By Sam Jones
Panama, Kuwait, Iraq and Winfield. Major General Mike Lehnert’s next mission will be at Southwestern College next week.
Lehnert’s visit will include an intense schedule of speeches at various classes and events throughout the week, and has been organized in conjunction with the Woodrow Wilson Visiting Fellows program.
Lehnert was commissioned in 1973 as a combat engineer and participated in combat operations in Panama, Kuwait, and Iraq. In 2003 he led 5,000 Marines and sailors during the initial invasion of Iraq. During his 37 years of active duty, he had 13 separate commands from platoon commander to joint task force commander. He was the chief of staff joint task force, Panama, charged with overseeing the turnover of the Panama Canal, joint task group commander in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba during the Cuban migrant crisis, and commander of joint task force 160 to build and run detention facilities for Al Qaida and Taliban terrorists.
He commanded the marine logistics group during Operation Iraqi Freedom. His last assignment on active duty was regional commander for the seven Marine bases west of the Mississippi.
Andy Sheppard, provost, has been the point of contact between the Woodrow Wilson Visiting Fellows and Southwestern College.
“The Woodrow Wilson Visiting Fellows program was originally established so that colleges in rural areas that don’t normally have ready access to people who have tremendous expertise and who are very distinguished in their careers, can access those people. The Woodrow Wilson Foundation pays for these scholars to come out and spend a week in residence, to spend time with our students and staff and faculty, to share and give us the benefit of their expertise,” said Sheppard
Lehnert, who currently resides in Michigan, has been a part of the program for about two years. This follows 37 years in the military. He joined the program after he was recommended by a former San Diego State University president and friend.
When asked about what he would speak on, Lehnert said, “I will speak on a variety of topics to include security and intelligence, environment, leadership, terrorism, ethics and ethical decision making and intercultural communications. I am going to be there for nearly 5 days and I go in to support a large number of classes, so it’s a wide variety of topics, because for each of the teachers at the college, it’s essentially an opportunity to invite me into their classroom. And at that point, we work with the various instructors to establish what would be appropriate for their class and its learning objectives.
Sheppard said, “He really made news because he very much disagreed with the defense secretary of the United States about according proper rights and customs to detainees. Humane treatment of detainees – that kind of stuff. That takes a tremendous amount of courage, and since our academic theme this year is courage, I cannot think of anybody better than, one, a US marine, and two, a US marine that’s willing to take on his boss at the highest levels of Washington DC. That’s a pretty remarkable guy.”
The public is invited to attend a public lecture on Oct. 16 at 7 p.m. in Mossman Hall room 101. There is no admission charge. The title of the lecture is “Coalition Building and Environmental Policy.”
Lehnert will also lecture on terrorism on Oct. 15 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Hyatt Regency in Wichita. Following the lecture there will be a question and answer session. The lecture is free and open to the public but reservations are encouraged as seating will be limited. To make reservations, go to https://bit.ly/rsvpMajorGeneral or call (316) 684-5335 ext. 120.
Sam Jones is a freshman majoring in communications. You may email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.