SpyCast 2.22.22
Ep 527 | 2.22.22

“The National Intelligence University” – with its President Scott Cameron


Andrew Hammond: Hi, and welcome to "SpyCast." I'm your host, Dr. Andrew Hammond, historian curator here at the International Spy Museum in Washington, D.C. "SpyCast's" sole purpose is to educate our listeners about the past, present and future of intelligence and espionage. Every week, through engaging conversations, we explore some aspect of a vast ecosystem that looms beneath the surface of everyday life. We talk to spies, operators, mole hunters, defectors, analysts and authors to explore the stories and secrets, tradecraft and technology of this secret world. We are "SpyCast." Now sit back, relax and enjoy the show.

Andrew Hammond: So how did a plant biologist with a grandmother from Glasgow end up as president of the National Intelligence University? I mean, I feel that Glasgow throws out these kinds of historical curveballs all the time. How did Bobby Thomson go from the streets of Glasgow to hitting the 1951 shot heard around the world for the New York Giants? How did Andrew Hammond, for that matter, end up as historian and curator of the International Spy Museum? Did they get into the only institution of higher education in the United States that allows its students to study and complete research in the Top Secret/Sensitive Compartmentalized Information arena? 

Andrew Hammond: I sat down with Dr. Scott Cameron for this week's episode. Along the way, we discuss the NIU - what it is, what it does and, perhaps more importantly, what it does differently. We also discuss its unique student body, its position within the U.S. intelligence ecosystem and the success of its alumni, which include the current president of the Brookings Institute and the current director of the NSA, Paul Nakasone. 

Andrew Hammond: I was thinking that we could start off with something a little bit different, a bit irreverent. Maybe we could discuss the, you know, so how did a plant biologist with a grandmother from Glasgow end up being the president of the... 

Scott Cameron: (Laughter). 

Andrew Hammond: ...National Intelligence University (laughter)? 

Scott Cameron: So I was actually recruited at a soccer match in - high school soccer match in Montgomery County, Md. 

Andrew Hammond: Really? 

Scott Cameron: Yeah, on a question about bananas. 

Andrew Hammond: (Laughter) So let's start there, then. 

Scott Cameron: So I'm a post-9/11 recruit. 

Andrew Hammond: Recruit. 

Scott Cameron: Yeah. 

Andrew Hammond: And you were at a high school soccer game in Montgomery County? 

Scott Cameron: Sitting next to another father for six weeks, asking me questions about science. And really, at the end of six weeks, I just said, OK, I'll answer that question if you tell me who you are, what agency you're from and what are you recruiting me for. And, yeah, I answered the question. And at the end of the question, I threw a national security spin on the answer, and he goes, do you want a job? 

Andrew Hammond: Really? Wow. 

Scott Cameron: Yeah. And I said no (laughter). 

Andrew Hammond: That's fascinating. But - you said no, but then you relented? 

Scott Cameron: Well, yeah, it was - then it was a issue of having - I wanted to keep in touch 'cause I was actually a scientist at USDA, right? So basically what happened - I had to do a senior executive sabbatical at one point, so they kept calling. They called a couple times. 

Andrew Hammond: The NIU - what's it about? Like, I've heard it called a school for spies, but my guess is that it's a little bit more complicated than that, and that's not probably the best description, either, so... 


Andrew Hammond: ...Correct the record (laughter). 

Scott Cameron: Well, thanks. So for us, we provide education across the IC, our military partners, the broader U.S. government, the national security enterprise very broadly described, right? It's a place where you address strategic challenges in an environment where, you know, our best and brightest can collaborate. An experience that advances - integrates the workforce, which is really important in what we do. And all of that leads to teaching research and engagement that enhances the enterprise, supports the intelligence community and develops our future leaders. 

Scott Cameron: But it's a little bit different because our community is closed off. We do work in secret. So how do you bank knowledge in that kind of a community? All the - all communities that are healthy bank knowledge and learn from it. So our job is not just to be a classroom, but to be that defender of knowledge, you know, building in the community, make sure that we're learning from ourselves, that we understand ourselves and advance our mission by better ideas, and then empowering the next generation to take those and equip them with the confidence to go out there and do something with it. 

Andrew Hammond: And I'm just thinking about some of the ways that the NIU's different from a traditional university. So obviously, you're doing something that's unique to government work in many respects. So it's not something that you could just say, OK, Boston University or Georgetown, put these classes on for us. So that's one focus. 

Andrew Hammond: But I guess the other thing that makes you unique is you're the only institution in the country where people can research and study Top Secret/Sensitive Compartmentalized Information. (Laughter) Got there in the end. 

Scott Cameron: Yeah. Yeah, and there are other institutions that have elements that they work at TS/SCI. We're the entire institution. We're buying guards, guns and gates, totally. So we're SCIFed (ph) out that way to be that institution, that free exchange of ideas, no matter where you come from across the enterprise, right? 

Scott Cameron: But our student experience - right? - so getting back kind of the role of a student, right? So imagine you're in your early 30s, and you come to NIU. You've been out there on the line, leading a mission. You're an analyst. You're a collector. You're an operator. Whatever role you play, wherever you come from, you've been watching the mission. You've been watching the mission - particularly over the last 20 years, so much change, right? You've gone through an era of counterterrorism. We're kind of reorienting ourselves now, focusing on strategic deterrence. 

Scott Cameron: And you look at that and you know what the challenges are 'cause you face them every day. And you're at that point where you're leading people, and you're contributing to the mission every day, but you don't have a lot of strategic bandwidth, time or resources to actually take what's wrong, take what needs fixing or a better idea, you know, transformational thinking - there's not a lot of time for that. 

Scott Cameron: So those 10- and 50-meter targets that you're dealing with every day - so you come to a place like NIU, and you walk into a classroom, and the classrooms are full of people from all over the enterprise. They do all those missions. And also, you're finding out that they have many of the same challenges, many of the same ideas, what technology could do if we just were able to harness it quickly, right? What are the laws, the policies that are - that make the mission harder that we need to have conversations about? All of those things, kind of explore the breadth of the mission and be able to relate to the challenges that everyone has and then understand, like, wow, if we talk about that - so these folks understand what that looks like. So we're trying to elicit from them. 

Scott Cameron: So we tell them - I tell them at convocation, your job is not to come to a classroom and listen to us. Your job is to put your ideas on the table, what you know on the table. Put the challenge on the table. Let us know what that looks like. Integrate that with the work of other agencies who have the same challenges, and then start adjudicating a better truth, better idea of that. 

Scott Cameron: And from that comes people who - like, wow, I have a deep Rolodex because my educational experience here was to give me this very deep understanding of the entire enterprise and how it functions, who does what, meet those people, get to integrate with them and then walk out with a better understanding of how I can make it better, what I aspire to be or my highest and best use for national security. And that's what we aspire for all of our students. 

