UHV President Tim Hudson will be one of only 50 leaders from across the country to participate in the 75th Joint Civilian Orientation Conference April 18 to 26.
The U.S. Department of Defense program takes civilian leaders to observe and participate in the daily activities of the U.S. military across the world, program director Anne MacDonald said.
“It’s designed to allow senior civilian officials who have unformed opinions of the military to become familiar with the excellence, top to bottom, of our armed forces,” she said. It is a way for civilians to see what the military does every day in places of which most people are unaware. Participation in the program is by invitation only.
“I am so excited and honored to be invited to participate in this outstanding program,” Hudson said. “This truly is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to go behind the scenes and to witness and do things many people can only see in the movies or in their dreams. Precious few university presidents have ever been selected; I am humbled to be included.”
This honor prompted congratulations from the highest levels of the UH System.
“President Hudson’s selection for this prestigious honor is another example of the fine leadership we have in the University of Houston System and brings positive attention to our entire family of universities,” said Welcome Wilson, chairman of the UH System Board of Regents. “He will represent us with distinction and learn a great deal about the critical role of the U.S. military in global affairs.”
JCOC candidates are nominated by previous participants or senior leaders in the military establishment, MacDonald said. Competition for the spots is fierce. Hudson was nominated by Cynthia Thomas, president of the Dallas-based Tri-Dimension Strategies consulting firm, after she heard him give a speech regarding U.S./Cuba trade relations.
“He struck me as precisely the type of opinion leader JCOC would want, well traveled and cognizant of the world’s geopolitical currents,” said Thomas, who participated in 65th JCOC. “I asked him if I could nominate him, and now he’s going to be a part of something few civilians ever experience.”
The conferences rotate to among different military commands worldwide. JCOC 75 will show off the capabilities of the United States Southern Command, or SouthCom, the joint command structure for all U.S. military forces operating in Central and South America, the Caribbean, Cuba, the Bahamas and their territorial waters.
JCOC doesn’t give out specific itineraries for security reasons, but the event usually sets a grueling pace.
“It’s eight days on your feet jumping between multiple countries,” MacDonald said. Participants are usually running from 4 a.m. to 11 p.m.
In previous conferences, participants have fired military weapons, attended briefings ranging from top Pentagon officials like the Secretary of Defense down to the most junior officers, participated in obstacle courses and observed all aspects of military life.
While the military is showing its best to Hudson and the other participants, the president said he will share information about the university with the civilian leaders.
“JCOC invites some of the top decision makers and opinion creators in the country,” Hudson said. “I plan to share with these important individuals the exciting things we have going on every day at UHV and in the UH System.”
Past participants include government officials, corporate executives and sports team leaders such as: Mark Vahradian, producer for Paramount Pictures; Heidi Wood, managing director for Morgan Stanley; Richard David Fain, chairman and CEO of Royal Caribbean Cruises; Vincent Naimoli, owner and manager of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays; Richard L. Alderson, chief executive officer of the San Diego Padres; James J. Schmitt, mayor of Green Bay, Wis.; and David Kerley, correspondent for ABC News in Washington.
Hudson spent some time in the territory to which he will likely travel during his days as an intelligence analyst for the U.S. State Department.
“I spent a lot of time in Latin America and managed to get into some pretty interesting situations when I was writing intelligence briefs about drug-smuggling narcotraficantes and others engaged in illegal trade activities,” Hudson said. “But that was a while ago. I think I better start working on my ‘hazardous duty’ conditioning.”
Hudson hopes his familiarity with the region and its culture will add an extra depth to his JCOC experience, as well as that of the other participants.
Started in 1948, the JCOC is the U.S. Secretary of Defense’s oldest public liaison program. Conferences typically happen twice a year. The program also hosts alumni events.
Hudson begins his adventure April 18 when he arrives in Washington D.C.