The Colin Powell Chair

For National Security Leadership, Character, and Ethics 

History of the Colin Powell Chair

In the Profession of Arms, the most basic tool of any soldier, sailor, or airman is the compass. The compass provides guidance when there is no clear direction, and in an increasingly complex and unpredictable world, there is a need for our leaders to be equipped with strong ethical and moral tools to complement their technical expertise, and strategic training.

“A professional ethics program for addressing these situations would help equip [leaders] with a sharper moral compass for guidance in situations often riven with conflicting moral obligations.” - Final Report on the Independent Panel to Review DoD Detention Operations, August 2004

In a report by an independent panel to review DoD detention operations, the Schlesinger Report, it was noted that existing ethics education programs leave “military leaders and educators an incomplete tool box with which to deal with ‘real-world’ ethical problems.” The National Defense University and the Foundation agreed.

In March of 2006, with the support of General Colin Powell, the NDU Foundation established the Chair for National Security, Leadership, Character and Ethics. The purpose of the Chair is to share the expertise and wisdom of a leader who has experience making decisions at the highest levels of government with the students, faculty, staff, and international partners of the University. The Chair is aptly named to honor one of the great leaders in recent American history - the Honorable Colin Powell, the 65th Secretary of State, former National Security Advisor, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Commander of the US Army Forces Command.

The current incumbent is the 15th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Richard B. Myers, USAF (Ret). General Myers brings a wealth of experience to the discussion when considering the ethical and moral dimensions of today’s challenges. General Myers led US and international efforts to deconstruct the Taliban and deny al Qaida a safe haven in Afghanistan. He also oversaw the liberation Iraq from the regime of Saddam Hussein and directed relief efforts in the aftermath of the Pacific Tsunami in December of 2004.

“General Myers is a distinguished leader and patriot.  I am very pleased that he will be bringing his talents and experience to inaugurate this new chair.  I also express my appreciation to Mr. Nash Broaddus for his generosity in creating this new opportunity for learning at the National Defense University.”

The Honorable Colin L .Powell


The Colin L. Powell Chair for National Security, Leadership, Character and Ethics is focused on providing students of the National Defense University with the tools necessary to consider the difficult ethical and moral dimensions of strategic issues facing national security leaders, as well as global partners.   

The Colin Powell Chair directly impacts the education of students at the University through:

  • Courses taught covering topics such as religion and national security, international law and military operations, and the challenge of U.S. civilian-military relations.
  • Lectures and Seminars conducted by the Colin Powell Chair also educate the students of the NDU Capstone, educating newly selected general and flag officers, and the Reserve Component National Security Courses on the ethical dimensions of modern dilemmas.
  • The Annual NDU Distinguished Lecture Program which features speakers such as the Secretaries of Defense and State, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Army and Air Force Chiefs of Staff, the National Security Advisor to the President, the Combatant Commanders, and other distinguished leaders.
  • Course required papers provide an opportunity to harness the experience, wisdom, and creative thinking of the students themselves on ways to handle modern ethical challenges.  

The Colin Powell Chair works with the University to produce research and publications including:

  • Books such as The Armed Forces Officer, a resource for members of every service about the fundamental moral-ethical requirements of being a commissioned officer in United States Armed Forces.
  • Articles such as the Honorable Ike Skelton’s “the Civil-Military Gap Need Not Become a Chasm,” featured in Joint Forces Quarterly, a publication produced by NDU on behalf of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
  • Additional publications on ethics and the future of conflict led by Dr. Albert Pierce, and a cross disciplinary team including military chaplains, civilian and military lawyers, and experts.

The Colin Powell Chair expands the reach of NDU by:

  • Providing personal instruction on ethics and leadership for the Department of Defense, including the regional and strategic Combatant Commands.
  • Forging Strategic Partnerships with members of the interagency community, and professional military education institutions in allied, partner, and foreign nations.
  • Establishing, and expanding relationships with the Naval Post Graduate School, the Army War College, the LeJeune Leadership Institute, the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs, and the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs at Georgetown University.

“It is imperative to maintain sustained emphasis on ethical conduct and the highest ideals of duty, honor, and integrity at all [Professional Military Education] institutions.”

–CJCS Instruction 1800.1C, 22 December 2005

Recognition Benefits for Sponsors of The Colin Powell Chair in
National Security Leadership, Character and Ethics


“My sense is that as leaders are forced to contend with more and more volatility, complexity, and ambiguity, the study of day-to-day use of ethics will take on even more importance.  If it were up to me, I would make a course like Ethics in Organizations a core requirement at the senior service college level.”

- Kevin Coyne, NDU “Ethics in Organizations” Student

The following overview represents recognition opportunities for sponsors of The Powell Chair:

Engagement with National Security Leaders in Government and Industry

  • Opportunity to align in support of the US Military and Diplomatic community on the broader issues of ethics and leadership, reflected in branding, and marketing materials produced by the National Defense University Foundation’s Colin Powell Chair.
  • Invitation to high-level symposia, speaking engagements and events at NDU and other locations, attended by military, diplomatic, intelligence and corporate leaders; members of Congress, the Administration, and visiting experts on national and international security.
  • Membership in NDU Foundation’s National Security Circle – a dynamic forum that brings together the public and private sectors to strengthen the military and security enterprise.

Brand Enhancement

  • Special opportunities, when appropriate, for the Colin Powell Chair to lead on-site seminars for employees, corporate leadership and key stakeholders;
  • Placement of logo on NDU Foundation website with reciprocal hyperlink to your webpage;
  • Recognition of logo on signage and in collateral material at all events held in connection with The Colin Powell Chair for National Security Leadership, Character and Ethics;
  • Recognition in NDU Foundation Annual Report, and quarterly newsletter.

Recognition as Eagle Sponsor at NDU Foundation 2013 and opportunity to participate in all VIP activities related to the American Patriot Award Gala

  • Lead recognition opportunity as an Eagle Sponsor and host of the General Reception at NDUF’s APA Gala attended by 500+ guests annually, to include the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Heads of Service Branches, Congressional officials, industry leaders, wounded warriors, and active duty military personnel.  (November 14, 2013 Honoring Secretary Hillary R. Clinton, Reagan International Trade Center, Washington, DC)

Cutting Edge Scholarship and Expertise

  • Access to considerable scholarship produced by the NDU five colleges and component research and regional centers;
  • Access to exclusive content on the NDU Foundation website such as podcasts, videos and white papers;
  • Receipt of all NDU Press publications, to include Joint Forces Quarterly and Prism.

“There are boundaries to the prerogatives of leadership, moral boundaries.”

- Vice Admiral James B. Stockdale, USN (Ret)


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