General Robert B. Neller | 2019 Commencement Address

General Neller serves as the 37th Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps. He previously was commander of Marine Forces Command and Marine Forces Central Command; deputy commanding general of I Marine Expeditionary Force during Operation Iraqi Freedom; assistant division commander for 1st and 2nd Marine Divisions; and president of Marine Corps University. He also served in the Policy Division of Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe in Casteau, Belgium, and as director of operations of the joint staff in Washington, D.C.

General Neller began his career in 1975 when he was commissioned after graduating from the University of Virginia. He served as an infantry officer in command of Marine Security Force Panama during Operations Just Cause and Promote Liberty, 3rd Light Armored Infantry Battalion during Operation Restore Hope, 6th Marine Regiment, and 3rd Marine Division. He is a graduate of the Armor Officer Advanced Course, Marine Corps Command and Staff College, NATO Defense College, and the Armed Forces Staff College and also holds a master’s degree in human resource management from Pepperdine University.

A native of East Lansing, Michigan, General Neller’s son, Brett, graduated from Hillsdale College in 2006.

Hillsdale College is an independent institution of higher learning founded in 1844 by men and women “grateful to God for the inestimable blessings” resulting from civil and religious liberty and “believing that the diffusion of learning is essential to the perpetuity of these blessings.” It pursues the stated object of the founders: “to furnish all persons who wish, irrespective of nation, color, or sex, a literary, scientific, [and] theological education” outstanding among American colleges “and to combine with this such moral and social instruction as will best develop the minds and improve the hearts of its pupils.” As a nonsectarian Christian institution, Hillsdale College maintains “by precept and example” the immemorial teachings and practices of the Christian faith.

The College also considers itself a trustee of our Western philosophical and theological inheritance tracing to Athens and Jerusalem, a heritage finding its clearest expression in the American experiment of self-government under law.

By training the young in the liberal arts, Hillsdale College prepares students to become leaders worthy of that legacy. By encouraging the scholarship of its faculty, it contributes to the preservation of that legacy for future generations. By publicly defending that legacy, it enlists the aid of other friends of free civilization and thus secures the conditions of its own survival and independence.

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