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Gen. George Casey receives DU’s highest alumni honor

Gen. George Casey Jr. received the Evans Award—the University’s highest alumni honor—at this year’s Founders Day ceremony. Photo: Associated Press/Lauren Victoria Burke

DU has graduated plenty of leaders in its time, but it’s likely few have as solemn a responsibility as Gen. George Casey Jr. (MA ’80), who was sworn in as the 36th chief of staff of the United States Army on April 10, 2007. He previously served as commander of the Multi-National Force in Iraq, overseeing a coalition of more than 30 countries.

Casey, a previous recipient of the Distinguished Alumni Award from the Josef Korbel School of International Studies, received the Evans Award—the University’s highest alumni honor—at this year’s Founders Day ceremony. Named for University founder John Evans, the award recognizes alumni who have demonstrated professional achievement, humanitarian service to the community and continuing interest in the University.

It was 32 years ago that Casey enrolled in DU’s international studies program while stationed in Colorado Springs, Colo. He thanks three of his professors at the Korbel School—Arthur Gilbert, Karen Feste and Jonathan Adelman—for their work and what they taught him.

“How fortunate I was to have studied here,” Casey says. “I had no idea at the time that I would do some of the things I’ve done.”

Though he came from a military family, Casey didn’t initially plan on having a career in the armed forces. He planned to do his required two years of military service, then go to law school.

Instead, he told Georgetown University reporter Geneva Collins, “I got to my first unit and I fell in love with it. There’s that bond that you build with your soldiers, when you realize they depend on you for their lives. And it was that commitment back to them to never let them down that has driven me my whole career—never to let my subordinates down.”

As part of the Korbel School’s D.C. Career Connections Program, several Korbel students recently met with Casey at the Pentagon to learn more about professional opportunities and operations at the Department of Defense.

“Having lunch with Gen. Casey was one of the highlights of the D.C. Career Connections trip,” says Heather Beebe, who is working on a master’s degree in international security with a certificate in homeland security. “We expected him to walk in while we were having lunch, say ‘hello,’ and then depart to deal with more important matters. Instead, he sat with us during the entire meal and discussed issues that we found interesting and wanted to learn more about, such as the situation in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

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