Vice Chairman Receives Honorary Doctorate
By Tech. Sgt. Adam M. Stump, USAF
Special to American Forces Press Service
NEW YORK, Jun. 5, 2007 The vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff accepted an honorary doctor of engineering degree during a ceremony at the City Center here June 3.
Navy Adm. Edmund P. Giambastiani, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, receives his doctorate hood from Polytechnic University President Jerry M. Hultin, right, and another university staff member at a graduation ceremony at the New York City Center, June 3. Giambastiani accepted an honorary doctor of engineering degree from Polytechnic University of Brooklyn, the second-oldest private engineering school in the United States. Photo by Tech. Sgt. Adam M. Stump, USAF
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Navy. Adm. Edmund P. Giambastiani was awarded the degree by Polytechnic University of Brooklyn, the second-oldest private engineering school in the United States.
Jerry M. Hultin, the president of the university, nominated the admiral for the degree. Hultin served as undersecretary of the Navy from 1997 to 2000.
Along with the admiral, two other people were on hand to receive their honorary doctorates. Padmasree Warrior, executive vice president and chief technology officer for Motorola, and William A. Wulf, president of the National Academy of Engineering, also received honorary doctor of engineering degrees. The ceremony also was the commencement for 22 doctorate recipients, 452 master’s degree recipients and 332 bachelor’s degree recipients.
During the citation reading by a Polytechnic staff member, Giambastiani was cited for his visionary leadership on land and sea and for his commitment to the development of new technologies and experimental processes.
Before the admiral addressed the crowd, a member of Polytechnic’s teaching staff came forward to say he objected to the admiral receiving the degree because of the war in Iraq. When Giambastiani arrived at the podium to deliver remarks, the admiral addressed the staff member’s comments.
“I do what I do, and we as an armed forces do what we do, so that gentleman who just spoke can do what he just did. That’s democracy in this country,” Giambastiani said, sparking applause from the audience.
During the admiral’s speech, he addressed the university’s proud history of graduates, who have created technological advances such as the Panama Canal lock system, Teflon and even light beer. He also said it was imperative for the graduates to apply innovation to their life’s work.
“I would summarize my advice to you today in a simple phrase: innovate or perish,” the admiral said.
He said the first key part to innovation is questioning assumptions.
“Questioning assumptions sounds easier than it is. Assumptions make our life easy. Lots of people have lots of time, energy and money invested in status quo assumptions. Because of the way that assumptions form the way we think and analyze, it may be hard to identify an assumption as an assumption,” he said. “But if you approach every problem and every opportunity by looking for and questioning assumptions, you’ll be ahead of the ‘innovation curve.’”
Giambastiani said a way to spur innovation is to form partnerships.
“I always look for opportunities to partner with individuals and organizations that think differently than I do. As a commanding officer, I would pay close attention to my chaplain, my lawyer and my public affairs officer just because they approach problems and opportunities in a different way, and they made me think deeper and better about issues,” he said. “As a senior military leader, I sought partnerships between my commands and industry, academia, think tanks and thought leaders for exactly the same reason.”
The admiral said that besides the intellectual benefits, partnerships also are a great way to share risk and expand opportunities. He added that organizations that wish to achieve innovation need to dedicate time, money and people to the task.
“Big organizations -- and you will go on to lead big organizations -- need to have a group of smart people who wake up every day thinking about how to innovate,” he said. “Then you need to empower them to go make innovation happen by investing time, money and energy in their work. Every time I have been able to do this in my military career, it has repaid the investment many times over.”
(Air Force Tech. Sgt. Adam M. Stump is assigned to the Joint Staff Public Affairs Office.)