Skip navigation

Dale Center for the Study of War and Society

Lt. Col. John H. Dale Sr. Distinguished Lecture Series in International Security and Global Policy

The Lt. Col. John H. Dale Sr. Distinguished Lecture Series in International Security and Global Policy honors the late Lieutenant Colonel John H. Dale, Sr., a career member of the military who served in World War II and the Korean War and earned the Bronze Star. He graduated with a Master of Science degree from the University of Southern Mississippi and later served as Professor of Military Studies for the university’s Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) program. The lecture series is made possible through a generous donation by Southern Miss alumna Dr. Beverly Dale, Lt. Col. Dale’s daughter. 


Dan Rather Delivering the 2019 Dale Distinguished Lecture

Dan Rather, legendary journalist, war correspondent, and news anchor was the speaker for the 2019 Lt. Col. John H. Dale Sr. Distinguished Lecture Series in International Security and Global Policy.

"Veteran newsman Dan Rather knows a thing or two because he’s seen a thing or two, to borrow a line from a popular television commercial – and so much, much more.

Rather, who served 24 years as anchor for the CBS Evening News after succeeding the famed Walter Cronkite, shared what he’s seen and knows from a career in journalism that spans more than six decades, when he gave the Lt. Col. John H. Dale Lecture in International Security and Global Policy Sept. 12 at Hattiesburg’s Saenger Theatre. The event was sponsored by The University of Southern Mississippi’s (USM) Dale Center for the Study of War & Society.

From the assassination of President Kennedy, the battlefields of the Vietnam War, the moon landing, Watergate, the Cold War, the 9-11 terrorist attacks and military interventions that followed in Iraq and Afghanistan, Rather expressed his gratitude for a career as “an eyewitness,” reporting on world events, inspired by his early journalism idols Edward R. Murrow, Eric Sevareid, and Cronkite.

“By the grace of God, I’ve been able to do that,” the 87-year-old Rather said of his work, which continues now with the media company he founded, News and Guts.

As a news correspondent covering the Vietnam War, he cited two experiences he reported on that left an indelible mark on him, including that of a 25-year old commander calling in a napalm strike in order to overtake an enemy position that he knew would result in the deaths of innocent men, women and children. The other was when he visited a hospital ship recovery room that was full of young soldiers, “heroes all,” severely wounded and many with fresh amputations, some calling for their mother - an experience he likened to being in one of “Dante’s hellish circles.”

Once you’ve seen those things - “the brutality and savagery of war,” Rather said - “you’re stripped of any notions” about war being glamourous.

“It’s impossible to convey the confusion and chaos of the battlefield, the brutality and savagery of war, unless you’ve fought in it or been an eyewitness to it,” he said. “I had never experienced anything close to it before, and I hope never to again.”

Rather also reflected on the current political divisiveness in the U.S., saying that people around the globe are watching, and wondering “can we endure?” along with the pursuit of policies he believes, seemingly indicating a retreat from our role of major player on the global political stage and as an advocate for, and example of, participatory democracy in a world that “needs us now more than ever.”

“Would we turn out a light that has been, for so many, a beacon of hope?” Rather asked, pointing to the American legacy of advancements in science, research, global economic development and outreach, world peace while also leading the way to victory in the fight against tyranny in World Wars I and II, among other achievements.

He called for Americans to stay grounded in a spirit of optimism about the future and good will toward others, and said he’s devoting his remaining active professional years to “inspiring others to love our country” because “our greatest strengths are our people and our ideals,” he said, “not our tanks and bombs.”

“If each of us does our part, stays steady and refutes the voices of distrust and division,” America will prevail, Rather said, “Because we’ve seen what we can do when we stay united.”

Press Release: David Tisdale, 9/13/2019

For more information on the 2019 Dale Distinguished Lecture and the speaker, please CLICK HERE.


General David Petraeus

Former Commander, US Central Command and Former Director, CIA, General David Petraeus (US Army Ret.) offers Dale Distinguished Lecture, September 26, 2017. 

