Over 1,000 Gathered to Hear World Leaders Discuss National Security Policy

After months of planning and heightened anticipation for the 2023 Presidential Thought Leadership Series, a U.S. National Security Policy Panel with World Leaders, the day arrived and campus was abuzz with students, faculty, staff and coaches eager to meet General Philip M. Breedlove, Ambassador Francis Campbell, General Tod D. Wolters, and Dr. Joe Wood, who discussed topics such as world affairs, national security, technology, careers and leadership.

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The series, which aims to be an ongoing resource for our community, state and the nation, brought more than 1,000 people together in the Cecchini Center on campus from the Walsh community, including past and present board members, alumni, public figures and community members, to lean in on tough topics in the spirit of helping us all become more informed citizens.

“An essential aspect of our citizenship is exercising our voting responsibilities as we elect our political leadership,” said Walsh University President Tim Collins. “As a global power, this is an enormous responsibility as we pick and choose leaders who will guide our nation to ensure peace and prosperity for all Americans.”

The panelists, two former supreme allied commanders, Europe (SACEUR) and a British ambassador, who have been directly involved in the development and execution of national security policy, offered us thought provoking perspectives on what it means to have a secure nation, the potential for harm that could arise from the relationship between our country's military and the defense industry that supplies it, the threats we face from Russia, China, North Korea and other foreign adversaries, and the importance of alliances like NATO and treaties with Asian allies.

“We thank each of them for the courage, wisdom and strength they had in stepping out and making sure we are all focused on the common good,” President Collins said in his impassioned introduction. “What role models they are for all of us at Walsh University, answering the call to serve others - first!”

The day began for the panelists with individual classroom visits and small group discussions. Carson Bernard, a freshman Blouin Scholar majoring in Education with a focus on Integrated Social Studies, attended a session with Ambassador Francis Campbell who shared what it was like being a Catholic from Northern Ireland working in the UK, his current role as Vice Chancellor of The University of Notre Dame in Australia, as well as his views on America.

“What’s so important about hearing these individuals speak is that we as a community are able to take what they say and apply it to our local communities,” Bernard said. “Sovereignty, scholarship, service and leadership are all things we heard and saw from these leaders. They take these four responsibilities and act upon them on a global scale.”

North Canton Mayor Stephan Wilder, who described the panel discussion as one of the most prestigious events to be hosted in our hometown, also asserted that the U.S. National Security Policy Panel is an example of what a university should be doing.

“These dignitaries are learned individuals who bring a unique perspective and a lifetime of experience, education and real-life global experiences,” Mayor Wilder said.  “It’s hard to grasp the enormity of this once in a lifetime event. I am grateful to President Collins for providing this opportunity to challenge our thinking on issues of our time, and for helping the public to be more informed, to better themselves and for the betterment of our community.”

The event was sponsored by Tony Orahoske, a 1982 Walsh alum and Walsh University board member, who also expressed his gratitude for President Collins’ leadership and his continued emphasis on offering intellectual opportunities to discuss important issues and engage in new ideas and approaches that make us a more informed and grateful community.

“I love this exposure to great leaders. Good effective leaders give more than receive,” Orahoske said. “I believe we saw this during this leadership event, impressive humble leaders with a lifetime of giving. Leaders attract great leaders.”

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