First, the symposium can break down into three core components. All of which revolve around an annual on-campus event (which is also streamed online.) In 2020, BTW, at the height of Covid lockdowns, the Symposium was entirely broadcast online and attracted more than 100,000 viewers in 30 countries. Our in-person symposia bring in people from all over the world both on campus and online. Presenters include authors, thought leaders and experts from all fields and backgrounds that contribute to the annual theme. One core goal of the symposium is to involve cadets and civilian students who can interact with the VIP guests in a number of different venues ranging from panel discussions to the Symposium banquet. For some cadets, the experience of meeting and interacting with the guests has altered their career trajectories!
This is the video we did for 2020 when it was the first major event that occurred under President Mark Anarumo... https://youtu.be/YETE-Lb8qHo?si=u0Tqau95OkcHr-Pm
And here is the link to the main site on the NU Web site. As I mentioned, the event is one of the dozen or so core campus groups/events. https://www.norwich.edu/military-writers-symposium
The second component is the presenting of the Colby Award, which is a prestigious award for first-time authors in military, intelligence and related fields. Each year more than 100 books are submitted by first-time authors. The books are read (many by members of the Military Writers Symposium Associates -- which I currently chair) and then a panel of expert professional authors and historians. Many of the books, have gone on to become best-sellers and the careers of a number of authors have been launched by a Colby Award. The award, by the way, is named in honor William F. Colby, Director of Intelligence at the Central Intelligence Agency for many years. Currently, the Colby award committee is chaired by Alex Kershew, the noted histortian and author. Kershaw himself was a Colby nominee and became a protege of Carlo D'Este, NU '58 (with General Sullivan). Carlo D'Este chaired the selection committee until his passing in 2020. Here is some background on the Colby Award.
The third component is two fellowships. The first is the Schulz Fellow, who is an undergraduate cadet or civilian student. The Fellowship provides funds for a project that is overseen by a faculty member and then presented at the Symposium. The students have had some remarkable presentations and experiences putting their Fellowship projects together. Here is a link to this year's Schulz Fellow. The fellowship was largely funded by the class of 1960, in particularly Myrna Schulz whose husband, Dick, was a member of the class of 1960 -- the class that has helped guide and shepard thae symposium for more than 25 years and which formed the core of the Military Writers Associates. Here is a link to this year's recipient... a remarkably-accomplished second-year student: https://www.norwich.edu/military-writers-symposium/schultz-fellowship
The Second fellowship is a graduate fellowship and is unique in being the first of its kind offered for an Online graduate program. The Showalter Fellowship is named after Dr. Dennis Showalter, one of the architects of the NU College of Graduate and Continuing Studies. It has largely been funded by CGCS graduates with generous donations from members of the class of 1960 and the Norwich Fins and Feathers group. I made a personal financial commitment to this fellowship of $20,000 to help establish it. As with the undergraduate fellowship, the Showalter Fellowship provides funds for a research project by a graduate student in history or military history for travel or research expenses contributing to their Graduate Thesis or Capstone and travel to present it at the Symposium. The first Showalter Fellowship will be awarded this year, as the funding for the first level of this Fellowship was completed in May.
Together, these are the three core elements around the Norwich University Military Writers Symposium.
None of this could have happened over the past 25 years without the support, leadership, lobbying and volunteer effort put in by the NU Class of 1960. Over the years, they formed the backbone of support, including ensuring funds were available. With the advent of the Pritzker Matching Grant, the Symposium will be funded in perpetuity. But everyone agrees that having a group of advocates and cheerleaders on campus, like the class of 1960, is going to be vital to the Symposium's long-term success and visibility. It was, in fact, the Class of 1960 that formed the Friends of the Military Writers Symposium, which is now the MWS Associates, the group that I chair.
When I took over as Chair from Col. Ron Lotz (NU '60) one of my first goals, besides the Showalter Fellowship, was to work to find a "Class" that would step into the role of the Class of '60. Like the Class of '58, the class of '60 has left an indelible and positive mark on campus with the legacy of the MWS, the Colby and two Fellowships. But as their numbers wane, it is clear that a new class should pick up the torch and become the driving force behind the MWS.
As I started to look in earnest at the logical successors to the class of '60, the class of 1996 became the logical choice. The Symposium started in spring of 1996... as the class of '96 was getting ready to head out into the world and make its mark. On campus the Symposium has thrived and grown and matured into a core part of Norwich's history and legacy, as does any class over more than 25 years.
It is my sincerest goal to be able to get folks in the class of 1996 to take on active roles in the Military Writers Symposium Associates and with the Symposium itself in the coming years. And my goal that I can hand over the chairmanship of the Symposium to a member of that class in the near future. I always believed that the most important part of any job was working yourself out of it... and handing it off to a new generation.
So what is entailed in the role? There is not a tremendous amount of time or work involved. And financial commitments, as I mentioned, are not part of the role, though certainly are valued. The main elements of my role are to support Dr. Travis Morris and Megan Liptak (the day-to-day manager of the Symposium at Norwich) with everything from ideas for topics and speakers, to networking (reaching out to potential speakers, authors, etc.) We help review books for Alex Kershaw (volunteer 'judges' receive 2 - 3 books to read and rate, and these cards help the core committee to narrow down the finalists). Attend the symposium each fall on campus or online and provide feedback and input. And to keep 'banging the drum' with the office of the President, the Peace and War Center, the Trustees and other groups who help keep the Symposium front and center on campus. And, last, to assist Development with fundraising efforts as needed... occasionally courting donors or providing direction for fundraising. Though, again, as the Pritzker Challenge continues, that role may go away... though there is always room for additional Fellowships, scholarships or other avenues which positively impact the most important audience for the symposium -- Norwich's Cadets and civilian students of all disciplines.
Please let me know if this answers all your questions. And if anyone would like to come to campus for the 2023 seminar in October as my personal guest... I would be glad to host a representative of the class of 1996 at the event. I would also be glad to introduce someone to Ron Lotz, my predecessor as Chairman and one of the remaining members of the Class of 1960. Ron has had an amazing career both in the service and as an entrepreneur and businessman and is utterly passionate about the MWS and, of course, Norwich! I am not sure anyone can do a better job of explaining the importance of the class of '60 than Ron!! Last, if anyone wants to talk with Dr. Travis Morris, the on campus event Chair, I would be glad to set that up. Travis heads the Peace and War center and wears many hats. He, too, is utterly passionate about the value the event brings to campus and the importance of having a "Class" that believes in it as much as we all do. And if anyone wants to contact me, all my information is below and I would be happy to chat with anyone who shares my belief in this great program.
Thanks very much, Lisa, for you time and leadership in the class of 1996! I hope this inspires some folks to pick up the torch and, like the class of '60, carry on a great tradition at NU.
R. Pierce Reid (NU MAMH '14), Chair, Norwich University MWS Associates.
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