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July 2012

CIA Director Visits

Carnegie Mellon University recently welcomed CIA Director David H. Petraeus to its Pittsburgh campus.

CMU President Jared L. Cohon, moderated the talk. He began the discussion by asking Petraeus about current threats to information technology (IT), cyber issues and information warfare.

Petraeus said cyber threats may soon rank alongside terrorist threats as top challenges to our security. He also noted the implications of the IT revolution for the Agency, highlighting initiatives in the areas of digital identity and big data.

He praised President Cohon’s leadership and CMU’s focus on such issues.

“At various briefings I attended on cyber security, software engineering, robotics and information technology, it’s apparent that what is being done here is hugely impressive,” Petraeus said. “There are extraordinary faculty here.”

The retired Four-Star U.S. Army General, Petraeus, visited CMU at the invitation of Kiron Skinner, associate professor of social and decision sciences and director of CMU’s Center for International Relations and Politics (CIRP).

“We are honored to have such a highly decorated soldier and dedicated public servant visit us,” Skinner said.

Skinner is one of the country’s most renowned experts in international relations, U.S. foreign policy and political strategy.

Drawing on his current role as CIA Director and his previous posts as Commander, NATO International Security Assistance Force and U.S. Forces-Afghanistan, Commander, United States Central Command and Commanding General, Multi-National Force-Iraq, Petraeus answered questions thoughtfully.

Topics ranged from private military contractors and how the military uses the information it collects to leadership and dealing with information overload.

Regarding warfare, Petraeus believes the side that learns the fastest tends to prevail. He also outlined what he feels are the four key tasks of strategic leaders: getting big ideas right; communicating the big ideas effectively; overseeing implementation and execution of the big ideas; and identifying best and worst practices for sharing throughout the organization and refining the big ideas.

Petraeus closed by stating that human capital is the United States’ most important asset - and places like CMU are hugely important in the development of human capital.

Stay connected with CMU's Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences on Twitter and Facebook.

Other sources of Carnegie Mellon news include the university news service website and the Carnegie Mellon Today magazine.

Contact Shilo Rea, Director of Public Relations at or (412) 268-6094.


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