Inside The Citadel’s Presidential Search


During the last week of March and the first in April , The Citadel hosted the four finalists in its search for a new president. Each candidate had an interview with the Board of Visitors, lunch with the Top 9 cadets, and an opportunity to present to the Citadel community. The finalists all had approximately 40 minutes to share their leadership style, professional experiences, and their first 180 day plan, with the Citadel faculty and staff. None of the presidential candidates were required to take questions from the audience, yet they all opted to open up the floor for at least 10 minutes of questions, adding to the intrigue of the probing process.


Lieutenant General Michael Ferriter, U.S. Army (Ret.)


Visited March 28th, 2018

Lt. Gen. Ferriter is a ‘79 Citadel grad, family man, team builder, and an intentional leader. During his presentation, Lt. Gen Ferriter highlighted the fact that he is the proud father of four children who have all grown up to serve their country in the military or government.

Part of Lt. Gen. Ferriter’s leadership philosophy is to Do What’s Right, and to Do Your Best. If you do these two things, he argued, then you don’t have to Be the Best. His second point on leadership was to Improve Daily: Spiritually, Mentally, Physically and in your relationships. The third point of his leadership philosophy was to Build Teams: “If we play with [our] cards out, and realize that relationships are for life, then everybody wins every time”. Lt. Gen Ferriter finished his presentation by stating the need to Take Care of The Little Guy and to NEVER, NEVER QUIT, especially when someone says “no, you can’t”.

Lt. Gen. Ferriter was asked how he would balance both the Military and the College aspects of The Citadel. He responded by stating the importance of having a balance of both “in the right amounts”. When pressed to elaborate on the Military aspect, specifically in regards to cadet discipline, he had this to say: “All organizations have standards; Great organizations enforce them.” He went on to explain the importance of everyone knowing the standards and how to enforce them through remedial action, retraining, and punishment accordingly. As a general rule, he says it is critical to “Identify Issues through Review”.

When asked about his handling of issues pertaining to Diversity and Inclusion, Lt. Gen. Ferriter answered simply with two questions he always asks: “Who is the most capable?” and “Who is the best person for the job?”

Lt. Gen. Ferriter was also asked about his approach to Faculty Governance and he replied by saying that he would have to “hustle for the first 100 days so I don’t blow it”, and then he would gather the faculty and staff to: “Make a plan for 8 years, [and then] go there together”.

Bonus Quotes:

“The only thing that likes change is a wet baby with a dirty diaper.”

“The last 12 years [at The Citadel] were a golden era.”


General Robert B. Brown, U.S. Army


Visited March 29th, 2018

Gen. Robert Brown is a ‘81 Westpoint grad with over 37 years of military service. He has a strong background in US Army education and his wife also has been an educator for over 28 years. During his presentation Gen. Brown demonstrated an informed understanding of the Citadel’s past and current administrative status, as well as a directional vision for the future.

Gen. Brown’s leadership philosophy is based on trust, which he said is critical, along with communication in all directions. Gen. Brown’s leadership style is caring: “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care”. He also believes in tough, demanding, and disciplined training. Gen. Brown stands for collective responsibility, and being very inclusive of everyone in the organization. Pride is important to Gen. Brown which he said: “is not a problem at Citadel at all”. He spoke highly of the Top 9 cadets and the pride they displayed in the Citadel which gave him not only confidence in the future of the Citadel, but that of the nation as well. According to Gen. Brown: “The most important trait in leadership is humility. [If] You don’t have all the answers, [then] have the confidence to ask for help.”

Gen. Brown played a critical role in revamping the entire Army education system and in the establishment of Army University at Ft Leavenworth, Kansas in 2015. He also had responsibility for approximately 50 different schools. As a leader in Army education, Gen. Brown focused on balancing the warrior with the scholar aspects in his soldier’s lives, and making sure faculty were represented on every level. Gen. Brown streamlined the accreditation experience, and insured that Army transfer credits for soldier’s military training were certified and met industrial standards. He stressed the importance of shared governance and responsibility. Gen. Brown often had to go to Congress for funding, but he also traveled to universities to find the best innovative ideas in education.

