Conference puts focus on cooperation, continuous learning

The line-up of participants at the second annual National Security Conference -- “National Security Today through 2028: Women Leading the Next Decade” -- at the College of William and Mary seems to be an indication of the role the college’s Whole of Government Center of Excellence intends to play to provide practical training on inter-agency collaboration, complex national security and other policy problems.

Nadia Schadlow, former deputy national security advisor for strategy and assistant to the President of the United States, will be the keynote speaker.

Among the discussion panel members are Maj. Gen. (ret.) Patricia Frost, director of Cyber, Electronic Warfare and Information Operations; U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Michelle M. Rose, director of Logistics, National Guard Bureau-J4; and professor Elizabeth Andrews, director of Virginia Coastal Policy Center at William and Mary’s Law School.

The conference is being organized by Kathryn H. Floyd, a 2005 graduate of William and Mary who was recently appointed director of The Whole of Government Center of Excellence.

I asked her how the idea of establishing the center at the college germinated?

“It began as the number one recommendation from the Virginia Commission on Military Installation and Defense Activities. With funding from the Commonwealth of Virginia, W&M undertook a feasibility study and a team, led by vice provost for international affairs Stephen Hanson, concluded there is such a need for the creation of a new university center devoted to research and to training leaders to find solutions to current and future national security challenges,” Floyd said.

She explained that these challenges, by their nature, require the collaboration of multiple branches of the U.S. military and civilian agencies on all governmental levels.

“W&M, which possesses a unique combination of world-class academic expertise on international affairs, geographic proximity to both Hampton Roads military bases and to Washington, and a long tradition of support for public service and civic engagement on major national and global issues, is a natural home,” Floyd said.

Floyd noted that the goal of the center is to serve as a convener of high-level discussions about how to ensure effective coordination among federal, state and local levels of government in responding to national security challenges.

“We aim to provide mid-career public policy professionals and military officers practical training on inter-agency collaboration, complex national security and other public policy problems,” she said.

The center is being built now. There is collaboration with partners such as the Virginia Coastal Policy Center on various conferences and research projects. Graduate students are receiving special opportunities to supplement their degrees and classroom learning.

“Over the next three years, we will be greatly expanding these engagements and experiences so students acculturate with their inter-agency partners,” Floyd said. “We will be adding new courses related to national security and expanding e-Learning offerings. This is being generously supported by the Virginia General Assembly.”

One reason the center is being built is to fill a critical gap in mid-career education. It intends to complement and support the Joint Professional Military Education programs.

“Guided by W&M’s reputation in creating great leaders in public policy and national security, we are being thoughtful about how this program will evolve over time,” Floyd said. “That said, I see success in terms of cohorts of degree-seeking students, continuing education courses or certificates for non-degree students.

“Thinking grand strategy,” she continued, “success will be when our students apply what they have learned to create and implement more sound national security policies arm in arm with their counterparts in other agencies.”

Shatz is a Williamsburg resident. He is the author of “Reports from a Distant Place,” the compilation of his selected columns. The book is available at Bruton Paris Shop and Amazon.com

Want to go?

Second annual National Security Conference, “National Security Today through 2028: Women Leading the Next Decade” will be held 8 a.m. to noon Thursday in Chesapeake room A of the Sadler Center. The event is open to the public.

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