"Winning the war on terror and advancing democratic ideals around the world cannot happen on the cheap or with quick fixes, but rather with a sustained commitment to those goals and implementation of sustainable strategies with global partners."

That was the assessment given by retired Army Gen. David Petraeus, former commander of the Surge in Iraq and U.S. Central Command and former director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), of how America needs to approach foreign policy goals going forward in his 2017 Lt. Col. John H. Dale Distinguished Lecture in International Security and Global Policy, given Sept. 26 at the historic Saenger Theater in downtown Hattiesburg.

The event was presented by The University of Southern Mississippi’s Dale Center for the Study of War & Society.

“You can’t just drone strike and Delta Force your way to victory” against the Islamic State and Al Qaeda, Petraeus said, emphasizing that the way to turn the tide against terrorism, especially in the Middle East and North Africa, will be for America to commit to what he believes is a “generational” struggle against extremists exploiting leadership vacuums in “ungoverned spaces.”

The U.S. and its allies have to recognize that in the Middle East a “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas” mindset won’t work, as the problems there inevitable spread far beyond that region. “What happens doesn’t stay there,” Petraeus said. “You have to do something. And in most cases, the U.S. has to lead,” while working with allies and citizens to transition nations crippled by terrorism to security and stability.

In the decade that followed the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the U.S., Petraeus commanded coalition forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as in the greater Middle East and Central Asia. After his retirement from the military, Petraeus served as director of the CIA from 2011 to 2012.  He is now a partner in a global investment firm and chairman of the firm’s Global Institute, and remains engaged in U.S. foreign policy and international security issues as a visiting professor at several universities and a frequent media contributor on security topics.

Petraeus also said he’s encouraged, despite rhetoric from the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign, that President Trump shows signs of embracing America’s longtime role as a global leader and mainstay of post-WWII institutions such as NATO. He praised the president for choosing former military colleagues with whom Petraeus was privileged to serve in Iraq and Afghanistan, including James Mattis (Secretary of Defense), H.R. McMaster (National Security Advisor) and John Kelly (Chief of Staff) for prominent roles in his administration.

Dr. Susannah Ural, co-director for the Dale Center, said Gen. Petraeus’s lecture “Offered insightful commentary on foreign policy and national security, ensuring that our university and community are well informed in today's complex world."  Dr. Ural also praised the Dale Center’s supporters, faculty and students for helping make the 2017 event a success.

Dr. Heather Stur, a USM associate professor of history and a Dale Center Fellow, said "Gen. Petraeus is one of the architects of 21st century U.S. foreign policy and military strategy, and we in the Dale Center are so proud to have been able to bring him here to speak with our students and the broader community about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and issues of international security that remain crucial concerns in our world today."


Robert Gates at Southern Miss Dale Lecture

Former Secretary of Defense, CIA Director Dr. Robert M. Gates Offers Dale Distinguished Lecture, February 6, 2014.

Former U.S. Secretary of Defense Dr. Robert M. Gates offered a rare, behind-the-scenes glimpse of White House politics and policies as the guest speaker for The University of Southern Mississippi’s Lt. Col. John H. Dale Sr. Distinguished Lecture Series in International Security and Global Policy on Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014 at the Saenger Theatre in downtown Hattiesburg, Miss.

Gates, who also served as Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, shared details of his professional life with the packed audience. The presentation included excerpts from his recent autobiography, “Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War.”

Gates offered high praise for the men and women of the U.S. military, calling his “love for the troops” the chief motivation for his responsibility as Secretary of Defense.

“During one of my visits with our soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, a young man asked me what kept me up at night?” said Gates. “I told him he did.”

“Nobody who has been in combat could walk away without scars of some kind,” Gates added. “In my private moments I thought about all the lives that had been damaged or lost in those wars, and it was all I could do to not be overcome with emotion.”

In the highly publicized and much-discussed book, Gates covers his decades of service to the country and provides a unique look inside the war-room deliberations of Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama and delivers candid assessments of each man’s management style.

