Retired Army Gen. David D. McKiernan, the former top commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, will deliver the address to the College of Professional Studies graduates on Friday, May 13 at Matthews Arena.
More than 1,100 undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral students—including more than 50 veterans in 29 degree programs—will be awarded diplomas at the ceremony.
“I am honored and eager to address this year’s graduating class,” McKiernan said. “Northeastern has a great approach to enabling the ‘practitioner’ with education as a foundation for professional experience—an approach that resonates with those who have served in the military.”
McKiernan, the former commander for the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, entered the Army in 1972 with an ROTC commission and commanded soldiers at every rank from second lieutenant to four-star general. His distinguished 37-year U.S. Army career included service in the Gulf War, Korea, Europe and the Balkans, Southwest Asia, Iraq, and Afghanistan.
He led all ground forces into Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2002-03 to remove Saddam Hussein and the Baath Party from power with a 160,000 joint and coalition formation. In his final command assignment in Afghanistan in 2008-09, he was responsible for more than 100,000 soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, and Special Forces in both a NATO ISAF—including 42 contributing nations—and U.S. Operation Enduring Freedom role.
Since retiring from the Army in 2009, McKiernan has served as a special advisor to Northeastern on expanding the university’s programs for veterans and active duty military. Last year Northeastern launched the Center for the Advancement of Veterans and Servicemembers, a first-of-its-kind veterans center focused on career preparation. The center addresses the employment gap that returning service members face in comparison to their peers by offering a wide range of services and benefits, including mentorship, co-op and job opportunities, career resources, and assistance with the transition to civilian life.
“General McKiernan’s service to our country and the experience and insight he has brought to the university’s work with veterans is invaluable,” said John LaBrie, dean of the College of Professional Studies. “His passion for higher education and its power to lead to promising careers will resonate with everyone. I’m honored to welcome General McKiernan to speak to our graduates on such an important and celebratory day in their lives.”
McKiernan delivered the keynote address at Northeastern’s Veterans Day ceremony in 2011, and the following year he returned to campus for an engaging, candid discussion with the Northeastern community examining the use of military in U.S. interventions around the world before and after 9/11.
McKiernan holds a bachelor’s degree in European history—as well as an honorary doctorate in public service—from the College of William and Mary, and a master’s degree in public administration from Shippensburg University.