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2010 Distinguished Graduate Award

LTG (R) Dan Christman '65

For more than 44 years since his graduation from West Point, Lieutenant General Daniel W. Christman has set himself apart as a soldier, a scholar, and a statesman.  On active duty, and in the years following - in every field of endeavor – he has held as his guiding principles the ideals of Duty, Honor, Country.

Dan Christman graduated in 1965 at the top of his class.  His Howitzer entry stated, “Success in Dan’s future life is unquestionable; for it will only be a matter of time before his achievements truly become an indication of his superior abilities.”  He subsequently earned twin masters degrees from Princeton, in public affairs and civil engineering and he graduated with honors from George Washington University Law School.  This much formal education was unusually broad and comprehensive for any serving soldier, but it proved to be a perfect complement to his development and accomplishments as an Army leader.
His command assignments included companies in Korea and Vietnam, a battalion in Germany, the US Army Corps of Engineers’ Savannah District, and the US Army Engineer Center.  His remarkable intellect and extraordinary character earned him the respect of his fellow officers and soldiers.  He consistently demonstrated wisdom, energy, firm but caring leadership, and a genuine passion for mentoring younger leaders.

General Christman also made contributions to the security of our nation at the highest levels in his many staff positions.  His counsel was heard and accepted in the Army, the Department of Defense, the Department of State, and the White House.  He exercised superb skill in statesmanship and law, and had an ability to deal with complex technical, diplomatic, and legal issues.  In each of these assignments he was marked as someone with great potential.

In 1996, General Christman became the 55th Superintendent of the United States Military Academy.  During his tenure, he recrafted the Academy’s mission statement to more accurately reflect the link between West Point and the Army.  He also drafted a new strategic direction for the Academy’s future in areas ranging from academic excellence to facilities modernization to cadet leadership development.  He took a strong personal interest in efforts to publicize West Point’s Bicentennial Celebration and renew public awareness and pride in the Academy.  At the same time, he led an unprecedented fundraising campaign with the West Point Association of Graduates that raised over $200 million in private funds.  He also convinced Congress to increase federal funding for the Academy despite overall reductions in defense spending.  Combined, these increased resources underwrote a dramatic Margin of Excellence at West Point.  Arguably, his actions as Superintendent set the Academy on a direct course for its current ranking as the nation’s number one college.

After retiring from active duty, General Christman served in the private sector for several years before he was enlisted to lead the vast international operations of the US Chamber of Commerce, the world’s largest business organization.  He now represents the Chamber before foreign business leaders and advises the Chamber’s leadership on national security and international issues affecting the business community.  He is also a widely recognized expert on strategic leadership and national security issues.

Dan Christman’s achievements have been a reflection of his superior abilities.  His unique service to the nation in war and peace, combined with his lifelong support of West Point, is in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Military Academy.  His record of service and commitment to the highest standards will be his legacy.  He has exemplified the finest values of West Point for more than four decades.

Accordingly, the West Point Association of Graduates of the United States Military Academy takes great pride in presenting the 2010 Distinguished Graduate Award to Daniel W. Christman.