DNI Avril Haines Kicks Off NIU’s 2023-24 Academic Year
Installs Dr. John Ballard as President

September 16, 2023

NIU students at convocation on Aug. 25 in the ICC-B Auditorium (Photos by James Williams, ODNI Strategic Communications)

The National Intelligence University Convocation and Installation of President Ceremony on August 25 marked the beginning of the academic year and formally installed Dr. John Ballard as NIU’s next president.

More than 150 new students attended the convocation ceremony and over 700 intelligence and national security professionals began classes this fall at NIU’s main campus and academic centers.

“All of you are high achievers, and in your classrooms and research you’ll learn from the most talented, capable and experienced practitioners and researchers … and it’ll be important that you take, in a sense, mental risks during this time,” said DNI Avril Haines.

She encouraged students to look at the issues they have been focusing on from a completely different perspective and to take advantage of the opportunity to build relationships with fellow students and educators from across the national security enterprise.

DNI Haines continued, sharing that this integrated academic experience as students, and eventually graduates, will shape the IC’s culture into what it should be, and that we all will benefit from their experience through increased collaboration across our community.

“Your education must be grounded in ethics, values, and wisdom where we bring together the great diversity that exists in our IC and country to learn from one another, share our knowledge and make us better at protecting our nation,” she said.

DNI Avril Haines with NIU President John Ballard.

DNI Haines officiated Ballard’s installation, saying, “It seems appropriate to formally install Dr. Ballard — our new President — at the same time we convene our students here for the start of their academic journey.” Thanking NIU’s outgoing President Dr. J. Scott Cameron, Haines said, “I also want to take the time to recognize those who made this moment possible, especially NIU’s extraordinary president for a half-dozen years, Dr. Scott Cameron.” Cameron’s leadership of NIU and dedication to the intelligence community and nation was honored by awarding him President Emeritus status, presented by NIU’s Board of Visitors Chair Gilman Louie.

Ballard’s wealth of experience in both national security and higher education leadership aligns seamlessly with the institution’s dedication to advancing the intelligence profession. Ballard’s charge to students, faculty, and staff is to focus on enhancing student success, building a talented and diverse team, and providing service to the nation. “The key to success for all of us is not necessarily in what we learn, but how well we develop the ability to think creatively, and critically, to anticipate, overcome and take advantage of the emerging threats that will mark the coming decades,” he said.

Former NIU President Dr. J. Scott Cameron, left, looks toward NIU President John Ballard.

Dr. Ballard presented an honorary Doctor of Strategic Intelligence to Chris Inglis, in recognition of his decades of distinguished military and civilian service, which included serving as the first National Cyber Director and long-time NSA Deputy Director. General Inglis was a devoted supporter of the university throughout his career, serving for several years on the NIU Board of Visitors.

NIU President John Ballard, left, presented the Doctor of Strategic Intelligence honoris causa to Chris Inglis, former National Cyber Director and Deputy Director of the National Security Agency.

DNI Haines, in her remarks, closed with this message to NIU’s newest class of students, “On behalf of the entire intelligence community, thank you for choosing NIU and for accepting this challenge, and good luck to all of you as you begin this extraordinary journey. You are our next generation of leaders in the IC and I ask that you keep the standards high.”

As the intelligence community’s accredited, degree-granting institution of higher education operating at the TS//SCI level, NIU continues to serve the national security enterprise through teaching, research, and engagement.

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