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Former Com­mandant of the U.S. Marine Corps Gen. Robert Neller spoke at com­mencement in 2019. Courtesy | Gen. Robert Neller

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.”