There were three points to Gen. Brown’s first 180 Day Plan: Build the Team, Update the Strategic Plan, and Building Relationships. He often referenced and praised the LEAD 2018 plan, calling it excellent. Gen. Brown intends to maintain the rich Citadel traditions: “[I’m] definitely not going to change those”. He believes that it is crucial to consistently ask “What are our opportunities?” in order to prevent stagnation and to “grow as an elite leadership institution” . Gen. Brown said he would look at partnerships with Boeing and other local businesses with Krause Center in order to build up the civilian graduate opportunities. He ended his presentation by emphasizing his dedication to promoting what he called The Citadel Brand: Educating and Developing Principled Leaders in All Walks of Life.

After he opened up the floor for questions, Gen. Brown was asked about how he would handle the coming season of change at The Citadel. He recounted a story from his time at the Maneuver Center of Excellence at Fort Benning when changes were coming to Infantry and Armor. Several alumni, whom he described as  “Gray Beards”, were up in arms about the changes, and he invited them back, listened to their ideas, and they turned around and supported the mission. Gen. Brown continued by sharing his vision for the Citadel to be recognized as the Senior Leadership School in the Nation. He acknowledged that he was not a Citadel grad, and that non-grads don’t always realize the significance of cultural nuances. He did, however, point out that both Gen. Summerall, Gen. Clark were both outsiders from West Point that went on to be great Citadel Presidents, adding that fresh perspective isn’t bad.

When the question was raised about how Gen. Brown handled issues of Diversity and Respect, he said: “When I’ve had to deal with challenging situations, [such as] the repeal of the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy, I learned that dignity and respect are key.” “People come in with prejudices”, he said, “We can’t hide it. In fact, that’s the worse thing to do”. He that it is crucial to realize that diversity is a strength, and that “We can’t just let stuff go to solve itself”. He proposed creating Inner-city leadership scholarships, and programs to find mentors for at risk kids in order to be proactive in addressing diversity issues. As a leader in Army education he looked at the HBCUs and ask why the ROTC Instructors who were sent there often of the lowest quality? He then reversed the standard by sending them the highest quality instructors.

A faculty member asked Gen. Brown: “How will I see Ethics in Action in you?”

He replied by recalling a time at the Leader Army Center of Ethics when he was faced with a similar dilemma. Army Leaders were ‘doing certain things’ online which gave rise to the need for a one page Army Ethic. The development took a year, because of how many levels of the organization were involved in planning it. Gen. Brown believes that there must be action to ethics: “You can’t just say ethics and everyone knows what you’re talking about. There are now more things on the internet than in the world. Think of the impact of a Tweet. We have to develop leaders who know Ethics”.

Bonus Quote:

“I plan to empower everybody. I don’t have a huge ego about big numbers. I can make a difference, and this is a purpose bigger than myself. I look at going another 10 years at least. This is an even bigger challenge”.


General Dan Allyn, U.S. Army (Ret.)


Visited April 3rd, 2018

Gen. Allyn is an ‘81 West Point grad with 36 years of service. He loves to lead and create leaders. During his presentation he shared ‘3 thoughts’: Listening, Learning, Leading. Notably, much to the chagrin of the audience, Gen. Allyn consistently referenced “The Citadel University” throughout the entire presentation. He also did not prepare a Powerpoint, and spoke only very briefly before opening up the floor for questions.

On his ‘3 thoughts’, Gen Allyn said that “You have to be a learning leader to lead at the strategic level”. He also believes it important to listen to all opinions: “I Started the process from the day I was considered, and will continue to as long as I serve. God gave us two ears and one mouth, and I try to use them in that proportion”. Gen. Allyn said that “it’s time for a new [6 year] plan”, and that he will listen to and consider input from all sources. He also stated that “Leading is the core of who we are, a daily responsibility that I will embrace”. There was a long pause after Gen. Allyn finished speaking and invited the audience to ask him questions.

Gen Allyn was asked what role athletics should play in the Citadel experience: “A huge role, it contributes to building the whole person. Many coming here will not have that implemented in their lives, and it is our duty to instill it into them. There will be competing resources, and it will be part of the discussion”.

When pressed about his background, Gen. Allyn admitted to not having any experience leading a university or raising funds, but said: “I have had a lot of experience as a strategic leader doing things outside of my comfort zone, but you need to adapt and become good at them to do what is required”.

After another awkward pause, someone from the audience asked Gen. Allyn: “What questions do you have of us?” To which he answered: “What questions are not being asked that should be asked here at Citadel University?”. The audience chuckled uneasily at his response until he continued by saying: “If we lean on our legacy too hard, we won’t know what questions to ask.”

