Pfeiffer convocation Friday
Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 8, 2011
MISENHEIMER — On Friday, Pfeiffer University will celebrate its annual Opening Academic Convocation with keynote speaker Col. Arthur J. Athens, director of the Vice Admiral James B. Stockdale Center for Ethical Leadership at the U.S. Naval Academy. The ceremony will begin at 10 a.m. in the Merner Center for Health and Physical Education on Pfeiffer’s Misenheimer campus.
“It’s fitting for new students to hear from a leading voice such as Colonel Athens’ as they pledge to maintain high standards of integrity in their higher education pursuits,” said Michael C. Miller, president of Pfeiffer University. “We’re honored to welcome a servant leader of his caliber, as his personal and professional accomplishments reflect the high bar that Pfeiffer sets for collegiate and lifelong performance.”
Athens retired from the U.S. Marine Corps in July 2008 with more than 30 years of combined active duty and reserve service. As a Marine officer, he commanded units in the 3rd and 4th Marine Aircraft Wings, served with the U.S. Space Command and instructed at Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron 1, the Marine Corps’ equivalent of the Navy’s Top Gun School.
Additionally, he was a White House Fellow under President Ronald Reagan; special assistant to the NASA Administrator following the Space Shuttle Challenger accident; executive director of OCF, a worldwide nonprofit organization that helps military personnel integrate their faith and profession; commandant of the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, and the U.S. Naval Academy’s first Distinguished Military Professor of Leadership.
Aside from his professional responsibilities, Athens has been a volunteer lacrosse coach at the high school and collegiate levels and has been recognized by the Washington Post as its High School Coach of the Year. His daughter, Katherine, a Pfeiffer sophomore, is a member of the women’s lacrosse team.
Athens holds a bachelor’s degree in operations research from the U.S. Naval Academy, where he lettered in lacrosse and served as Brigade Commander, the Academy’s senior ranking midshipman. He also earned master’s degrees from the Naval Postgraduate School and the Army’s School of Advanced Military Studies. He and his wife, Mistina, have 10 children.