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School of Diplomacy hosts TSA Admin Peter Neffenger  

Peter NeffengerThe Seton Hall School of Diplomacy and International Relations hosted Administrator of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), Vice Admiral Peter Neffenger for a major address concerning the TSA's formidable task of ensuring the security of the nation's transportation systems.

The lecture, entitled: "Entrepreneurship in Government: Lessons from TSA's Transformation," took place in Jubilee Hall on Tuesday, November 29. The lecture was delayed, somewhat ironically, by a weather-delayed flight the Vice Admiral had intended to take. Instead, he ultimately chose a high speed train and was further sped to the University by U.S. Marshalls.

In his address to the University, Administrator Neffenger noted that under his leadership the TSA has prided itself on improving security effectiveness and workforce commitment. And that the agency is reimagining the transportation security ecosystem to meet the security challenges of today, anticipate the demands of tomorrow and reduce inconvenience to the traveler. Administrator Neffenger also discussed some of the other changes at TSA over the last 18 months and how he has driven the transformation of his agency.

From the very beginning, Neffenger said he sought out to innovate our nation's security system to serve the public in the safest and most efficient ways. He noted that one way to do this was to change the image and the culture of the TSA in the face of rapidly-evolving threats to transportation from terrorist groups and the individuals they sometimes inspire.

Neffenger noted that challenging the status quo and the standard method of operation is one of the most useful skills to have in any job setting. For him, he said this meant everything from establishing a training agency for his employees and establishing connections with airlines and airports to reconnecting to the agency's mission of serving the public and answering commonly asked questions about the agency's operations via social media platforms.

Student attendees of the event along with student media were invited to a special Q&A with the TSA director to get a chance to ask their own questions. Neffenger got the chance to speak directly to these students and answer questions on topics both specifically relevant to the work he has done with the TSA and on life and work as a public servant in general.

Neffenger recounted that now and even as a child he reflected on President John F. Kennedy's iconic speech in which the former president called upon all Americans to "ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country."

"The most important thing is to remember that it's not about you in this line of work," Neffenger advised students,, "Being a servant leader is about knowing your purpose and challenging yourself to view things from the perspective of what is best for the common good, instead of what seems best to you."

Students were both excited and inspired by the address and the prospect of additional premiere lectures.

"I'm only a freshman, so I'm excited to see who else will come to campus in the future and display where a lot of us hope to see ourselves in the future," freshman diplomacy major Matthew Minor told The Diplomatic Envoy, Seton Hall's diplomacy-centered student newspaper.

Senior philosophy major Augustine Glazov told The Envoy he felt inspired: "For me, the most inspiring thing was seeing other Seton Hall students in successful positions."

This Neffenger Address built upon an impressive series of recent events featuring high level government officials including Cabinet Member and U.S. Ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power; National Security Advisor, Ambassador Susan Rice; and Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Robert Menendez..

"We are thrilled to have had the opportunity to host Vice Admiral Neffenger at this pivotal time when disparate views of approaching homeland security have been international news on a near daily basis. The way that the Administrator has been able to transform the Transportation Security Administration is remarkable," said School of Diplomacy Dean Andrea Bartoli.

Vice Admiral Peter V. Neffenger leads a workforce of nearly 60,000 people. He was confirmed by the U.S. Senate as the Transportation Security Administration's sixth administrator in June 2015 and is responsible for counterterrorism and security operations at 440 airports throughout the United States, the Federal Air Marshall Service, and shared security for rail, pipeline and ports. Before joining TSA, Neffenger served as the 29th Vice Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard and as the Coast Guard's Deputy Commandant for Operations. He is a recognized expert in crisis management, port security, and oversight of the commercial maritime industry.

Most notably, he served as the Deputy National Incident Commander for the 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the largest and most complex in U.S. history. Neffenger was commissioned in 1982 through the Coast Guard Officer Candidate School. He holds an M.P.A. from Harvard University, an M.S. in National Security and Strategic Studies from the U.S. Naval War College, and a M.A. in Business Management from Central Michigan University. He earned his B.A. from Baldwin Wallace University. He is a member of the Pacific Council on International Policy and a former Fellow on the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Categories: Nation and World


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For more information, please contact:

  • Elizabeth Halpin
  • (973) 275-2560
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