Scott Cameron: But when you walk through the student area downstairs where they all congregate and where they're all working - sometimes I walk through a snack - nights, weekends, days - just to talk to them and find out what their thesis - what they're doing, you know? But sometimes I just listen to them, and I hear them connecting. I'm hearing them talk about the future. 

Scott Cameron: That's why I come to work every day, to hear that. It's amazing. It really is. It's a very special experience. And that's - you're not going to find quite that model in other places because they're talking about things that the public doesn't talk about. But they have hope because they know from talking to each other and what they're learning, they can do something with that. It's a great, great feeling to see that every day. 

Andrew Hammond: And they literally come from across all of the different intelligence institutions. They come from CIA, NSA... 

Scott Cameron: Yep, yep. 

Andrew Hammond: ...DIA. And there's also some Five Eyes people that come. Is that right? 

Scott Cameron: No. 

Andrew Hammond: No, OK. 

Scott Cameron: So we have partner - we have great partnerships with our Five Eyes counterparts. And we have kind of interactive joint activities that we do. So my goal with them is to find out - I've asked them and - like, how do we get - how do we figure out who our thought leaders are, your thought leaders are? How do we do something jointly better by having our smart people all talk together and having different perspectives? 

Scott Cameron: Regional perspectives around the world - threats in our part of the world and another part of the world look very different through the eyes of the people who are oriented around them, right? So we learn a lot from those partners. That's what we're trying to do. We're trying to build a better intellectual capital, better base of information that then that 360 academic view of life kind of flows into all of our missions. That's the goal with them. 

Scott Cameron: From across our own community, those 18-plus partners - right? - so the 18 are there, the services, of course. But we also - that broader enterprise. Think about what happened after 9/11, right? So now you've got USDA. I was at USDA. There was an intelligence mission there - right? - because the infrastructure that they're protecting and dealing with. HHS - I mean, you've seen over the last couple of years understanding health intelligence and how we actually build our programs to protect people and infrastructure are very important. So this broadening of our mission and understanding that the more we can partner with people who have a national security stake is actually great. 

Scott Cameron: We've had people from FDIC - I mean, people who have skin in the game and bring them in. And this is what's great about it 'cause it's a long list of people who actually - if you're a government employee and have a TS/SCI, you're eligible to come to NIU, which means, like, well, we've never had somebody from there before, but look at the intellectual capital we can pull out of them - right? - and their mission, their beachhead. We encourage every mission manager, every one of a statutory authority, a functional mission to build a beachhead at NIU. So their intellectual capital flows into this. 

Andrew Hammond: I've had a previous guest on who worked in law enforcement researching New Jersey street gangs and organized crime and so forth. But it's a small intelligence shot - but that type of person could come to NIU? 

Scott Cameron: So we have - you know, it's a distributed model, a national security workforce. So what we'll see is, for example, that person might wind up - they may be a reservist. So we have a weekend executive program that a lot of the reserve units around the country will send their people to. If those people are kind of being detailed into part of the enterprise that has access to NIU, that can happen. We've seen some interesting things, right? So some of our part-time, like, reservists play those roles out in the public, and then they wind up, through their, you know, reserve role, coming in. And that's great because we get those perspectives. I'm from New Jersey. So the person you describe, we had somebody, I think, from DEA a couple of years ago. We see that, and that's good because organizational diversity is incredibly important to us. Diversity of all forms, of course, all voices - but having regional perspectives and flavors is also a really healthy thing for us. 

Andrew Hammond: And just out of interest, where in New Jersey are you from? 

Scott Cameron: So I am from Northwest New Jersey, from Denville, N.J. It's on the - was, at the time, kind of the edge of rural and suburban, where they meet. So grew up in a place - we had acres. We had barns. We had a pond. I grew up kind of as a STEM kid out in the woods and just fell in love with nature, which, of course, is - explains why I'm here. 


Andrew Hammond: Yeah. And I want to come back to that. But let's try to get our arms around NIU a little bit more. So the list that I could find online and from other information was you offer one bachelor's degree, two master's degrees, graduate certificates. Yeah, I'm just trying to get a broad overview of it. Help us get our arms around it. What do you offer? How many people come? What type of people come, apart from the fact that they come from all of these different institutions? Give us a sense of that. 

Scott Cameron: So, thanks. In a nutshell, any given time, we're under a thousand students. We're not very large - 120-plus faculty, some full-time, and we have adjuncts. We - we're pulling from the intellectual capital across the enterprise, as well, to come teach. The majority of our students are multi or they're coming part-time. The full-time students - probably in that 200, 300 range. And then the balance of that under thousand number is - are part-time. 

Scott Cameron: We have, as you said, a bachelor's program, which is basically finish out your fourth year with us if you bring the credits to the table. And, you know, when I first got there, I asked, it's a - like, so is that really a pool of people? And it turns out - you think about people who have been in the military who never get a chance to finish, right? And all of a sudden, you look at this program. It's an amazing program. They finish out their fourth year, and they do it in cohort style. They do it with a capstone project, which really functions at the level of graduate study. It's really intense, and sometimes those projects are sponsored by stakeholders. And these folks are put through their paces, and they make presentations to the stakeholders and myself and the leadership team. And it is a transformational thing. 

Scott Cameron: That one program probably changes more careers per capita, in many ways, because thinking about it, they finally - they may be the first person in their family to ever get that degree. And all of a sudden, it qualifies for them for a job that they never really thought that they were - so to - for them to find a way to finish out in the national security enterprise and make that connection back - and great stories of people whose careers probably weren't going the direction they had hoped, and they did this program. And the exposure, that Rolodex, the - great stories, wonderful stories. 

Scott Cameron: The graduate programs - we have a master's degree in strategic intelligence and then one in science and technology intelligence. Those two degrees, as well as technical topics that, you know - we have a short format, you know, certificate program that is really flexible. So what that allows us to do is serve people at the undergraduate level, at the graduate level, with two very relevant degrees that kind of depth on the enterprise, and then kind of the underpinnings of how S&T actually drive everything else in our business. And then also they're able to come in on topical areas and get deeper. So there's the foundational enterprise, the deep learning thing, and then you've got these other topics where people can get smarter on them to come back into the enterprise and continue to evolve it. 

Andrew Hammond: And some of those shorter courses are, like, Afghanistan-Pakistan warning intelligence, different sorts of things? 

Scott Cameron: Yes. In fact, I have the list in front of me. We've done those on Africa, China, CI - counterintelligence - Eurasia, leadership and management, strategic warning, homeland, terrorism, broader Middle East, collection analysis, strategic intelligence and special operations - which I have a real soft spot for - WMD, cyber intelligence... 

Andrew Hammond: No pun intended. 

Scott Cameron: ...Data science - yeah. 

Andrew Hammond: I thought you said a soft spot. 

Scott Cameron: I did (laughter). 

Andrew Hammond: Oh, you did? 

Scott Cameron: A soft spot, yeah. 

Andrew Hammond: Pun was intended, then (laughter). 

Scott Cameron: Yeah, that's a shoutout to our academic center down in Tampa, if you're listening. And then emerging technologies and geostrategic resources, which I don't know why that would - right? 


