Gen. Robert Neller will teach a special course next week on leadership in the Marines.
The former commandant of the Marine Corps will focus on examples of leadership invWorld War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. The one credit class will meet in the evenings on Feb. 22 – 26.
“The class will offer the students an opportunity to consider their own leadership skills and styles in the context of how the U.S. Marine Corps teaches leadership and within a case study involving the Korean War,” Neller said in an email.
Looking to military leaders, Neller said, is especially important.
“Our profession is framed by an oath to the Constitution and by a code of conduct that governs how we lead our lives both publicly and privately,” Neller said. “There is an expectation that we will conduct ourselves with virtue and honor.”
Neller credited the basis of a good leader with a person’s character.
“At the base it is being a person of honor and virtue,” Neller said. “After that: selflessness, competence, effort, integrity, and compassion for others.”
Michael Murray, executive director of gifts and estate planning for Hillsdale College, was the original point of contact between the college and the general, having served under him in Iraq as a lieutenant colonel in the Marines.
“This has been a very organic kind of process.” Murray said. “When I started working with the college, I stayed connected to General Neller.”
Murray introduced Hillsdale College President Larry Arnn to Neller, who invited the general to give the 2019 Commencement address at the college. Arnn then offered the general the opportunity to speak to students more directly, and they planned for a course on leadership to be taught in spring 2020.
“We were supposed to do the course last spring,” Murray said. “It was set for the end of March, and then COVID took control.”
Victoria Schmidt, a senior biology major who plans to join the Air Force after graduation, said she’s looking forward to the class to help lay the groundwork for becoming a good officer.
“I think the key to being a good officer is being a good leader, and one of the ways of being a good leader is by doing these kinds of experiences, learning through other people’s experiences, and learning what it means to be a leader in the context of the military,” Schmidt said.
Nick Macaluso, a senior history major who enrolled in the Marine Corps officer training program, known as the PLC, said he’s hoping to gain a more concrete perspective on military leadership.
“I’m anticipating that the general will borrow from personal leadership experience in the class, teaching the material in a way which only he can and giving new life to familiar battles and military figures,” Macaluso said.
Macaluso said he is also hoping this class will be a step toward a future military leadership program at Hillsdale.
“It is something that other military students and I have recently proposed to the administration,” Macaluso said. “Much like pre-med or pre-law, we envision a program which would help prepare Hillsdale students to become better officers. Such a program would include a military history component, without neglecting tactical, physical, and moral formation for sound military leadership.”