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General John W. Nicholson, Jr. USA (Ret.) addresses IWP Class of 2019

Class of 2019

On Saturday, May 18, IWP recognized 46 Master of Arts recipients and four recipients of Certificates of Graduate Study at its annual Commencement ceremony, which took place at the Fairmont Hotel in Washington, D.C.

At the ceremony, IWP presented a Doctorate of Laws, Honoris Causa to General John W. Nicholson, Jr., USA (Ret.). General Nicholson is Former Commander of U.S. Forces – Afghanistan and NATO Resolute Support Mission and son of IWP trustee General Jack Nicholson.

General Nicholson gave the keynote address, in which he recognized that IWP goes beyond the traditional study of diplomacy and military force to study other arts of statecraft, including public diplomacy, information policy, strategic influence, intelligence, counterintelligence, nonviolent conflict, economic strategy, cyber strategy, and other arts, and how these instruments are integrated in a national strategy.

He noted that IWP also studies the philosophical basis for the use of these instruments of power, comparing the moral and philosophical origins of Western Judeo-Christian civilization with that of other systems, including Islamic systems. He commented: “Having lived in Islamic countries for eight of the last twelve years and worked closely on a daily basis side by side with Muslim soldiers, but also with allies… I wish that I had had this as an element of my education before I entered into these challenges that we have dealt with the last several years.”

General Nicholson shared what he learned about statecraft through his own career. He described the first ten years of his military career, which took place during the Cold War, in which the Army was extremely focused on defeating the Soviets through tactics and logistics. After the Cold War and during his graduate school experience, he and his colleagues synthesized the experience and looked forward to an uncertain future. On 9/11, he was working in the Pentagon 100 feet away from the plane which crashed.

 “Having just stepped off the battlefield about eight months ago and knowing what you are going to encounter, I think the foundation that you have gained here by experiencing this school and this program with these founding principles is just what you need,” said General Nicholson. 

He challenged the graduates to find how they can achieve unity of all the arts of statecraft within the U.S. government and with international allies. He noted that in his experience, success in your particular art of statecraft often depends on those over whom you have no authority. He noted that it is important to develop relationships of trust with people from other nations and cultures. This involves the investment of time, understanding, listening, and finding common interests. He noted that the qualities needed for building relationships include humility, patience, empathy, and the ability to listen. He also reminded the graduates that time management – including time for sleep, nutrition, working out, and personal relationships – will be key for the graduates to perform optimally as they move forward in their careers.

He concluded his remarks with a reminder to the graduates that “our country is depending on you.”

Dr. Anne Rathbone Bradley, and adjunct professor of economics at IWP, was the Master of Ceremonies for the event. The course she teaches at IWP, Economics for Foreign Policy Makers, is part of the core curriculum for all five MA programs at IWP.

Danielle Shover, Director of Graduate Recruitment, sang the National Anthem. A significant portion of the graduating class had worked with Danielle upon exploring the possibility of attending IWP two years ago, and one of the graduates specifically thanked Danielle in his bio that was read as he crossed the stage.

The invocation was given by Captain Christopher D. Glass, Sr., USN (Ret.), Senior Vice President for Professional Affiliations at IWP and also an IWP parent.

In his comments, Dr. John Lenczowski urged the graduates constantly to keep in mind the development of their character as they pursue their careers and service to our country. He advised that they remember to be moral leaders and mission-oriented people who are ready to serve a cause higher than themselves. 

Jack Doyle was recognized as Valedictorian, and Tobias Brandt was recognized as Salutatorian.

As is IWP tradition, a brief background of each graduate was read as he or she crossed the stage to receive a diploma.

Members of the Class of 2019 included veterans of the U.S. Marine Corps and U.S. Army and students from Spain, Germany, Poland, South Korea, the Indian sub-continent, and across the United States. Their plans include working in across the U.S. government, including the U.S. State Department, Senate, and intelligence community, working in the nonprofit and corporate worlds, and pursuing careers with the military. Two of the graduates have started their own firms for government affairs and legal investigative needs.

At the conclusion of the ceremony Michael W. (’12), President of the IWP Alumni Board, welcomed the new graduates to the alumni community.

Congratulations to the Class of 2019!

Invocation by Captain Christopher D. Glass, Sr., USN (Ret.) — Video

Remarks by John Lenczowski — Video and Transcript

Remarks by General John W. Nicholson, Jr., USA (Ret.) — Video

Remarks by Valedictorian Jack Doyle — Video and Transcript

Perspectives from the Class of 2019 — Read