Military Wiki

Stephen B. Luce, first President of the Naval War College.

Luce Hall at Naval War College.

The President of the Naval War College is a flag officer in the United States Navy. The President's House is his official residence. The office of the president was created along with the Naval War College as a whole by U.S. Navy General Order 325, signed by United States Secretary of the Navy William E. Chandler on 6 October 1884. The order stipulated that a commissioned officer of the Navy no lower in grade than commander be in charge of the college and that that officer's title be "president." It also directed that the president be presiding officer of a board consisting of the president and all of the college's faculty and responsible for determining the professional course of study for students at the college .[1]

General Order 325 identified the college's first president as Commodore Stephen B. Luce, who took office on the day Chandler signed the order.[1] No commander ever has served as president, and the last captain to serve as president left the position in 1913, after which all presidents have been flag officers. Since 1948, all presidents of the Naval War College have been vice admirals or rear admirals.[2]

While college activities were suspended during the Spanish-American War, the presidency was vacant. When activities were again suspended during World War I, and during periods since World War I between the departure of an outgoing president and the arrival of a successor, acting presidents have administered the college until a new president reported for duty.[2]

The college counts individuals who serve more than once as president as a separate president for each tour for purposes of chronological numbering of the presidents. Acting presidents are not counted.[2]

The presidency of the Naval War College is one of only four positions in the United States Navy which has an official portrait associated with it, the others being the Secretary of the Navy, the Chief of Naval Operations, and the Superintendent of the United States Naval Academy. The Naval War College Museum holds in its collection the official portraits of all but ten of the presidents, including all presidents since 1939.[3]


Presidents of the Naval War College in chronological order.[4]

