Former Secretary of Defense and School of Foreign Service professor Chuck Hagel will return to Georgetown as a distinguished executive-in-residence this academic year.
In his new position, Hagel will provide support and expertise to all four schools of the university and give guest lectures.
In a statement on the university website released last Thursday, Hagel said he is excited to become involved in education again after two years as secretary of defense.
“I’m looking forward to renewing my association with Georgetown and helping a great institution continue its important work preparing our next generation of leaders,” Hagel wrote.
According to Office of the President Chief of Staff Joe Ferrara, Hagel has visited campus and is in the process of meeting with deans, administrators and professors, including SFS Dean Joel Hellman and McCourt School of Public Policy Dean Edward Montgomery, to determine the best ways to address their schools’ specific needs.
“What he’s doing now as the semester is getting underway is he’s talking to deans … and saying … ‘Tell me what you’ve got going; where could I be helpful?’” Ferrara said.
Although no events or guest lectures have yet been planned, Hellman said he hopes that Hagel will be a valuable resource for students and faculty in a variety of ways.
“Our hope from the SFS side is to use Secretary Hagel across the program,” Hellman said. “He’s going to be providing guest lectures and engaging across our program where his experience is going to be most useful. He’ll also help us [think] through how to establish practical engagement exercises for our students and bringing his experience into some of that practical experience.”
Prior to his nomination as secretary of defense, Hagel taught several courses on geopolitics, such as a course called “Redefining Geopolitical Relationships,” in the SFS from 2009 to 2013.
Michael Podberezin (GRD ’14), who took Hagel’s course, “21st Century Geopolitical Realities,” said in a statement on the Georgetown website that Hagel incorporated his practical experience into his courses.
“The fact that Sen. Hagel was in the room when many of the decisions were made really creates a unique learning opportunity,” Podberezin said.
Hagel served as the secretary of defense under President Barack Obama from February 2013 to this February, when he resigned under pressure from the administration.
Under his term as secretary of defense, Hagel was faced with multiple international conflicts, including the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the increasing territorial gain of the Islamic State and a continued delay in closing the Guantanamo Bay detention camp.
He previously represented Nebraska as the state’s first Republican senator in 24 years from 1997 to 2009, and is noted as the first veteran of the Vietnam War to serve as secretary of defense. He received two Purple Hearts for his service.
During his term as senator, Hagel served as a senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations, Banking and Intelligence Committees. He also chaired the Senate Global Climate Change Observer Group and the Congressional-Executive Commission on China.
Hellman said that he hopes Hagel will be an accessible resource for a wide range of interested students.
“We’d really like to keep the maximum flexibility for him as a resource, so he’s someone who is available to meet with faculty [and] students [and] engage with them on their classes rather than target one audience or one group of students,” Hellman said.
Previous executives in residence include former Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation Robert Mueller, who took on the position in late 2013 a week after he resigned from the FBI.
Ferrara said that Hagel’s renewed involvement will be beneficial to the Georgetown community.
“He very much enjoys being part of the Georgetown community. He was very interested in having an affiliation here after stepping down as Secretary of Defense, and so he plans to be on campus as much as he possibly can,” Ferrara said. “He’s someone who feels an attachment to the Georgetown community and wants to contribute.”
Halle Hagan (SFS ’18) said that she looks forward to broadening her understanding of international affairs from attending Hagel’s lectures.
“I’m sure that Secretary Hagel’s guest lectures will add fresh insight into international affairs today,” Hagan said. “I hope that I will have the opportunity to attend one of his lectures in my remaining years at Georgetown.”
The Hoya has reached out to Hagel for a Q&A.
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