59 Masters of Arts, 40 Executive Masters of Business Administration, three Masters of Business Administration, two Mechanical Engineer, and 13 dual degrees. Seventy six students unable to attend due to operational commitments were awarded their diplomas in absentia. Sixty eight graduates also received Joint Professional Military Education (JPME) certification from the Naval War College.
Graduation Coordinator Sonya Solomon contributed to this report.