Rank Name Photo Term Began Team ended Highlights of Term
1 Rear Admiral Stephen Luce Stephen Bleecker Luce.jpg 6 October 1884 22 June 1886 Founder of and driving force behind the Naval War College; "Intellectual Leader of the 'New Steel Navy'"; saw the college as the highest level of professional naval education and "place of original research on war...statesmanship connected with war, or the prevention of war."
2 Captain Alfred Thayer Mahan Alfred-Thayer-Mahan.jpg 22 June 1886 12 January 1989 First of two terms as president. His 1886 and 1887 lectures at the college formed the basis of his internationally influential 1890 naval strategy book The Influence of Sea Power Upon History: 1660-1783.
3 Captain Caspar F. Goodrich Caspar F. Goodrich;0583104.jpg 12 January 1889 22 July 1892 First of two terms as college president. Oversaw the construction of the college's first purpose-built building, Luce Hall.
4 Captain Alfred Thayer Mahan Alfred-Thayer-Mahan.jpg 22 July 1892 10 May 1893 The first person to serve a second term as college president. His 1892 lectures at the college formed the basis of his two-volume 1892 naval strategy book The Influence of Sea Power Upon the French Revolution and Empire: 1793-1812.
5 Captain Charles Herbert Stockton 75px 10 May 1893 13 November 1893 First of two terms as college president.
6 Captain Henry Clay Taylor Henry Clay Taylor (USS Indiana).jpg 15 November 1893 31 December 1896 Established the curriculum the college would use until 1919; made wargaming part of the curriculum and established the use of case studies in studying international law.
7 Captain Caspar F. Goodrich Caspar F. Goodrich;0583104.jpg 31 December 1896 23 April 1898 Second of two terms as college president. Led the college's advocacy of advanced rational contingency planning.
22 March 1898 2 November 1898 Naval War College activities suspended due to the Spanish-American War.
8 Captain Charles Herbert Stockton 75px 2 November 1898 25 October 1900 Second of two terms as college president.
9 Rear Admiral French Ensor Chadwick French Ensor Chadwick (USS New York).jpg 25 October 1900 16 November 1903 First occupant of the President's House.
10 Captain Charles S. Sperry Admiral Charles Stillman Sperry.jpg 16 November 1903 24 May 1906 Developed an extensive knowledge of international law.
11 Rear Admiral John Porter Merrell RADM John Porter Merrell.jpg 24 May 1906 6 October 1909 1908 summer course suspended by direction of President Theodore Roosevelt on 8 July 1908 so that the General Board of the United States Navy, the bureau chiefs of the United States Department of the Navy, and the college's staff and students could participate in a "Battleship Conference" at the college, with Roosevelt himself visiting to chair the conference for a day on 22 July 1908. Secretary of the Navy Victor H. Metcalf closed the conference on 1 September 1908.[5]
12 Rear Admiral Raymond Perry Rodgers RADM Raymond P. Rodgers service photo.jpg 6 October 1909 20 November 1911 Acting on a suggestion by Captain William Ledyard Rodgers – who had learned it at the United States Army War College – Raymond P. Rodgers introduced the "applicabily system" or "estimate of the situation" into Navy war planning, requiring that planning be developed through a four-step process involving "statement of mission, assessment of enemy forces and intentions, assessment of own forces, and evaluation of possible courses of action."[6] Tended to favor more cautious approaches in planning for war with Japan. In 1911, Secretary of the Navy George von Lengerke Meyer removed war planning functions from the college, placing all planning responsibilities in the more aggressive General Board of the United States Navy.[7]
13 Captain William Ledyard Rodgers William Ledyard Rodgers.jpg 20 November 1911 15 December 1913 Last non-flag officer to serve as college president.
14 Rear Admiral Austin Melvin Knight Austin Melvin Knight.JPG 15 December 1913 16 February 1917
15 Rear Admiral William S. Sims William sowden sims.jpg 16 February 1917 28 April 1917 First of two terms as college president. Sent secretly to the United Kingdom in late March 1917 to discuss cooperation between the Royal Navy and United States Navy in the event of the entry of the United States into World War I.
28 April 1917 10 April 1919 Naval War College academic activities suspended due to World War I; three acting presidents administered the college: Commander (ret.) Charles P. Eaton, 1 May 1917 – 21 November 1917; Commodore (ret.) James P. Parker, 21 November 1917 – 17 March 1919; and Captain Reginald R. Belknap, 17 March 1919 – 11 April 1919.
16 Rear Admiral William S. Sims William sowden sims.jpg 11 April 1919 14 October 1922 Second of two terms as college president. Became well-known critic of Washington, D.C.'s direction of United States Navy operations during World War I; published Pulitzer Prize-winning 1920 memoir The Victory at Sea.
14 October 1922 3 November 1922 Captain DeWitt Blamer served as acting president between the departure of Sims and the arrival of Williams.
17 Rear Admiral Clarence Stewart Williams
3 November 1922 5 September 1925
18 Rear Admiral William V. Pratt William Veazie Pratt.jpg 5 September 1925 17 September 1927 Made significant changes to the college's focus, expanding the course of study to encompass the totality of modern warfare rather than only strategy and tactics
19 Vice Admiral Joel Robert Poinsett Pringle 75px 19 September 1927 30 May 1930
30 May 1930 16 June 1930 Captain Samuel W. Bryant served as acting president between the departure of Pringle and the arrival of Laning.
20 Rear Admiral Harris Laning Admiral Harris Laning.png 16 June 1930 13 May 1933
13 May 1933 3 June 1933 Captain Adolphus Andrews served as acting president between the departure of Laning and the arrival of McNamee.
21 Rear Admiral Luke McNamee Luke McNamee.jpg 3 June 1933 29 May 1934
29 May 1934 18 June 1934 Captain H. D. Cooke served as acting president between the departure of McNamee and the arrival of Kalbfus.
22 Rear Admiral Edward C. Kalbfus Admiral Edward C. Kalbfus.jpg 18 June 1934 15 December 1936 First of two terms as college president. Staunch advocate of the college's value to the U.S. Navy; exhibited great effort during bothi this term and his 1939-1942 term to further the college's objectives in the Navy and to increase its stature locally in the City of Newport, Rhode Island
15 December 1936 2 January 1937 Captain H. D. Cooke served as acting president between the departure of Kalbfus and the arrival of Snyder.
