William Daddio is an adjunct professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology. He worked in the United States military and government before coming to Georgetown. He specializes in terrorism, police and security issues and criminology.

Why sociology? What exactly do you do and what made you want to do it?

Actually it was a professor who said to me one day, “Did you ever think of going to graduate school in sociology?” I said no. He said, “You ought to. You’re good.”

So I told him, I said well I’m going to the military in ROTC. He said well you can get a deferment. And I was kind of putting him off, you know the professor.

So he said I can take care of that. And the next week he came in with a letter that said William Daddio is accepted to the graduate program in sociology and anthropology at Notre Dame and that’s how I went to graduate school. I liked it. I just liked working with people.

I like groups. I like observing groups and that’s kind of what sociology is about.

You’ve done a lot of interesting things with your life. Could you recount a few of your exploits?

One of the most interesting things is teaching here. I love to teach here. It’s my favorite thing to do. But I’ve run gold convoys through New York City, closing the Lincoln Tunnel. I’ve dealt with valuable assets all over the world, helping other governments.

My last favorite trip was going to Latvia to assist them with their security in their banking system. I’ve been to Saudi Arabia doing the same thing, South America. A lot of interesting things.

How did you go from sociology professor to protecting gold convoys and securing banks?

Once again, it wasn’t my decision. The military decided I was going to be a police officer, something I never really thought I would ever want to be. They made a good choice. I liked that part, too.

By trade I’m a criminologist, so I combine the law enforcement side with the academic side. Many sociologists are in criminology. And along the way after the military I got a job with the government and it was the U.S. government that kind of sent me on these little trips.

One of your specialties is bioterrorism. How long have you been interested in that and how have you seen that area expand recently?

What happened is I was doing a lot of work with international law enforcement agencies. And I like to tell everybody that as you get older some of your friends become successful. So I have friends that are running the Secret Service and in Interpol. And we started discussing what was an academic pursuit, which was: How do you get international law enforcement to work together? My government work also moved in that area and it migrated towards terrorism.

That led [me] – actually the students were requesting and I decided in spring 2001 – to teach a course on terrorism because I was doing a lot of discussion and work and it was a course that I thought would be good for Georgetown students because it has no answers.

The key ingredient for a sociologist in [bioterrorism] is that it’s one of ultimate terroristic weapons in terrorizing the population because it’s the only one where the outcome isn’t known. In an explosion you know who the victims are, but with bioterrorism you don’t. So for a populace, it can spread a lot more terror than actually a real explosion, so that’s kind of where my angle is.

What has attracted you to Georgetown? What do you think is your favorite part of being a professor here?

The students are excellent. I went to what I like to say is the great university of Notre Dame, and I loved it. This is the first time I’ve been involved with Jesuits and the priority is to teach and that is what is so becoming. I mean they want you to teach. They want the students to learn. Knowledge is important to them, and it is paramount to them and I think that is really nice to see.

I get a lot of pressure from people who take my classes, so you know I add some probably more than I should. But it’s the students. At this part of my life, I could probably do just about anything that I want but I’m probably here because of Georgetown students. I just think they’re the best students. It’s just a nice place to be.

As a sociologist, is there something about Georgetown society that interests you?

Yeah, and we’re going to talk about it in Intro to Sociology. You’re a group of people that are very smart, very involved in society. I think in the last five or six years the students have had a very good balance but I also think you’ve strove so hard to get to a university like this that some of the rounding out parts of why you’re here, what you want to do, what you think of yourself are questions that you’re answering right now. I think that’s different than some other places.

After a career with the military and government, do you see similarities in your job as a professor?

They’re really different – they’re almost opposed. In universities you discuss ideas and you think and you have the time to kind of dwell on questions. In the military or in the government an answer needs to be made Thursday, and you’re going to have to make the best one you can make, and sometimes you don’t have all the right information or complete information, but you have to make it.

So the government moves on sometimes not so rationally because you don’t have time to think about the questions or the answers to the questions. But it gets done.

On the other side, at the university, you’re surrounded by people who have been certified as being very bright, and they’re very responsive and they’re quick, and this university size is just large enough so you can be yourself but you’re not totally isolated from everything. So there are real differences.

I think the jobs I’ve done help me bring real experiences to the students. The university experience helps me have an ideal of what I’m doing, to have time to think of what I want to do.

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