General Joseph Dunford speaks with Saint Michael's visitors in his office at the Pentagon earlier this year.
U.S. President Barack Obama on Tuesday named Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., a 1977 graduate of Saint Michael’s College who now serves as commandant of the Marine Corps, to be the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, pending confirmation by the U.S. Senate.
Saint Michael’s President Jack Neuhauser said General Dunford has maintained a proud and fond identification with Saint Michael’s since the general graduated as a political science major in 1977.
“General Dunford has graciously returned to campus for alumni events and participated in programs on world issues over the years, and recently welcomed Saint Michael’s delegations to his office in the Pentagon as Marine commandant,” Neuhauser said. He noted that in a recent interview with the College’s alumni magazine, Dunford spoke about how his Catholic liberal arts education was ideal preparation for success in a challenging military career. In that article, Dunford cited influences from his Saint Michael’s professors and experiences that “shaped the person I am now.”
Neuhauser pointed to the College’s rich and ongoing military heritage. “With our hiring this year of a coordinator of student veterans services, Saint Michael’s continues to support veterans as we have through our history: we welcomed waves of returning World War II veterans on the GI bill, educated generations for military leadership through our former longstanding Air Force ROTC program, and have a memorial on campus honoring another great Marine Corps graduate, the late Vietnam-war-era Congressional Medal of Honor recipient Col. Donald Cook ’56.”
“Our prayers are with General Dunford as he leads our country’s defense,” Neuhauser said. “This educated, sophisticated individual will serve us all well.”
Another prominent alumnus of Saint Michael’s College, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) ’61, spoke about President Obama’s choice of General Dunford after Tuesday’s announcement.
“The President already is being credited with making a wise choice,” Leahy said. “General Dunford is a skilled leader, admired by the men and women who served under him, and known for his respect and care for the civilians caught in the middle of conflict.“
“I have spoken with General Dunford about pressing security issues, about meeting the needs of those who serve, and about the sacrifices of families who support our men and women in uniform,” the senator continued. “We have also talked about Vermont and our alma mater, Saint Michael’s College. I look forward to the Senate considering his nomination.”