23 Rear Admiral Charles Philip Snyder ADM Charles P. Snyder.jpg 2 January 1937 27 May 1939
27 May 1939 30 June 1939 Captain John W. Wilcox, Jr. served as acting president between the departure of Snyder and the arrival of Kalbfus.
24 Admiral Edward C. Kalbfus Admiral Edward C. Kalbfus.jpg 30 June 1939 2 November 1942 Second of two terms as college president. In addition to continuing his advocacy for the college as during his first term, he oversaw the college's 1942 production of the U.S. Navy's only published guide to naval planning, Sound Modern Decision, and succeeded in convincing the Navy to keep the college open during World War II. Kalbfus served as a rear admiral until 16 June 1942, then as a retired admiral.[8]
25 Vice Admiral William S. Pye William Satterlee Pye.jpg 2 November 1942 1 March 1946 Keenly interested in the college and in the development of naval education. Pye served as a rear admiral until 1 July 1944, then as a vice admiral.[8]
26 Admiral Raymond A. Spruance Ray Spruance.jpg 1 March 1946 1 July 1948 Lent dignity and prestige to the college as it led preparations for Cold War-era naval education; expanded the curriculum; established academic chairs for a distinguished civilian historian and a political scientist; laid the groundwork for what would become the Naval War College Review
1 July 1948 1 November 1948 Rear Admiral Allen Edward Smith served as acting president between the departure of Spruance and the arrival of Beary.
27 Vice Admiral Donald B. Beary VADM Donald Beary.jpg 1 November 1948 28 May 1950 Sought to broaden the views of students by bringing business authorities and leaders to meet with them in roundtable discussions, laying the groundwork for the college's Global Strategy Discussions of the 1950s and Current Strategy Forum of today.
28 May 1950 1 December 1950 The college had two acting presidents – Rear Admiral Thomas Ross Cooley from 28 May 1950 to 17 October 1950 and Captain Harry D. Felt from 17 October 1950 to 1 December 1950 – between the departure of Beary and the arrival of Conolly.
28 Vice Admiral Richard L. Conolly VADM Richard L. Conolly.jpg 1 December 1950 2 November 1953 Made major reforms to allow the college to build on the insights gained during World War II, and restored the civilian academic chairs of history and political science originally created by Spruance.
2 November 1953 3 May 1954 Rear Admiral Thomas H. Robbins served as acting president between the departure of Conolly and the arrival of McCormick.
29 Vice Admiral Lynde D. McCormick ADM McCormick, Lynde D.jpg 3 May 1954 16 August 1956 Established a new course for senior officers of foreign navies, the predecessor of today's Naval Command College, but died before it could begin, the first Naval War College president to die in office.
16 August 1956 5 September 1956 Rear Admiral Thomas H. Robbins served as acting president between the death of McCormick and his own assumption of the presidency as McCormick's successor.
30 Rear Admiral Thomas H. Robbins, Jr. CAPT Thomas H. Robbins.jpg 5 September 1956 1 August 1957 Instituted the senior foreign officer course created by his deceased predecessor McCormick
31 Vice Admiral Stuart H. Ingersoll VADM Stuart H. Ingersoll.jpg 13 August 1957 30 June 1960 Brought a broad background in post-World War II planning and leadership in unified commands to the college; oversaw the changeover of the college's wargaming from manual to computerized processes. Served on the Civil War Centennial Commission while at the college, beginning in autumn 1957.[9]
32 Vice Admiral Bernard L. Austin VADM Bernard L. Austin.jpg 30 June 1960 31 July 1964 Four-year presidency was the longest in the college's history at the time; played a key role in creating the Naval Command College for senior foreign naval officers; served in 1963 as president of a board of inquiry looking into the loss of the submarine USS Thresher (SSN-593).[10]
33 Vice Admiral Charles L. Melson VADM Charles L. Melson.jpg 31 July 1964 25 January 1966 Supported a greater emphasis on basic naval subjects; expanded the use of the Naval Electronic Warfare Simulator (NEWS) in the college's wargaming; oversaw the construction of an addition to Mahan Hall for an expanded library collection
25 January 1966 15 February 1966 Rear Admiral Francis D. Nuessle served as acting president between the departure of Melson and the arrival of Hayward.
34 Vice Admiral John T. Hayward Vice Admiral John T.Hayward.jpg 15 February 1966 30 August 1968 Introduced a program to realign the college's curriculum along the lines of civilian colleges; began a program for appropriate physical facilities that would lead to the construction of Spruance Hall, Conolly Hall, and Hewitt Hall during the 1970s
35 Vice Admiral Richard G. Colbert 75px 30 August 1968 17 August 1971 Consolidated and strengthened the curriculum established by his predecessor; set in motion the construction of Spruance, Conolly, and Hewitt Halls; laid the groundwork for a Naval Staff College course for intermediate-level foreign officers; established the Naval War College Foundation; instituted the International Seapower Symposia, a biennial international meeting of the chiefs of navies
36 Vice Admiral Benedict J. Semmes, Jr. VADM Benedict J. Semmes Jr.jpg 17 August 1971 30 June 1972 Shifted the college's emphasis from foreign and international affairs to management concepts
37 Vice Admiral Stansfield Turner Admiral Stansfield Turner, official Navy photo, 1983.JPEG 30 June 1972 9 August 1974 Charged by Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Elmo Zumwalt to change the college radically by establishing a rigorous and challenging curriculum which would give military officers understanding outside their own narrow specialities and improve their ability to analyze problems effectively; created the three-course curriculum still in use at the college; required the analysis of historical case studies; established a full-time teaching and research faculty with credentials from the best universities
38 Vice Admiral Julien J. LeBourgeois VADM Julian J. Le Bourgeois.jpg 9 August 1974 1 April 1977 Consolidated and refined his predecessor's radical curriculum changes; laid the groundwork for the creation of the Center for Advanced Research; initiated the establishment of a museum of naval history and the U.S. Navy's regional history in Founders Hall
