Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Adm. John M. Richardson addressed graduating students, family, faculty and staff during the Naval Postgraduate School’s (NPS) 2019 Spring Quarter Graduation ceremony at King Auditorium, June 14. NPS said farewell to 298 graduates, including 25 international students from 17 countries, during the ceremony.
“Today is a day of celebration, not only for the achievement of our students with the support of their families and friends, but to also celebrate the act of learning,” said NPS President retired Vice Adm. Ann E. Rondeau.
She stressed the importance of the inferred obligation that graduates must carry forth into their future, what she coined an “implicit contract between the learner and those who teach, and the teachers who also learn,” Rondeau said.
And before turning the podium over to Richardson, Rondeau also highlighted the CNO’s well-known and regarded focus on education.
“This is a man who has exemplified the notion of continuous learning,” said Rondeau. “He has been the CNO who has helped us embark on the Education for Seapower study, and he is the CNO who has made policies and leadership actions that make sure our Navy is constantly learning in new ways.”
Rondeau proceeded to invite Richardson to podium, and he began his speech by offering some input on a few theses from the graduating class that varied from complex nanomaterials to political stability.
“It becomes very clear that the world out there is extremely complicated,” he said. “Reading your theses gave me tremendous confidence that you are ready for this challenge and that this graduating class, as they go back to where they’re going to work, represents a tremendous addition to the strategic arsenal of our nation and the nations represented here by the international students.”
There are lots of graduate schools that solve problems, Richardson added, “but the Naval Postgraduate School does great work and solves OUR problems,” he stressed. “This school, by virtue of its unique place and unique student body, produces leaders who are ready and willing to go out and step into the whitewater rapids of the current environment.”
After congratulating the students on their achievements, Richardson also praised the faculty for their dedication.
“The faculty is so extremely talented,” he said. “This faculty has a lot of choices but they come here and they stay here because of the implicit contract that the president mentioned that forms between student and teacher. The faculty is engaged.
“They love the ethic of service and the atmosphere of honor, courage and commitment that is woven into the fabric here at the Naval Postgraduate School,” he continued. “Your teachers have invested in you and as you go up to literally around the world, a part of them goes with you as you leave.”
Richardson commanded the graduates to remember their connections with the faculty and each other before reminding them about their bonds to international students and allies.
“These connections with our allies and partners are going to serve you well,” Richardson said. “As you go forward and become leaders together in your respective services and respective nations, these relationships will come in handy. When the fighting starts—and we have never fought alone in this country and we’re not going to do it in the future—you can call up someone that you studied with here at NPS. That bond of trust will serve you very well.”
He then turned his praise to the international students.
“Your presence here adds a special and unique dimension to the learning that happens,” Richardson said. “By bringing all of your culture and traditions, it strengthens those bonds of trust and confidence.”
Richardson concluded with a final message to the graduating class as they return to leadership positions in the operational force.
“As you go up, be leaders of competence, be leaders of character, and be leaders who remain highly connected,” he said. “In doing so, you will ensure that our Navy remains the safest Navy for our Sailors, the best partner Navy for all of our friends and allies, and the absolute worst nightmare to anyone who would try to be our enemy.”
Richardson assumed the role of Chief of Naval Operations, Sept. 18, 2015. His distinguished career includes, among other assignments, commanding the nuclear attack submarine USS Honolulu (SSN 718) and Director, Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program. He received the prestigious Vice Adm. James B. Stockdale Inspirational Leadership Award in 2001, among a long list of personal and unit awards.