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Maxwell / Executive Education Programs / National Security Studies



One judges the success of any program by measuring its value and worth. Hallmarks of past NSS programs have included measuring performance through continuous evaluation using survey instruments that allow participants an opportunity to describe impressions of their course experience. Following are excerpts from comments provided by past NSS participants and distinguished guest speakers.

Previous NSMC Testimonials:

“This course is very important, and I am keenly interested in your efforts to engage the participants in research and strategic thinking across agency and service interests.”
-- General Peter Pace, (then) Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

"The National Security Management Course was the best executive education experience I have ever had.  The program organization, course content, reading materials, speakers and resources of The Maxwell School were outstanding in every respect.  The opportunity for interactive discussions with so many distinguished speakers who have served at the highest levels of government and the military services was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.  In addition to providing an in-depth understanding of the most important national security issues of our time, the speakers also provided the class with practical approaches for executive decision-making in an increasingly complex world.  The organization of the program also facilitated close interactions among students of diverse backgrounds, which provided the additional benefit of students learning from the unique experiences of each other.  This exceptional program is a national resource for preparing senior leaders to address the most challenging issues in today's complex world."

"The past two weeks have been the most incredible learning experience of my career, and maybe my life, so far. I feel incredibly fortunate to have shared a classroom with such amazing professionals and to have learned from such an impressive collection of remarkable individuals who have served, and continue to serve, at very senior levels of the US government. I had an admittedly biased and unfair  preconception that I'd be exposed to a very narrow mindset when it comes to issues of national and international security, and I'm happy to report that I leave with all of those worries put to rest. To a person, my classmates and the lecturers were/are highly educated and experienced leaders with a very deep and nuanced understanding of matters of national and international security. Impressive people, each and every one of them. Truly."

Bill and Sue,
 Thank you so much for putting this course together.  I sent a memo to my leadership discussing how much I enjoyed it, and I highly recommended that they continue to support the course in the future. 
 I believe the information, connections, and experiences provided by the course will benefit me for years to come.  The course briefings and simulation exercises significantly increased my understanding of:

  • How decisions are made in the upper-levels of government
  • Major challenges and uncertainties to current U.S. national security
  • How to respond to crises and how the federal, state, and local governments work together in responding to a crisis
  • Cybersecurity threats and methods for mitigating them
  • Legal aspects of using military force
  • Changes in U.S. national security policies since the Cold War
  • Strengths and weaknesses of different leadership styles
  • U.S. economic policies in relation to changing demographics
  • How to respond to the press
  • Challenges in U.S. border control
  • Strategies for dealing with the threat posed by Russia, China, and Iran
  • How decisions were made during the 11 September 2001 attacks
  • What it is like to brief President Obama
    Speakers in the course were top-notch, and the quality and abundance of food available allowed me to focus on educational and social opportunities instead of going to the grocery store.
    --Dr. Jonathan Bell, NSMC 2015

Sue and Bill,
I can't nearly express the level of gratitude I have for the program you both put together with NSS. It truly was one of the best learning experiences of my career. The level of presenters was over-and-above what I had expected. The level of discourse was the best I've ever seen, and that was a combination of both the presenters and the students that you target for attendance at the course. That is all due, in no small part, to your professionalism, knowledge, and care for the subjects and the program as a whole. Others may be able to try to emulate what you have accomplished but I can't imagine anyone being able to execute at such a high level and with so much thoughtfulness.
Thank you again for all of the work that I know you put in, and for allowing me the opportunity to experience something I will not forget.
--David Curry, NSMC 2015

“As a wrap-up, I am grateful for the opportunity to attend.  A good mix of speakers with varying perspectives.  Obviously, the opportunity to network with both presenters and classmates is of tremendous value.”
--Participant, NSMC 2015

“This course has by far been the most interesting, challenging, rewarding, and pleasurable professional training I have ever been involved in.  I rated all of the speakers as Excellent as all of them were top-notch and not once in class did I find myself drifting away from the presentation or conversation.  It was an enlightening experience to not only hear from highly qualified, high-profile experts in their respective fields, but also to have the opportunity to interact with them, sometimes on a personal level, is something I never thought would happen in my lifetime.  While the course was nothing short of outstanding, that word does not begin to describe the hosts and staff that were responsible for pulling everything together.  Bill and Sue, it was truly an honor to meet and talk with both of you.  Bill, even though you rub elbows with some of the biggest brains and most influential people in the world, the attention and respect you showed me indicated, whether you’re interacting with Colin Powell himself or the lowest ranking person in the class, you will be attentive and personable and my guess is treat everyone the same.  Sue, your hospitality, humor and knowledge completed the experience.  The interns were all nothing short of remarkable.  I’m sure every one of them will succeed in whatever they chose as a future career.  I wish everyone all the best.”

--Jeff Anderson, NSMC 2015

“This is the best course in my military career that I have been to.  Thank you.”