39 Vice Admiral Huntington Hardisty Huntington Hardisty.jpg 1 April 1977 13 October 1977 During his six-month presidency – the shortest in the college's history – he worked conscientiously to carry out the academic programs his predecessor had initiated
40 Vice Admiral James B. Stockdale James Stockdale Formal Portrait.jpg 13 October 1977 22 August 1979 Expanded the college's elective course offerings, including courses unrelated to naval warfare; taught a course on military ethics inspired by his own experience as a prisoner-of-war during the Vietnam War
41 Rear Admiral Edward F. Welch, Jr. RADM Edward F. Welch Jr.JPG 22 August 1979 17 August 1982 Emphasized fleet operations in the college's curriculum and wargaming; instituted the Global Wargame; established a program under which naval officer students could earn Master's Degrees working with other colleges and universities in the area
17 August 1982 14 October 1982 Captain David Self served as acting president between the departure of Welch and the arrival of Service.
42 Vice Admiral James E. Service RADM James E. Service.JPG 14 October 1982 12 July 1985 Presided the over the college's centennial, the opening of an enlarged museum in Founders Hall after a two-year renovation, and the publication of Sailors and Scholars, a history of the college's first 100 years
12 July 1985 8 August 1985 Captain Robert Watts served as acting president between the departure of Service and the arrival of Marryott.
43 Rear Admiral Ronald F. Marryott RADM Ronald Maryott.jpg 8 August 1985 12 August 1986 Promoted the college's role in developing strategic ideas and refining concepts
12 August 1986 2 September 1986 Captain Robert Watts served as acting president between the departure of Marryott and the arrival of Baldwin.
44 Rear Admiral John A. Baldwin, Jr. RADM John A. Baldwin, Jr..JPG 2 September 1986 11 August 1987 Initiated the process for accreditation of the college to grant Master's Degrees, which it would receive in 1991; established the Institute for Strategic Studies to facilitate accreditation and retain talented faculty; and restored the college library after a fire inflicted serious damage on it.
45 Rear Admiral Ronald J. Kurth RADM Ronald J. Kurth.jpg 11 August 1987 17 July 1990 Testified before the United States Congress about the effect on military education of the Goldwater-Nichols Act; conceived the idea that would lead to the accreditation of the college to grant master's degrees; began the long-term effort to construct a new building
46 Rear Admiral Joseph C. Strasser RADM Joseph Charles Strasser.jpg 17 July 1990 29 June 1995 The longest-serving president of the college, serving for five years; oversaw the college's transition from the Cold War era as the Warsaw Pact and Soviet Union collapsed; achieved accreditation of the college by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges to grant a Master's Degree in National Security and Strategic Studies; acquired Congressional approval for the construction of the Strategic Maritime Research Center, McCarty-Little Hall; inaugurated combined Russia-United Kingdom-United States (RUKUS) wargames
47 Rear Admiral James R. Stark RADM James R. Stark.JPG 29 June 1995 24 July 1998 Reorganized the curriculum of the College of Continuing Education to allow officers to complete the course in a single shore tour; oversaw the construction of McCarty-Little Hall; began planning for a new library and administration building; incorporated the Naval Warfare Development Center into the college's operations
48 Vice Admiral Arthur K. Cebrowski ARTHUR K CEBROWSKI.jpg 24 July 1998 22 August 2001 Introduced network-centric warfare into the college's curriculum and research and Information Age warfighting concepts into its wargaming; introduced "transformation" to the college so that the college could serve as an agent of change for Navy leadership grappling with rapid changes in warfare; shifted the college's geographic focus of study to Asia and the Pacific Ocean
49 Rear Admiral Rodney P. Rempt Rodney Rempt.jpg 22 August 2001 9 July 2003 Refocused the college's efforts against threats made apparent by the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001; initiated homeland security games involving local, state, and United States Government agencies; raised the college's prominence and increased the number of students in its various programs; conducted a wide-ranging review of U.S. Navy graduate and professional education policy that resulted in many changes; oversaw the college's production of a series of influential point papers for the senior leadership of the United States and the United States Armed Forces
50 Rear Admiral Ronald A. Route VADMRARoute.jpg 9 July 2003 12 August 2004 Sharpened the college's focus on mission and relevance; initiated research, analysis, and wargaming to address key operational concerns of the U.S. Navy such as ballistic missile defense and antisubmarine warfare and established the Halsey Scholars, an advanced research program for selected students; facilitated discussions between retired Soviet Navy officers and their American counterparts on Cold War naval history
51 Rear Admiral Jacob L. Shuford RADM Jacob L Shuford.jpg 12 August 2004 6 November 2008 Directed extensive restructuring of the basic curriculum; initiated the Joint Force Maritime Component Commander Course for flag officers, the Maritime Staff Operators Course, and the Operational Planner Course; led the college as it played the key role in designing the process for establishing a new national maritime strategy and in providing the geostrategic analysis to support it; reinstituted Title 10 wargaming; initiated concept-development efforts to explore important warfare issues such as maritime ballistic missile defense, antisubmarine warfare, homeland defense organization, and the command and control of maritime forces; engaged in extensive diplomacy to establish an international network of naval colleges that could collaborate on the study of maritime security issues
52 Rear Admiral James P. "Phil" Wisecup James P. Wisecup, United States Navy Rear Admiral official photo.jpg 6 November 2008 30 March 2011 Inaugurated the Chinese-language library for the China Maritime Studies Institute, hosted the Current Strategy Fora, co-hosted the Nineteenth International Seapower Symposium – the largest gathering of naval leadership in world history – and oversaw the College's 125th anniversary commemoration.[3]
53 Rear Admiral John N. Christenson RADM John N. Christenson.jpg 30 March 2011