Scott Cameron: Looking at what's going on worldwide now, and you think about rare-earth element - all of it, right? And then, you know, influence and information intelligence - those types of topics. But as we get into where we are right now in our (unintelligible) governing structure and working with our stakeholders, the ability to kind of coalesce their ideas and their - kind of where their needs are and be able to hear that and then be flexible enough to do that. And then at the same time, if we need to build out broader, deeper programs that require accreditation review and things like that, we can do that and work with our accreditors over time. So we have kind of solutions to kind of move with our stakeholders where they're at right now. 

Andrew Hammond: Wow. There's really a lot going on there. For the various degrees, like, how does one get to attend the National Intelligence University? So there's certain stipulations, right? You have to be a U.S. citizen. You have to have TS/SCI clearance. And you have to be nominated by someone. Is that correct? Like, how does the selection process take place? 

Scott Cameron: So we have - like, right now, actually, there's a call going out in the intelligence community for senior schools. So we were one of them. So people who want to attend our full-time program - the military - we are still a JPME - joint professional military education tier-one program. So we have a DOD-accredited program and a civilian-accredited program, right? And they work in harmony. And our JPME I military students actually get a master's degree, so it's a really good deal for them. What happens is the military sends their people through their normal route to our programs. And they apply. They come - many of them PCS - in the full-time program. They're coming from different places. And then around the Beltway here, in particular, folks will apply for that program. Or again, 70%, 75% of our students are not full time. And they come in the evenings and the days and the weekends as well. 

Andrew Hammond: Let's go through a couple of the big pluses, if there's anyone out there that wants to attend. There's no tuition, right? 

Scott Cameron: No tuition, right. 

Andrew Hammond: And the faculty to student ratio is extremely awesome, right? 

Scott Cameron: It is. It is really awesome. You know, if - like, I was a graduate educator back at a big land-grant university. And on the days that I had, you know, five, six graduate students, that was a good day (laughter). You really want to spend the time with them. So that ratio is pretty low. Classroom's pretty low. 

Scott Cameron: And - but the idea that you have the ability to have a team built around you - right? - so let's say you come in and and you want to work on this topic that you discussed with your stakeholder parent at home, right? And the question - like, how do we actually build the capacity around you to do something like that? So we've had students who threw something on the table, and all of a sudden a group of people talk about their Rolodexes and how to build. And next thing you know, there's this team of people working on a hard problem with a student. And I just think that's the beauty of it, is being able to have an experience where you come in. There's no preconceived notion of what you're going to do - but increasingly getting our stakeholders to be the ones to help drive the hopes and dreams of their - you know, of the people they're sending. 

Andrew Hammond: And it's around five to one, the faculty student ratio, or something? 

Scott Cameron: So, you know, I think in terms of graduate advising, you know, it's in... 

Andrew Hammond: Ballpark. 

Scott Cameron: ...That range. 

Andrew Hammond: And I saw that in the past - I think it's the past 10 years - you've opened up a number of different campuses. So we can talk about some of the locations. I've been over to visit. But I haven't been to the NIU, the intelligence community campus in Bethesda, but I've been to the NCSC a few times. So we can talk about the Bethesda campus. 

Scott Cameron: (Laughter). 

Andrew Hammond: And I'm waiting for the invitation (laughter). 

Scott Cameron: Wow. So you've been right down the hall from me. You've seen the Wall of Spies at NCSC, right? 

Andrew Hammond: I didn't think I could get in. 

Scott Cameron: So OK... 

Andrew Hammond: Well, yeah, let's talk about Bethesda and then also... 

Scott Cameron: OK. 

Andrew Hammond: ...Huntingdon and Tampa and other places. 

Scott Cameron: And yes. So I'm committing to the world, but we'll get you over, Andrew, and we look forward to that visit. Yeah. 

Scott Cameron: So Bethesda is a great story because back in my past, I built - I was one of a team of people who designed and built a university campus out in the Pacific Northwest on 350 acres where there was nothing. So that idea of having a purpose-built facility and going for that philosophical process of like, how does form and function meet for higher education? So this built - this campus we're in is purpose-built. And it's higher-education driven. It's amazing. So I had that experience of doing that somewhere else, then walking in and looking around and saying, wow, they did that, you know? And in government for building buildings, I was very proud of what they accomplished for it. And as you'll see, it's a beautiful facility that is wired and knows what it's doing. And its capabilities can reach out are pretty flexible. So we're proud of the facility we have. 

Scott Cameron: The other places that we work with - you know, we talk about Tampa, right? And so there's a CENTCOM, SOCOM focus down there. They're great partners. We also work with JSOW. We have the opportunity to go to different places to meet the needs of different stakeholders. But we're also drawing from the knowledge of that population. So strategically, what we like to do is to be able to look at a mission that's really important and be able to pull those thought leaders, pull that intellectual capital out of that location as well. And increasingly now as you see higher education struggling with bricks and mortar - to be fair, particularly, you know, as we're learning, these lessons are COVID, right? - the more that technology plays a role in connecting us both in delivery, but it's also about research, teaching and engagement. So how do we build a presence? So then we have delivery sites in many other places. I won't read the whole list. But the ability to to reach out and touch people - groups of people and then integrate them into that conversation is an ongoing technological journey for us. 

Andrew Hammond: I think one of the interesting things that I found about the NIU - tell us a little bit more about its evolution. So in 1962 - you mentioned its founding. When in 1962 was - you know, I couldn't find much online. 

Scott Cameron: (Laughter). 

Andrew Hammond: But I'm assuming it wasn't because, you know, the Cuban Missile Crisis happened... 

Scott Cameron: (Laughter). 

Andrew Hammond: And then they thought, let's try to make sure we don't - you know, we can do what we can to not help the world be destroyed. Let's set this up. 

Scott Cameron: That would be a great story. 


Scott Cameron: We'll do a movie script on that. 

Andrew Hammond: (Laughter). 

Scott Cameron: Yeah. So - but, no, actually, not far off, really. So you think about Eisenhower, his experience - right? - his own experience with war and his role. And looking out at that and then thinking about military integration, thinking about how information distribution - like, those lessons, he was pretty focused on having conversations with people about. And I think that's an interesting part of his legacy in terms of moving forward, because moving into the Kennedy administration, Kennedy and McNamara picked that up, right? So in '62, you have DIA created for the reasons that, you know, Eisenhower - that conversation. But they also looked out across the school houses. And they said, hey, why don't we consolidate these school houses in the military? And they did that. So by doing that, they created a defense intelligence college, right? So it's an advanced training school house that consolidates all of those equities. 

Scott Cameron: So over time, over the years, that institution grows. There's programmatic growth. There's name changes. You kind of get into the modern era. And we have graduates out there who - the Joint Military Intelligence College, JMITC, or the National Defense Intelligence College, NDIC, which were the last two iterations before NIU. So you get to, like, 2006. And NDIC has been instructed to work towards university status, right? So it's a college - move towards a university. Think about research. Think about the elements and the broadening that you need for that. They were in the process of broadening and having those elements created. 