--Participant, NSMC 2015

“Spectacular course, world-class speakers and presentations.  An absolute must for senior-level leaders in all walks of life: military, academia, Defense, State, industry, government.”

--Participant, NSMC 2015

“The past two weeks have been a very positive experience, both professionally and socially.  Thank you and your entire team for all that you did to make that possible.  First class in every respect!  Keep up the great work.”

--Participant, NSMC 2015

“Bill and Sue are the heart and soul of his program.  They work like a true team and naturally fill in any gaps the other may have—no matter the task.  Outstanding course and line-up of briefers.  I thank them both for full-court effort they bring to the program.”

--Participant, NSMC 2015

“The course was first-class in every way.  I appreciate all of the attention and extra work put in by the staff and faculty.  I will recommend this course to my peers.”

--Participant, NSMC 2015

“Logistics—this was incredibly well done.  That takes a lot of planning and effort.  You guys did it all.  A first-rate course.  Keep up the good work.”

--Participant, NSMC 2015

“Had heard great things about this course prior to attending that I initially thought were too good to be true. Was I ever wrong! Best course, both in material (speakers/handouts) and in administration,  that I have ever attended.”

--Participant, NSMC 2014

“Before I got here, all I heard were great things; you more than lived up to my expectations.”

--Participant, NSMC 2014

“Tremendous program. Best PME course I’ve attended…thanks for your professionalism with a personal touch!”

--Participant, NSMC 2014

“Fantastic review of the public policy process. The firsthand information regarding deliberations [in Congress] was exceptional.”

--Participant, NSMC 2013

“Best ‘short course’ I’ve attended (been to Harvard, UNC-Chapel Hill, and others); the curriculum, the tempo, and the social bonding opportunities were outstanding!”

--Participant, NSMC 2013

“Very provocative. But exactly what this course should elicit – excellent!”

--Participant, NSMC 2013

“Outstanding all around! I would have had to read 100 books to gain the knowledge and insight into the national security issue covered in this 2‐week course. Extremely valuable to be able to interact face‐to face with Subject Matter Experts in all those areas.”

--Participant, NSMC 2008

“Excellent perspective on the future. Provides a good framework for strategic planning.”

--Participant, NSMC 2008

“I learned a lot about collaboration and coordination amongst the major players in a world crisis.”

--Participant, NSMC 2008

“The grad students and interns were very dedicated and committed to the program and ensuring every detail was covered. I wish my staff back home was that dedicated. Very impressive!”

--Participant, NSMC 2008

Speaker Testimonials

“Thank you again for the invitation to speak at the National Security Management Course.  I enjoyed it immensely.  You were a superb host and I appreciate everything you and your staff do in the National Security Studies field.” 
-- General Raymond T. Odierno, Assistant to the Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff

“…So many of the components that comprise national security infrastructure, the Board, the faculty and the subjects presented to the NSS participants must evolve to remain current and comprehensive.  Those two words, “current” and “comprehensive” best describe the NSS program at Syracuse University.  The participants’ evaluations reflect the accuracy of the description.”
-- Kevin Gottlieb, Maxwell School faculty member

“It’s always educational and fun for me.  I look forward to working with you in the future.”
-- United States Secretary of Defense

“Your National Security Studies Program provides our leaders strategic insights to the challenges we face in the international security environment.  You have set the standard of excellence with your courses and curriculum that addresses the broad range of topics affecting national security matters.”
-- General John W. Handy, Commander, U.S. Transportation Command, Air Mobility Command

“Thank you for the opportunity to speak at the National Security Management Course…I hope that it was as rewarding for the class, as it was for the speaker.  I appreciate the meticulous care you took in ensuring [I] was welcomed and comfortable.  I am most grateful.”
-- Lt. General James R. Helmly,
Chief, Army Reserve, Commanding General, US Army Reserve Command

“…a remarkably realistic series of tests which closely approximate high-level governmental and military decision-making challenges.  I was struck many times by the keen similarity between choices faced by our team…and the real-life issues that I have lived through in the post 9-11 world.”
-- Nancy Larraine Hoffman,
Former New York State Senator (1984-2004)


“Thank you for the wonderful experience of speaking with your NSMC 2003 students.  It is a terrific group of current and future leaders, having a truly meaningful and useful educational experience…, epitomizing “living a life of contribution and consequence.”
-- Susan Morrisey Livingstone, Former Undersecretary of the Navy

Quotes from NSMC 2013 Participants  

“The NSS 2013 course was top notch.  You are both to be commended for making this two-week course the best on the planet!  Speakers, facilities, amenities etc. were always on target.”


“It doesn’t get any better than this! Terrific insight, vision, thoughts and fears for our homeland defense.”


“Very thought provoking.  Really enjoyed a change of pace to challenge our thinking.”


“The most well-orchestrated course I have ever been in.”




“Where do you get these speakers? Priceless!”


 “This course should be required for every high potential Colonel and General Officer.”


“First class, well-coordinated and synchronized program.”


“Best Cyber discussion I have ever attended.”