The Q&A session had now stretched to about 15 minutes, and there was still time to spare for more. A faculty member asked him: “What would be your 4th Core Value?”. Gen Allyn provided two answers: Courage and Self Discipline. He then further explained the need for Moral Courage to stick your convictions and do what is right, particularly when nobody is watching and Self Discipline to do that what must be done on a daily basis.

Gen Allyn was asked how he would work to increase diversity in practical steps: “Very few institutions reflect it in America. Change has to happen one department, one school, one state at a time. In this country, everybody has an opportunity to do anything if they leverage their god-given gifts. He also believes in the trickle-down leadership approach to addressing the issues because “you can’t flip a switch, it’s not overnight, it’s one leadership challenge at a time”.

“Why do you want to come out of retirement?” asked an audience member? “I miss being around soldiers everyday, but I do not miss the Washington Rat-race.” replied Gen. Allyn. Another staff member asked “What did the [Top 9] cadets bring up at lunch?”. Gen Allyn explained that the biggest topic was “How do we get young alumni involved?”. He stressed to them the importance of “Giving back from an early age”. He proposed an initiative to get seniors to sign a form to donate $1 a month, as “An opportunity to give back to an institution that has given so much to you”. He said he was surprised by their response when they told him that often seniors feel pressured to donate because the school tells them “You must” or “You Should”.

Bonus Quotes:

“We should be committed as a servant leaders to putting others first. People should be doing it [community service] because it is the right thing to do, not because somebody is keeping tabs. If they don’t really believe in it here, then it won’t stick with them when they leave here.”

“The Citadel University”

General Glenn M. Walters, U.S. Marine Corps


Visited April 4th, 2018

Gen. Walters is a ‘79 Citadel grad with almost 39 years of service, primarily in aviation, and currently serves as the Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps. He has been married for 24 years with no kids. Gen. Walters is a champion fundraiser with an extensive military, government, and industrial network of contacts which he plans to leverage to win the Citadel more support as it continues to grow. He is impressed by Regimental Spirit Runs primarily because VMI does not do them.

Gen. Walters’ Leadership Style includes: Developing the team, Ethical decision-making, Being open and transparent, Available, Approachable, Accessible, Adaptable to change. He says that big organizational decisions are not made by unilateral decisions, and that he found aid in making those decisions simply by ‘walking around’ talking to people to help solve problems. He recognizes the need for data analysis on youth, as only 29% are fit for military service, and that is the primary pool from which the Citadel draws new students. Gen. Walters debunked the misconception that he ‘called all the shots’ as a General, saying “Shared governance is not unique to education”. He expounded on this point by saying that ‘3 stars’ would throw his orders away if he tried to make a major decision overnight without consultation of the staff.

The 180 day plan that Gen Walters presented had six points: To observe, listen, and learn, to state “I want to understand”, Add to the team Connect success of LEAD 2018 to STRATPLAN of 2024, to ask “Do we need to make adjustments? Changes?”, and “Where are we on resources?”, and to identify opportunities for the institution.

Gen. Walters knows how to generate resources. The Marine Corps University, was funded by Other People’s Money, or “OPM”, and he was responsible in part for its establishment. Gen Walters also knows how to get more partnerships. When the Secretary of the Navy found out about Gen. Walters interview at Citadel, he asked: “If you get the job, could The Citadel do this kind of research?” to which Gen. Walters responded, “I’ll ask”.

As it pertains to Strategic Partnerships and Opportunities, Gen. Walters made it clear that he wanted to know how to expand, especially with cyber and non-military opportunities. He expressed that he wants to explore Ideas for Krause Center, which he considers a keeper of Our brand. Gen. Walters addressed the country’s need for ethical leaders while there is a shortage and the need for a true [ethical] North. He has connections to the ‘Watson’ program run by IBM who needs employees. Gen.Walters asked IBM what the salary would be for a 22-year-old college grad with a degree in cyber or AI programming: $200,000! Additionally, Gen. Walters knows that the Naval Research Program and Naval Post-Graduate school deal primarily in human performance, and that the military needs more researchers. The usual course of action would be to partner with a civilian research university, but he argues: “Why not do it at a school with a military background with an understanding of the culture?”

