Webb wins Thomas Jefferson Foundation medal

Batten School hosts Fmr. Sen., hears leadership, citizenship advice

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“Jim Webb’s remarkable and eclectic career is an outstanding example of the many ways citizens can help lead the nation forward,” Warburg said.

Former Sen. Jim Webb was awarded the University’s highest honor at Monticello Thursday from the Thomas Jefferson Foundation. The Foundation works with the University annually to bestow three medals on the men and women who embody Jefferson’s ideal of a strong public life in the areas of law, architecture and citizen leadership.

The Batten School, which helps recommend candidates to the Foundation, chose to honor Webb with the Medal in Citizen Leadership for his exemplary contributions to the nation, Batten Assistant Dean Gerald Warburg said.

“Jim Webb’s remarkable and eclectic career is an outstanding example of the many ways citizens can help lead the nation forward,” Warburg said.

Eclectic is a fitting description of Webb’s long history of public service. After graduating from the Naval Academy he served in Vietnam, where he was decorated for his efforts as the commander of a Marine rifle company. Following the war, he became counsel to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and eventually Assistant Secretary of Defense for Reserves. Later, Webb was elected to the U.S. Senate from Virginia.

To celebrate the award, the Batten School hosted a luncheon in Garrett Hall, during which Webb gave a speech packed with anecdotes from his personal experiences.

“If you want to be a successful leader there are about five basic principles that cross all the lines in terms of what a leader needs to be proficient,” Webb said. “These are true if you’re an infantry squad leader or whether you’re a corporate CEO or in the Senate.”

These bedrock principles included loyalty, responsibility, knowledge, management and courage. Webb offered a sobering evaluation of the current political process in the United States.

“The necessity to raise so much money in the political process is driving people away who would otherwise be good leaders,” he said.

Webb discussed different leadership styles, contrasting the extroverted, high-octane personality of General George Patton with that of General Omar Bradley, who he said is fatherly and soft-spoken, but equally successful.

After Webb’s time in the military, he decided to pursue his writing career. In the political realm, Webb opted out of running for re-election for his Senate seat in 2012. Many of his supporters were shocked to see his above-politics persona leave the Senate at a time of hyper-partisanship.

“You know, its amazing that he didn’t run for re-election,” Warburg said. “Not many people would do what he did and we applaud him for that.”

Webb told students it is OK to focus on pursuing their passions in life.

“It’s healthy in our society to step away from time to time,” Webb said. “This is the fourth time in my career I’ve actually done this.”


Published April 11, 2014 in FP test, News





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