On Oct. 20, Former Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Kevin McAleenan visited campus and spent time with students from various disciplines throughout the day. This was the first time President Pistole has been able to bring a speaker to campus since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
McAleenan served as acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security from April 2019 to October 2019. Before that, McAleenan served as commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Now, McAleenan is the CEO of Pangiam, a security solutions company.
During his time on campus, McAleenan had several interactions with students including speaking to a class of cyber security students, leading a national security simulation for students and answering questions for students in a personal setting.
President Pistole also held a fireside chat with McAleenan at York Auditorium that was open to the public and press. Pistole and McAleenan took questions from the audience as well as discussed issues of national security and what McAleenan’s experiences have taught him.
President Pistole has hosted several fireside chats over the years with various notable individuals involved in politics, national security, cybersecurity and government.
“All the people I have invited to campus who have come, I believe help people, regardless of your politics,” said Pistole.
Pistole recognizes that one of the main benefits from bringing these speakers to AU is the chance to help students expand their learning and understanding of important issues.
“The idea is to expose students not only to national leaders,” Pistole explained, “but perhaps to some different points of view than they have.”
Not only does bringing in speakers to interact with students benefit the student body on a personal level, but it also benefits the university as a whole. Pistole understands the unique position AU is in to be able to host such prominent speakers.
“I think it gives us some recognition among our peers,” Pistole said.
Not only does hosting speakers such as McAleenan bring recognition to AU, but it also helps AU to be “distinctive, compelling and relevant” according to Pistole.
The ability to have personal interactions with such prominent individuals like McAleenan gives AU the opportunity to offer a unique experience to students, especially at a smaller university in the Midwest.
“I think by having these speakers come, that helps us to say we’re not just academic ─ which is critically important for a school of higher education ─ but it’s a value added that no other school has,” Pistole said.
Pistole is very grateful for the chance to be able to benefit AU through his previous experiences and relationships.
“I’m really pleased that God has given me an opportunity to introduce some of these former colleagues to AU,” he said.