When asked how Gen Walters would adapt to change, he drew from his USMC experiences: When we change Marine Corps, we have resources such as milestone plans. He conceded that he is not familiar with Citadel’s milestone plans, but that he believes changing infrastructure with the right resources is easy, culture is a heart matter, and “Our values can compete against anyone.” He pointed to social media behavior, and the adjustment it caused the Marine Corps to make, especially with the expanded integration of women, and issues at Parris Island. He spoke about the need for shared vision, metric connections, proven progress, and strategic change.

A new addition to the Citadel’s faculty asked how important athletics would be to his vision. Gen. Walters immediately referenced the Corps’ Fitness pillar, the cohesion in corps, and the pleasure the alumni get with every win. He also said: “Sports teach leadership. Athletics taught us [USMC] where to go to get recruits. We went to Title 9 areas. Women’s volleyball makes great leaders.” He talked about teamwork and why we focus on cultural issues: “If we went to Korea and we weren’t a team, and we didn’t have dignity and respect for each other, we would lose”. He asked the new faculty member what her job was, and ironically, she replied that she was the Women’s Volleyball Coach. The room erupted in laughter, awe, and applause.

On the topic of Diversity, Gen. Walters highlighted the need to recruit, and to “have diversity at the highest levels”. His staff is made up of 5 officers; 3 are female. In order increase output of recruits, Gen. Walters moved to work with African-American Societies, telling his recruiters: “Go out to minority and female communities and tell them “yes this is something you can do”. He said that 3,600 people were recruited into the USMC, and 37% were minorities. He went on to tell a story about a female Lieutenant who came to him concerned about meeting the bi-annual command/career retention board because she was pregnant during a large portion of that time. He immediately had the policy changed to allow her to wait until she was at 24 months of actual service time before she went before the board. Gen. Walters got funding for mobile flight simulators, which actually visited the Citadel earlier this semester, at $600,000 a piece; 5 each for each district. Then he ordered them to put one at every female athletic event and to black colleges to say: “Come with us”.

Gen. Walters was asked: Why would I want to be led by you as a faculty member? Gen Walters first stated that in the military, you don’t get a choice. He then acknowledged that  Citadel faculty volunteer to work for 9 months, and many are very mobile in their careers. He also knew that Citadel regulations state that the President is a member of the faculty. In summary he said: “If I cannot demonstrate that I have your best interests at heart, and I cannot demonstrate that I can get what you need to succeed, then I have failed you as a leader.”

When a faculty member asked how fundraising fit in the leadership package, Gen. Walters replied: “I need to learn and understand. Apparently we are doing well. Is it enough to get us where we need to go? I don’t know; I haven’t done that math. We need to get resources above Operation cost, then look at retention. Part of my sacred duty is to make sure that the resources are provided”.

Bonus Quotes:

“If you’re looking for a Rhodes or Fulbright Scholar, that’s not me. I am not a professor, I will never be a professor, I don’t have the time, But the good news is that we have a lot of great professors. I can teach, but not to the level that you can, I can get there though, if I ask the right questions.”

“It’s good to be home”

4 thoughts on “Inside The Citadel’s Presidential Search

  1. The Citadel’s Presidential search: a great article by the Brigadier Staff summarizing the comments of the 4 candidates should be read by all Alumni, cadets, facultu, staff and friends of the college.

    Of the 4 candidates, the two Citadel grads seemed to “get it,” we are not just a military academy and we are not just a college. Academics are important, but so is all the other stuff – the Mickey Mouse drill and personal honor and discipline, the company loyalties, and the uniquely important 4th Class System that bonds one generation to another like no other school can or ever will.

    Personally, I saw a lot in General Walter’s remarks and answers to questions to like. Most importantly, his responses to questions shows he knows when to put his ego aside and to listen – and what is expected of a leader – it is not being center stage all the time or telling others how to do their job. It is providing the resources for them to be successful.

    I especially was impressed with his response to a faculty member on “why they should want to be led by him:”

    “… In summary he said: “If I cannot demonstrate that I have your best interests at heart, and I cannot demonstrate that I can get what you need to succeed, then I have failed you as a leader.”

    And summed up with this:
    “If you’re looking for a Rhodes or Fulbright Scholar, that’s not me. I am not a professor, I will never be a professor, I don’t have the time, But the good news is that we have a lot of great professors. I can teach, but not to the level that you can, I can get there though, if I ask the right questions.”
    “It’s good to be home.”


  2. Wow, The selection committee did one hell of a Job. Outstanding selection of Leaders for our school in the future.
    Big shoes to fill with John retiring but these men are capable . Excellent job, Selection Committee !!!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s