Scott Cameron: Well, over in ODNI, like, in '09, the DNI and PDDNI were having quiet conversations about the same things that, I think, drove the 1962 and Eisenhower conversations about, like, what's the role of education in actually pulling together, like, our enterprise? They had those conversations. I was being - I was at NCTC. I was being recruited for college and university presidencies a the time. That was always the plan - told Nancy we would, you know, kind of finish out the career leading an institution. And at that point, I'm in a conversation with them. And so what do you do? And there's two ways to go, right? You can either take - do what DIA - you know, what they did and pull together all the intelligence school houses in the ICE, and then kind of integrate and augment their programs and then, you know, add critical thinking and other layers. And then you move towards an accredited kind of delivery in higher education. 

Scott Cameron: Or you can just take another platform and partner to be able to build something out, you know, something that's already standing. And that's what they did. So that was a conversation between DNI Jim Clapper and SecDef. It was like - so instead of kind of building out two institutions, can we consolidate and just build one for the nation, the nation's intelligence university? And that's what they chose to do. So that was the - the 2010-into-2011 conversation about, let's name it NIU. And then it goes from a college to a university. And there are elements of transformation that we're still, over 10 years, working through. 

Andrew Hammond: And one of the things that I try to do as the host of "SpyCast" is I try not to be too far up the cliff that the people that are not involved in the IC... 

Scott Cameron: (Laughter). 

Andrew Hammond: ...You know, can't reach me. But then, I also don't want to appear to be naive to the people that are, you know, involved in the enterprise. So there's always a kind of, like, balancing act. So I asked some people for this interview, like, what are the types of things that you would like to know about the National Intelligence University? And one of the first things someone said to me is the National Defense University. So let's just differentiate... 

Scott Cameron: Right. 

Andrew Hammond: ...Both of them. Like, what are they doing? And what are they doing differently? 

Scott Cameron: So NDU is... 

Andrew Hammond: Because they're not the same thing, right? Sorry. 

Scott Cameron: No, they're not. And - no. And NDU is a great institution. They're a flagship on - in defense education. So if you look at what they do for the military, it's an amazing - it's a very diverse set of programs that consolidate a lot of the intellectual development that they need. But it's done very much in the Goldwater-Nichols pathway, right? And, you know, hats off for that in terms of the military understanding those steps, you know, that you have to take in education and training to create the person you're looking for, right? So they're a part of that process. Our JPME program, so we sit with the presidents of the DOD schools as well, right? So our program sits - so we have a voice in that. So military education to us is exceedingly important. So - and in fact, the law that moved us from DOD into Title 50 actually mentions students. But it mentions military students, as we need to maintain our service to DOD that way. 

Scott Cameron: So for them, you know, the type of education that people in the military need - there's a lot of things that are established in the military. And in our side of - you know, in title 50, we're still learning a lot about how to do what we do. And I think for us, there's an era of trying to understand what a strategic intelligence officer is, trying to define what those - so you have people pretty well defined and what their career goals are. And we have lots of career paths within the IC. But looking at our enterprise and constantly trying to figure out how to reimagine it - so it's a different institution, I think, from that - if that makes sense. Those are - they're two differentiators in the mission. But there's huge, huge areas where we are achieving, obviously, the same educational goals. Mentioned WMD before. They have a wonderful, you know, WMD Center there, and we're partners with them. And so how do we take their strengths, you know, in understanding things like deterrence? And then how do we take a framework of WMD intelligence and build a program which people get that very broad but very helpful kind of comprehensive view of the topic? 

Scott Cameron: So we're complementary. But this is the interesting thing about NIU's transformation because we started with over 50 years of military intelligence being the focus. In 2010, we began evolving into a military plus civilian, you know, it - so that transformation is interesting because when we chose to build on a existing platform, it meant that, OK, so what's different now? Well, becoming a university, for us, meant we added a research component. That research component has to be - its DNA has to be in everything we do - in teaching engagement. It just can't be in office, right? So we - that's a transformational thing, where you change the culture of the university, where research and scholarship become every day. 

Andrew Hammond: We'll be right back after a word from our sponsors. 

Andrew Hammond: So the NDU and the NIU - so there are certain things that are different about your mission. The genesis of the NIU is in military intelligence, but in the past 10 years, you've been - there's a legacy system that comes with that, but... 

Scott Cameron: Yeah. 

Andrew Hammond: ...You've been transitioning... 

Scott Cameron: Yeah. 

Andrew Hammond: ...And growing, and you've added... 

Scott Cameron: Yeah. 

Andrew Hammond: ...The research component onto it. And that's where we are now, is - that's what I understood. Is that right? 

Scott Cameron: Yeah, it's - you know, Goldwater-Nichols shows what a pathway for someone in the military looks like, right? That's that educational pathway, right? For us in the intelligence community, kind of giving the entire enterprise part of the education and then empowering people with knowledge and confidence to go out and change the enterprise. So our partnerships take many different forms, but they always had the basis of it as driving intellectual capital on our students' experience. 

Andrew Hammond: OK. And on the topic of intellectual capital, one of the things that quite interests me - this comes from an old soccer injury. And my physical therapist said that one of the problems with an Achilles injury is that the blood struggles to get there to oxygenate it and to bring the nutrients there that are going to help it to heal. So I became very fascinated with that as a metaphor for intellectual capital... 

Scott Cameron: Yeah. 

Andrew Hammond: ...Or for ideas. I guess the question is how do you walk that line between - on the one hand, you know, as an intelligence university, you know, you are bringing in people from the intelligence community or from the military who have got an intelligence angle. So you've got that on the one hand. But then, on the other hand, there's - you know, we know that historically, institutions think along certain lines and... 

Scott Cameron: Right. 

Andrew Hammond: ...The cultures and subcultures within institutions think along certain lines. I guess my question is, how do you oxygenate something that's TS-SCI and that does have that background of people that are coming? And, you know, most people join these institutions when they're quite young, and you drank the Kool-Aid, and you learned what the incentives are and the best ways to advance and how you're going to get, you know, up the hierarchy and so forth. 

Scott Cameron: Yeah. 

Andrew Hammond: And which means that certain things are more thinkable than other things. And I guess what I'm trying to say is, like, you want it to be oxygenated... 

Scott Cameron: Yes. 

Andrew Hammond: ...Like my Achilles. 

Scott Cameron: Yeah. 

Andrew Hammond: You want the nutrients to get there. 

Scott Cameron: Yeah. 

Andrew Hammond: But how do you do that with almost bracketing off... 

Scott Cameron: Yeah, yeah. 

Andrew Hammond: ...Because of the fact that it's a TS-SCI. 

Scott Cameron: Right. 

Andrew Hammond: And the - it comes along with the baggage of intelligence agencies and the DOD? 

Scott Cameron: Baggage? (Laughter). 