“All logistics were spot on.”


“Great combination of informative and thought-provoking speakers.  Don’t change the mix.”


“The simulation provided great insights into the interagency process.”


“Excellent discussion (of Russia) with a good exploration of alternative futures and dimensions to be considered.”


“Forceful opinions (of sequestration) encouraged debate and brought historical perspective in live with contemporary issue.”


“Great opportunity to gain insight into a mysterious organization (CIA).”


“Great simulation (Baron Death) that served our objectives very well.”


Learning how to deal with the media provided life-long lessons.  What a great opportunity to learn.”


“Who better to have to discuss this topic! This dude was awesome.”


“Another great book signing bonus!”


“Fascinating….great way to kick off the seminar with an eye to the future.”


“Hands down the best lecture I’ve ever heard on China, its cultural changes and how they are transforming.”


“An incredible job taking an extremely complex topic (Africa) into points we could digest.”


“All great nuggets (Taking Care of the Boss) I will carry with me for the future.”


“Absolutely seamless logistics and administrative support.”


 “Speaker accomplished the goal of being provocative and encouraged us to think about democracy in a different way.”


“Outstanding story of leadership, courage and accountability.”


“I thought the simulation was the best part of the course.  It brought the class together as a team.  I have a much better feeling for interagency coordination now.”


“Excellent presentations, case study and exercise.  The exchange between participants during the case study was enlightening.  One of my favorite sessions.”


“The interns are an amazing group of young people; they renew my faith that our future is in good hands.”


Past NSMC Testimonials

“Everything has been first class. Undoubtedly the finest staff, facilities, and amenities I have ever experienced.”

“This has been the best run course I have had the opportunity to attend.”

“The best. Worth coming to the course for this lecture alone.”

“Insightful and very entertaining. Great international overview. I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone with such a broad and in-depth knowledge of foreign issues.”

“Invaluable insight from an insider.”

“Another outstanding presentation. An honor just listening to him. A true patriot and American.”

“Fantastic review of the public policy process. The firsthand information regarding deliberations [in Congress] was exceptional.”

“A walking history book. What a great lecture.”

“Very provocative. But exactly what this course should elicit – excellent!”

“Really enjoyed the personal insights. Couldn’t hear that anywhere else.”

“The most enjoyable ‘input/output’ exercise I’ve ever done!”

“An excellent ‘game,’ with real-world probabilities. Super job!”

“Perhaps the most beneficial case study I have ever done. Personally for me, it gave me insight into the President’s inner circle.”

“This was by far the best discussion of a specific area for me, as the issues were clearly discussed with practical examples and rationale for both challenges and opportunities for the way ahead. Great speaker and message.”

“Outstanding tour de force of the world stage and its contemporary issues. The depth and breadth of the speaker’s presentation and knowledge are extraordinary.”

Wow! It would be presumptuous of me to attempt criticism of such a presentation…but, you could have charged admission! Thanks for including this.”

“Truly outstanding – as has been the case, throughout. This presenter could have gone on longer and the class would have been enthralled. I’ll have to go re-read his books now.”

“Fantastic! How can you top this real world experience?”

“Superior! Best global lay down of key countries!”

“Absolutely incredible opportunity to hear the candid first-hand account of the senior-level decisions, and remarkable leadership displayed in a major national crisis.”

“One-of-a-kind discussion. Thanks!”

“Outstanding! Great session and dialogue about a real national issue. The candor and insights during this portion are unparalleled…”

“Exceptional – the best part of your curriculum is senior (really senior) leaders coming to talk with us.”

“This is the best example I’ve seen of how the candor and openness of a senior leader creates an opportunity like no other I’ve experienced elsewhere.”

“Fascinating! Difficult subject explained in terms that were easy to follow.”

“Tremendous program. Best PME course I’ve attended…thanks for your professionalism with a personal touch!”

“Unparalleled! Dynamic speaker who clearly comprehends the world in which we all live; the threats; and the geopolitical world and all players. It was truly an honor to meet and speak with him.”

“Had heard great things about this course prior to attending that I initially thought were too good to be true. Was I ever wrong! Best course, both in material (speakers/handouts) and in administration,  that I have ever attended.”

“Before I got here, all I heard were great things; you more than lived up to my expectations.”

“This is the most memorable course I have ever attended.”

“Well organized, we had a five star service.”

“Simply outstanding! Everything is first class and can’t imagine how it could be improved.”

“Logistics and administrative support has been ‘best seen to date’ of all senior courses I have attended.”

“Off the scale! Another first class event!”

Outstanding. Sets the standard for other programs and courses!”

“Absolutely outstanding. Orchestrating all of this for a class this size is a major undertaking. You have made it look easy. I know of many organizations that should take some lessons from you. I don’t know how you’ve been able to do it and do it so smoothly.”

“Best ‘short course’ I’ve attended (been to Harvard, UNC-Chapel Hill, and others); the curriculum, the tempo, and the social bonding opportunities were outstanding!”