NEWPORT, R.I. (NNS) -- The U.S. Naval War College (NWC) paid tribute to its newest class of approximately 585 resident students from the armed forces and civilian federal agencies in a convocation ceremony in Spruance Hall Auditorium, Aug. 20.
The convocation formally assembled the college community to start the academic year and included a faculty procession in academic regalia as well as a historical overview of the college's contributions by an actor portraying Naval War College founder, Commodore Stephen B. Luce.
NWC President Rear Adm. John N. Christenson emphasized two things students will be able to take advantage of during their academic pursuits.
"You will be given two great gifts while you're here," said Christenson. "Those are a library of great books and the time to read them. You will also be provided with learning-partners to share your intellectual journey. Some are professional educators from our dedicated faculty, while others will come from the student body in the form of seminar mates and fellow students."
The arrival of NWC's newest students marks a nearly 128-year tradition of educating military and government officials in Newport, R.I. The college's academic mission is to educate and develop leaders and also to strengthen global maritime partnerships.
In fact, only about half of NWC's newest students are naval officers. The other half of the student body comes from the Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, and Army, in addition to 86 students from 59 international navies and representatives from an alphabet soup of government agencies, including the CIA, FBI, NCIS, Office of Naval Intelligence, Defense Intelligence Agency, and the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency, among many others. The newest country represented in the college's international programs is Libyan Arab Jamahiriya.
During the ceremony, the 2012 Distinguished Graduate Leadership Award was presented to Navy Admiral James A. Winnefeld, Jr., vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
"It is truly humbling to join such a distinguished group of previous recipients," said Winnefeld. "The impressive list of these leaders is a testament to the talented faculty who always has given so much to those who attend this course."
Previous recipients of the award include Army Gen. Raymond Odierno; Coast Guard Adm. Robert J. Papp, Jr.; Marine Corps Gen. James E. Cartwright; Adm. James G. Stavridis; and Ambassador Christopher Hill.
Winnenfeld encouraged students to challenge their intellectual assumptions and not be intimidated by current conventional thought. He backed up his charge with a promise to read the 10 best written research papers judged by the faculty. The authors of the two best would be invited to lunch as guests of the vice chairman, in his Pentagon office.
The U.S. Naval War College started more than 125 years ago as a small institution with mostly summer courses. It has evolved into a one-year resident program that graduates about 600 students a year, and a robust distance program that graduates about 1,000 students a year. The college also has a robust international engagement mission with approximately 100 international officers graduating yearly.
In addition to the College's education mission, it is heavily involved in war gaming and research in an effort to aid the Chief of Naval Operations in defining the path of the future Navy. More recently, the college has developed operational level courses to satisfy fleet requirements, preparing leaders for the challenges of operational and/or strategic level leadership over the remainder of their careers as decision makers and problem solvers.
NWC is accredited by the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff for Joint Professional Military Education Phases I and II and by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges to award a Master of Arts degree in national security and strategic studies.