The University of Maryland announces General James R. Clapper as the 2019 Winter Commencement speaker .
The University of Maryland announced today that James R. Clapper ‘63, former director of national intelligence and author of the best-selling book, “Facts and Fears: Hard Truths from a Life in Intelligence,” will deliver the university’s commencement address on Dec. 17, 2019. Clapper will address thousands of graduates, family and friends during the ceremony at the XFINITY Center.
“During his half century serving our nation’s security, General Clapper earned a reputation for helping unify the Intelligence Services and speaking truth to power. He has an important message to share with our graduates and this campus,” said University of Maryland President Wallace D. Loh. “We are delighted to welcome him back to his Alma Mater.”
Clapper served as the fourth director of national intelligence from Aug. 9, 2010, to Jan. 20, 2017. In this position, he led the United States intelligence community and served as the principal intelligence adviser to President Barack Obama.
“It is a true honor to be chosen to speak at the University of Maryland’s commencement,” said Clapper. “I look forward to returning to my alma mater to address the graduating class on their momentous day.”
Clapper’s career began in 1961, when he enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve and culminated as a lieutenant general in the U.S. Air Force and director of the Defense Intelligence Agency. His intelligence-related positions over his 32 years in uniform included assistant chief of staff for intelligence at Headquarters, U.S. Air Force, during Operations Desert Shield/Desert Storm, and director of intelligence for three combatant commands: U.S. Forces, Korea; Pacific Command; and Strategic Air Command. He served two combat tours during the Southeast Asia conflict, and flew 73 combat support missions in EC-47s over Laos and Cambodia.
Following his retirement from the armed forces in 1995, Clapper worked for six years as an executive in three companies, focusing on the intelligence community. He also served as a consultant and adviser to Congress and to the departments of Defense and Energy, and as a member of a variety of government panels, boards, commissions and advisory groups. He was a senior member of the Downing Assessment Task Force, which investigated the Khobar Towers bombing in 1996, and vice chairman of a commission chaired by former Gov. Jim Gilmore of Virginia on homeland security, and he served on the National Security Agency Advisory Board.
Clapper returned to the government two days after 9/11 as the first civilian director of the National Imagery and Mapping Agency. He served in this capacity for almost five years, transforming it into the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, as it is called today.
Prior to becoming director of national intelligence, Clapper served for over three years in two administrations as undersecretary of defense for intelligence, where he was the principal staff assistant and adviser to the secretary and deputy secretary on intelligence, counterintelligence and security matters. He was also director of defense intelligence for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.
Clapper earned a bachelor’s degree in government and politics from the University of Maryland, a master’s degree in political science from St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, Texas, and an honorary doctorate in strategic intelligence from the then-Joint Military Intelligence College.
He has been honored with three National Intelligence Distinguished Service Medals, two Defense Distinguished Service Medals, the Air Force Distinguished Service Medal, the Coast Guard’s Distinguished Public Service Award, three Department of Defense Distinguished Civilian Service Awards, the presidentially conferred National Security Medal, and many other U.S. civilian and military, and foreign government awards and decorations.