Andrew Hammond: Yeah, not - sorry, not baggage. 

Scott Cameron: No, no, I know what you mean. 

Andrew Hammond: Not baggage... 

Scott Cameron: No, no - I - no, no, no. That's actually the right word. 

Andrew Hammond: Furniture. 

Scott Cameron: Yeah, yeah. 

Andrew Hammond: The intellectual furniture... 

Scott Cameron: Right, sure. Sure. 

Andrew Hammond: That comes along with being part of those institutions. 

Scott Cameron: All right. So there's a lot to unpack there. 

Andrew Hammond: Sorry (laughter). 

Scott Cameron: No, no. That's good. No, I love it. That's a great question. So first off, let's be clear - kindred spirits, here. I destroyed my body playing soccer, too, so... 

Andrew Hammond: (Laughter). 

Scott Cameron: And actually, last year, managed to tear all of my hamstrings and had to learn to... 

Andrew Hammond: Oh, yikes. 

Scott Cameron: ...Walk again, kind of thing. So I'm with you on the soccer injury thing, and the oxygenation of muscles at my age - so this is a very personal analogy you're bringing up, right... 

Scott Cameron: OK (laughter). 

Scott Cameron: ...As a biologist here, right? So look; it goes back to - it greatly goes back to what we were talking about in terms of the student experience and why this place is so special. It's because I purposely describe that person in their early 30s who knows what the challenge is, knows what they possibly could do about it, and then knowledge empowers them, right? So when you get into that kind of an environment, where there's a very robust intellectual exchange of ideas and debate, you start to shed all of that pretty quickly. So remember; those 10- and 50-meter target days that they're all going through, all of a sudden they walk into a classroom, and they're thinking strategically all the time. They're taking in new information all the time. It gets them thinking there is no challenge in getting our students to make those classrooms, you know, a hub of activity that way. 

Scott Cameron: So I think we keep fresh because there is this constant, you know, churn of really brilliant people coming in. Same thing in our faculty. We have - you know, we have a core faculty, but we have a lot of people who come in through JDAs and other means for temporary assignments. So I think the mix of people and perspectives and the understanding that we are there, we are responsible for rethinking everything. Ask the right question, then you have to get the right people in the room to start answering it. I think that's the perspective. And I know that may not be a satisfying answer, but really, that's the secret sauce. That's the magic of why we don't get stale. 

Scott Cameron: What happens is people come in with those preconceived notions, or they come in with their standard lines - whatever that looks like for them - the furniture, the baggage, right? Whatever that is, they come in, and I think they shed it fairly quickly because all of a sudden there's all of these perspectives around them, and they're hearing something - And they realize - not to overuse the word safe space. But it is a place where they actually are supposed to start saying something that may be heretical. And how do you talk about things that are that different and heretical-sounding in a place where you can come up with something better and then, actually, wow, there's new knowledge. There's something to shoot for. There is something to do there. 

Scott Cameron: The day that we stop doing that is the day I'll come back to you and say, yup, things are getting a little stale, or we're overcome by someone's, you know, preconceived notions about what our enterprise is. The thing that I think is most empowering at all is you can do a thesis, you can do a capstone project, and unless you're empowered to go out there and evangelize what you're learning and what you're doing - and that's the really cool part as well is talking to our students. And I talked to one in the last graduating class - typing away on a really good thesis one night. And I just said so, are you going to brief the leaders in your organization on this? Because this is really kind of a different approach to it. And the first answer was, well, I'm not sure I really want to - I said, please don't say cause trouble, right? They sent you here so that you can come back and tell them what a better way looks like. And seeing students come to that realization - that's their responsibility, right? And to leave - and what we are - over 10 years now - what we're trying to do a better job is be able to make sure that our stakeholders understand that person needs to be utilized. That thesis, there is something there for you. So building - so the new governance structure that we have under ODNI allows us to more - you know, in a more integrated manner, make sure that we can do that. 

Andrew Hammond: And how does it go for you, Scott? What's your degree of latitude? Are you like, listen; I am an academic. I've got experience in the intelligence community. I know what the hell I'm talking about. Like, leave me alone. So for example, if you're, you know, the person that does your job at GW or something, sure, you may have a center or a board that you need to go to, but, you know, you've got a degree of latitude. Or are you - I'm kind of caricaturing here, but are you getting the ODNI, like, phony ops, saying, you know, this is what you need to have in the syllabus or, you know, what the hell are you doing here? And, you know, the secretary of defense is like, you know, you need to focus on defense intelligence. That's where it's at. So it's a little bit of a caricature. But help me understand, like, you know, we've all got areas that we can affect agents in, and we've all got structures that we're constrained by in various ways. So in a way that's not going to get anyone in trouble, like (laughter), help me understand, like, what... 

Scott Cameron: Yeah, what could go wrong with that question? No, seriously, it's a great question, and it's actually at the heart of governance. It's the heart of who we are. So here's some comparisons. I do. I have a board of visitors. They are the oversight voice for my institution to the DNI. So we actually just met recently with the DNI and PDNI, and we kind of laid out, you know, here's the state of play. So the idea is that our stakeholders provide input so that we can get strategic guidance from the DNI. And then we take that strategic guidance, and then we turn to the higher education side of our mission, which is all of our mission, and we package that in ways. So my accountabilities - all right? So this is what makes it interesting as a federal institution, particularly mine because the National Security Act of 1947 now says that the DNI can host a university (laughter). And so kind of looking at Congress, who authorizes me to confer degrees - right? - So it's the president of the university who's authorizing to confer degrees. The Secretary of Education approves our programs. So that's the accountability over there. And then the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, which is the accreditor for most of the schools in town here - then I'm held to a standard of performance academically on seven standards of - you know, including the student experience, governance, all of that, right? 

Scott Cameron: So I have those three accountabilities, which are actually the sum total of how the university operates, and those are my accountabilities. And then I'm turning to the DNI, and my board is saying, they are meeting that, right? So there's a separation. There's a distance there, right? And so that's what our governance calls for. So with academic freedom, I've always joked since I've gotten there, my job is to stand at the gates and - you know, with the sword and shield and fight the barbarians off, right? 

Scott Cameron: And it's not - the issue for higher education, you know, for an institution like ours - it's not about the people who are going to tell you what not to write on or what not to study, right? Our creditors start at a much more basic level. Are you making decisions in your institution that would lead to something that looks like influence? And it's an important thing. And it's a very, you know, got a - many, many years - kind of - I'm on this. And it's constantly under discussion and challenge in higher education. 

Scott Cameron: So for us, we're balancing our ability to remain as a credited institution with those accountabilities to Congress, to the secretary of education and to our creditors and then turn to the government and say, so by their standards, we're delivering the following things to you, and then take the input from our stakeholders - right? - as guidance as to how we can serve them better. 

