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Johnson Lecture Series

A collaborative effort with the Office of the Dean, the H.B. Johnson, Jr. ‘26 Distinguished Lecture Series attracts speakers who address key themes from international and cultural perspectives, including contemporary foreign and domestic issues, leadership, moral-ethical questions, and civic responsibilities. 

Speaker Bio

General Robert B. Neller headshotGeneral (Ret.) Robert B. Neller, Former Commandant of the Marine Corps, was the 37th Commandant of the United States Marine Corps. He served as the Commander of Marine Forces Command from July 2014 to September 2015 and Commander of Marine Forces Central Command from September 2012 to June 2014.

A native of East Lansing, Michigan, General Neller graduated from the University of Virginia and was commissioned in 1975. He has served as an infantry officer at all levels, including command of Marine Security Force Company Panama during Operations JUST CAUSE and PROMOTE LIBERTY; 3d Light Armored Infantry Battalion during Operation RESTORE HOPE; 6th Marine Regiment; and 3d Marine Division.

General Neller also served as Deputy Commanding General, I Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward) during Operation IRAQI FREEDOM (05-07); Assistant Division Commander for 1st and 2d Marine Divisions; and President of Marine Corps University.

His Joint assignments include service in the Policy Division of Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) in Casteau, Belgium, and as the Director of Operations (J-3) of the Joint Staff in Washington, D.C.

General Neller is a graduate of the Armor Officer Advanced Course, Marine Corps Command and Staff College, NATO Defense College, and the Armed Forces Staff College. He holds a master’s degree in Human Resource Management from Pepperdine University.

Previous Speakers

  • Staff Sergeant (Ret.) David Bellavia, the first and only living Iraq veteran to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor. Read about his visit from VMI News.
  • General (Ret.) Joseph L. Votel during 2019 "Disruption: Challenging Leadership at Every Turn" - watch his talk on 'The Campaign to Defeat ISIS: A Case Study on Leading in Disruptive Environments'
  • William "Bill" Bennett, Keynote, 2018 Annual Leadership and Ethics Conference "GRIT and the American Character"
  • Robert Kaplan, Convocation 2016 speaker "Our Current Geopolitical Climate" - watch his speech on Our Current Geopolitical Climate
  • Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster "Developing the Next Marshall: Trends in Future Strategic Leadership to 2040" - watch his remarks on our YouTube Channel
  • Daniel Rodriquez "Goal Setting: Achieving Your Goals"
  • Kirsten Powers, Convocation 2015 speaker, "Free Speech on College Campuses" - watch her speech on Free Speech on College Campuses
  • Ray Kelly "A Conversation with Ray Kelly on his Memoir: Vigilance: My Life Serving America and Protecting its Empire City"
  • Retired Four-Star General Keith Alexander "Ethical Dilemmas Facing Leaders in American National Security" - watch his presentation on Public Privacy and National Security
  • Retired Lieutenant Colonel Dave Grossman "The Bulletproof Mind: Psychological Preparations for Combat."
  • Edward Ayers, Ph.D. "The Shape of the Civil War"
  • Nina Totenberg "The Supreme Court and Its Impact on You."
  • Mr. Edward Viesturs "No Shortcuts to the Top."
  • Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam

VMI: Forging 21st Century Leaders