2011 Alumni Award winners

Honoring accomplished alumni for their contributions to UMKC and beyond
by Pat McSparin // Spring 2011
EMAIL // PRINT // SHARE
PAGES // 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8

Cynthia WatsonCynthia Watson

Alumna of the Year

A world-renowned authority on security policy analysis, Cynthia Watson (B.A. ’78) has directly impacted the U.S. and foreign policy in everything from civil-military relations to national security issues. And she credits UMKC’s impact for helping her succeed. “I did get a wonderful education at UMKC,” Watson said, “and not just what I learned in books and what I learned in lecture halls. I really learned what Americans thought about things. That was an education that I could not have gotten anywhere else.” She says that UMKC made her recognize the role that education plays in our society. “But it also reminds me what it is that society is interested in. I never take for granted when we have a conversation inside the Beltway that people outside it are going to have the same views.”

Watson serves as chair of the National War College’s Department of Security Studies, is a member of the International Institute for Strategic Studies, and a fellow of the Inter-University Seminar on Armed Forces and Society. Described by colleagues and students as a gifted classroom teacher and unrivaled scholar, Watson is a sought-after speaker and a prolific author. Her book U.S. National Security won the 2003 CHOICE award as academic book of the year. “I am not a specialist in the U.S. Government or the U.S. military,” Watson said. “I’m a specialist in national security strategy. It’s a very distinct field. I look at all sorts of things like military balances, national interest, and that’s what I’ve always done.”

Watson says that distinct expertise brought her to the National War College, National Defense University, but that when she accepted the job, she was also filling a desire to serve. “I wanted to be in a place where I felt that I could give back to the country what I had the privilege of growing up with myself,” she said. “I come from a family where it was absolutely instilled in me that public service was an incredibly important thing to do.”

“I never take for granted when we have a conversation inside the Beltway that people outside it are going to have the same views.”

–Cynthia Watson

And public service is something that her family takes very seriously, she explained. Her dad, who was also a UMKC graduate, worked for the Agency for International Development. So during her elementary and high school years, Watson lived in South America twice, and she lived in Southeast Asia during the war. She says her dad never voted after the 1960 election because he was a public servant, and he did not believe that when he went to work for the government in the early 1960s that he should be voting. “I do vote, but I absolutely never, ever talk at the office about what my political views are because I view it as crucial for me to be able to serve either party, and for my students never to believe that my political views are influencing what I teach them about looking at strategy.”

Watson confesses that UMKC was not her original choice, but due to her family’s travels and other various reasons, she wasn’t accepted to the universities where she first applied. “I am from Kansas City,” Watson said, “and I have three aunts who live in Kansas City. My dad and mom said, ‘Why don’t you go to UMKC, and if you really want to go somewhere else later then you can go.’ At the end of my first year at UMKC, I was accepted to Georgetown, but I chose not to go. I chose to stay at UMKC.”

She believes she made the right choice. “I got a wonderful education,” Watson said, “not just about what I learned in books and what I learned in lecture halls. I learned, as somebody who’d been away from this country for much of my childhood, I really learned what Americans thought about things. That was an education that I could not have gotten anywhere else.”

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Posted in: Features, Issue Highlights

One Response to 2011 Alumni Award winners

  1. Pingback: The Quad » Blog Archive » Arts and Sciences Celebrates 2011 Alumni Award Winners

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>