Andrew Hammond: And what's the model for your staff or your faculty? Are they, like, you know, small, liberal arts university where they're mainly doing teaching, and, you know, in the summers, they try to squeeze in a bit of research? Or is it more like - I don't know - Duke or something, where they have, like, research assistants, and they're expected to focus on research, and they may teach the occasional class? And, you know, as someone that came... 

Scott Cameron: Yeah. 

Andrew Hammond: ...From the academy... 

Scott Cameron: Right, right. 

Andrew Hammond: ...There's all different types of people. 

Scott Cameron: Right. 

Andrew Hammond: You have the prima donnas that are, like, you know, I'm a research superstar. How can you possibly expect me to deign to teach in a classroom (laughter)? And, yeah, I'm being playful, obviously (laughter). 

Scott Cameron: No, I was that person in... 

Andrew Hammond: Yeah. 


Scott Cameron: I was that person back in a major... 

Andrew Hammond: OK. 

Scott Cameron: ...State institution at one point. 

Andrew Hammond: OK. 


Andrew Hammond: So... 

Scott Cameron: Yeah. 

Andrew Hammond: Tell us about the... 

Scott Cameron: Yeah. 

Andrew Hammond: Is there a model? Or is it - are there different types of... 

Scott Cameron: So it's - yeah, thanks, great question. We're - in many ways, we're, you know, similar to many other institutions because the accountabilities I just described - we have to demonstrate that we have a vibrant economy of ideas and that we have an academic culture that drives exactly the kinds of things you're talking about, right? So we are a mix. And so we have folks who are very heavily teaching and then a mix of teaching and research and then people who are very focused on research. 

Scott Cameron: It's a mix, and over time, we will continue to be as flexible as we need to be to get that balance right. We have people who are full-time in our core faculty, and they have, you know, the privilege of working with our students and teaching and doing research in a unique strategic environment that doesn't really exist anywhere else in the intelligence world - right? - in this nation. So recognizing that and then understanding that we build on that by bringing people in from the military and thought leaders from other place - so there's this mix of people. Whatever vehicle by which we can get someone there, for three days, three months, three years, or a lifetime, we try to remain flexible just to get the intellectual capital in that we need. 

Andrew Hammond: And another thing that I find quite interesting is - I'm wondering, like, say, for the capstones or the theses and dissertations and so forth, are they all - so they're all related to the intelligence community, obviously. But are we talking about - is there a major preponderance of social sciences-type approaches? Or, like, how broad are we going here? Are we going from biological sciences to hard sciences to social sciences? Or are we kind of, most of our focus is here, but we do a little bit of this? Or, you know, give us an understanding of the domains, and also maybe some of the major disciplines that - you know, in a more traditional university, is it history, political science? Like, what are some of the main things going on there? 

Scott Cameron: The answer to the question is yes. 


Scott Cameron: It is all of the above. It's actually quite an amazing mix of - some folks come maybe without a clear idea of what they want their thesis or capstone to be. Others come with a problem set that they've thought through that they've been burning to get into. We help to refine that, develop that, provide the people and the infrastructure to make that come alive. It can be regional. It can be functional. It can be very technical, or it can be quite philosophical. And it could be unclassified, but it can be very classified. 

Scott Cameron: So it's all of the above. And also, you know, encouraging over the past 10 years, building the infrastructure so that our students can publish readily - that will be - you know, over the next five years, you will start to see us. We have outward-facing publications. We have inward-facing publications. We have some that are both. We'll, you know, morph them between those two worlds because we want to connect back in those other institutions and partners. And so I think that's the thing. People come to us with hard problems. They don't know who to talk to, and we connect them to people who will be able to do that. So everything is on the table, plus leadership, plus organizational management. How would you restructure? How would you rethink the enterprise, all of those things? Sorry, that was a broad answer, but... 

Andrew Hammond: No, it was a broad question (laughter). 

Scott Cameron: It's all on the table. 

Andrew Hammond: Yeah (laughter). And, like, for the levels of analysis, I'm assuming it could go from, like, super specific to very broad... 

Scott Cameron: Yep, yep. 

Andrew Hammond: ...You know, trying to systematize, like, a whole thing. Or, you know, you mentioned philosophical - like, could someone be like I think the - (laughter) you know, bear with me for a second here. 

Scott Cameron: Yeah. 

Andrew Hammond: I think the - along the lines of Martin Heidegger, we need to think about, you know, what exists in the world and the ways in which we capture and apprehend it and, you know, I want to do some more abstract philosophical paper on the nature of knowledge. Is that kind of kosher? Or is that sort of you're going a bit wackadoodle here, you know? You know, bring it back into (laughter)... 

Scott Cameron: Yeah. 

Andrew Hammond: ...Focus or - yeah, help me... 

Scott Cameron: No, it's a great question. 

Andrew Hammond: ...To understand. 

Scott Cameron: So when I say rethinking, reimagining, that can start with the right question. So there's different ways that asking the right question comes to us. So we will have IC agencies. We will go out and we will ask. We will recruit for topics. We will use our Rolodex to go back to certain offices that have kind of an umbrella view of the mission and say, like, what's a list of relevant things we could be working on for you? And sometimes, students come with those. Sometimes it's a list. And we have thesis fairs and opportunities for people to sit in rooms and throw around ideas and see what sticks. And by doing that, we start to develop out ideas. Other people hear that and riff off of that, right? So there's a process that goes on where we get input, we solicit, and then, like, on the research arm of the institution, they kind of keep a very wide range of topics flowing in that sometimes are so far out of the norm of what we would normally talk about, you know, day to day. 

Scott Cameron: So I think there's a pretty rich set of ideas, and it is. I mean, you could work on anything from philosophy of machine learning and comparing, you know, humans to machine learning and argue cognitive processes. You could talk about - you could debate how algorithms should be used, or you could wind up writing an algorithm. I mean, so it's - it works at all those different levels. 

Andrew Hammond: I want to dig into your story a little bit more. But before we get there, just a (laughter) few questions. One of them was that it sounds like what you're doing is - this is mainly for analysts. Is that correct? It's not for... 

Scott Cameron: No. 

Andrew Hammond: ...Operators. Or it's for anybody... 

Scott Cameron: Anybody. 

Andrew Hammond: ...Any IC. 

Scott Cameron: Anybody. 

Andrew Hammond: OK. 

Scott Cameron: Yeah. 

Andrew Hammond: OK. 

Scott Cameron: Yeah, no. If you - depending on how you look at the intelligence enterprise, you know, that circle, that wheel, however you look at it - right? - those different roles have to be in the room because if that voice isn't there, then the collector is not going to hear from the analysts. They're not going to hear from the operator. They're not going to hear from the customer, policymaker. I mean, whoever is in the room - right? - that matters to drive the conversation because, you know, we'll hear someone say, well, hold it, that hasn't been true for, like, three years. And then they start talking about why that is. And that's the level of connectivity across the entire enterprise. 

Scott Cameron: So when you have these other agencies and departments in the non-Title 50 side, when they come in, people learn more about what they're actually protecting in the nation, right? So we continue to push organizational and mission diversity in the room because unless all those voices are there, we're not actually necessarily learning something new, right? That's how you drive to something different. 

