Commencement Speaker

Adm. Mike Mullen
Adm. Mike Mullen
U.S. Navy (Ret.)

Adm. Mike Mullen

Admiral Mike Mullen served as the 17th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (2007-2011). He was the principal military advisor to President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama, as well as two secretaries of defense.

He led the military during a critical period of transition, overseeing the end of the combat mission in Iraq, and the development of a new military strategy for Afghanistan. He advocated for the rapid development and fielding of innovative technologies, championed emerging and enduring international partnerships, and advanced new methods for combating terrorism.

As Joint Chiefs Chairman, he spearheaded the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell. In addition, he successfully led the matrix, consensus-based, complex organizational model of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Mullen has deep experience in leading change in complex organizations, executive development and succession planning, diversity implementation, crisis management, strategic planning, budget policy, congressional relations, risk management, technical innovation, and cybersecurity. He is widely recognized as an “honest broker” in his key leadership roles as the trusted advisor to both President Bush and President Obama. He maintains strong relationships with leaders around the globe.

He and his wife, Deborah, remain staunch advocates for veterans and their families on a broad range issues including drawing public attention and institutional focus to the challenges of post-traumatic stress, combat-related brain injury, military suicide, care of the wounded, and veteran homelessness.

A native of Los Angeles, Mullen graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1968. He commanded at every level in the Navy including three ships, an aircraft carrier battle group, and a fleet. His final four-star command was in Europe for NATO. His fleet experience culminated in his assignment as the Navy's highest ranking officer, the 28th Chief of Naval Operations (2005-2007).

Mullen earned a Master’s of Science in Operations Research from the Naval Postgraduate School and completed the Advanced Management Program at the Harvard Business School.