  1. 1.0 1.1 President's Report Spring 2010. Naval War College: Newport, Rhode Island. 2010. p. i. ISBN 978-1-884733-78-9. Retrieved 2013-07-30. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 "Past Presidents". Naval War College. Retrieved 2013-07-30. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 Pentangelo, John, and Joshua Howard, "Artifact Spotlight: Portrait of Rear Admiral James P. Wisecup, 2010," Soundings in Narragansett Bay's Naval History: The Naval War College Museum Blog, March 31, 2011
  4. For the first 51 presidents, this table is based on information at the "Past Presidents" page at the Naval War College Web site. For the 52nd and 53rd presidents, the list is derived from information at the President's House Occupants page on the Naval War College Web site. Information on acting presidents is from the Naval War College Illustrated History and Guide, pp. 14-15. Additional information from other sources is footnoted separately.
  5. "Chronology of Courses and Significant Events 1900-1909". U.S. Naval War College. Retrieved 2013-07-30. 
  6. Miller, Edward S. War Plan Orange: The U.S. Strategy to Defeat Japan, 1897-1945. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press, 1991. ISBN 0-87021-759-3., p. 16.
  7. Miller, Edward S. War Plan Orange: The U.S. Strategy to Defeat Japan, 1897-1945. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press, 1991. ISBN 0-87021-759-3., pp. 24, 46, 70, 80-81.
  8. 8.0 8.1 Naval War College Illustrated History and Guide, p. 15.
  9. Cook, Robert. J., Troubled Commemoration: The American Civil War Centennial, 1961-1965, Baton Rouge, Louisiana: Louisiana State University Press, 2007. ISBN 978-0-8071-3227-2, pp. 31, 138.
  10. "A Register of His Papers in the Naval Historical Foundation Collection in the Library of Congress: Manuscript Division, Library of Congress, 2008. p. 4." (PDF). Retrieved 2013-07-30. 


  • Jackson, John E., Jondavid Duvall, and Kimberly Rhoades, eds. Naval War College Illustrated History and Guide, Second Edition. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 2010. ISBN 978-1-884733-72-7, ISBN 1-884733-72-7.

External links[]

This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia (view authors).