Andrew Hammond: One of the other things that I thought was quite interesting as well was you've got, like, quite an interesting alumni network - right? - Paul Nakasone, the NSA... 

Scott Cameron: Yeah. 

Andrew Hammond: ...Director, John Allen, the director of Brookings. I mean, Brookings is (laughter), like - usually tops the rankings of the world's top think tanks and stuff. So as the president are - I mean, I don't mean them specifically, but help us understand your relationship and the university's relationship with its alumni network. 

Scott Cameron: Yeah, it's great. We have a wonderful alumni network. Our job is to work with them to tap the resources that they have because you're talking about intellectual capital, the people who have gone on for our institution to do amazing things and not just Paul and John and many of the national security leaders and heroes out there who speak of their time. It's also about people who have been the mainstay. It's like the bedrock of national security, that tens of thousands of people. It's the fabric. 

Scott Cameron: I mean, I know that sounds - you know, but I look upon it as the fabric of national security because if you - like, within DOD, I've talked to many DOD leaders who said, well, the reason we send people to NIU is we want our - those people who are going to pin on that first, second and third star, we want them to have that very strong understanding of that enterprise so that over time, when they get into those meetings - right? - their decision space does not shrink. They're not in a box. They understand what those collection trade-offs are going to be in a crisis. 

Scott Cameron: And that's what we hear a lot. We hear a lot that that's what elevated their ability - you know, critical thinking and everything else - that it gave them a perspective to be able to assess a lot more comprehensively what was going on. So our relationship to them is great. I talked to Paul Nakasone not that long ago, and every time I talk to Paul - what can I do to help? Hi, Paul. And we appreciate that. Bob Ashley - so it was great when we were - executive agent was DIA, and Bob Ashley was my executive agent, as a graduate. 

Andrew Hammond: So tell us how you got mixed up in this crazy enterprise (laughter). So from growing up in Northwestern New Jersey, your grandmother's from Glasgow, which is obviously awesome, and you're a real - (laughter). And... 

Scott Cameron: (Laughter) Local boy from Glasgow makes good. Congratulations, Andrew. 

Andrew Hammond: Exactly. Thank you (laughter). And - you know, and you're involved in plant science. 

Scott Cameron: Yeah. 

Andrew Hammond: You know, it's a circuitous story, but sometimes those are the best ones. 

Scott Cameron: Yeah. 

Andrew Hammond: So tell us how you ended up in intelligence. 

Scott Cameron: You know, for me, growing up kind of in a semi-rural area and just having a lot of time outdoors, I became fascinated with plants at an early age. My dad actually planted acres of small tree seedlings. I wound up, by the time I was in high school, owning a tree nursery, a ball and burlap tree nursery. So... 

Andrew Hammond: Wow. 

Scott Cameron: ...I was earning college money by running a business through middle school and high school and delivering on a tractor. So - and, you know, I did a lot of outdoor work that was related to plants. Through high school - I mean, my high school yearbook says working in plant science and botany. And people ask me, wow, you were very focused. And I'm like, well, either that or I never rethought what I was doing. 

Scott Cameron: But no, truly, my - actually, I had two boyhood idols. One was Johnny Unitas, quarterback of the Baltimore Colts. And the other was George Washington Carver, who - the son of slaves who - it's just, you know, a horrible story. This young man arose to be one of the greatest scientists of his generation, and it was because he wanted to figure out how plants worked. He wanted to just tear them apart. But his view of science, which is my view of science, is, like, I love the theoretical stuff, but I'm asking myself every day, how does that actually benefit somebody. And so I want to work on both ends. I want to do basic research, and I want to do applied research. And he laid out a model for how to do that. 

Scott Cameron: And so by the time I got through grad school, I wound up, you know, with a career in - doing the tenure track thing in a land grant university as a plant scientist, feeding the Third World, physiological genetics, just part of the genetic engineering conversation all the way out to conserving wild plant relatives around the world and trying to figure out how we were going to do that and feed everybody in the future. And so I wound up coming to town in 2000 as part of USDA's team that kind of looked at the global research, you know, a lot of hard problems - $1.2 billion worth of, you know, research around the world, building teams to - it was a dream job. But I got to work in the building named after George Washington Carver, The Carter Center. 

Andrew Hammond: This is the Department of Agriculture? 

Scott Cameron: Yeah, Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service. So that was a great period for me because my kind of global perspective on science - I had spent time collecting endangered plants in other countries, being chased by guys with guns, falling off cliffs. There's a lot of great stories here. So I had a lot of international experience that way. Came back in, I was in D.C., and I was sitting there watching my son play high school soccer one evening. And over a period of weeks, the dad next to me was asking me a lot of science questions. And we got several weeks into it, and he asked me, like, another question, and I'm like, OK, so I'll answer your question, but, like, when we're done with this answer, you need to tell me where you're from and what job you're trying to talk me into. And he was surprised. I was surprised he was surprised. But it was a great conversation, and it happened to be about bananas, actually. I was asked about bananas. 

Scott Cameron: And I went on this worldwide tour about, you know, what bananas had done to the economies of many countries, biologically what they are, how they ripen. I mean, it's just a worldwide thing. But I said, but that's probably not why you're asking me the question. And I said, you're probably asking me about bananas 'cause probably somewhere in the last few weeks, a nuclear alarm went off in a port somewhere and it was a boatload of bananas. And he just looked at me and said, do you want a job? And it was like, you know, OK, so potassium, high potassium concentrations, right? So think back on that period - and we're talking post - right after 9/11, right? So there's a lot of questions about how science was going to be reoriented for national security. So basically, a couple of directives came out of the White House at the time. It said the intelligence community needs a broader, more diverse set of scientists with global experience. And so that was the attraction, right? So I wound up, you know, kind of building a partnership. I had to do a sabbatical. I wound up in that agency working for a chief scientist and kind of bringing what I knew to bear on a problem set and just kind of took to it and wound up moving over to the National Counterterrorism Center. 

Andrew Hammond: Wow. That's fascinating. So your appointment as president of the NIU, you're - it's a very interesting skill set that you bring to the job. And from the other ones that I've seen - and maybe this is probably partly because it used to be under the defense umbrella much more closely, but it was, you know, admirals and generals, and it was people that had spent - you know, that had considerable time in a certain institution and had climbed the ladder. But you've had lots of lateral moves and different types of things. I wondered if you'd had any thoughts on that and what you think that someone that's made the lateral moves that you have brings to the position. I mean, someone that has saw a broad range of knowledges and a broad range of how knowledge can be used and operationalized, whether it be in the academy and WMD and NCTC and the NIU, but give me your take on it. 