Gates served as the 22nd Secretary of Defense from 2006 to 2011, a period of time that spanned the presidencies of both Presidents George W. Bush and Obama. Prior to that appointment, he served nearly 27 years in the CIA and the National Security Council. On Gates’ last day in office, President Obama awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom — the country’s highest civilian honor.

His lecture also included sharp criticism of the “dysfunction in Washington” that ultimately forced him out of government service.

“When the TV cameras came on during Congressional hearings, it basically had the same effect as the moon on werewolves,” said Gates. “I kept asking myself ‘why am I at war with everyone? Why is it so difficult to get anything done?’ It got to the point where every issue was a constant source of conflict and stress.”

A former president of Texas A&M University, Gates currently serves as chancellor of the College of William & Mary. He has also been elected future president of the Boy Scouts of America. Gates, a Kansas native, received his bachelor’s degree from the College of William & Mary, his master’s degree in history from Indiana University and his doctorate in Russian and Soviet history from Georgetown University.

The lecture series is funded through the generosity of Southern Miss alumna Dr. Beverly Dale in honor of her father’s service as Professor of Military Science, Head of the Department of Military Science and Head of the ROTC Program at USM from 1957-61 and 1964-66. Lt. Col. Dale was a veteran of World War II and the Korean Conflict.

Thursday’s program also included an important announcement regarding the lecture series’ facilitator — the Center for the Study of War & Society. The center has been renamed the Dale Center for the Study of War & Society in honor of the Beverly Dale family. The Dale Center at Southern Miss serves as a local, national, and international center of excellence for the study of the history of warfare.

The naming of the center coincides with the public announcement of a $2 million campaign to benefit the Dale Center. Approximately $1.6 million toward the $2 million goal already has been committed to support the Dale Center through operational and scholarship endowments as well as enhancements of professorships and lecture series.

Dr. Susannah J. Ural, co-director of the Dale Center and the Blount Professor of Military History at Southern Miss, beamed when reflecting on Gates’ presentation.

“As we had hoped, he inspired the audience to critically assess America’s role in the world and to reject the political divisiveness that, as he has said before, is one of the greatest threats to our national security,” said Ural.

“We’re also thrilled to have announced the naming of the Dale Center for the Study of War & Society at such an appropriate venue, made possible through the steadfast support of our most generous patron, Dr. Beverly Dale. Engaging a full house at the beautiful Saenger Theater, Dr. Gates and the Dale Center have demonstrated, once again, that the Dale Lecture is one of the premier scholarly events in the region.

Other Past Lectures:

Former Secretary of State Albright

In October 2010, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright spoke on “The Future of NATO.”  In 1997, Albright was named the first female Secretary of State and the highest-ranking woman in the history of the U.S. government.  She is currently a professor in the Practice of Diplomacy at the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service.


 Senator Wyche Fowler (D-GA)In November of 2008, the first speaker in the series was Wyche Fowler, U. S. Senator (D-GA) and former U. S. Ambassador to Saudi Arabia who spoke about his experiences and of U.S. relationships in the Middle East as an integral part of the “Breaking the Veils” exhibit on the Middle East. 


The Lecture Series and Lieutenant Colonel John H. Dale, Sr.

Col. John H. Dale Sr. at Southern Miss

Lieutenant Colonel John H. Dale, Sr.  was a career member of the military who served in World War II and the Korean Conflict, and was awarded the Bronze Star.  He graduated with his Masters of Science from Southern Miss, later served as Professor of Military Studies for the University’s Reserve Officer Training Corps  (ROTC) program, and also served as a faculty member in the  Science Education department.  The lecture series which honors him allows the Center for the Study of War and Society to host a significant speaker in the field of International Security and global policy every other year.  

The lecture series is made possible through a generous donation by Southern Miss alumna, Dr. Beverly Dale, in honor of her late father.   

Contact Us

Dale Center for the Study of War & Society
118 College Drive #5047 Hattiesburg, MS  39406

467 Liberal Arts Building

Campus Map



Twitter and Facebook
Dale Center on Facebook