Scott Cameron: Yeah, so it's interesting. And that's a great question because, actually, during the interview, that was actually a question that was posed to me. It's like, I'm looking at your pathway, and it's kind of like, the next logical move was X, and you seemed to jump two hops over here to Y. And they wanted to know what the influences were that drove me to make decisions. And, you know, you'd like to think that there was a plan all the time. But, you know, that model of science that I described before, I kept asking myself, you know, so there's theoretical science - and I want to learn new stuff. I want to rip chlorophyll apart and figure out how it works. The same time, I want to know how a farmer in Africa, at the same time, is going to actually wind up, like, surviving and feeding his family, right? So there's this grand scale of connectivity. Oh, he's keeping that big picture in place. 

Scott Cameron: So I think it's a juggling thing, right? You can be the jack of all trades and master of none. You could be Cliffy from "Cheers" - right? - and be - you know, having that useless factoid, right? But if you're grounding - for me, grounding the disciplines of intelligence in science that's both theoretical and applied - for me, that framework works really well. So for me, intelligence analysis, stepping into it and leading it, was like, wow, this makes sense based on everything I've ever done before. But now in a single page, you're about to communicate something incredibly important, something very sobering. 

Scott Cameron: So how do you do that? Because words matter. So the question you would ask yourself is, if I use that technical word, what does that mean to somebody? If someone overseas said that word and we're now translating that word, now we're passing that word on, like, what does that actually mean? So contextualizing what we get through the intelligence process through, like, not just intelligence analysis but through science - contextualizing languages - all of that appeals to me because you want to exhaust those avenues and make sure that you have done that job. 

Andrew Hammond: Wow. And just a couple of final questions. One of them is, you know, with - just listening to you talk there, it made me think about the structure of most governments, most states, it's been formed by the industrial age. You know, if we just think about, say, you know, the National Security Act 1947, various institutional adaptations to technology and historical change and so forth. So I guess the question is, how do you balance that, where you have these institutions that were designed and evolved during the industrial age, and there are certain legacy systems that come with that, and then you have the flatter, you know, more adroit and agile and less hierarchical, you know, Silicon Valley kind of approach, you know, where, you know, obviously the IC, you know, can't just have (laughter) everybody sitting around on beanbags, you know, riding around scooters and stuff. I'm being playful, obviously. 

Scott Cameron: No, no. 

Andrew Hammond: But how do you balance that with the expectations of the current generation that may work - and if they're not just spending their whole career on IC, they may work in these flatter structures... 

Scott Cameron: Yeah. 

Andrew Hammond: ...Or places where the person that has the right answer might not just be the person furthest up the hierarchy. And then they move over to, you know, work for these and - you know, work for a government that has - is slightly different. And the historian in me just finds this really interesting because the institutions that we have, they - you know, they've kind of adapted, but the pace of change compared to technological change... 

Scott Cameron: Yeah. 

Andrew Hammond: ...And historical change, there's not always a direct keeping up with what's going on. 

Scott Cameron: Yes. 

Andrew Hammond: So other than bringing in these people, these bright people, and oxygenating them with ideas from across the community and sending them back out to evangelize and that - I mean, that's an - to me, anyway, that's a very important thing that you're doing. But I guess I just wondered, as the president of NIU, is that something that you think about, like, the modernity but industrial age... 

Scott Cameron: Right, yeah. 

Andrew Hammond: ...Institutions? Super small question - sorry (laughter). 

Scott Cameron: No, it's - yeah, no. No, that's - It's a great question. So for me, like in counterterrorism - right? - when you look at kind of legacy WMD issues from the Cold War, and you're looking at that - even just now, you were talking about people outside those fence lines - right? - and trying to find ways to look for needles in haystacks when you have a static thing over here - right? - a standing thing here and a very fluid thing on the other side of the fence. So that's what we got good at. We got good at being able to reconcile kind of those two worlds. 

Scott Cameron: As we did that, we've been talking - and I'm just another person, another baby boomer, talking about how we need to harness generational differences to - you know? But it is meaningful because it's not just about - you see the agencies now kind of talking about how to recruit, how to break that through, the digital tether - you know, the things that we need to help our workforce get through to continue to compete and recruit for those folks. So they will go to the private sector if - but at the same time, there is still that group of people who step forward, and they want to work for the government. They want to do this. This is their calling and vocation. Our tagline from - I guess we're using it from graduation a few years ago is, you know, your time, your calling, your university. And that speaks to the heart of, like, the people who come to NIU is they believe that about themselves. 

Scott Cameron: But I think you're right, in terms of adapting technology, if we're not adapting to the things that they believe - if they know what they want to do, if they know what they - how they want to change the enterprise, if they can't do it with us, they will do it outside - and that's great. Innovation's going to happen. But the question is how do you reconcile those two pools of intellectual capital so that we have a mission that's working seamlessly? I'm all for innovation but I'm also for retaining a cutting-edge workforce and making sure that we're meeting their needs. 

Scott Cameron: For us at NIU - and you see some really wonderful things that different agencies are doing to recruit and they're looking broader, they're looking in different places and they're using different approaches. And that's what we have to do. And they're doing it on social media, and it's great. For us, we're getting those students in, we're using - we're going to be opening up - everyone's opening up a collaboration laboratory, and we're doing so as well. We'll have unclassified and classified collaboration laboratories. So in certain respects, they'll be able to use technology and do things they may not be able to use every day in the workplace to kind of communicate, work together and build kind of an intellectual profile with other people in a different setting and then figure out how to bring that into the institution. So we're giving - we're starting to try and give them that opportunity. My take on that is, if we allow them to collaborate the way they want to and the way we think they should be with technology, they're going to help step forward, help make those decisions with us on how we adopt in the workplace. They've got to be part of the - have to have ownership of the solution and the problem set with us. 

Scott Cameron: So that's kind of what we're hoping, but not making them - you know, through education, anyone who thinks that something's off the table - you asked about big existential questions before, and those need to be on the table and we need to work through them, right? But at the end of the day, we need to have people understand that, look, we'll find a way to help you do that. We'll find a way for you to explore that because, if we don't, where else are they going to do that maybe in a classified environment to come up with a solution? 

Andrew Hammond: I wasn't trying to say that one way of doing things is better than the other. I wasn't, you know, just ragging (ph) off. It was more just I think that previously there was a closer fit between, say, the structure of corporations and the structure of government, you know, hierarchies... 

Scott Cameron: Yeah, right. 

Andrew Hammond: ...Knowledge was in certain places. But now it's more and more disaggregated to me in a - to a greater extent. So that's where the question came from. 

Scott Cameron: Well, we're working - we're also working at the speed of venture capital too, right? So you have venture capital out there, you have major corporations out there. And so just kind of figuring out what the battle rhythm is by which we tap into change - and there are a lot of wonderful people out there who are making those connections back into government, both for purposes of, you know, the industrial base, as you say, but also because they believe government should be functioning with those technologies and those ideas. And it's a great - it's a good place to have those conversations. We hope to be the institution that drives why we would do X over Y. 

Andrew Hammond: Well, thanks so much for your time. This has been a really fun conversation. So thanks so much for sharing your insight and your expertise. I really appreciate it, Scott. 

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